Cost of Living in Thailand Part II
Originally posted on March 1, 2010
Note: This was originally posted many years ago and things of course have changed. Many of the costs are the same as posted but others have inflated. To be safe it would be best to add 10% – 20% on the prices mentioned here.
We continue with how much living in Thailand might cost you. All prices are Chiang Mai prices and are as of today, Mar 1, 2010, and of course are subject to change. All prices are approximates. Local prices will vary greatly. Check the daily exchange rate at www.bangkokbank.com .
Getting around town
You’ll need to get around, from one town to another, or from your home to the local market, etc.. Here is some idea of how much it will cost to get from A to B. When you first arrive in country you will probably be using public transportation. This can be an interesting experience. Here are some typical prices in Chiang Mai.
- Metered Taxis, house to airport, approx 10 kms, ฿150
- Red taxis (converted pickup trucks), ฿15 anywhere in town, longer rides negotiable.
- Public bus, when you can find one, ฿10
- Other pickup taxis, usually upcountry between towns and villages, ฿20 or more depending on the distance.
- Bangkok and some towns will have motorcycle taxis where you ride on the back to your destination. These are quite inexpensive as the rides are usually very short (main road to your house). Some towns have motorcycles with side cars or other homemade additions. These will cost about the same as Chiang Mai’s red taxis.
Later, out of convenience, most people opt to get their own transportation.
Update: Since the original post Uber and Grab services have proliferated in the more populated areas. Their costs are quite reasonable.
Travel in country
One of the joys of living in Thailand is that there are so many interesting places to visit in country. You have many choices on how to get around.
Air travel – There are quite a few airlines that service the different cities in Thailand. Here are a few popular destinations on Thai Air. Other airlines may be quite cheaper. Prices quoted are for round trip and are taken from the Thai Air web site. Check with a travel agent or the airline itself to see what promotional deals they have. It can save loads of money. (e.g. We just bought a round trip ticket Chiang Mai – Phuket for ฿8,500 on Air Asia which is much less than the price for Thai Air quoted below). Also, prices will vary depending on the season.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿5,200
- Bangkok – Phuket ฿6,500
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿6,400
- Chiang Mai – Phuket ฿14,400
- Chiang Mai – Mae Hongson ฿3,250
A nice way to get around. For long hauls the sleeper cars can be comfortable although they are quite slow. Prices are for 2nd class, air condition, sleeper cars.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿881
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿761
- Bangkok – Hat Yai ฿945
Seems like there are buses going from everywhere in Thailand to everywhere else. There is a range from really inexpensive, non-air conditioned buses to beautiful tour buses with air conditioning, music, TV, and DVDs. Here are some prices for the first class, air condition, “tour” buses.
- Bangkok – Chiang Mai ฿1,197
- Bangkok – Ubon ฿1,080
- Bangkok – Hat Yai ฿1,243
You’ll need a driver’s license to drive a car or motorcycle in Thailand. Officially you can use your old home license for one month. Only residence of Thailand (with long term visas) are allowed to apply for a driver’s license.
- Rent Small compact car, liability insurance included, ฿1,500 per day with monthly rates cheaper
- Buy Used 5 year old Toyota, good condition, ฿275,000
Many people rent motorcycles as soon as they get in country. This should not be the first thing you do. The first thing is to make sure you know how to ride a motorcycle. And riding one in Thailand can be a harrowing experience. Be careful, drive defensively, and always wear a helmet.
- Rent 125 cc new Honda Dream, ฿150 per day
- Buy New 125cc Honda Dream, ฿36,000
- Used 125 cc Honda Dream, 3 years old, ฿24,000
Accommodations (when traveling in country)
Thailand has so many places to visit and explore, from the big cities, to the mountains up north, to the beaches and islands in the south. For a good idea of what is available check with travel guides like Lonely Planet.
- City hotels – There are luxurious world class resorts in many places and their prices are also world class. But nice comfortable hotels in population centers, even in Bangkok, will cost between ฿1,200 – ฿3,000.
- Upcountry hotels – Not a lot of world class hotels up country unless you are in a tourist destination. Nice clean places can be had for ฿500 – ฿1000.
- Guest houses – Can be as low as ฿200 – ฿600. You’ usually get what you pay for.
- National Parks – Thailand has a great national parks system and they all seem to have cabins and bungalows available (except on national holidays and in the high seasons). A very nice bungalow can be had for ฿1,000 per night.
- Camping – For ฿50 – ฿100 you can bed down in a national park tent (provided). When Thais go tenting they tend to stay up singing and drinking all through the night. So be aware that tranquility is something not found much in the tent grounds.
