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.


The Ultimate Digital Camera for Thailand – Nikon AW300 (Waterproof) – Available

I missed my chance to get a new Nikon AW300 camera in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KLCC Nikon Store) when I was there, but now Amazon is selling them and I got one through there. If you’re in Thailand I’m not sure you can get them sent through Amazon – but, it’s worth a try. I’ll be headed back to Malaysia soon – so I’ll buy mine there.

Nikon Underwater AW300 Orange – Yellow – Black

Why is the Nikon AW300 the ultimate Thailand camera?

First of all it’s waterproof and drop proof. Sure you could still kill it with a good drop, but it’s supposed to be good for drops and underwater. This is something I need. I recently dropped one of my cameras in a mountain stream. The main board is fried and will cost 8,000 THB to fix. I have had 6 other cameras in Thailand that have died due to humidity (I guess) killing them. These were all Sony cameras from 5K THB to 13K THB. I’ve finally decided – weather proofed, waterproofed – or nothing at all. You should probably learn from my 6+ years of replacing cameras and just buy a good waterproof camera too.

Recently had a review of the top waterproof cameras. When you compare this Nikon to the best of that group in terms of specs – this camera wins, easily. With Nikon’s reputation, I’m going to guess that this camera will also easily beat the others in real-life testing. We’ll have to wait to see when they do another comparison, or just check out YouTube – someone else will do one shortly I am sure.

The price isn’t bad, it is in line with the rest of the waterproof cameras like Panasonic and Olympus – two of the best. It REALLY isn’t bad when looked at in terms of replacing it in a year or two because the humidity got to it and killed it. That shouldn’t happen with the waterproof cameras – they are pretty well sealed.

Of course you could pay more and get the ultimate ultimate camera for Thailand – which would be, for price, the Nikon D7000.

When I can, I’ll grab one of these too. The price has fallen dramatically over the last 6 months and they’re now affordable at less than $400 USD.

Oh, and here is some video from the new Nikon AW100 underwater camera – it’s by far the best underwater footage I have ever seen from a simple point and shoot camera. Nikon KILLED this niche with this camera…

Nikon Underwater AW300 Orange – Yellow – Black

Which camera do you like? Are you a Nikon lover? Canon?

I know a photographer here in Thailand, wait, I know two – that both shoot with FUJI cameras. Personally, I like Canon as a 2nd choice but – there are a lot of good options out there now. Sony has started making DSLR’s and one of them is even weatherproof (resistant).

What do you have? What are you buying?

What Are Thailand Expat Teachers Doing Long-term?

Teaching in Thailand – What Is It Really Like? (VIDEO)


I used to know a lot of expats teaching English in Thailand. Now I know a few. Some make a decent living over the years as they stick with one school and their salary goes up. The salary is good for the area they are in, and invariably they meet someone they want to marry – and then start a new phase of life.

Some teachers I know make as much as 48,000 THB per month, and they’re living in a low-cost area. They stayed on for years, and in some cases – the school they are at is going to start outsourcing jobs to a staffing firm instead. The teachers that were once paid well will be out on their backsides, while new meat replace them at 28,000 THB per month instead.

So, though a teaching job looks steady in some way here in Thailand – it probably is NOT – unless it’s your own school. Meaning, you started the business.

Because I’m not in Bangkok, I only really know two kinds of people in Thailand. Those that are retired and have enough to live on – to do what they want. They travel around Thailand a little bit. They spend what they make on pension each month usually, some save a bit. They’re basically set. They worked their asses off during their younger days – and have a couple thousand dollars per month to show for it. Nice.

The other group I know are those that are usually younger, and that are struggling like hell to make more than 30,000 THB per month in Thailand. God help them if they’re living off that and trying to raise a family. I know a couple of guys like this. My wife has a Thai friend she went to school with that married a Canadian guy. They had one kid, now #2 is on the way. He’s taking them all to China to try to make more money and get a bigger savings.

Does that sound like a viable option? How many years would you need to work in China before you have a decent savings? 25? 35 years? The difference in pay is just not that much, and living in Shanghai – costs a lot too.

I’m trying to understand – how long are they going to do this? Rely on his teaching I mean.

How long can someone go year after year making less than $1,500 USD per month and being satisfied with that?

When do you crack and return home to get a job and bigger savings? When do you finally put a boot to your ass and learn some new skills that will get you a better job? When do you decide that $1,500 is so far behind the poverty line that it doesn’t work even in Thailand?

I wrote this today – and am thinking about it today because of a forum post I just read. A guy is returning to the UK after 4.5 years of living in Thailand because he’s afraid he’s going to join the “Condo Diving Club” in a few years if he totally crashes and runs out of money.

