Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

The Cost Of Living In Thailand

The cost of living in Thailand varies depending on the region. Bangkok, the capital city, is generally more expensive than other areas due to the strong demand for goods and services. That said, even in Bangkok, the cost of living is relatively lower than in many Western countries.

Discover the world's top health insurers.
Compare quotes with a click of the button.

We will look at two cities, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and explore the costs of housing, food, transportation, culture and entertainment, education, and healthcare in each city. Our goal is to provide a general grasp of the living costs in different parts of the Land of Smiles.

The lower cost of living in Thailand compared to that in many Western countries makes it an attractive destination for expats and those looking to retire abroad. However, salaries in Thailand are also lower than in many Western countries, so careful budgeting and financial planning is crucial.

With costs so much more affordable than in many other places, including the US, Thailand is a good place to live for expats!

How Much It Costs To Live In Bangkok

Ethereal White Temple: Thailand's Serene Rong Khun

Bangkok is the thriving capital city of Thailand and one of the world’s top travel destinations. However, as with any major metropolis, the cost of living in Bangkok can be steep, particularly concerning housing and healthcare.

Housing

Bangkok boasts a wide array of housing options that cater to various budgets and preferences, and the cost depends on factors such as location, size, and type. Depending on its size and location, an apartment can cost anywhere from USD $200 to $3,000 or more per month.

For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center may cost you around THB ฿4,000-35,000 per month (about USD $410 – $1,030), while a more luxurious 3-bedroom apartment or condo can set you back THB ฿45,000-100,000 per month (about USD $1,320 – $2,930) or even more.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, you might want to consider renting outside the city center, where you can find a one-bedroom apartment for as low as THB ฿6,500 per month (about USD $190).

Food

Thai food is renowned for its unique flavors and affordability. One can enjoy a meal at a local eatery for as little as ฿100 THB (about $3 USD), while a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant can cost around THB ฿600-2,000 (about $18-59 USD).

Western-style restaurants and international cuisine establishments tend to be more expensive. For those on a tight budget, buying groceries and cooking at home is the way to go.

Transportation

Public transportation in Bangkok is generally affordable and efficient. The BTS Skytrain and MRT subway are the most popular modes of transportation in the city with a single trip costing THB ฿15-59 (about USD $0.4-1.7) depending on the distance traveled.

Taxis and ride-sharing services such as Grab are also available with fares starting at THB ฿35 (about USD $1). However, traffic in Bangkok can be notoriously congested, particularly during rush hour, which can increase transportation costs and travel time.

Gasoline costs around THB ฿40 (about USD $1.2) per liter in Bangkok.

Culture And Entertainment

In Bangkok, you’ll find a plethora of cultural and entertainment options, ranging from awe-inspiring temples and historical sites to contemporary malls and opulent spas. The cost varies depending on the activity or attraction.

Exploring temples and museums can be fairly inexpensive, with most places charging a fee of around THB ฿50-100 (about USD $1.5-2.9) for admission. A movie ticket for an international release costs about THB ฿280 (about USD $8.2). However, indulging in upscale shopping and dining can be quite pricey.

Education

For expats with children, the cost of education in Bangkok can be a significant expense. Tuition fees for international schools can vary widely depending on the school and age of the child, with some schools charging fees as high as THB ฿1 million (almost USD $30,000) per year.

The good news is that state schools in Bangkok are free for Thai citizens, and they charge only a nominal fee for expat children. However, not all state schools in Thailand teach in English, so language may be a barrier.

Healthcare

Bangkok is known for its world-class medical facilities, but the cost of medical services can be significantly higher than in other parts of Thailand. Expat residents are required to purchase health insurance in Thailand, which can be quite costly depending on the coverage required.

International private medical insurance (IPMI) for a male in his mid 30s who is in generally good health costs THB ฿122,800 (around USD3,600) per year on average. For minor medical issues, clinics and pharmacies are widely available and are quite affordable.

For more details, please download our Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2023.

How Much It Costs To Live In Chiang Mai

Next, we look at Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city. As we’ll see, living in Chiang Mai costs a lot less than living in Bangkok, so if you’re on a fixed pension or living off your savings, you should give Chiang Mai some serious thought because your money will go much further there.

Majestic Wat Arun: Bangkok's Sacred Temple

Housing

Compared to other major cities in Thailand, housing cost in Chiang Mai is generally lower. A modest one-bedroom apartment or studio in the city center can range from THB ฿8,000-18,000 per month (about USD $230-530).