It used to be keeping connected to friends and family, and with your culture back home was quite difficult. The 21st century communications system takes much of the isolation away from living so far from what we used to call “home”.
- Cost of phone – ฿1,000 – ฿10,000
- Cost of call (using prepaid cards) In country – ฿1 per minute in country
- Cost of call (using prepaid cards) Overseas – ฿5 per minute
- Computer to phone – less than ฿1 per minute anywhere
- Computer to computer – free (webcam available)
Home phone – Very expensive to get a line to your home. If one already exists then it is a flat rate of about ฿150 per month plus whatever calls you make at between ฿2 and ฿5 per minute depending on your plan.
- Internet cafes – ฿10 – ฿30 per hour depending on speed.
- Home internet – This is usually part of your phone bill. High speed Internet can be around ฿1,600 per month.
Postage – Quite inexpensive in country. Just a few baht per letter and packages are also cheap to send. International mail is very expensive, especially EPS, or express mail. A small package sent EPS overseas can be more than ฿600.
Update: Since the first posting the social network ap “Line” has become the most popular method that Thais use the communicate with. You can text, leave voice messages, or call (free) just about anywhere.
One has to eat, and in Thailand this becomes as much of a recreation as it is a necessity. As with everything, one can live very frugally. You could survive on ฿100 per day if need be. Or lunch alone could cost many thousands of baht. We’ll give supermarket prices here leaning more to the frugal side.
Cooking at home (condos may not have kitchens)
- One kilo of chicken ฿65 per kilo
- One kilo of pork ฿105 per kilo
- Fish (talapia) ฿89 per kilo
- Shrimp ฿125 per kilo
- Eggs ฿89 for 30
- Milk ฿70 per liter
- Soft drink ฿124 for 12 bottles
- Kale ฿24 per kilo
- Iceberg lettuce ฿55 per kilo
- Tomatoes ฿23 per kilo
- Cabbage ฿22 per kilo
- Rice ฿18 per liter
Eating at restaurants
As with just about everything in Thailand, you can end up spending very little for a nice meal, or you can spend as much as you would in a major world city. We’ll go with the lower end of the spectrum here.
Single plate dishes
- Servings with rice – ฿25 – ฿60
- Noodles – ฿24 – ฿40
- Family style – prices vary, ฿50 – ฿100 per dish, usually a meal has at least 3 dishes
- Pizza – ฿300
- Burgers – ฿150
- Spaghetti – ฿150 plate
- McDonalds Big Mac meal – ฿130
- KFC – 3 piece meal – ฿120
- From ฿70 – ฿140 at less expensive places
- As much as ฿600 at the nicer hotels
A large number of expats fill a large portion of their day imbibing. Probably not a great idea for longevity but to each his own. Whichever kind you choose, Thailand’s hot climate makes it so you’ll have to fill yourself with liquids. Here is a list of of what some of these will cost.
- Bottled water ฿10
- Soft drinks ฿20
- Beer ฿50 – ฿100 depending on size. Some bars will be much higher
- Wine – ฿400 and up
- Whisky, gin vodka, etc. ฿1,000 per bottle and up
- Fresh juice, shakes – ฿20 – ฿40
- At a Thai shop ฿20 – ฿60
- At Starbucks ฿150 or more
We’ll just list a few here. If you have specific questions please ask it in the comments section and I will see if I can get you an answer.
- Visa renewal – This is one thing that lots of people forget when they make a budget. All visas, and renewals, currently cost ฿1,900. This is charged whenever you leave the country and get an exit visa, or renew your retirement visa, or you make a run for the border. This can get pricey depending on how often you have to do this. Although all long term visa holders must report to Immigration every 90 days, there is no charge for this.
- Gasoline 1 liter of 95 octane ฿35
- Men’s haircut – ฿70 at a barbershop, ฿350+ at a hair stylist
- Bangkok Post & The Nation newspapers – ฿25
- Readers Digest – ฿150
- National Geographic – ฿250
- English paperback books ฿300 – ฿450
- Used paperbacks – ฿40 – ฿80
- TV – 42” plasma, ฿30,000
- DVD – ฿2,000
- Desktop computer – ฿15,000 – ฿25,000
- Laptop computer – ฿20,000 – ฿30,000
- Night out (bar hopping) – This question was asked on the www.ThaiVisa.com web forum and the answer depends on what activities you partake of, how much you imbibe, and whether you answer the ringing bell and buy the whole bar drinks. You can spend anywhere from 1,000 – 30,000 in a night.
- Movie at a theater – ฿100
- Movie rental – ฿10 – ฿30
- Massage – ฿100 per ½ hour
- Use of a hotel swimming pool (when you are not a guest) – ฿100