He has some foresight anyway.

I don’t know that everyone does.

If you’re teaching in Thailand and you have a wife and kids, girlfriend and kids – whatever your situation, you have a family… what is your long-term plan?

Anybody care to share?

Are you hoping that the teaching situation does a 180 turn and you’ll make better money in a couple years? Are you training toward doing something else? Are you waiting for your parents to die at home and will you the house?

Just curious – thinking about this a lot today.

Illegal to have XXX Porn of ANY SORT in Thailand?

Thailand Porn is Illegal

– and there can be harsh penalties for it.

I know a guy who was doing erotic photography in Thailand for years. He knew some people. We were constantly being kept up to date on photographers getting deported from Thailand back to their home country because of shooting porn in Thailand.

I heard a story recently – not sure how it went down exactly, I’ll ask my g/f to get the Thai paper which might explain it in better detail. But, for some reason an English man was arrested for just HAVING some porn on his computer and CD’s. Though I certainly don’t keep anything on my computer, it’s a fact of life that a massive percentage of expats and Thais go to porn websites in Thailand and get off, and do it again tomorrow. Those pics are in your browser cache unless you took steps to ensure they are not.

Anyway, there was a search warrant from the Pattaya Provincial Court… so police raided the guy’s room on Soi Boekeow. They found 300+ pornographic CD’s and some photo albums.

Police suspected this 75-year-old man was selling the images to his friends. Suspected? So, he might not have sold anything at all – and the images were for his own personal (solitary) enjoyment?

What the hell? Sounds shady to me. I’m really hoping that the Thai police had something more than suspecting the guy just had general porn depicting consenting adults. If it was child porn, I’m all for busting his dumb ass and letting him rot forever in a Thai prison. BUT, since there was no mention of anything the guy did wrong other than having porn and that they “suspected” him of selling it… what the hell is that?

This is the kind of thing that gets me scared – I can’t even have some photos on my computer – or in my possession that the Thai police, courts, or other government censors consider to be “porn”?

Chances are we’ve ALL got porn in the cache that our internet browsers store until we clear it. And then, it’s not really gone as you’d have to wipe and re-write over top of the images you deleted until there was no trace of them.

You know what else is scary? The police are already on record of having said they “suspected” the guy of selling the images… so, if they find no evidence of him having sold pornography in Thailand you think they’ll “FIND” some evidence of it anyway to charge him with? Loss of face being what it is… I’d guess that since they went so far as to arrest a UK national over this… and you know what?

You know what else is scary?

If they found 300 CDs of pornographic material – all of it adult and none of it outrageously strange enough that the UK or Americans would call it illegal pornography…. and they’ve arrested the guy… and they know the rest of the world is vehemently against (at least in the statutes) any sort of child pornography. Well, something could happen I guess. A folder planted. Probably not out of the bounds of possibility in Thailand.

I’d not want to be this guy at this point in time – the Thais having just arrested that idiot from Canada on child pederasty and other charges.

I’m all for sending the child pornographers and abusers a strong message – like – we’ll hang you, balls up from a treetop if we find you…

But first, they’d need to find and prosecute a few thousand of their own on the same charges before I’d really believe they gave two shites about the problem.

Update: Jesus man, finally my slow internet connection loaded that page fully and I just saw the photos of the police hauling away this guy’s stash of porn – it wasn’t just a couple photo albums, the guy’s porn collection filled the back of a pickup truck! hahahha! That’s great stuff… just hope for his sake that none of it involves youngsters.

From the Pattaya City News Site:

We joined the Tourist Police as they conducted a raid of room number 95 at the Diana Estate in Soi Boekeow on Tuesday Afternoon on the strength of a search warrant issued by the Pattaya Provincial Court. The room occupant is Mr. Alan Charles Mawson aged 75 from England who was suspected of possessing indecent images. A search of the room took place and officers found photo albums and pornographic CDs. More than 100,000 indecent images and more than 300 pornographic CDs were confiscated and Mr. Marson was placed under arrest and taken to the Tourist Police Station. We understand that Police suspect that Mr. Mawson was selling images to friends; however this is still under investigation. It is also known that he has been collecting these images over many years and other residents were aware of his actions. The British Embassy in Bangkok are monitoring the case and will offer consular services to the suspect if required.

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.

Thailand Honda Jazz CVT Transmission Problems + Solution

Thailand has the Honda Jazz, called Honda Fit in USA
Honda Jazz in Thailand

I’ve been driving a 2006 Honda Jazz for the last couple of days. There is a vibration between 0 and 15kph that is unnerving. I looked it up – there are about 40 people in one southeast Asia forum online having the same problem.

