Expense Report for Chiang Mai, Thailand

When I leave Chiang Mai in two days I will have spent three months and a day here.  I never plannned to be here this long, but you never know how travel plans can change.  I have really enjoyed the city and its culture and people.  I can get around easily on foot and there is cheap public transportation when I need it.


Celebrating the Songkran New Year Festival Chiang Mai Style


The street food is awesome and one can eat quite well from $1 to $3 US.  Because of my accident, I only have expense data for 66 of the days I was here; but I doubt the daily average would change significantly.  I did not include my medical costs as travel insurance has taken care of those and they would not be a typical expense.  I will say, from experience, that world class medical care is readily available here at a fraction of the cost in the U.S.


Chiang Mai Street Food is the Best


All numbers below have been converted to U.S. dollars.

Accomodation:   $797.48    Daily average:  $12.08  (Note:  Once I got onto a monthly rate my daily average dropped to $9.14)

Entertainment:  $93.28  Daily average:  $1.41  (Saw some good free concerts here too.)

Food:  $734.59  Daily average:  $11.13 (Yes, that’s 2-3 meals a day, fresh fruit smoothies, snacks, my daily $2 cup of gourmet Joe at Coffeetime, the whole shebang-even a couple high-end dinners @ around $30 incl. 7% tax, tip and wine.)

Massages:  $168.55  Daily average:  $2.55  (My only regret is that with a typical cost of $4 for one hour and $6-7 for two hours I did not get more.  But hey, I was busy!)

Thai Sim Card, cell top offs:  $25 Daily average:  $0.37

Cooking class:  $33  Worth it!  Oh yeah, that’s $0.50/day.

Transportation:  $99.54  Daily average:  $1.50

Total daily average:  $29.54

Not Included:

$212 for 5 day car rental, gas and insurance for mini holiday to Chiang Rai provence.

$130 approximate for lodging on above mini trip including a luxury spa resort for one night.

$50 approximate for upgrades to my electronics.

For under $30/day I have been living a very nice lifestyle here in Chinag Mai.  For those looking to save even more, there are plenty of backpacker hostels.  One could probably get this number under $20 or even $15/day.  I love hostels and “dormed” it all the way through Latin America two years ago.  It is a great way to meet people.  But here (and most of SE Asia from what I understand) you can get a private ensuite room in a nice guesthouse so cheaply that why wouldn’t you?

I plan to publish a personally recommended Chiang Mai resource list in the near future.  Meanwhile if you have further questions about costs here you can use the comment section below to ask or send me an email through the Contact button at the top of this page.


My US $9.14/night room at Noble House



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12 Responses to Expense Report for Chiang Mai, Thailand

  1. Erick May 15, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    Great post. Now are these numbers for the entire three months total or? Was lodging 797 a month or over three months? Thanks for posting this. I’ll be living up in that area for about a month and a half.

    • Philip May 15, 2013 at 2:32 am #

      Great question Erick! The totals are for the 66 days that I kept detailed track. I did not keep track while I was in the hospital, nor during the next couple weeks as I was understandably a bit out of it with my injury and pain meds. The daily averages are absolutely correct and I stand by them for the long haul. So, for instance, $12.08 X 90 = $1,087.20 my cost for three months accommodations or $362.40/month. Although if you get a monthly rate at Noble House that rate would be $9.14 x 30 = $274.20 per month. Hope this provides greater clarity. When are you going to Chiang Mai?

      • Erick May 18, 2013 at 6:32 am #

        I’ll be there all of October training Muay Thai then meeting my brother in Bangkok for two weeks of traveling the island.
        Erick recently posted..img_0003

        • Philip May 19, 2013 at 2:03 am #

          Very cool Erick but i am still rooting for Vienna. I’m thinking I would like to return to Burma in October so if I do, maybe I can watch you fight after you finish your program. Travel safely buddy.

  2. Bob & Vivian May 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Thanks for this detailed expense look Phillip! It’s not the reason we travel, but it helps friends to see why it’s possible to spend so much time in SE Asia. Keep up the blogs; we love them.

    • Philip May 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      Like you, Bob, I travel because I love to…to experience new places, people, cultures. It is always nice to be able to stretch your dollars out though and Chiang Mai is a great place to do it. I certainly did not plan to stay as long as I did but am glad to have found such a conducive location.

  3. Scott May 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Interesting reading these last few days/blogs.
    Massage, what kind?
    I’ve had several variations of therapeutic massages, and one of the masters that use to work on me went to Thailand and said he hours a day getting a massage.
    Scott recently posted..Flowers larger, May

    • Philip May 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

      Thai massage is by far the most common Scott. Done with no oil and lose fitting clothing worn. Most will also do oil massage…a little more cost but not much. This can very from light Swedish style to more deep tissue work depending on the practitioner. No, I did not go for the happy massage. Those are done in different locations. ‘Regular’ massage is available everywhere. Some of the best work inside the many Buddhist temples.

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica May 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Looking forward to the resource list. I think Chiang Mai would suit me very well 🙂
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Butter tasting, anyone?

    • Philip May 19, 2013 at 2:00 am #

      I am sure it would suit you Stephanie and a lot of Tbloggers hang out here for periods of time. The costs are as cheap or cheaper than Central America and there are a lot more facilities. I would not even remotely consider Thailand to be a third world country (don’t get me wrong, I love third world countries). btw, do you have a good resource for formatting an ebook?

  5. Jenny @ Till The Money Runs Out March 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for posting this Philip, it’s pretty wild how much cheaper the North of Thailand is than the South.

    • Philip March 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      Yes, I can get close to $40/day in Krabi if I don’t do any SCUBA.

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