Buddha and Pagoda at Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai

The Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

We love living in Chiang Mai. Every day we wake up in the most luxurious apartment we’ve ever rented and get to swim for free in our outdoor pool. We can eat out at one of our favourite restaurants, meet up for dinner with friends or have a massage whenever we like. We’re pretty much living a dream lifestyle, but for what price? Find out in our cost of living in Chiang Mai breakdown.

Chiang Mai Moat and Doi Suthep Mountain

Cost of living Chiang Mai, our monthly breakdown

We’re going to take you through a detailed breakdown of how much we spend living in Chiang Mai per month. Before I start though, here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • All the prices listed are for two people.
  • We don’t eat meat, so that reduces our food costs slightly.
  • The costs below are for the full month of October 2016.
  • We barely ever drink alcohol and even less frequently buy soft drinks.
  • We pay for everything in Thai Bhat (THB).
  • We’re using the exchange rates listed for the 6th November 2016.
  • You can read about how much we spent living in Chiang Mai for a month back in 2013 in this post.

The cost of rent and bills in Chiang Mai

Our Chiang Mai Apartment is spacious, comfortable, has a washing machine, western kitchen, free pool and great view of the mountains. It’s at the higher end of the price scale for Chiang Mai, but we don’t mind because we love the apartment and spend so much time at home working. Our bills are crazily cheap compared to western standards. We pay our electricity bill at the local 7/11, our water money to the building manager and our internet bill at the Sinet branch in Maya Mall, just down the road.

Our Apartment in the Trio Condominium in Chiang Mai

ExpenseMonthly cost £Monthly cost THB
Rent£41018,000 THB
Water£3.65160 THB
Electricity£23.601,035 THB
Internet£14.60641 THB
Total £451.8519,836 THB

Prices for food and household items in Chiang Mai

We love having a kitchen and cook most of our meals at home. Our groceries, household items and toiletries mostly come from Rimping supermarket in Maya Mall, but we’ve also shopped at the Big C Extra, Tesco, Topps and local markets. We eat out once or twice a week at one of our favourite Chiang Mai restaurants and also occasionally order meals to be delivered through Food Panda. Our apartment building orders crates of drinking water which we buy for 50 THB per 20 litres. When we’ve finished, the bottles are returned and reused.

Massaman Curry in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Expense Monthly cost £ Monthly cost THB
Groceries£2058,985 THB
Eating out£723,155 THB
Water£6.50285 THB (50 THB per 20 litres)
Toiletries and household products£20877 THB
Total £303.5013,302 THB

Cost of transportation in Chiang Mai

We love living in the Nimman area of Chiang Mai, which is in the north-west, on the outskirts of the city. There’s everything we need here, including Maya Mall, some of our favourite restaurants and the best massage place we’ve found in Chiang Mai. We mostly hang out here but when we do go into the Old City area we take a local red songthaew, which costs just 20 THB per person, per ride.

A Tuk Tuk and street art - The cost of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Transport methodMonthly cost £ Monthly cost THB
Songthaews£6.40280 THB
Total £6.40280 THB

Cost of living in Chiang Mai: entertainment

Unless we go away for the day or weekend, our daily entertainment in Chiang Mai consists of swimming in the pool at our apartment, exploring the city on foot, visiting temples and getting massages. These activities are all either free or very cheap; a one-hour foot massage at our favourite local spa costs 250 THB each and we may have to pay the odd 50 THB for temple entrance fees. There’s also a cinema at Maya Mall which we’ve yet to visit, but tickets are just a couple of pounds each.

Top temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Phra Singh

Type Monthly cost £Monthly cost THB
One-hour foot massage£11.40500 THB
Temple entrance fees£1.8080THB
Total £13.20580 THB

The basic monthly cost of living in Chiang Mai

So, here are our total basic Chiang Mai living costs for October, including food, transport, accommodation, bills and entertainment. This price represents a typical month in Chiang Mai for us and we live extremely happily and comfortably here. It is possible to spend a lot less per month if you rent a less luxurious apartment and eat Thai food every day. Our friends Darren and Shelley from Finding Beyond, for example, eat lunch and dinner at local street stalls and Thai restaurants everyday for £138 per month.

ExpenseMonthly cost £ Monthly cost THB
Rent and bills£451.8519,836 THB
Food, water and household items£303.5013,302 THB
Transport£6.40280 THB
Entertainment£13.20580 THB
Total £774.9533,998 THB

So, that gives you an idea of what you can live on comfortably in Chiang Mai, but what if you want to explore Thailand on weekend trips? As an example, in October we went on a weekend visit to Mae Salong, here’s how much it cost us.

