Cost of Living – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Can YOU Survive on $500 Per Month Pension in Thailand?

VIDEO I just made at the end of 2017:

A guy I know did a video of him and his wife going through groceries they bought in Thailand to give us an idea of the cost of living. I think it would be helpful for expats considering moving over to Thailand to see what kind of things are available in the markets – and how much they cost. This is in Chiang Mai, where the prices might be higher than a smaller city like Trang, Ubon, or similar city.

Matt moved over from the US with his wife and baby boy. They’re making a run at staying long-term, I wish them luck.

 

Thailand FAQ: Thailand’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t know if I mentioned the Thailand FAQ I did at my main site (Thaipulse.com) but a while back I decided to start pulling together a lot of different resources into one big page of links to help people that were trying to answer some questions about Thailand.

The result so far is here “Thailand FAQ“.

Here’s a special  Thailand Snakes FAQ I just made. Don’t miss my ThailandSnakes.com website that has a lot of information about snakes to avoid in Thailand – there are dozens.

If you have something to add, shoot me an email and tell me about whatever it is and I’ll add it if it fits.

Thanks,

Vern

Thailand Snakes Stickers from GoGoPrint

I was offered a free $30 coupon from a company in Bangkok, Thailand called GoGoPrint. I quickly ordered some ThailandSnakes.com stickers and the ordering process was really quite smooth. They have an automatic ordering process that was easy to follow.

They offer all sorts of printing. I just got 100 round stickers of black design on white background. They look good – and came to our house in quickly – much faster than expected.

If you need stickers of any kind – check them out: GoGoPrint.co.th

Satun, Thailand Visa Run

Most expats in the south of Thailand are living on the island of Phuket, so they shoot right up to Ranong, Myanmar (Burma) for their visa runs. There are many services that offer the runs. Many expats living in Krabi, Phang Nga, and Surat, also hit the Ranong border for their visa stamps.

This is the 2nd time I’ve been to Satun for mine – and it’s quite an easy experience. I debated whether to take the motorbike, but, since I couldn’t rent one on my wife’s passport, instead I just drove the car. It’s a little bit stressful drive – considering you’ll travel about 600 km in 8 hours, and there are numerous idiots driving cars in Thailand – maybe I was one of them? Eventually you get there and get it all worked out.

From Krabi, you head south toward Satun on highway 4. Before you reach A. Muang, Satun, you make a left at Chalung and right at Khuan Don you’ll see a couple signs for border – a right hand turn. Take it. It’s about 15 km from there. After just a couple hundred yards after making the turn there is a big soup sign on the left. I ate noodles with beef there – amazing and cheap (35 THB). They re-finished this road, and are nearly finished, so it’s quite a bit nicer than the mud it was last time I went to Satun for my Thai visa run (6 months ago).

Here’s a link to the Google Maps directions to Satun from Krabi:


View Larger Map

As I said, it’s possible to take a motorbike from Krabi to Satun and make it just fine. I did the roundtrip in 2 days last time on a Yamaha Nouvo 135cc motorbike. The car was easier in some respects, but the motorbike was probably faster. In a car you cannot easily pass all the time to get around slow-pokes. I went on a Tuesday and the traffic was negligible most places before 3 pm.

If anybody knows of a visa service for this Krabi – Satun border run, do let me know so I can post it here. I did see a van full of tourists getting their stamps here last time, but none this time.

Buying a Car or Truck in Thailand

Here’s what I learned over the past few days about buying a car – truck in Thailand.

