Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai for One Month

After six months of travel from New Zealand to Thailand we were ready for a bit of a rest and needed time to catch up on work and the blog. Although it has become a bit of a backpacker cliché, we decided that Chiang Mai, Thailand, was the perfect place to settle down for a month and rest up. After finding a great apartment, we settled into a comfortable routine and found living in Chiang Mai to be pretty affordable – here’s how much it cost us for one month.

Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai

Activity Costs in Chiang Mai

We spent very little on activities during this month since we’d visited the city before and there are many things to do in Chiang Mai which are free or at least pretty cheap. For example, we went to the National Museum and the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar which are free to enter; the only  ‘activity money’ we spent was on massages in Pai and entrance fees at Wat Doi Suthep.

Andrew ready for his massage

ActivityCostPer Person
Massages in Pai£7£3.50
Doi Suthep Entrance Fee£1.20£0.60

Chiang Mai Accommodation Costs

We found a perfect apartment in the Jigsaw Condo just outside of town which we rented for a month; you can read more about our apartment search in Chiang Mai here. Our apartment definitely wasn’t the cheapest but we were happy to pay a bit more for the luxury of having a kitchen, living room and comfortable work space. Our apartment rental made up the bulk of our accommodation costs for this month, although we also spent a couple of nights in a guesthouse while we were searching for apartments and took an overnight trip to Pai.

Our Chiang Mai Apartment

AccommodationTotal     Per Person  Per Day
House No. 11 (Two nights)£18£9N/A
Jigsaw Condo (27 nights)£358£179£12.30
Mr Jan’s, Pai (One night)£4£2N/A

Chiang Mai Food Costs

We have been to Chiang Mai a few times before so we knew what we were in for when we decided to stay for a month; there’s an abundance of restaurants as well as the Chiang Mai Night Market where you can eat great and cheap food. We also had a kitchen in our apartment where we cooked some of our favourite dishes from home; we typically ate breakfast and lunch there and split our dinners between eating out and eating in. It felt really homely in our little apartment and we were sad to leave! All of this combined meant we had the lowest food costs of our trip so far.

Witching Well dessert, Pai

ExpenseTotal     Per Person  Per Day

Transport Costs in Chiang Mai

We didn’t travel a huge amount whilst in Chiang Mai except when going to and from our apartment and the old city. It’s really easy to get around Chiang Mai; we usually just hopped on a songtheaw for 20 Baht each, failing that we would jump in a tuk tuk for a little more. If you are brave and experienced enough then you can rent a cheap scooter in Chiang Mai. Whilst in Pai we rented a scooter for a day since public transport is a little more difficult to find, this only cost us £4 for rental and fuel. We’ve also included the cost of travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and our return minibus to Pai in the figures below.

Transport in Pai

ExpenseTotal     Per Person 
BusesBus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: £17.50£8.75
Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai (return): £12£6
Songtheaws and Tuk Tuks26 Songtheaws or Tuk Tuks altogether: £51£25.50
Transport to Doi Suthep:Songtheaw to and from Doi Suthep for two people: £6 (we shared with two others)£3
Scooter:24 hours Rental and fuel in Pai: £4£2

Miscellaneous Costs

We had to extend our Visas whilst in Thailand so this added a big chunk to our expenses. Extending from 60 to 90 days cost 1,900 Baht (about £37.50) each and was a pretty painless process. We had the usual laundry, toiletry and medicine costs, along with a few purchases for the apartment such as a toaster and other utensils. Amy needed yet another pair of flip flops, we picked up a book and some clothes and also found an HDMI cable – really useful for watching films from your laptop on a TV.

ExpenseTotal     Per Person 
Thai Visa Extensions£75£37.50
Toiletries & medicines£3.20£1.60
Kitchen items for apartment£30£15
Vincent Bugliosi book£2.80N/A
Clothes, HDMI cable, bag, flipflops£17.50£8.75

Total Cost of Living in Chiang Mai for One Month

We really enjoyed our month in Chiang Mai; it didn’t disappoint us at all. We were able to reduce our costs, get a lot of tasks done on the blog, eat loads of macaroni cheese and plan for the next few months. If you’re thinking of spending a bit of time in one place then Chiang Mai has it all. If you are really frugal then you can get away with a much lower cost of Living in Chiang Mai too; especially if you go for cheaper accommodation than we did. Here are our total costs:

ExpenseTotalPer PersonPer Day

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As always, we used the tremendous Trail Wallet app to track all of our spending – version two is out now in the app store! You can find all of our detailed cost posts here including our total costs for travelling around Thailand for two months.

