Yet Another Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

My cost of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yes, this is another cost of living article in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In this article, I’ll be talking about my monthly cost in Chiang Mai for the following:

  1. Food/Grocery
  2. Entertainment
  3. Utilities
  4. Visa
  5. Transportation
  6. Accommodation

I have already made other articles about my cost of living in Bangkok and the real cost of living in Thailand. This article is the continuation of the two articles but in a different part of Thailand.


Before I start, I encourage you to do your own research about Thailand and don’t just listen to me. Make your own research, visit Thailand and other parts of South East Asia and come up with your own conclusions before deciding to live there.

Everyone’s standard of living and cost of living will be different. What I’m showing you in this article is my cost of living in Chiang Mai, not my friend, my neighbor, not my brother or sister.

You can live here as cheaply as me or live in a luxury hotel that costs you 10,000 baht ($285 USD) per night. You have that option if that’s what you can afford and that’s what I think it’s so great about Thailand.

But If I could afford that much, I would only visit Thailand, I don’t think I’ll be living here long term.

I don’t see myself on a vacation, because I don’t have a job back home to go back to. I’m just sharing my experience. I’m not here to advise or advocate others to do the same as me.

1. Food/Grocery = 12,180 baht/mo.

You can get 30-50 baht per meal at the local food court inside a mall and up to 200-300 baht for a restaurant quality meal. The great thing about Chiang Mai is there are many different types of food to choose.

Like this Mexican restaurant…

Mexican food in Chiang Ma, Thailand

or this American style hamburger and of course, there are lots of amazing Thai restaurants.

Grill hamburger in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Also, there are many vegetarian restaurants. That’s why you see a lot of vegan vloggers living and vloging about Chiang Mai.

At the time of this recording, Chiang Mai is ranked top 4th by Nomad List for the best place to work remotely for Digital Nomads or startups that work remotely. Bangkok, Thailand is currently ranked 1st on their list. If that’s your thing, you should check Chiang Mai out.

Back to the food, fruit smoothies are about 20-30 baht per cup.

Fruit smoothie in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Also, the fruits here are amazing. The mango and durian were delicious plus they’re very affordable.

You can also do your own cooking, as the supermarket here has most of the western ingredients you need.

Alcohol can be expensive if you’re drinking imported alcohol (this is pretty much anywhere else in Thailand). Expect to pay two to three times more than what you will find back home. If you’re on a holiday and you don’t care about the cost, then that’s fine.

Expensive imported beer in Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you’re on a budget like me, avoid imported alcohol and stick with the local alcohol like Sangha, Tiger, Chang, etc. Local Thai alcohol is very affordable, and you probably won’t taste a big difference from imported and they will get you the same end result.

Cheap local Thai beer

I know some people can spend more money on alcohol than their accommodation. I don’t drink alcohol, so I save a bit of money here. If you drink and smoke, add a few hundred dollars per month to your budget.

Drinking Water

Thais fill up their water from the local water filter station for 1 or 2 baht, but 99% of the time I drink from bottled water that I purchased from a place like 7Eleven.

Do not drink water from the tap. It’s ok to wash your month after you brush but I would never drink tap water. Even when I was back in Canada, we never drink or cook with tap water.

2. Entertainment = 4,000 baht/mo.

My main entertainments were going on road trips. I consider that entertainment. I think this would have cost a lot more if I didn’t know anyone in Chiang Mai.

I had a few local friends who were kind enough to drive me around Chiang Mai and took me to some interesting spots. In exchange, I paid for the gas and food.

Check out some of the places we visited in Chiang Mai.

3. Utilities = 2,000 baht/mo. in Jan & 4,100 baht/mo. in April

9 baht per unit of electricity at this apartment (this is about 3x what I paid back home)
200 baht per month for water – 50 baht higher than other prices than other places but not a big deal.
900 baht internet – most places offer free wifi, not this place.

If you’re renting a hotel for a few days, you don’t have to worry about utilities.

The first month I lived there was in January, which was the winter season, and it was surprisingly cool. I remember for two days I had to wear jeans and a jacket for the first time in Thailand. I actually didn’t mind it. At least it didn’t snow, it felt like the cool autumn season.

For the first month in January, I didn’t turn on any air conditioning. I only used my laptop, my small fridge to cool two bottles of water and I hardly watched TV. The electricity cost me 800 baht ($23 USD), so I ended up unplugging the fridge. To me, it doesn’t make sense to cool 30 baht worth of bottled water for 800 baht worth of electricity.