  • Almost all the trucks interiors will be trashed if 5 years or more old – and most of the car interiors too.
  • Some odometers stop at 99,999 while others give the hundreds of thousands dial as well.
  • There are a hell of a lot of tsunami / flood cars on the market. You can find them by looking for pitted aluminum rims – and mud up under the car – get under it and look. You can see either mud there – or, where it was. Carpets will be new – or an attempt at cleaning made. If the car was really underwater you’ll notice the entire upholstery is trashed.
  • Most places ask for 19,000 to 30,000 THB down. The rest can be financed.
  • Someone over 60 cannot co-sign on your loan – unless you have 2 people to co-sign.
  • Someone over 70 cannot ever co-sign.
  • Thailand car – truck financing rates are 2-5%. The lower the rate – the newer the car.
  • Honda Jazz makes a 1.2 liter engine. We damn near bought a Jazz like this without even asking the liters. I thought they were ALL 1.5+ liters from Honda by now. My bad.
  • 1.5 liter engines are the average. 1.6 liter and larger starts to define the upper class (in cars – not trucks, obviously).
  • There are a couple of searchable databases for Thailand cars with prices listed online to give you an idea what a car should cost. There are few cars with Kilometers listed. Google “thailand cars”.
  • Thais are not pushy sales people. Even at their worst they are only 10% the pitbull as those in America.
  • The ratio of trucks to cars in Isaan seems to be 3:1 to 4:1.
  • Trucks with king cab – the space in the back with a bench for people or stuff – don’t have seatbelts in the back. If you want to keep those you love safe – you’ll either have to install them, or choose a truck with 4 doors and full seats with seatbelts.
  • Most cars don’t have airbags in them. A 2003 Honda Jazz had dual airbags. A 2006 Toyota Vios didn’t. None of the other cars we looked at had airbags – that I remember, but I wasn’t always looking for them.
  • Prices on the lot are flexible. On average we got the dealer to drop the price by 20,000 to 30,000 THB. Anyone getting way more than that? Any idea how much profit is built into these cars?
  • Most cars and trucks are acquired at Thailand vehicle auctions because owners couldn’t pay the monthly fee and had it repossessed or turned it in voluntarily.
  • Toyotas and Hondas 15-20 years old are running in Thailand – with 300,000+ kilometers and some of them are running WELL.
  • One car dealer showed me his amortization rate chart for 3.75% interest that was really for 6-7%.
  • If you own land / a house – it’s very easy to get a car loan using it as collateral.
  • There are a lot of LPG cars out there. LPG means Liquid Petroleum Gasoline – I think. It’s a retrofit to a regular gas engine that is under some pressure to keep the gas a liquid, otherwise it’s a gas. It kills 10% of the engines power to convert to LPG. It costs an average of 1.3 THB per km to drive it versus 4 THB per km to drive a regular 91/95 gasoline engine. Thus why most taxis use it.
  • There are FEW LPG filling stations around. Not enough anyway.

I drove a car for the first time in 6 years the other day – it was a stick-shift. It went way better than I expected considering I’m driving on the left side of the road in a right drivers-seat car, using my right hand for turn signals – left hand for windshield wipers, and side-mirrors that are in a different configuration. What really got me was about 3km into the ride when I realized I had a rearview mirror up and to my LEFT. I hadn’t seen it because it wasn’t adjusted for my sight-level at all and didn’t catch my attention until then.

Buying a car is really an experience in Thailand. Some places won’t let you test-drive the cars. Some give wildly inflated prices – thinking they just hit the Lotto because a farang showed up at their business. Some bring out glasses of ice-water and chairs.

That’s all I can think of at the moment about buying a car or truck in Thailand. I hope this helps someone!

Need a Flashlight in Thailand?


This will be the most boring post I’ve ever done… but, if you happen to need a flashlight…

Go to Tesco and get a blue and white 7 inch long (18cm) Toshino “Living Simplicity” flashlight. It is re-chargeable, lightweight, and the damn battery just won’t quit on these things. It’s an LED light with either 3 or 6 LEDs you can turn on at a time. I used one for 5 hours of snake hunting, then, as a test, turned it on 36 hours ago – on full 6 LED – and it is STILL WORKING. It is not as bright as it was with full-charge – but the fact that it’s still working after 41 hours of use is incredible.

I think it cost 160 THB.

Thai Amulet Information

Something I read online the other day said that in Bangkok there is a 100 BILLION Thai Baht business revolving around Thai amulet sales.

That’s 30 million USD. That’s a lot of Thai amulets business. Apparently the Buddhist amulets that really sell for the highest amounts are the old amulets made by monks many years back. Some Thai and Indian amulets are over 1,000 years old.

The Thai amulets that are famous include Som Dej, Luang Phor Tuad (Thailand’s most famous monk), anything with Luang Phor Klai or Pra Bit Tar (Closed Eyes Monk). I don’t think there are any original Lersi or Garuda amulets floating around – I think those were recent creations and don’t hold all that much value.

There are an incredible number of bogus Thai amulet copies making the rounds. The opportunity to sell one amulet for a few hundred thousand Thai Baht is apparently too good for a lot of scheisters to pass up. I’ll bet the owner of every amulet stand I’ve been to in Thailand has told me they have original amulets – and they proceed to show me their 10,000 to 50,000 THB amulets. I wouldn’t know what to do with an amulet that was that much money. Put it in a vault?

There are some common Thai amulets you’ll see if you go looking… Luang phor Tuad amulets are quite famous Thailand-wide at least. Usually he’s in a sitting meditation position and hunched over. His head appears larger than it should be. Does that mean wisdom? Or, did he just have an abnormally large head? Not sure, but you’ll know it’s Luang Phor Tuad by that pose. In fact, nearly all the recognizable amulets are made of monks that hold the same pose and have the same features. This goes not only for Thai monk amulets, but for other popular amulets like Ganesh, Kwan Yin, Garuda, Luang Phor Klai, Pra Bit Tar, Nong Kwak, and others.

