Bangkok: Attempting to live like a local (well, sort of)

Day one was at a hostel in Khoa San Road.  Cost was 300 Baht for a tiny fan room, that was sweltering hot, with a dodgy lock on the door, and paper thin walls where you could hear drunk english tourists chatting up lady boys all night.  Lets just say I wanted to be out of there as soon as I checked in! Day two, I moved into my friends house (Out in Arun Amarin) where I rent a room at 6000Baht a month, where I get my own room, which is nice and quiet, unlimited high speed internet, queen bed, desk, a shared bathroom with 3 other people on my floor (there are 8 people here total), kitchen with fridge, toaster, microwave, stovetop etc, a bike that I can use and as much room as I need (including a cool rooftop garden).  The only additional cost I have is for air conditioning, which probably costs around 800-1000 Baht a month which isn’t bad.  $50 NZD a week for a flat isn’t bad, and we should be getting a maid shortly. RoomNote we are in a “local” area rather than a foreigners area – we are literally the only white people around , which is handy in other ways – food and transport generally are cheaper, there are no touts hassling us with massages, ping pong shows or suits.  Just nice and quiet (apart from the guy building a house next door). You can spend a lot more and get places with pools, gyms etc – right now,  I’m not working, so don’t see the point in spending money on amenities I can’t afford and won’t use.


Pad ThaiThai Meals:
Bangkok is legendary for its food – unfortunately I’m not much of a person for spicy food, so I’m learning what I can and can’t eat as I’m going (as I don’t want to live perpetually off Pad Thai).  Thai street food is amazingly cheap!  Where I live most meals are 30-40 Baht (whereas in the backpacker areas they are 50-70 Baht) Which works out to be about $1.50 – $2 per meal.

Western Meals:
After I was sick (I had 4 days of the worst food poisoning I’d ever experienced), all I wanted was some “sterile” fast food to help plug the digestive system – what better than a BK burger.  These tend to cost somewhere between 200-350 Baht ($8-14 NZD) for a combo, so are on the Pricier side of things.  McDonalds seems to be slightly cheaper with most meals around the 200 Baht mark.

I haven’t been to any restaurants around the Sukhimvit area but walking along it looks like prices are anywhere from 800-1000 Baht, so they are really catering to expats on expat wages, as you are talking 30-40 NZD for a meal.

Western drinks (such as coca cola) however can be bought cheaply at any 7/11 store.  I normally pick up a loaf of bread, banana cake, milo, youghurt drink and a coke for less than 100 Baht.


Thai beer costs anywhere from 35-60 Baht in a 7/11, 60-80 Baht in the backpacker areas, or if you are at a club in Sukhimvit, around 200 Baht.

I haven’t tried to find any foreign/craft beers, but am expecting that they will be pricy.


Taxi Bikes
If you need to get somewhere fast, and don’t care much about safety – this is the way to go.  Hold on tight – as the drivers are batshit insane, I’ve been on one going the wrong way up a 4 lane road, while I’ve had another get lost and take me down a bunch of alleyways.  Look out for scooters with riders wearing blue or orange vests with numbers on them.

Cost: More expensive than taxis, especially if you have more than one person, and if you don’t know the costs/can’t count in thai it is harder to get a good price.

Metered Taxis 
To hail one, just becon one as you would normally but with your hand upside down (if that makes sense).  Available taxis have a red LED light in thai on the passenger side of the windshield.  These are crazy cheap, and my primary mode of transport, although you can get stuck in traffic jams for ages (I’ve never spent more than $4NZD on a ride – even if it took over an hour in a traffic jam).
Cost: 35baht minimum, then X amount per minute/KM – can get around most places in Bangkok for 60-160 Baht.

Tuk Tuks 
Cost: No idea, but they are the most expensive form of transport if you are not local.  No meters, and they make prices up on a whim.  Avoid.


Cost: 4 Baht to cross river from my place, 15 Baht for Chao Praya Express to Thaksin station on the MBT

Metro (MBT) 
Cost – 20-40 baht to get most places in town

Other Expenses: 

Cell Phone:
I’m on DTAC, I have no idea if thats the best to be with or not, but it gives me functional 3G at 450 or so Baht per month.  I use whatsapp for all my texts and don’t call, so this should be my only cost.

Business Cards:
I want to get involved with the music scene here a bit (DJing, helping with gigs etc) so need business cards, again they would have probably been cheaper if I used Matts guillotine to chop them up at home, but I wanted them within 30 minutes.  400 Baht for 100.

Tailored Clothes:
I had a wedding to go to, so needed a shirt, pants, tie and shoes in a hurry.  Shirt/Tie/Pants were about 2800 Baht, and were literally made for me in 7 hours, so I paid a premium for it, especially as it was from a tout on the Khao San.  I’m sure I could have got them cheaper, but they were nice and served the purpose. I’d definitely be going back again.

Dress shoes were from a mall, 800 baht or about $38 NZD on the card, so about what I’d expect to pay at Dressmart.  I’ve found looking around that even the knock off shoes seem to be more expensive than you’d pay for shoes at an outlet store in NZ or Europe.

Appear to be very expensive for legitimate articles.  There is apparently something like a 200% import duty on some foreign goods, which explains why there is so much counterfeiting going on.  Was looking at Serato gear etc, looks like its easier to wait until I go elsewhere.


Still waiting to go to a field for a training, expecting it to be a slightly pricy due to import duties but will see.

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