  • Patti
    Posted at 16:59h, 31 December Reply

    Wow! It’s amazing the differences in living expenses around the world. Just for fun while we are in Washington, D.C. we’ve been looking at apartment rentals. Prime apartment buildings, which are near a metro station, average about $1,700/month. And this is in nearby Virginia, not Washington, D.C. Pretty crazy, huh? I’ll be sharing your post on my blog’s FB page. Happy New Year!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 07:39h, 01 January Reply

      Wow, we thought London was expensive Patti! I’ve also written a post comparing our cost of living in London with Chiang Mai too, that will be up soon. Happy new year Patti! 🙂

  • Simon Lee
    Posted at 11:09h, 02 January Reply

    I think the costs are reasonable except for the apartment which seems a bit high for me:) But that make sense if the necessities are all in place for a comfortable stay:)

    Simon Lee

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:49h, 02 January Reply

      Yep, you can definitely reduce your costs significantly if you rent a cheaper place (there are loads around) and eat the street food.

  • Marianne
    Posted at 11:46h, 05 January Reply

    Thanks for the detailed breakdown of costs. I visited Chiang Mai for ten days in February 2012 and I’m considering spending a couple of months there this coming winter – so your information is very useful.

    For comparison, I’ve included a link to my latest Cost of Living in Spain post, which I hope you enjoy 🙂

    • Andrew
      Posted at 14:21h, 05 January Reply

      It’s definitely worth sticking around for a couple of months Marianne, it’s a nice city and easy to get cheap rent and food if you’re prepared to make sacrifices.

  • Claire
    Posted at 12:31h, 08 January Reply

    We’re currently in Chiang Mai and loving how cheap everything is. We’re spending a little more on activities since this is our first time visiting but with accommodation and food costing so little, it doesn’t feel like too much of a luxury to spend money!

    It’s nice to compare budgets with other travelers and so thanks for the comprehensive list 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:09h, 09 January Reply

      No worries Claire, living in Chiang Mai sounds amazing and I’d love to go back there for a longer stint one day. If you haven’t done so already, check out the pizza at Peppermint cafe – it is incredible!

  • Steven
    Posted at 16:33h, 26 August Reply

    I am glad that you are settling in so well. I have been to your location many times. At present I am resident in Munich Germany, but I intend to leave, in six months or so. Through my former profession, I know many people in Bangkok, and if I chose to live in Thailand, they would help me. I shall be on holiday in Thailand, in November. Perhaps we could meet ? My first stop after Bangkok, will be Ko Lanta.
    With kind regards, from Steven Andrew Gill.

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:44h, 27 August Reply

      Hi Steven, thanks for following our journey and commenting. We’d love to meet up, just message us when you have further plans. So far our move has gone really well, I’m sure you’d have a great time here too 🙂

  • Ryan Smith
    Posted at 16:11h, 30 June Reply

    Thank you for the detailed post about cost of living in Chiang Mai, I’m going to visit this place soon and your post is a great help :).

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:29h, 06 July Reply

      Glad you found it useful Ryan. Have a great time in Chiang Mai 🙂

  • Andreea B
    Posted at 19:24h, 06 August Reply

    Hello guys, great blog. I love it! We are planning also a one month trip in the are and potentially extend it to 3 mo, so this is indeed helpful. Reading your blog posts, I got really curious to see if you’re still in Chiang Mai after all this time. [blog post is from 2013] 🙂


  • David
    Posted at 22:40h, 06 September Reply

    What a refreshing change to see a travel blog with actual costs as opposed to those which just waffle on about how to save money by Couchsurfing, sharing a taxi, taking carry on luggage, etc. It’s this sort of real information which is of true value to travellers.
    Keep up the good work and all the best for the future.

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:17h, 07 September Reply

      Hi David, thanks for reading and I’m glad you found our post useful. Have fun in Chiang Mai, we love it there and will keep on returning 🙂

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