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).
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.
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 Shogun 125cc||B42,900|
|Suzuki Jeleto or Skydrive||B46,900|
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|
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.
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|
|Loaf of bread||B20|
|Cheddar Cheese 200g||B169|
|Olive Grove Margarine||B185|
|Prepared Rice with Basil Pork meal||B25|
|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|
|Heinz Tomato Ketchup||B29|
|Olive oil||B123 to B433|
|Skippy Peanut Butter||B137|
|Tesco Butter Cookies||B21|
|Kit Kat Chunky||B30|
|Dozen small donuts||B49|