Travel Expenses in Thailand
I’m a bit behind in doing any updates because I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do cost breakdowns so you can get a sense of travel expenditures for each city and country I visit, however, that is proving to be a bit difficult since I am only in some cities or countries for a few days and others for a few months. I’ve decided I’ll just do monthly recaps and break down the expenses that way. My goal is just to show that travel on a budget does not have to be done at the expense of comfort. For a more in-depth look at that topic you can read my blog post on budget travel vs. cheap travel.
In this post, I’ll be breaking down my travel costs for the remainder of November and the entire month of December. I spent most of the month of November in Bali, and you can see the cost breakdown of that trip in my Bali travel expenses post.
I left Bali on November 17 and spent 7 nights in Bangkok. On Thanksgiving Day, I flew to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. I planned on staying a week in Chiang Mai then heading to Vietnam. For several reasons, that didn’t happen. First and foremost was some confusion going on about Vietnam visas for United States citizens. At the end of August, the Vietnamese government eliminated the $25 single entry tourist visas for U.S. citizens, requiring a $135 one year, multiple-entry visa stamp in addition to a visa processing fee. Even Vietnam Embassies were confused, with different quotes on prices depending on which embassy you contacted. And even if U.S. citizens purchased a one month single entry visa prior to the changes, they were charged hefty fees upon arrival at the airport which had to be paid in cash before they were allowed into the country. I decided to wait until the smoke cleared and the dust settled, which it did. Vietnam reversed their decision and now allows several visa options to U.S. citizens again. But I digress.
Another reason I chose to stay in Chiang Mai is it just felt right. Comfortable. If I were to try to compare it to a city in the United States – Asheville, NC, could be Chiang Mai’s American twin, if Asheville had a temple on a mountain top that glistens at sunset and glows in the distance in the evening. Maybe cousin is a better term. Chiang Mai has a laid-back vibe, a university, and a hip area with lots of coffee shops and restaurants, set against a mountainous backdrop. There is a city center and lots to explore outside the city.
The biggest reason I decided to hang my hat here for a few months is the burgeoning digital nomad scene. There are meetups nearly every day of the week (some days there are multiple meetups) covering a range of topics including writer’s workshops, drop shipping, FBA, SEO, and any number of subjects that appeal to those who are location independent. Ever the serial entrepreneur, It seemed like a great place to focus and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. What it actually ended up doing was showing me exactly what I DON’T want to be! You can read a bit about the drama that unfolded in Chiang Mai since I’ve been here in this article about the dark side of digital nomad life. But I digress. Again.
So, let’s get down to what you came here for – travel expenses for Thailand. Keep in mind that this trip isn’t about how cheaply I can travel. If that were the case, there are much, MUCH cheaper ways to travel in Thailand. My condo is at the upper end of the monthly rental scale, but it’s worth it to me. Yes, I want to explore other cultures, but at the end of the day I want to be some place that has all the creature comforts and is within walking distance of anything I may need. Working from home for many years has made me appreciate being able to walk out my door for coffee, a newspaper, shopping, lunch, drinks, etc. Some may take a dim view of that choice, but they can travel their way and I’ll travel mine.
November Travel Expenses
I’ll start with airline costs. My flight from Bali to Bangkok on Air Asia was $154.76. The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on Thai Lion Air was $59.76. What’s not included in this breakdown is the airline ticket I didn’t use. I had already booked my onward ticket from Chiang Mai to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I ate that cost, which was around $58.
Total Cost of Air: $214.52
I spent 7 nights in Bangkok and rented a cute little apartment near the Skytrain on Airbnb. Transport costs include pre-arranged transportation to and from the airport. Miscellaneous expenses were a few groceries (mostly drinks), and makeup remover wipes. Entertainment costs include tickets for the boats on the Chao Phraya river and entrance fee for the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I have also given coffee a category of its own.
Total Bangkok Expenses: $315.14 ($39.39 per day)
Chiang Mai Expenses
I have separated my Chiang Mai expenses by dates. When I first arrived in Chiang Mai, I had rented a studio apartment through Airbnb for a week. Once I made the decision to stay on, I extended my stay at the Airbnb residence for 3 more nights while looking for other accommodations. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the best way to find an apartment or condo in Chiang Mai is to walk around and look for one in the area you want to stay. I walked around for three days looking at various options in different price ranges.
Expenses from November 24 – December 2, 2016
I have now added a self-care category to include things such as massages, manicures, pedicures and visits to the hair salon. I had a pedicure during this time. Entertainment was for wine on a night out. Typically, alcohol will be included in the food category if it was with a meal. If it’s just a night out with friends and only includes alcohol with no food involved, it will be included in entertainment. Miscellaneous expenses during this time included visa photos and laundry in addition to the usual groceries, drinks, etc.
Total Expenses for Chiang Mai November 24 – December 2, 2016: $391.96 ($43.55 per day)
Expenses from December 3 – January 2
I rented my condo on December 3rd and I wanted to show monthly expenses. This breakdown includes the first couple of days of January, since that is how my monthly bills are calculated. The deposits category includes the deposit for cable television, however, I have not included the refundable condo deposit which was equal to one month’s rent.
Entertainment expenses during this time include Christmas Eve and New Year’s celebrations, spending Christmas Day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, and going to movies. Self-care includes a foot massage, having my hair done, and a pedicure. Miscellaneous expenses include a visa extension for 1900 baht or roughly $53. Transport includes multiple forms of transportation around the city, including tuk tuks, songthaew, and Uber.
Total Expenses for Chiang Mai December 3, 2016 – January 2, 2017: $1487.99 ($48.00 per day)
And there you have it. Those are my total expenses for the remainder of November and all of December, including a couple of days in January.
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