Month 2: Budget and Expenses – Chiang Mai

Month two saw us spending a second month in our adopted home of Chiang Mai.

We stayed on to undertake some volunteer work in a local dog shelter and the daily routine of getting up for work has made this place really feel like home, though it has reminded us of some of the things we didn’t like about home.

Our days have been really busy with pulling an intense shift at the shelter from 9 – 4 and then taking the long drive back to our apartment to begin a night of working on StorSafe and Couple Castaway. It bought back memories of the tough work days we had back in London and as a result of our work commitments this month we haven’t done very much exploring, also very familiar!

We have inadvertently sunk back into some old habits as we found ourselves paying many a visit to the off-licence across the street to wind down with a few beers in the evening. We were quite alarmed just how much of our budget went on booze this month, oops. Having said that after a heart-breaking day at the shelter we kinda felt the need to let loose!

Also up this month is our transportation costs after having rented a motorbike long-term to enable us to make the journey to and from the shelter which is around 40 minutes each way. One cost that is surprisingly low is our fuel. Despite the amount of time spent on the bike we had to fuel up just once and from empty to full the tank cost £2.30. It’s no wonder that families of four use motorbikes to get around here! We used to panic every time we saw a toddler hanging off the side of a bike but we’re starting to come around to the idea!

On top of this we’ve had a flight out of Chiang Mai with good old Air Asia and a taxi ride at the other end. Yes it’s true that we could have saved about £20 by hopping on three buses over the course of about 100 hours (slight exaggeration) instead but we’re much more down with paying more and getting to where we’re going quicker. We’ve got shit to do yo!

Activities this month have been few and far between, though volunteering felt like an activity in itself as we had such a good time playing with all of the dogs. This month our paid activities were:

  • A visit to temple Wat Phra That at the top of mountain Doi Suthep – 30 baht / 60p per person
  • A return visit to lake Huey Tuengo Tao – 40 baht / 80p per person
  • Cinema – How could we miss 50 shades of grey? – 350 baht / £7
  • Seeing a live band – free entry but we sure did drink a lot of beer!
  • Mani /pedi – What? I’m going to the beach! – 500 baht / £10

We had planned a trip to Chiang Rai (near the Myanmar border) to see the famous white temple but we decided to scrap it when our friends told us that one day wasn’t enough and that we’d need to spend 10 hours on the return journey just to spend 30 minutes at the temple. Totally not for us. We’re heading to Myanmar towards the end of the year so we’ll make time to visit the temple then.

Likewise we were supposed to go to the Chiang Mai flower festival but in the end we opted to spend the day with the dogs to wave off our (human) friends Michel and Carolin who were leaving that day to return to France after a month at the shelter. They were so kind to us and we didn’t want to miss saying goodbye.

Having discovered that all the best meals can be found at the various markets we have spent most of this month eating there with a couple of trips to Western restaurants thrown in for good measure. We managed to visit two supermarkets since we had the bike and so stocked up on some home comforts that we’ve been missing – peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies for the win!! It still remains one of our biggest expenses and I think this will be a recurring theme – we like to eat!

Below is a full breakdown of our monthly spend for February 2015:

ApartmentTHB 13'000
Electricity/WaterTHB 690
WifiTHB 500
CleanerTHB 600
FoodTHB 16'533.75
LaundryTHB 80
TransportTHB 8'545
ActivitiesTHB 1'050
OtherTHB 4'573
TotalTHB 45'571.75 / £912.05

This equates to £16.29 per person, per day.

The ‘other’ category includes our visa renewal which cost a massive 3,800 baht (£76) and allows us to stay in Thailand for an extra 30 days. We also had to replace several items of clothing that got ruined at the dog shelter (trust us when we say that the work is not easy!!).

Other things that aren’t included in our budget seeing as they’re not actually travel costs are the £11 life insurance we buy and the £4.99 Netflix subscription that I would be lost without. We do of course travel with full comprehensive travel insurance but this isn’t a monthly cost, we paid for the policy in full back in December.

Again we’re pleased to come in under budget though this was expected as we have spent so much time working!! It’s nice to know that even with visa and flight costs our budget is attainable though we definitely could have spent less (I blame the booze). We have taken steps to reduce some of the more boring costs associated with travelling and you can find our tips for saving money in Chiang Mai here.

We have now left Chiang Mai and are settled in a secluded villa on the mainland of southern Thailand, just a stones skip away from Koh Samui and yes, we are finally on the beach!!! We have purposely picked a non-touristy location for our stay and can’t wait to share all about this unspoilt locals area. We are planning to spend the month working (yes, more work), lounging on the beach and hopefully getting healthy seeing as we now have room to exercise, hurrah!

Next up we leave Thailand for frenetic Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), something that is sure to be a budgeting nightmare!

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Comments 2

  1. Marina from 8th March 2015
    • Claire Michael 8th March 2015

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