Living costs in Thailand

As I make my living online and spend my time travelling I tend to move around like I’m dancing the tango (slow slow quick quick slow). I tend to travel to a lot of places in a couple of months (last time was Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia) and then spend a few months at a slower pace based in a city or town.

In the last couple of years I have been based long term (over three months) in a few places; Didim in Turkey; Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand; and Hat Yai in Southern Thailand. The aim is to get some work done during these longer stays and also to cut costs associated with travelling around all the time; it is much cheaper to rent an apartment long term than to book hotels by the day.

As an example in Hat yai I could rent an apartment for 5000 Baht (~£100 / $150) a month. This will include Aircon, TV, Fridge, Balcony, Wifi, a nice room and a shower/toilet room), and will be in a nice building. The same standard will cost about 600 to 700 Baht a night (~£12 to £14 / ~$18 to $25 per night) at a hotel. When I was in Chiang mai I stayed in a room with similar amenities, but no balcony, this was also 5000 Baht a month.

The place I am staying in at the moment is actually much cheaper than this at 2300 Baht (£46 / $70) per month. It is a simple fan cooled room, in a nice building, very clean, with its own shower/toilet room.


So how much do things cost in Thailand?

As I now have a lot of experience of the prices of things in Thailand I thought that I would give the cost of many common items. This may be handy information for anyone  thinking of relocating to or visiting Thailand  long term.

At the time of writing the currency rates are:

£1 = B49 B100 = £2.04
$1 = B32.3 B100 = $3.09
€1 = B42 B100 = €2.38


Most of the prices are given for Chiang mai and Hat Yai as this is where I have more experience of prices, it will be a little more expensive for food in Bangkok, and a lot more expensive (prepare to be ripped off) in places like Phuket and Ko Samui.



Cars and pickup trucks

Thailand is a member of the ASEAN trading block. Cars that are produced in any of the ASEAN member countries cost a lot less than cars imported from Europe and America. Many companies, especially the Japanese ones build cars in the region.

Imported cars face massive taxation. It is common to see cars cost four times that they do in Europe. For example an imported Mini will cost around 2,000,000 baht (£40,000 / $60,000) whereas a locally produce Nissan will cost around B450,000.

Another thing to bear in mind are that pick up trucks have little if any tax on them at all, this means that a great big Toyota or Mazda trucks starts at a price of B420,000 for a basic model; this is around a third the cost of a mid-sized saloon car. As you can imagine most people go for the better value big pickup trucks, leading to congested roads. I can see Thailand having a big big problem in the future if they do not start encouraging people to buy smaller cars (especially in the cities). That said I have just been to the Nissan dealer and it looks like the government are given incentives to people who buy fuel efficient cars. The starter model for the Nissan March (Micra) started at just B375,000 (£7,650; US$11,600; €8,930).

The Toyota Hilux, a common sight on the roads of Thailand
The Toyota Hilux, a common sight on the roads of Thailand

Here is a list of prices of some cars and trucks in Thailand

Mazda 2 B535,000 to B675,000
Toyota Yarris B539,000 to B714,000
Toyota Camry B1,305,000 to B2,919,000
Nissan March B375,000 to B537,000
Nissan Teana B1,179,000 to B1,649,000
Nissan Frontier King cab B579,000 to B689,000
Double cab B665,000 to B765,000
Toyota Hilux Smart Cab B567,000 to B703,000
Double cab B602,000 to B814,000
Mazda BT-50 B416,000 to B608,000


Motorbikes and scooters

Motorbikes are everywhere in Thailand, you often see whole families travelling on them as they are so much more affordable than cars. I’m not exactly sure how they class what a motorbike and what a scooter is, but for these purposes I will class a motorbike as having manual gears and a scooter as completely automatic. The two big sellers seem to be the Honda wave (125cc or 110cc motorbike) and the Yamaha Fino (sweet retro scooter). Other popular brands are Suzuki and Kawasaki.

Every schoolgirls dream, the Yamaha Fino
Every schoolgirls dream, the Yamaha Fino

Here are the prices of some of the main models of motorbikes and scooters in Thailand.