Nong Kwak is a Thai woman that has a hand raised and waving – Thai style. Thai style calling someone to come here. So, the meaning is that she is calling customers to come into the amulet owner’s business so money can come in. Many business owners have statues and amulets of Nong Kwak because she seems to be the main business prosperity figure.

Kwan Yin is the goddess of compassion. She is in one of 3 poses typically.

1. Standing in a long gown or robe. Sometimes the robe is flowing to the side – as if she was moving.

2. Sitting on a tiger and she is holding 4 things in 4 arms.

3. Thousand arm pose – Kwan Yin has many arms coming out from her side and is holding something in each.

Ganesh is the Hindu god of obstacles – both placing obstacles in the way, and removing them. I believe that Hindus call Ganesh the highest god. I could be wrong on that.

Of course the Buddha is the most popular amulet in Thailand and he is represented many ways in amulets. Usually sitting in a meditative position but sometimes reclining on his side. Sometimes there is a background of Naga (serpents, snakes) in back of him, forming a profile around his head. Sometimes Buddha is meditating on top of rolls of coiled Naga, as in the Som Dej amulets. Sometimes there is a lattice frame of Naga behind him.

Thai amulet materials include:  tin, iron, gold, silver, bronze, brass, pewter, plastic, gold paint, gold plating, silver plating, plastic, wood, stone, hair, bone ashes, ground bone, animal hair, animal teeth, seeds, clay, dirt, sand, rock, jewels, glass, and probably more I’m not aware of.

Nawagote was actually 9 millionairres that gave vast amounts of money to further Buddhism back during Buddha's time.

Thai amulet prices vary widely. In Ubon Ratchathani I was quoted 2 baht each at a Chinese store that had a plastic bag full of them. For a similar amulet at an amulet shop I was quoted 1,000 THB. There is no way for me to tell whether an amulet is worth 1,000 THB – you must trust the Thai amulet store owner.

There is an amulet market in the streets of Bangkok that is a massive meeting place for those that buy and sell Thai amulets of all sorts. It is called, “Ta Prachan” – which, in Thai means, person bringing good luck and good fortune. The market appears every Sunday and is located close to Wat Mahathat between Maharat Road and the Chao Phraya river. During every day of the week there is also an impromptu gathering of amulet sellers (Thai) that spread their amulets out on cloths on the Maharat Road sidewalk and sell to passers-by. Hundreds of thousands of Thai amulets are available at the market, and on some days – that many on the sidewalks. If you’re in the market for some try there or at online markets.

Thailand Tips #19: Travel Tips

If you’re coming to Thailand anytime soon and you are looking for a guide that goes beyond the usual hotel reviews and how to wai a Thai person…

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Thailand Tips #18: AIS Mobile Phone SIM Special Promotions

When you get to Thailand you’ll probably get a SIM card for your mobile phone. You won’t know what rate you’re getting, but it’s probably, almost definitely less than ideal.

You’re probably paying 5 Thai Baht per minute for phone calls and per SMS.

Here’s a way to save a lot of money and get 1.5 baht per minute and 2 baht per SMS to any other mobile phone in Thailand, AIS, DTAC, TRUE, etc.

The coolest part of it is if you call between 2300 hours and 1700 hours you get an HOUR for 1.5 baht if you’re calling another AIS customer.

Here’s the link you’ll need:

AIS Promotions (English) >

Here’s the step by step screencapture video to walk you through it – because the AIS site changes from English to Thai when you try to sign up for a promotion. Don’t ask why – many of the Thai websites revert to Thai even though you choose English…

1-2call AIS Thailand special mobile phone rates

AIS Special Promotion Video – how to get 1.5 Baht per hour rate.

Thailand Tips #17: I’ve Been Hit and I Can’t Get Up

This is an extension of tip 16, but it deserves it’s own post.

IF for some reason in Thailand you’ve been hit by a car, truck, bus, or anything big enough to kill you if it ran over you a few times…

PICK YOURSELF OFF THE GROUND QUICK.

Why do I say this?

Certain unscrupulous Thai drivers of huge dump trucks, buses and other vehicles have been known to back up over someone laying in the street that they just crashed into.

Why?

To make sure they’re really dead and can’t press charges in court.

Why?

In Thai accidents if you’re judged to be responsible for someone’s injuries and they’re severe and put the person out of work for a while – or a lifetime – the court will insist you pay for that person’s living expenses for however long it takes to get back to normal.

There are well known – reported cases of even Bangkok bus drivers doing this.

Bang, they smack into a motorbike rider or a pedestrian. They hit the reverse and make sure they really flatten the person so there is no court case.

No, not joking. No, it’s not an urban myth. The frequency it happens might be partly myth – but the actual practice is real.

I wrote another post about this same crazy Thai driver phenomenon and more about driving in Thailand earlier.

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

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