During my last month in this apartment in April, with my fridge still unplugged, the weather got much warmer and very hot during the daytime. I had to turn on my AC all the time. I ended up paying over 3,000 baht ($85 USD) for the electricity bill.

Yes, that’s $85 USD worth of electricity inside that tiny apartment.

I know I complain about electricity too much but if you add the rent and my electricity bill in April. That’s 8,400 baht ($240) per month. For that price in Chiang Mai, I could have a nicer place with a gym and probably a swimming pool.

4. Visa

฿1,800 THB per month ($50 USD)

5. Transportation


500 baht per month bicycle rental
500 baht per month red truck & tuk-tuk

My rented bicycle costs 1,500 baht per month in January, then in March (low season) I got it down to 500 baht per month. I didn’t even bargain with the owner. So don’t spend more than 500 baht per month on a bicycle. Some hotels or apartments offer free bicycle rental but they’re not the prettiest looking bikes.


I didn’t want to rent a motorbike or scooter because I don’t have any experience riding one. Even though I have over 10 years of driving experience back home.

Also, the last two times I rode a scooter in Thailand, I almost crashed and the first time I ran off the road but no serious injuries. Plus, I don’t have insurance and I don’t want to take a risk of being injured.

When I first came to Thailand, I did have travel insurance, but it still did not cover me if I don’t have a proper driver license in Thailand. Most people do not know this. If you do not have an international driver’s license or a license to ride a scooter in the country you’re visiting, some insurance companies may not cover you.

Just because you have a driver’s license in your home country does not mean you have a license to drive in a foreign country like Thailand. Double-check this with your insurance company before you come, especially if you’re planning to ride a scooter or motorbike.

Also, if you get caught by the Thai police without a proper license, it’s going to cost you about 400 or 500 baht. If you don’t have a helmet, it’s another 400 or 500 baht.

BTW, don’t do what I’m doing. Get insurance when you’re here, especially if you’re planning to ride a scooter and do other adventurous stuff like zip lining through the jungle or jumping off a cliff or chasing a ladyboy.

6. Accommodation = 4,000 baht/mo.

Apartment building in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I had a hard time finding an apartment with my budget when I went here in January, because it was right in the middle of the high season. The apartment that I ended up with was not my first choice; it was my second or third choice because the first three places were fully booked.

One of the places had one room available but they did not want to give it to me because I wanted to stay for a few months. They told me to come back in two months when the high season is over because they make more money with tourists staying short terms than people renting for multiple months.

So keep that in mind. It’s harder to find an apartment within my budget of 4,000 to 7,000 baht per month during the high season but not impossible.

If you have higher budget, 10,000 or 30,000 baht per month or more. It might be easier to find a place to stay, but I don’t really know because I didn’t look for one at that price range. If you have a budget of over 30,000 per month, you could just hire an agent to look for a place for you.

This apartment building had its own laundry on the ground floor and it also had a dryer, which is something I’ve never seen before in Thailand. Usually people would hang dry outdoors on the balcony.

But a dryer is nice and much quicker. Although this dryer did not dry my clothes and I ended up hanging them overnight on my balcony.

You can also pay a shop to do all of your laundry. That’s an option. But I like to do this myself if I can.

I have a link to my web page about finding an apartment in Chiang Mai, so if you want to know how I found my apartment, make sure you check out the link.


Before I came to Thailand, my initial monthly budget was $500 USD or 20,000 Baht. I tried spending that much during my first month, but I ended up increasing it to around 25,000 to 28,000 baht.

Mainly because I first thought I could eat regular Thai food for 50 baht per meal every single day.

It turns out that was not the case. It was very hard eating those 50 baht meals every day and there are just too many restaurants with amazing food in Thailand.

If you’ve read the article all the way to here, don’t forget to take 2 seconds to share it, and subscribe for more articles about Thailand.

I also have a map of Chiang Mai make sure to check it out. I have included some of the attractions, hotels and restaurants. It’s constantly being updated so make sure to bookmark it and come back often for new updates.

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

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Author: Thom

Hi, I’m currently living in Thailand. I’m a artist, designer, travel blogger, and sometimes a YouTuber... Tags: Viator Tours Thailand, Viator Bangkok Airport Transfer, Chiang Mai Viator

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