Our Weekend away to Mae Salong

For this trip we rented a car online from SIXT for three days which allowed us to explore independently, stopping off in Chiang Rai and tea plantations along the way. We drove 350 miles and spent just £20 in fuel. We booked two nights at a hotel with beautiful views in Mae Salong; the price included breakfast so we thought it was good value for money.

Mountain view in Mae Salong, Thailand

Expense Total cost £Total cost THB
Hotel in Mae Salong (2 nights)£552,400 THB
Car hire for three days£32.501,424 THB
Fuel£20.50900 THB
Entrance fees£3.20140 THB
Food£21920 THB
Souvenirs, tea cups from Mae Salong£4.50200THB
Total £136.705,984 THB

 Here are some further examples of the prices you can expect to pay when you live in Chiang Mai:

  • We pay 325 THB for a delicious pizza meal cooked in a wood-fired oven from Why Not? Restaurant.
  • Street food in Chiang Mai costs as little as 20 – 50 THB per dish.
  • We got a haircut at a western salon in Nimman called New York, New York for 600 THB each. This included a wash and scalp massage, cut and blow dry.
  • Renting a motorbike for the day to go to the Sticky Waterfalls in September cost us 250 THB plus 85 THB in fuel.
  • A tea or coffee at a café in Chiang Mai costs between 50 and 100 THB.
  • You can take a Tuk Tuk ride in the city for between 100 – 200 THB, depending on the distance.
  • Clothes from a market in Chiang Mai can cost a few hundred THB.

Banana Pancake from Angel's Secrets in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Our complete living in Chiang Mai costs for October

So, if you add the cost of our Mae Salong weekend trip to our basic living costs for the month, here’s what our total cost of living in Chiang Mai for October looks like.

Expense Monthly cost £Monthly cost THB
Basic monthly expenses£774.9533,998 THB
Weekend away in Mae Salong£136.705,984 THB
Total£911.6539,982 THB

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What do you think of our Chiang Mai living cost breakdown?

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 18:51h, 11 November Reply

    Sigh… this restless mind is missing SE Asia about now!! Especially Chiang mai:) So glad you’re loving your apartment and life in that great area of the world

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:07h, 12 November Reply

      Yes, we are definitely loving it Rhonda. We will be sad when we eventually have to leave 🙁

  • Patti
    Posted at 01:59h, 12 November Reply

    This is a really informative post, I’m going to pin it to my blogger board and share it with our readers on FB.

    Your apartment is super nice and my gosh, the cost of living, is crazy good. But, I suppose it’s all relevant to the local economy. You know how I feel about creepy crawlies, how is it in Chiang Mai, do you have problems in your apartment? Inquiring minds want to know?

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:09h, 12 November Reply

      Thanks for sharing Patti. Yes, the cost is great for us, although by Thai standards our living costs probably seem quite high. There aren’t actually many creepy crawlies here in Chiang Mai that we’ve seen. The odd mosquito and gecko but that’s about it, so it would be a great place for you to visit!

  • Nikki T
    Posted at 05:22h, 12 November Reply

    Great post. This is exactly why you are now my favorite blogger! You guys have very similar spending patterns to us. So, I know your numbers would be very close to what we’d spend as well. So many bloggers either seem to be too cheap (hostels & unhealthy food) or too spendy (thinking about the N.E.V. blog). I really like that you cook vegetarian food at home and enjoy seeing a city by foot. Keep up the informative and entertaining posts!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:35h, 12 November Reply

      Hi Nikki, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you’ve found our costs useful, we often struggle to find cost posts that are relevant to our lifestyle too, which is why we produce our own. We’re happy that other people like them too 🙂

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 21:22h, 12 November Reply

    We loved Chiang Mai and we will definitely go back and stay for a longer spell there in the future . It is amazing what good value for money you are getting and being able to enjoy a great lifestyle. I love Thai food and would certainly enjoy eating my way around Chiang Mai. I don’t drink any alcohol and Brian drinks very little, but I would probably get hooked on those foot massages?

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:14h, 13 November Reply

      Hi Gilda, yes, it is great value for money here, even though we do spend maybe more than the average expat on accommodation. It is really hard not to get hooked on the foot massages, they’re awesome!

  • Louisa klimentos
    Posted at 11:14h, 18 November Reply

    The apartment looks really modern and confortable.I can’t believe how the cost of living is so cheap.For a family of four,the average cost for grocery shopping is approximately $250 to $350 a week,here in Sydney.Then again ,what we earn per week, is alot higher than the earnings per week in Thialand.You and Andrew are very good at budgeting,no matter where you are ,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:50h, 18 November Reply

      Wow, it’s so expensive in Australia! It’s pretty pricey in the UK too though, we are lucky in Chiang Mai that we can live so cheaply and have such a great standard of living. We will be so sad to eventually leave our apartment.

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