The Cost of Things in Chiang Mai Thailand

I’ll be doing several posts along the lines of ‘the cost of living’ in certain different places around south east Asia, the first being this one and it’s focus on Chiang Mai which is the second largest city in Thailand situated in the north, it’s extremely different to Bangkok where it’s constantly noise, hustle, bustle, large buildings everywhere etc. Chiang Mai is much smaller and lot less built up in terms of big buildings.

Woke up this morning to a hangover from 1 to many beers after meeting a Swiss couple and going on a mission to find some good bars and succeeding. So today was spent exploring the city in 32 degree beautiful sunshine and blue sky, eating and relaxing, you’ll read below all about what I spent, the cost and more.

Getting to Chiang Mai from Bangkok options

There are three main ways to get up here from Bangkok and they are to bus, train or jump on a plane, I originally wanted to go on the sleeper train as it’s fun and a few years ago when I did it I had one of the best meals I had in the whole of Thailand on it, the train takes around 14 hours and you can opt for various different classes with 2 people per sleeping compartment (for full info on this check out Seat61). Anyway it was a Thai holiday and me being me I left trying to book the train till 10pm the day before so it was all booked up and as I had spent 2 days in Bangkok (i’ve been many times) I wanted to move on. So a quick check online and I finally decided on a plan and booked a flight that was leaving at 2pm, which as I booked it at 2am was 12 hours away!

Rough costs & times

Sleeper Train: £18 for a decent sleeper train. Time 14-16 hours

Bus: 500 Bht (£9) is the price advertised in many places but you probably can get it cheaper.  Time 12-13 hours

Plane: My flight was around £38 and this is the normal kind of price.  Time 1 hour 10 minutes.

Nokair - One of Thailands Low Cost Airlines

Nokair – One of Thailands Low Cost Airlines that I flew with to Chiang Mai

Getting around Chiang Mai

As for getting around, you can walk but Chiang Mai is perfect for hiring a Bike (bicycle) and this costs around 50 bht for the day (24 hours) which is around £0.90. Cycling around is a pleasure as you get a breeze, if you get on the main roads that go around the edge of the city wall you may have to be careful as it can be pretty hectic but cars and motorbikes give you plenty of room. Crossing from one side of the road to the other to turn right when it’s 4 lanes filled with big pickups is a bit daunting and can be a tricky task though!

My Bike that I rented for 50 bht (£0.90) for the day

My Bike that I rented for 50 bht (£0.90) for the day

Food in Chiang Mai

Much like the rest of Thailand you can get a massive range of traditional Thai food at great prices, below are a few photos with prices showing you exactly what you can get. Prices on food vary depending on where you eat, eat from street vendors and a meal may cost you 35 bht (£0.65)  eat from a basic looking restaurant and you’ll be getting a main dish for anything from £0.80-£2 and eat in a nice looking restaurant and again prices range from around £1 to £3. I’ve personally found the food you get in the basic looking places and street food is better, more authentic and cheaper, plus you get to chat to locals and the staff always seem much friendlier.

Food in Chiang Mai

A whole meal for 30 Bht (£0.55)

Street Meat

Meat for 10 bht (£0.20) I personally don’t go for these, they never look appealing, but plenty of other street meat does and is delicious

Friend Banana

My Fried Banana Cooking – Big bag 20 bht (£0.35) I couldn’t finish them all

Bangkok Airport Food

This was a nice little meal I had in Bangkok (Don Muang) airport

Airport food Thailand

They sell all kinds of food in the airport, they also have KFC, McDonalds, KrispyKreme etc

If you want some snacks then you’ll be spoilt for choice on every street corner, from fried banana for 20 bht (£0.40) which is lovely to a fresh coconut you’ll find them everywhere. You’ll also see a range of kebab style sticks with bbq meat (pork, chicken, squid etc), smoothies, fresh fruit and loads more.


There is nothing better than after exploring the city to sit down in a lovely bar or cafe and enjoy an ice cold beer in an iced glass, it’s one of life’s simple pleasures which is beautiful! Note I quickly changed from Heineken to a Thai beer when I found out they sold them too!


Massage for you sir?

You’ll here this a lot in Thailand and some people have a bad picture of massages here, no they don’t all have a ‘Happy Ending’ i’m sure there are some places that do this but if that’s your kind of thing then you’ll probably be better suited to go and stay in Pattaya (a place an hour from Bangkok with a reputation for this kind of thing). Massages on offer around Thailand are unbelievable value compared to at home (The UK) and other western countries.

Massage prices in Chiang Mai

130 bht which works out at £2.30 for an hour. You can get 30 minutes for around 70 bht which is around £1.30

In Chiang Mai today I had a 1 hour leg and foot massage and it cost me 130 bht which translated to English money is £2.30, yep you read that correctly two pounds and thirty pence for an hour. This price is the same for a back, neck and head one so whichever you need you can get, I mainly go for the foot as I always have been walking around for hours.

The row of massage seats, you see these all over the place

The row of massage seats, you see these all over the place

So we’ve covered transport up here, food, drink, massages and now accommodation, I’ll only briefly go into this.

Accommodation in Chiang Mai

As in many places in Thailand you can get everything from a bed in a shared dorm for around 70-100 bht (£1.35 – £2), a double room with ensuite and air con for 400-800 bht (£8-16) and then there are boutique hotels and other higher end stuff that go up to the hundreds of pounds per night. I personally stay in the mid range so spending around £10-15 per night for a large room, double bed, air con, en suite, most have TV’s with a range of satellite channels and of course Wifi which is a must. Many have swimming pools too and depending on where I am and for how long I’ll opt for one that has one.

The total cost breakdown of my day today

Hotel room: £13 (double bed, ensuite, aircon, tv, fridge, swimming pool & wifi)

Food & Drink: Spring Rolls £1, Spicy Chicken Noodle Dish £1.10, Fried Banana £0.40, Green Thai Curry & Rice £1.40 Water £1 (500ml bottles cost £0.14 and 2 litres costs £0.28 roughly), Beer £2.20 (for 2 large beers)

Massage: 1 hour foot massage £2.30

Bike Hire: £1 (for 24 hour hire)

Total cost of my day:  £23.40

This is about average, i’m moving to a nicer hotel which is actually cheaper as it’s not in the old city but just outside and moving to eat more street food and not in the fancy restaurants so my day will more likely costs around £15-18.  Of course if you are here on the cheap and backpacking you could easily live here for under £10, get a dorm at £1.50 a night, eat £0.60 meals and you’ll be laughing.

Hopefully I haven’t bored you and you find some of this interesting. Feel free to comment in the box below and i’ll leave you with some of the photos I took today.

There are some beautiful buddhas around

There are some beautiful buddhas around

Another temple

Another temple

This is the co-working office space I'll be working from

This is the co-working office space I’ll be working from

A very calm and tranquil place

A very calm and tranquil place


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