Honda Wave 125 B53,400
Honda wave 110 B41,200
Suzuki Smash B38,900
Suzuki Shogun 125cc B42,900
Yamaha Nova B37,800
Yamaha Fino B46,900
Suzuki Jeleto or Skydrive B46,900
Honda Scoopy B53,400


Eating and Drinking out in Thailand


Eating out is very cheap in Thailand. Street food is very good. Food courts are very popular at all the main department stalls; unlike in the UK and USA food is freshly cooked in front of you while you wait and is not mass produced and served warm from a pot (well mainly).

Also there are many little cafes and restaurants everywhere serving both local delicacies and food from all over the world.

All of the chain food stores are represented in Thailand such as KFC, Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. There are also a lot of places that are more upmarket and cater for tourists especially in Phuket, Chiang mai and Bangkok. Finally there are lots of fantastic restaurants at the top end of the scale (many based in five star hotels) that have food as good as anywhere in the world.

Typical food prices of common dishes in Thailand (street, food court and small restaurants)

Green/Red Chicken curry 50 baht
Pad Thai (noodles with prawn) 35 baht
Chicken and Cashew nuts 60 baht
Duck (or pork) and Wonton soup 40 baht
Rice and Omelet 25 baht
Skewer of barbecued pork or chicken 5 to 10 baht
Chicken Rice 30 baht
Whole barbecued Fish 100 baht


Fast and western food
Rama Noodles with Roast Chicken 70 baht
Macdonalds Meal 100 baht
Pork/chicken steak, chips (or potato/rice) and salad 90 baht (Thai restaurant) 300 baht (Sizzlers)
KFC Zinger burger meal 99 baht
Interestingly KFC is more upmarket in Thailand, food is served on a plate and is eaten with a knife and fork; the drink comes in a glass. It is strange watching people struggle to eat chicken wings with a knife and fork (especially as Thais are used to eating with spoons and not knives).
Pizza Hut small pizza B135
Or for another 15 baht you can go to an Italian restaurant and have a wood fire oven cooked pizza
Full English Breakfast 100 to 200 baht
Cheese/chicken/Ham baguettes 60 baht
Fish and Chips 100 to 200 baht
Pie and Chips 150 baht


Drinking out

It is a lot cheaper to drink in a place aimed at Thais than it is at one aimed at tourists. You will be very welcome at either establishments.

As an example at ‘Just say Hi’, A Thai place on the road towards Tesco in Chiang mai, it costs 200 baht for 4 large bottles of San Miguel light, similar places charge 50 baht for a large bottle of Singa, 3 bottles of Chang for 100 baht (These prices are actually cheaper than you can buy beer at the supermarket). In a western place, you will pay about 85 to 160 baht for a single large bottle of Singha, though Chang will be cheaper.

When going out you will notice that many Thais tend to buy a bottle of whiskey; some mixers, and a bucket of ice; you do not have to drink the bottle all in one go, they will keep it behind the bar for you. Also if the place does not sell the spirit that you like they will let you bring your own and charge a small corkage fee.

A strange thing with drinking beer in Thailand is that it is usually served with Ice (beer does not stay cold for long in 35 degree heat). It is the job of the waitresses to keep your glass topped up at all time, whether you be drinking spirits or beer. Usually the waitresses are very attractive, they are there to keep you at the bar and encourage you to drink more, and are happy to have a drink (of your beer) with you. As well as local waitresses (normally university students paying there way through college) the Thai bars will also have PR girls, these are supplied by the breweries and distilleries and usually wear short dresses with their beer brands on them, they typically work on a rotation, working a bar for one week before moving on and being replace by another beauty.

The girls who serve you your beer at Just Say Hi in Chiang Mai
The girls who serve you your beer at Just Say Hi in Chiang Mai

Western bars are usually more expensive than Thai bars, usually offer western food (of varying standards), wall to wall TV monitors (it is often possible to watch four or five football matches at once) and of course the chance to meet up with like (and often not like) minded travellers and expats.

Moving on you have beer bars, gogo bars and karaoke bars, I will leave it to others to discuss the prices at these sort of establishments.

Prices at the supermarket in Thailand

There are four major supermarket chains represented in Thailand, Tesco-Lotus, Carrefour, Tops, and Big C. Some of the food sections of these places have to be seen to be believed and are a cooking enthusiasts dream. Most supermarkets usually have a food court and are locate as part of a shopping Mall. Here are the prices of some common goods I took note of on my last visit to Tesco.

