When I traveled to Thailand, I had no idea I was going to end up staying for several months. United States citizens can visit without a visa for up to 30 days, so I entered the country with a visa exempt status. In December, I applied for a visa extension which allowed me to stay for another 30 days, and then it became necessary to do a ā€œvisa run,ā€ which simply requires leaving the country and then coming back.

In January, I opted to do my visa run in Penang, Malaysia. I flew to Penang and arrived at my hotel on January 15th, went to the Thai consulate the next morning, left my application and passport and returned the next day to pick up my visa, which gave me another 60 days in Thailand. Easy peasy.

I spent 3 nights in George Town ā€“ visiting the world heritage sites and soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant, multicultural city. My hotel included free sodas in the mini-bar, breakfast, afternoon high tea with all the accoutrements, and free wine, popcorn, and ice cream, along with a rooftop movie in the evenings.

Le Dream Boutique Hotel Penang, Malaysia
Le Dream Boutique Hotel Penang, Malaysia

I ate three meals outside the hotel. Only two are reflected in my costs. I had a wonderful meal in Little India which my driver graciously paid for. Since I only had one full day to sightsee, I hired a driver so I could cover as much ground as possible. Transport costs include him picking me up and dropping me off at the airport, and taking me to and from the Thai consulate twice. The city tour was the cost of having him drive me places and wait while I took tons of photos daylight to dark for an entire day. I should also explain that I totally misunderstood the price he quoted me beforehand, and although he probably would have taken less had I persisted, he did an outstanding job, and it was worth the convenience and peace of mind.

travel expenses penang malaysia

Travel Expenses for Penang, Malaysia

Flight to Penang: $207
Accommodation: $186.31
Food: $5.60
Transport: $42.60
City Tour: $89.68
Coffee: $1:04

Total expenses for Penang, Malaysia: $532.23

January Expenses for Chiang Mai, Thailand

Other than the visa run to Malaysia, my expenses for January were typical. That being said, I want to explain my food costs. With the exception of days where I am so busy with work that I order in from Food Panda, my food expenses averaged $7.51 per day and include eating out at a restaurant once or twice a day, every day. I have a kitchen, but with the cost of food so low here, why on earth would I cook?

Transport includes sharing a private car with three other gals to Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls for the day. We each paid 450 baht (about $12.58) roundtrip. It also includes an Uber to the airport, a taxi back from the airport, and a few other Uber trips.

Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls
Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls

Miscellaneous expenses include having my condo cleaned (300 baht or $8.39). Iā€™m a clean person so I have only used this service one time. I also lump groceries into this category. That ranges the gamut from milk to batteries to laundry detergent to insect repellent.

Entertainment includes adult beverages and movies. Self-care was a mani-pedi.

Accommodation: $656.10
Food: $225.35
Transport: $$27.38
Miscellaneous: $44.66
Entertainment: $48.92
Coffee: $38.06
Cable: $41.89
Internet: $20.89
Water: $4.89
Electricity: $28.24
Self Care: $13.42

Total expenses for Chiang Mai in January: $1154.26

Total January Expenses: $1686.52

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