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Costs of Food: Living in Thailand (The Amazing $7 Dinner)

A lot of people ask about the food costs living in Thailand.  The short answer is, for 30-50 baht which is $1 US you can get a meal that tastes better than most Thai restaurants back home.   Basically any Thai stir fry over rice, pad thai, or fried rice dish will cost you $2 or less, and if you eat it at a fancy sit down Thai restaurant it'll still be less than $4.

In places like Bangkok and Phuket food prices are double what they cost in the rest of the country including Chiang Mai.  On the islands, your food choices are often limited as well.  But in Chiang Mai which is my favorite city in Thailand, you can get amazing food for cheap.  Here's a video to illustrate:




Seeing that massive mound of food on my plate makes me almost embarrassed to share this video with you guys!  Sorry I just got back from a really tough CrossFit session and was starving!

Anyways, I wanted to show everyone how affordable even really nice restaurants are in Chiang Mai.  For the nay-sayers that think it's impossible to live in Thailand for less than $1,000US a month while living a good life they most likely live in Bangkok or spend all of their money on alcohol.


For those living in Chiang Mai on a Teacher's salary which is usually 30,000 baht or less ($1,000US) a dinner like this is still often considered expensive as they can eat for 60 baht.  But for me, it's down to priorities, health and well being.  I've decided to eat good food even if it costs more because I know it's healthier for me, keeps me in better shape, and gives me more energy.   Even though it's much cheaper to eat rice dishes, I've completely stopped eating all rice, wheat, bread and carbs aside from the occasional sweet potatoes.  I've lost 3" on my stomach because of a combination between CrossFit and eating Bulletproof/Paleo.

Instead of eating 60 baht Thai food and working out at the 1,000 baht ($33US) a month gym, I've decided that it's worth it to pay triple and eat Paleo and to do CrossFit.

So yes, it is 100% possible to eat in Thailand for between 30-60 baht per meal, making your daily food costs around 150 baht ($5US)  which is $150US a month for three meals a day at a restaurant.

Also also yes, it is 100% possible to eat great food in Thailand, especially in places like Chiang Mai for less than 200 baht ($6.67US) which is still much cheaper than back home especially if you factor in tax and tip.  The average Korean BBQ restaurant in the U.S. for example costs $25-$30 after tax and tip.  For authentic Korean BBQ in Chiang Mai at restaurants such as Miso or Full House the bill is always between 300-400 baht which is $10 - $13.40.



Tipping in Thailand: Is it required?

For most places that require a service charge it is automatically added to your bill.  Most restaurants don't require or expect a tip.  The exceptions are anywhere with white table cloth or exceptional service, but even there 10% is considered a good tip and 15%+ isn't required or expected.  You never need to tip taxi drivers but some services such as massages a 40-100 baht tip $1.33-$3.33 is appreciated but not required.  In general, leaving even 40 baht at a restaurant for an average meal for two people is appreciated even though in American it would be insulting.  A 100 baht tip, which is only $3 is considered a great tip in most places.

I hope this video and write up gave everyone a better understanding of the costs of food and living in Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD
www.facebook.com/12WeeksinThailand - Follow My Facebook for updates
www.12WeeksinThailand.com - Read the book for exact cost of living breakdowns


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