5KG fragrant rice B158
Pasta B69
Spaghetti B47
Loaf of bread B20
Eggs 24x B97
Yogurt 4x B52
Cheddar Cheese 200g B169
Olive Grove Margarine B185
Meadowlea Margarine B89
Anchor Butter B99
Apples 1kg B69
Coconut 1 B20
Dragonfruit 1kg B42
Pineapple B24
Watermelon B25
Prepared Rice with Basil Pork meal B25
Prepared Fishcakes B20
Prepared Chinese Style Barbecued Pork B59
Prepared Chicken Salad B24
Chicken Breast 1x B29
Stewing Beef 250g B50
Pack of 10 Hotdog sausages B58
Pack of German style ham B105
Pack of German style Bacon B87
Can Sardines B12
Can Tuna B29
Can Spam B185
Pot Noodles B11
Cornflakes B96
All-Bran B107
Muesli B175
HP Sauce B123
Heinz Tomato Ketchup B29
Balsamic Vinegar B179
Olive oil B123 to B433
Mayonnaise B72
Jam B48
Nutella B158
Skippy Peanut Butter B137
Tesco Butter Cookies B21
Crisps B20
Pringles B38
Peanuts B10
Ritter Chocolate B67
Snickers B27
Kit Kat Chunky B30
Cadbury Chocolate B29
Dozen small donuts B49
Fish Display at Tesco Lotus in Thailand

Fish Display at Tesco Lotus in Thailand

Milk 1L B35
Small drinking Yogurt B10
Fruit Juice 1L B84
Coca Cola can B12
Coca cola 1.5L B26
Drinking water 5L B30
Drinking water 500 ml B6
Tiger Beer L (660ml) B51
Singha Beer L B56
Singha Beer S (330ml) B31
Leo Beer L B45
Chang Beer L B37
Heineken 24x 330c cans B855
Bacardi Breezer B52
Gin Bombay Saphire 1L B945
Gin Gilbey’s 1L B320
Tequila Sierra B675
Vodka Absolute 1L B819
Vodka Smirnoff 1L B717
Vodka Gilby’s B320
Johnnie Walker RL 1L B739
Johnnie Walker BL 1L B1,069
Toiletries and Household products
Lux Soap 4x B49
Shampoo Herbal Essence L B99
Shampoo Pantene L B152
Colgate Total B42
Listerine B55
Adidas deodorant B139
Tesco Floor cleaner B50
Toilet Duck Liquid B47
Washing Powder L B139
Glade Air freshener B96
Underpants x3 B149
Socks B42
T-shirts B109
Singlets B99
Jeans B299
Flip Flops B29
Umbrella B99
Other Random Objects
Tesco printer paper B90
Two man tent B390
Batteries 6xAA B79
Door Mat B199
Cushion B199
Bath Towel B125
Bed Mattress (large) B7,990
Stand up fan B1,190
Aircon unit B18,000 to B30,000
Small Fridge B5,900
Fridge Freezer Very Large – Toshiba B24,490
Fridge Freezer Mid sized – Samsung B12,490
Fridge Freezer Small sized – Panasonic B8,290
Washing Machine LG Turbo drum B7,490
Iron B390
Vacuum cleaner B1990
Microwave B1690 – B3490
Rice cooker B319
Electric hob B990 – B2,290
Wok B299
DVD player B890
These cool Shopping bikes can be had for B2590 each
These cool Shopping bikes can be had for B2590 each

Wifi and Cable TV in Thailand

Most of the time these are included when you rent an apartment. If not wifi can be had from B500 a month, up to B1495 a month for a 10MB connection. Cable is around B1500 for a package that allows you access to the sports channels. There are also deals that let you have both TV and Internet access.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this post on living costs in Thailand and find some of the information useful. As to the question of how much you should budget to live here, well how long is a piece of string? Everyone is different but I’ll have a stab and say that as a single person if you have B1000 a day plus the cost of your apartment (from B3000 to B30,000 depending on where and how you live) then I feel that you can have a very enjoyable life here; I know that I do 🙂


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