You can always make more money, but you only have a set number of days to make more memories!
In this blog post I hope to help you feel more confident on all money matters and memory making when it comes to traveling to Thailand. Let's begin with what to do with money before you ever step foot in Thailand. We have found that once you reach your province it can be difficult to get to a bank and exchange money before they close, and living in a country where cash is basically all they know, it can make it very difficult to do anything. With that being said, my advice is to have all of your American money converted (I recommend having at least $700) before departure, at the airport, or at last resort in Bangkok before you head to your province (just let OEG know you would like to exchange money before heading to your province and they should be able to make that happen!) That amount should last you until you get your first paycheck, or even further if you don't make any big purchases.
Let me fill you in on our biggest purchase, and apologize ahead of time to CIEE for what I am about to write. This past weekend we bought a motorbike to be able to get around. (Again, I'm so sorry CIEE, I know you don't recommend it, but I promise we have practiced a lot and are being extra careful!) In our town (Chumphon) there is a little city that has everything you could ever need; however, that city is about 15 minutes away by motorbike/car from where we live at the school. So, unless we are wanting to walk almost 2 miles each night to get to one side of the road chicken stand, transportation was a must for us. Motorbikes cost between 14,000-24,000 Baht where we went to look, which is roughly $450-775 US. The shop we bought ours at has a deal with our school that the teachers are able to sell back the bikes at the end of the year if they are in good condition for 70% of what we paid. That makes it about $200 US for transportation for a year. Other than the motorbike, our other "big" purchase came the first weekend when someone from our school took us shopping for house furnishings, food, odds and ends. If you take a look at the buggy picture, we paid roughly $70 US for everything pictured and that set up our little apartment and will feed us for a month.
Let's talk about my favorite topic, FOOD! I know I heard that it was super cheap to eat in Thailand, but I didn't know exactly what that meant, so let me give you some rough pricing to help you out! If you want to save money when it comes to food, you definitely eat as the Thai's eat. If you want your western luxuries it will cost a little more, but there are ways to enjoy both and spend wisely! Street food typically is looked at as a bad thing, but in Thailand it is totally normal, safe, and really yummy! We've eaten from street food vendors probably 10 times already and feel great! Those prices range from 20-60 Baht per meal ($0.80-$2.00 US). If you dine at Thai restaurants the meals will average out around 50 Baht ($1.70 US). Do we have any all you can eat buffet fans out there? Do you like the experience of cooking some of your food yourself at your table? If so, there are some fabulous options that will run you 180 Baht ($5.75 US). We haven't visited many westernized food locations, but I have ordered tater tots (Thai's here call them hash browns) as an appetizer and that was $69 Baht ($2.10 US). Another option is to cook your own food, but that can actually be more expensive than eating out, especially if you want to cook western type meals (or anything with cheese, it's SO expensive here). We have two awesome stores that are similar to Walmart and Sams/Costco back home where you can find just about anything you want. Again, if you stick with the Thai type food it will be cheaper than American food, but I do suggest finding a happy medium in both of them!
One final money topic I want to cover is the "extra expenses" that may pop up for you. Some of these expenses may be reimbursed to you from your school at the end of your contract, but they are things that need to happen quickly to get your work visa. One day after school all the new teachers hopped in the back of a truck (this seemed so normal to have never done it before, but it's totally a thing here) and headed into town to get our pictures taken for our work visa. This ran us about 200 Baht ($7 US). Also, today we jumped in the back of a truck again to head to town and get our blood drawn for a syphilis test (no one really understands this one, but it has to be done). This was 60 Baht ($2) per person, and if you're not good at getting blood drawn (I'm not at all) this honestly wasn't too bad. Not to get too into detail, (I would want to know before coming because I freak out about getting my blood drawn) but they basically stick you with a need connected to a syringe and collect what we would consider half a vile worth of blood and then squirt it into an actual tube. It took literally 30 seconds and wasn't too bad.
Some other fun expenses you might be curious about:
Thai massages (150-300Baht ~ $5-10US)
Case of water (40Baht ~ $1.20US)
DQ Medium Blizzard (45Baht ~ $1.25US)
KFC chicken sandwich meal with fries and a drink (100Baht ~ $3.20US)
Towels (150Baht ~ $5US)
Hangers 12 pack (20Baht ~ $0.80US)
Milkshake (50Baht ~ $1.50US)
1 Liter of gas (25Baht ~ $0.85US)
Clothing that will fit almost any size (25-200Baht $0.80-7US)
*Extra Tip: Download the Lazada App (it's the Amazon of Thailand) and it is AMAZING!!!
Until next time: keep life simple, travel, and be kind
Follow along on our journey on Instagram @morganmoellering