If you too have this problem – it is one of two things:

1. CVT Fluid – You need to change the CVT fluid. It MUST be HONDA fluid. The fluid is about 900 THB per liter. You’ll need about 7 liters to flush your old slush out and get the new life-giving slush in there. Pray that your problem is this fluid because the alternative costs 10 times that.

2. Start Clutch – between 0 and 8 kph Honda created a special “start clutch”. This thing dies quickly over a short time in start – stop and jackrabbit starts. Cost? Over $2,000 USD. For some Hondas the company is replacing them for free as they have finally admitted there is a problem. But, if you have a pre-2003 model – they are not. That’s the way I understood it from the people writing in the forums – so it may be off a bit.

The Honda Jazz in Thailand gets like 20 kilometers per liter if you’re very careful. If you drive regularly – 16-17km per liter. That’s about half what a Suzuki Raider 150R gets you (motorbike). It’s also about half what a Honda Wave 125 will give you. That’s amazing. It’s not worth a $2,000+ dollar fix after driving 17,000 km though.

If you have a Honda Jazz automatic with iDsi engine – and haven’t changed your CVT fluid to HONDA’s brand in the last 20,000 km if you live outside BKK, or 10,000 km if you live IN Bangkok – go now and do it before you lose your transmission.

Update 7/2012:

We’ve driven 32,000km since the last CVT fluid flush and now the shuddering problem between 1-15kph has returned. It is almost unnoticeable right now, but I notice. We’ll take it in to get another flush.

There is a Honda Service Bulletin that extends the warranty for this issue for 7 years / 140,000KM. The number of the Bulletin is: 2010-12-018. I cannot find it online ANYWHERE since Honda has now password protected their service bulletins at the one source that used to have them.

The full process for flushing your fluid and getting your Honda Fit / Jazz to run normally again is:

1. Drain old CVT fluid.
2. Add Honda CVT fluid (original ONLY).
3. Drive up to 30 kph and coast down to zero – about 6 times.
4. Replace fluid AGAIN.
5. Drive up to 30 kph and coast down to zero – 6 times.
6. Some have said to do a CVT recalibration you can disconnect your battery for a few minutes. The next few times you drive, your transmission resets. This has helped some other people with Honda Jazz transmission problems.

The Honda Jazz iDsi engine has 8 spark plugs – instead of 4. Honda engineers tried to use up ALL the fuel that hits the engine – they pretty much succeeded.

The interior is awesome. There are many ways to fold the seats and get extra room. The dash is futuristic. The air is cold and there is enough power for easy driving and passing.

If you have a Honda Jazz – let me know if you’re having the vibration problem and what you did about it.


[photo by member, jiangbabe]

Thailand Book Recommendations: Teaching in Thailand

I put out a book –


You can find it at Amazon under my name – Vern Lovic

Better to watch this video to see my latest take on it…

(Click the image above to see more information and for the ordering page.)

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Thailand is a well put together book that I highly recommend because I wrote it. ;)

I looked at all the different things I would want to know as a teacher coming from abroad to teach English to Thais and I jammed it all into this book. I know it’s American style to tell you it’s the Ultimate Guide… but in truth, I’ve seen nothing else that is current and that covers as much as this book covers. Not only will you learn all the requirements for teaching in Thailand, but you’ll have the “big picture” view about costs of housing and furnishings, short briefs on places you might want to live in Thailand, and the salary expectations you might have coming here in 2010-2011.

If you look on Dave’s ESL cafe or Ajarn (com) you can see that currently there are very few teaching jobs outside of Bangkok. There’s a reason for that. We’re in the slow hiring period. When is the good hiring period? You’ll find out in the book. Where are the cheapest places to live in the country? You’ll find out in the book. Where are the least stressful jobs at? In the book.

If you are considering coming to Thailand and you’ve already read the reams of outdated information online, get this “Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Thailand” in ebook format and it will help you make your decision for, or against, coming to Thailand to teach.

If you leave a comment below asking for a copy of this teaching book. I’ll give away 5 freebies. If you’ve already received a free ebook from this site before – sorry, this offer is just for those that haven’t received any free ebooks in the past here.

Sisaket, Thailand – Isaan Through and Through

Young boy monk in Sisaket, ThailandI’ve not spent a lot of time in Sisaket, Thailand, maybe a 4-5 months or so, in total. Sisaket is a province and a town. The town is located west of Ubon Ratchathani in the Isaan area of Thailand. “Isaan” is what the northeast area of the Thailand is known as.

