After 3 months of non-stop travel we were tired and ready to settle down for a bit. It was something we always planned on doing so we could get a real taste of a place and so Greg could work for a bit. The hard part was deciding where we should do that. Our ideal spot was a place on the beach, $20 a night, and blazing fast wifi. We soon found out that the beach + blazing fast wifi didn’t really go together (although there are plenty of places on the beach for $20 a night in Thailand and Indonesia).
We heard a lot about Chiang Mai, Thailand while we were traveling the first few months. Startup life thrived (meaning wifi and power outlets a plenty), the food is delicious, it’s not completely run over with tourists, has plenty to explore, and best of all…it’s CHEAP!!! It was decided, we were going to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a month. Only downside: no beach. So we settled (there I go with my spoiled tendencies again) with a pool.
So here I have for you, 7 reasons we’re happy we lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand and why you probably should too:
1. It’s cheap, Cheap, CHEAP!
One of the main reasons we chose CM to settle down for a bit, it’s CHEAP. Our daily average for both of us was $64 which included our rent, utilities (we used a lot of aircon), transportation, groceries, household items (towels, coffee maker, pan, and a few other necessary items), dinners out, lots of beer, exploring (including temple hopping, a trip to Chiang Rai, Elephant Nature Park, Greg’s cuddle fest with Tigers, my cooking class, football games, and other adventures), cellular service, laundry, and any other Baht that was spent is part of that daily $64 we spent each day. – Side note: track your expenses for 1 month and see what you spend. Every penny, euro, baht, or rupiah you spend. Write it down in a spreadsheet. The results are quite fascinating. End side note – That’s $32 a person a day. That’s $2,240 total for the whole month. We spent more than that just on rent back in San Francisco. Plus, we could have spent a lot less if we looked for a cheaper place to live (which there is plenty of, but I was adamant about the pool…remember….spoiled), or if we didn’t run our aircon 24/7, didn’t go out for dinner and drinks with friends as often, or done as many adventures. But that’s just not as fun!
2. Thai food is delicious
You’re going to notice a theme throughout this post: Chiang Mai is CHEAP! Including the food. We ate breakfast and lunch at home most days since we had a fridge to keep groceries in, and a stove to cook on. But we almost always went out to dinner. Our favorite was pad thai from our pad thai guy (yes, we had a pad thai guy). A big plate of freshly cooked pork pad thai was 30 baht. That’s less than $1. With drinks we spent a grand total of $3 max on dinner for both of us each night. Even when we splurged on a meal out with friends it was never more than $10 for both of us to have dinner and drinks. Oh yea, and the Thai food was always delicious!
3. Food Markets Galore
Speaking of groceries, we went “grocery” shopping every sunday for the upcoming week. Back at home grocery shopping was a chore, but in CM (or anywhere in Thailand for that matter) grocery shopping was an adventure. There are several food markets around the city, but our favorite was the Mueang Mai Market. It was always buzzing with locals buying fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, nuts, and spices. A weekly market visit ran us about $5-10 (we got a little excited the first week and bought WAY too much food…grand total of that trip was $9.67 and we could have had people over to eat everyday that week and not run out of food).
4. Our apartment
We lived at Green Hill Place for 33 days for about $600. This included a big room with two desks for us to work at, unlimited internet, a beautiful pool, a gym with all the necessities, access to a little cafe and market, and safe/convenient living. Stay there longer and it’s even cheaper! We could have found a cheaper place to stay, but the convenience of the location, gym, and pool sold us. Oh, and the wifi was blazing fast so Greg was a happy camper. It also had a sweet sunset view over Doi Suthep Mountain.
I didn’t spend as much time here as I hoped
But plenty here!
5. Location in Thailand
A night train north of Bangkok and you’re in Chiang Mai, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Chiang Rai and Pai. I’m really sad we never did a weekend in Pai. Our friends only have amazing things to say about it, and it’s so close to Chiang Mai. I guess we have a reason to go back now. I did make it to Chiang Rai though. A perfect day trip with some girlfriends to go temple hopping. We saw the famous White Temple and Black House, two temples unlike any other that we saw in Thailand.
6. So much to do and see
There was never a dull moment in our new city. If we weren’t laying out by our pool or working, these are some of the things we were doing instead: went high into the mountains to swim with a view at Veranda President Pool Villa, cooking class at Best Thai Cooking School, Greg played with tigers at the Mae Rim Tiger Kingdom, we also played with elephants at Elephant Nature Park, day-tripped up to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and Black House, we rooted for the tigers at a couple Chiang Mae Football Club games, picniced and played frisbie with friends at Huay Tung Tao Lake, explored Wat Srisuphan (The Silver Temple) and Wat Umong, drove up Chiang Mai’s hovering mountain: Doi Suthep for some great views, rainy days were spent at the movie theatre seeing the latest Hollywood flick, walked the many street markets, and of course, we ate at all the markets and restaurants. Check out my Chiang Mai Foursquare list for all our favorite places to see, do, and eat.
7. The people
Thai people everywhere we went in Thailand were some of the nicest people we have met on this trip. They were always curious to know more about us and in turn we got to learn about them. We also met some dear friends from all over the world in Chiang Mai. Even a few from the States! We had so much fun enjoying this city with them, seeing new places with them, eating delicious food with them, and having a few too many Chang with them. We celebrated birthdays, successful work days, new arrivals to the group, and sad goodbyes when people moved on. Every time we hung out with our friends was a favorite time we had in the little city we all shared in northern Thailand. I miss our crew of crazy farangs. I can’t wait to see every last one of them again somewhere in this world.