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How to live on a budget in Chiang Mai

It is possible to be broke while travelling. You may lose your wallet or spend too much money on beer. Who knows! Then, what should we do if this really happens? Don’t even think about cheating or stealing. While you are waiting for your friends in your homeland to transfer money to your account or waiting for your next month’s salary, I have some suggestions to pass this hard time.

Thailand is famous for cheap street food and Chiang Mai has cheaper food than in Bangkok. Well, did you know that university cafeteria is an oasis for us. University’s main cafeteria and faculty’s canteen serve cheap food for students and the taste is not bad. Let’s say that they are in normal standard but the size is quite bigger. Some dishes are less than 30 baht and you could pay only 10-20 baht for a drink. This includes hospital’s cafeteria as well. You can fill your stomach in less than a hundred baht for one meal.

However, there are some rules and manners to remember. Keep in mind that university (and hospital too) is not a ‘tourist destination. Though the university is open for tourist visit (in a tram), please respect the place and behave well. Do not talk loudly or wander around aimlessly. Never enter classroom or take picture of students without permissions. When dining in a cafeteria, try to act harmoniously with students as possible. There are exchange students and foreign teachers in almost every faculty. If you just eat quietly, no one knows who you are. On the contrary, if you misbehave they would notice it right away and that causes bad reputation for every tourist as a whole.

water machine in a small lane near Chiang Mai Gate Market

water machine in a small lane near Chiang Mai Gate Market

Next, another factor one spend a lot of money each day is for a drink. Imagine that you need to buy one bottle of water every meal. That costs around 30 baht per day. Sound cheap isn’t it? But you don’t always buy plain water, do you? Often that you order coffee, iced chocolate, or smoothies which is about 50-100 baht for one cup or glass. So, one way to save budget is to refill your drinking water with a water machine. Look for a drinking water booth like in the picture. They are located around dormitory or convenient store. Want to know how much it costs? You won’t believe it. Just 1 baht for 1 litre of water. This means you can bring empty bottles to refill water and save a lot of money for several days. For people who stay in a dormitory or make a long stay here, this means a lot to them.

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how to use (in Thai)

how to use (in Thai)

Last suggestion is for a place to stay. I know you know many budget guesthouses and hotels. Some of them offer a room with less than 200 baht per day. (OMG! I don’t want to imagine the condition of room. Can someone tell me how good is it?) Well, in case that a hotel rent is too expensive (remember we are talking about ‘when you are broke’, not a normal you who have a lot of money) and guesthouse is fully booked, we have more choices. It is a dormitory. Chiang Mai has so many dormitories because of several universities are located here. A dormitory usually provides monthly room that one needs to pay 3-months deposit in advance. However, some of them have daily room for rent.  A friend of mine usually stay in a daily room when she came to Chiang Mai. She said it is much cheaper than going to a hotel (300-500 baht per day depending on condition of rooms).

100 baht only!!!!

100 baht only!!!!

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250 baht per night

250 baht per night, + cable TV and hot water

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room for rent

room for rent

No one knows what will happen. Now you are not in a trouble, but how about tomorrow? I think these tricks would not be too useless to know. Good luck and have fun in Chiang Mai. 🙂

About Kwang Kittiya

A shop owner who loves dogs and having 5 pugs. Also handmade and craft affectionate :)

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