In the summers the temperature is blistering hot. The Songkran Water Throwing festival is seriously appreciated during this time. They should throw water for all of April, May, and June because it is like a desert during these months. Even on into July and August, you don’t want to leave your flip-flop sandals on the outside of a temple you’re visiting because if you need to walk across the ground that has been brightly lit by the sun for a couple hours you’re going to be dancing your way towards some shade in a hurry! In the winters it can be COLD. Riding the motorbike in Isaan after 10 pm on a winter’s night can get below the freezing point with the windchill. Frequently during the winters at night, it’s possible to breathe out the fog.

Sisaket town is smaller than Ubon Ratchathani and doesn’t have near as many shopping outlets available. There is one small mall in the town called, “Soon Heng” with a supermarket, theaters, bookstore, KFC chicken, and MD’s Sukiyaki (like MK’s), a coffee shop and a donut shop, plenty of karaoke booths, a place for kids to play and a small food court.

All around Sisaket seems to be a market. The entire town is like one big market. You can find tents and small shops selling fruit and every kind of food and clothes. But, uhm, no farang food like pizza and spaghetti. One would need to go an hour east to Ubon’s “Risotto” restaurant to find the closest quality pizza and spaghetti.

Sisaket has a train station and a bus station. The train will get you anywhere in Thailand as it goes through Nakhon Ratchisma (Korat) as well as Bangkok. There are air-conditioned and fan-cooled coaches. Overnight trains to Bangkok are comfortable as you can sleep for 10 hours and when you wake up, you’re there! Cost of an air-conditioned sleeper seat would be around 600 baht (in 2007).

Everyone seems to know each other in Sisaket. I remember a couple years ago I was at an outdoor market with my friend who is from Sisaket (born there) and she had her back turned to traffic, but someone KNEW it was her as they drove by in a truck and stopped to chat with her. How they knew it was her we haven’t the slightest idea except that everyone knows everyone.

As a foreigner in Sisaket, I was treated really well. There are many Thai people that want to practice their English with me and laugh when they see me. Some stare. Some point. Some say, “Mommy, farang!”. There’s no ill-intention, just curious people. A long time ago during the Vietnam war, they saw quite a few soldiers from America around, but we’re scarce now. As I said in the review of Ubon Ratchathani, there are about 1% of Thailand’s visitors having a look at Isaan. Isaan is a big place covering many provinces. Ubon is the largest province. If 1/20th out of the 1% of visitors to Thailand are going to Ubon, then about 1/500th of 1% are visiting Sisaket.

Last time I was in Sisaket I don’t remember seeing any farang (western) tourists or residents. I was there for almost a week – and it was just me and the lovely Isaan people.

Sisaket townspeople really enjoy having foreigners around. Some think we bring them good luck. Others, that we bring money. Others still, that we will marry their daughter or other relations! There’s no shortage of beautiful girls here, but most that are of working age have moved on to Bangkok or somewhere else to earn money. Girls in high school can be frequently seen, but those of college age are pretty rare. There is a Rajabhat University in Sisaket, though I think it must be much smaller than the one in Ubon Ratchathani. Ubon is kind of a college town considering they have Rajabhat, Ubon Ratchathani University, Polytechnic, and a lot of technical schools.

Young Buddhist monks at temple in Sisaket

There are many elephants walking around at night. Here is a short video of a very small baby elephant that is paraded through the street. The owners take the food with them and get people to pay to feed the elephant. Kind of sad I guess, but elephants like to walk I think. This one I saw a month ago is really cute, but when the guy realized I wasn’t paying to feed it, he quickly moved on.

On the road going towards Surin is a golf driving range, though I’m not sure there is a place to play golf since I’m not a player.

There are 4 public parks that can be seen. One very large park is very special and was built in honor of the present King’s mother. The name of this park is, “Soowan Som Det”. It is a BEAUTIFUL park with many lakes filled with large catfish and Tilapia (Nile Perch) that can be fed for 10 baht for a bag of fish-food pellets.

During March and April, the yellow trees called in Thai, “Dok Koon”, are blooming along with some purple flowered trees. There is another tree with flowers called, “Lum Duan” that suffuses great areas of the park with the most incredible smell – like a woman’s perfume. The first few times I smelled it as I ran around I thought that a woman must have just ridden through on her motorbike or something. I never imagined that the smell could be a flower because it is exactly like a perfume someone might purchase in a beauty store. The people of Sisaket have a big festival during the time these flowers are blooming in March. The park at that time is filled with hundreds (thousands?) of people dancing, eating, playing sports, selling their products and showing their artwork.