However, a more extensive 3-bedroom apartment or villa can cost THB ฿20,000-35,000 monthly (about USD$590-1,020) or more. Rents can be lower outside the city center or in less frequented areas where a single-room apartment can cost as little as THB ฿5,000 per month (about USD $150).

Food

In Chiang Mai, one can relish local delicacies for as little as THB ฿70 (about USD $2) per meal while two people enjoying a three-course meal at a mid-range local eatery would cost approximately THB ฿400-1,000 (about USD $12-29).

As you can expect, dining at Western-style or international cuisine restaurants will set you back more. Foodstuffs cost less in Chiang Mai than in, say, Bangkok as well, though not by a mile.

Transportation

The main transportation options in Chiang Mai include tuk-tuks, songthaews, taxis, and motorbikes for rent. Since 2018, RTC Smart City Bus has been serving the people of Chiang Mai. Charging a flat fare of THB ฿30 (about USD0.9) per ride, this service is the cheapest public transport.

Don’t let this low fare fool you though, because these buses are air-conditioned and provide free Wi-Fi. Add in the scenic spots you will see, and the ride can easily be the destination itself.

If you drive, expect to spend around THB ฿42 (about USD $1.2) on one liter of gasoline, which is slightly more than in Bangkok.

Culture And Entertainment

Chiang Mai is renowned for its varied cultural heritage and extensive entertainment choices. The price of entertainment varies significantly based on the activity or attraction. Visitors can explore local markets, hike, and visit temples on a tight budget or even for free.

Enchanting Tree Art: Illuminating Thai Temple Hall

Do you work out? Then expect to part with THB ฿1,290 (about USD $38) every month for your fitness club membership. A movie ticket for an international release costs around THB ฿200 (about USD $5.9). Naturally, dining or drinking at upscale establishments will come at a premium price.

Education

For expats with children, the cost of education in Chiang Mai can be a significant expense. International schools in Chiang Mai can be quite expensive with tuition fees ranging from THB ฿200,000-800,000 (about USD $5,900-23,400) per year.

State schools in Chiang Mai are free for Thai citizens, and expat children will have to pay tuition fees to enroll. Again, not all state schools teach in English.

Healthcare

Chiang Mai has many medical facilities with modern amenities, and the cost of services can be much lower than in other major Thai cities. Private hospital fees in Chiang Mai tend to be relatively affordable, with prices for routine checks or procedures starting at around THB ฿2,000 (about USD $60).

Public hospitals and clinics can be even more economical, but the equipment can be older, and not everyone speaks English. Since expat residents are required to purchase health insurance, you can benefit from the speed and language convenience in the phenomenal private hospitals in Thailand.

Wondering where to get started? Contact us for a FREE quote or plan comparison today!

Conclusion

By now, you should have a basic grasp about how much it costs to live in different parts of Thailand. When it comes to expats, a common query is whether or not to keep their original health plan or simply secure one that solely covers them during their stay in Thailand.

There’s no easy answer to this question as several factors come into play. The duration of your stay in Thailand, your long-term plans, and other considerations like whether you plan on exploring other places of Asia will all impact the best course of action for you.

Luckily, this is precisely the type of problem we help our clients solve every day. With more than 20 years of experience in insurance and employee benefits, we often know the solution before our clients even realize there’s an issue.

One thing that remains clear is that having sufficient health coverage is crucial for expats in Thailand. At Pacific Prime, we specialize in supporting individuals like you in identifying the optimal solution that fits your financial plan.

So why wait? Reach out to us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average salary in Thailand?

For the last quarter of 2022, the average wage in Thailand was approximately THB ฿15,400 (about USD $452) per month. That’s approximately THB ฿185,000 (about USD $5,430) per year.

Is English widely used in Thailand?

In Thailand, English is widely spoken, particularly in big urban centers and popular tourist destinations. Although not all locals are proficient in the language, they can usually manage simple dialogues.

What school options are there in Thailand?

In addition to state schools and international schools, there are also private schools in Thailand. Private schools typically enjoy more freedom than state schools in tailoring their curriculum. While a tuition fee must be paid, scholarships are sometimes offered to students.

Is Thailand generally a safe country to live in?

While Thailand faces significant safety issues such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, corruption, and violence against women, it’s also worth noting that the country is considered one of the safest destinations in Southeast Asia. Cases of violent crimes targeting tourists are infrequent.

Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs
Latest posts by Jantra Jacobs (see all)