There is a small zoo in this park where you will find deer, hippos, alligators, birds of every sort, peacocks, turtles, a vulture, snakes, lizards and water monitors. There is one group of animals with genetical anomalies here which is sad to see. One was a cow with another cow growing out of its right shoulder area. Three or four legs can be plainly seen coming out of the shoulder region and there are other bones under the skin that give the cow a distorted appearance. Next to the cow is a buffalo with a malformed jaw and another buffalo missing a leg. It’s quite sad to see. Especially sad was that the cow with the deformity was a male and seemed to be horny for the female cow that was in the same pen. I kept telling him not to mate, it’s going to be nothing but bad news, but I think eventually he’s going to be able to pull it off successfully. There will be another addition to the zoo’s genetic wonders section if that happens.

The other parks are very small and don’t have many trees for shade. The weather during summer is very hot in Sisaket, I can’t stress that enough! Bring a hat and water with you wherever you go, you’ll need it.

There are a couple hotels in the city that tourists should have a look at. The best one is probably “The NorthEast Hotel” which is located on Sisumung Road near Wat Luang. The rate is about 600 baht per night and there is no discount for multiple days or weeks staying. It’s a new hotel with a coffee shop and free internet broadband place close to it. The rooms are all air-conditioned and clean. I didn’t stay there, but went and had a look at the room. I stayed at a hotel that is near the train station called, “Prompeeman Hotel” for 500 baht per night for a fan room. The sheets were incredibly disgusting and so I took some from the maid’s cart which was brand new and I re-did my bed with those. Maybe better to stay at the “NorthEast Hotel” for the cleanliness factor. There are numerous nightclub type establishments off the lobby area of the Prompeeman hotel and it seems like the one happening spot for night time activities if you are into that.

There is a bus station that can get you anywhere with air-conditioned or fan buses. Across the street is a nightclub – the largest in Sisaket, and called, “Nona”. I’ve not been there, but a friend said it resembles “The Rock” nightclub in the base of the “Nevada Hotel” in Ubon Ratchathani.

Sisaket has many temples in the area of the city and surrounding. There is a temple right outside the city about 5 kilometers called, “Wat Prathat Ruang”. If you visit there you can ring many of the bells and gongs in the temple for good luck. Great fun! Other temples are on the way to Surin and some have ancient ruins that are part of the Khmer dynasty. I have some photos here of an old brown-stoned temple on the way to Surin that was really nice.

This will sound funny, but when I was at that temple I went in to look at the Buddhist amulets for necklaces and other things they were selling. There was an odd man behind the counter whose eyes were wide and hazy, almost like he was blind, but he got around the office OK. He was missing his front two teeth. When he saw me said, “Florida” about 8 times until I understood what he was saying. I’m from Florida. I told him. He just shook his head and said, “child”. Then he said, “boy”. It was so strange. I’d never met him and he’d never have met anyone that I knew. I have a son in Florida that I think about every day and that I miss a lot. He’s always on my mind. This guy picked it up immediately. Very odd.

Khmer Buddhist temple, Sisaket, Thailand

Anyway… so, Sisaket is a very quiet town that is safe and a great place to relax if you want to unwind from Pattaya, Bangkok, or some other high-energy area of Thailand.

Don’t forget to try the ant-eggs. Women carry them around the city in clear plastic bags – they appear to be queen ants by the hundred that they chilled to stop the development. They are big, juicy, and a unique taste that you’ve likely not found elsewhere.

Sisaket, Thailand… is Isaan personified.

Thailand FAQ: Thailand’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t know if I mentioned the Thailand FAQ I did at my main site ( 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 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.



Thailand Snakes Stickers from GoGoPrint

I was offered a free $30 coupon from a company in Bangkok, Thailand called GoGoPrint. I quickly ordered some 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:

ThaiPulse Blog for Sale

We decided, after quite a lot of thought that we should sell all the websites that are taking my time away from what I want to do – write books., is a well established domain with over 700 pages of written content and a couple thousand image pages and video pages.

The content on ThaiPulse is focused on expat life in Thailand.

Traffic has been nice lately – and climbing – 500+ unique visitors per day, usually many more.

Adsense income has been $10+ per day the last few days, but I don’t expect that to hold. Typically Adsense is about $5-6 per day on average. In a year – around $2,000.

The price is only $2,900 and the value is predominantly in the strong inbound links and constant traffic over 4+ years. The name lends itself to a number of possibilities.

If you’re serious about buying this domain, bring an offer through Email with questions: Once you’ve deposited the funds in we will transfer the domain and give you the logins for the other accounts.

We are also selling a couple of other sites you may have an interest in:

SOLD already. :P