Our last post was all about the budget and the teaching, let’s talk more about living and traveling in Thailand. A decade ago living or even traveling abroad wasn’t as popular as it is now. We had no idea that this is what our future was going to look like. I don’t regret our choices. We have grown so much in such a short time.
Living abroad the perks and the challenges.
For 22 years, we have always lived with our families. On the 30th of March 2018 we step off an airplane and for the first time ever we were completely alone. We still had each other but there was no one else to take care of us. It was time to grow up.
From the first moment, we stepped off the airplane, we had an open mind. We were ready for anything that could be thrown our way, or so we thought. In the beginning, we had a lot of help from the Xploreasia team that we mentioned in part one, but after a while, we had to do most of the things by ourselves.
As a kid, we all dream about living on our own, in our own house or apartment. We forget about what it really means to live by yourselves. If we don’t clean our own apartment, wash our clothes or take out the garbage, no one else is going to do it for us. For the first time ever we had to make sure all the bills get paid and that we have enough money in our bank accounts for those rainy days.
We also had to make sure that the fridge is full, and that we have food to eat. This isn’t the hardest thing to do since on every street corner in Thailand you can find a food vendor. This put quite a lot of pressure on us since most of our free time goes into finding food, cleaning the house and doing the laundry. Things became easier as soon as we got used to everything we had to do.
During the year we have been living in Thailand, we lived in two beautiful provinces known as; Chumphon and Ratchaburi. Our lifestyles has been quite different in these two provinces but Thailand is Thailand so most things count for both:
Our first home in Thailand is located about 6 hours South of Bangkok. This is a rural town which made it harder to live there since it’s small and fewer things are available. Even though this was the case, we really enjoyed living here, and it was close to the beach. This small town made it easier for us to find places we like to eat at and to become friends with the locals. From the moment we arrived in this town we felt like celebrities. Most of the locals have never seen a foreigner before (which is the case in most of the rural towns). When we walk into a restaurant or on the beach, some locals will come and ask if they can take a picture with us. We even had our picture taken with the local police, if you can believe it.
We were the first people to stay in a newly built, small townhouse. It was furnished with only a bed, a closet and a dressing table but we did only pay ฿4000 per month on rent. We decided to buy a second-hand dining table for 1500 just to make it feel more like home. We also bought our own water heater for the shower because the water heater wasn’t provided. This wasn’t the worst thing due to the heat and the humidity, but when the rainy season was in its peak and we got home soaking wet, a warm shower was definitely needed.
In Thailand most apartments have a small water heater, this isn’t a geyser. You turn it on when you get into the shower and only heats up the water that passes through it. You also use it to adjust how hot you want the water to be. It may sound complicated but it isn’t.
Why we would get home wet from the rain, is that our only mode of transport around the town was a scooter. Which we rented from a local lady for ฿2000 a month. This is the main mode of transport for the locals. Cars can cost up to 1500 per day to rent and buying a car is very expensive.
Most of the food we bought from local food vendors next to the road. This allowed us to have local Thai food that’s very affordable. A meal cost us between ฿35 and ฿60 when buying from the locals. We also went to a few restaurants where we bought more expensive food.
Our diet in Thailand is made up of rice, chicken, pork and Chilli. On occasion, we have shrimp or fish and sometimes even some noodles. We consume rice and chicken on a daily base. For breakfast, we had ham and cheese sandwiches, our breakfast cost us ฿20 per day. The reason for this breakfast is that it was one of the easiest option other than cereal. It didn’t require much to prepare, all we needed was a knife and a plate.
Our weekends consisted of cleaning our house, doing our laundry and going to the beach. We didn’t have a mall or a cinema in town so our free time was at the beaches. It rained in Chumphon all the time, but Chumphon has some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. The locals avoid the sun so the beaches are empty until 16:00.
We learned to take life one day at a time, and never let anything really upset us. Having a full-time job we didn’t really have much time to travel. We finish work on Friday and have to be back on Monday, but we made time for travelling. When the term ended, we decided it was time to move on to our next adventure.
Our second home in Thailand was in Ratchaburi, which is located about 2 hours west of Bangkok. This is a medium-size town, which was absolutely massive compared to Chumphon. This wasn’t a beach town, and it gave us more of a city feel. This town made it harder for us to find food since everything was so widely spread. We didn’t quite feel as at home since creating a friendship with the locals were more difficult. There were a lot more foreigners in Ratchaburi, and we were just two more.
This town was a nice change since we lived next to a mall and we were walking distance from work. We didn’t have to use a scooter every day but we still needed one. Here we stayed in a fully furnished condominium with a swimming pool and a small gym. All of this came at a higher price of 7000 per month, excluding water and electricity.
Just as we arrived in the town, we immediately started looking for a scooter to rent. We couldn’t find a cheap scooter to rent so we decided to buy one instead. This way, by the time we decide to leave the town we can sell the scooter and not lose as much money as we would’ve if we rented one. It was really easy for us to rent a car and travel to nearby provinces. This wasn’t possible in Chumphon. We enjoyed exploring the provinces around Ratchaburi.
Cheap food in Ratchaburi was harder to find. We definitely ate at the restaurants instead of off the streets making our cost of living higher. Most of our meals were still made up of chicken, rice, and chilli, and breakfast was still sandwiches.
In Ratchaburi we also had to visit the doctor a few times. We quickly learned while living in Thailand is that doctors are only available at the hospital. You either have to go to the pharmacy or the hospital when you aren’t feeling well.
Living in Thailand is an easy and stress-free way of living for us. The people are honest and friendly, and this is exactly the way we want to live. We trust them with everything we have. One day we dropped ฿300 in the mall, and when we retraced our steps, we found our money just lying on the ground untouched. This isn’t something that we are used too.
Travelling in Thailand
Now, we get to the part that everyone wants to read about, the travelling part. Travelling in Thailand is something that we can’t really describe, but we’re going to try. Even though we haven’t been all over Thailand, we have been to some beautiful destinations. During our first year, we have stayed in 28 different hotels, taken 12 different planes, visited 10 provinces and 10 islands. We have used most of the different modes of transport such as scooters, motorbike taxis, cars, songthaew, taxis, buses, trains, sky trains, longtail boats, speedboats, ferries, and aeroplanes. The only mode of transport we haven’t tried is a bicycle, but hopefully soon.
Travelling in Thailand is so easy since public transport is cheap and easily available. Most of the time we travel from one province to the next by bus. There are other options such as taxis and minivans, but a bus is the cheapest and the easiest. If you have a train around you it’s also very cheap and easy. We work full-time so we don’t really get that much time to travel but Thai schools have two long holidays. This give you all the travel time you will need. We definitely try to make the best of our weekends and long weekends since there are so many public holidays. Our advice is to look in advance to see when the public holidays are and then plan trips around that.
Visiting the very touristy areas such as Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, and Bangkok is always the best places to go. We don’t particularly enjoy going there for long periods of time for a few specific reasons; It’s very expensive and the people aren’t that friendly, it’s busy and most of the time overcrowded. It’s, however, a must-visit because it’s beautiful and has some of the most beautiful beaches and attractions. Thailand has 77 provinces so don’t limit yourself to only these four. There are 73 others that all offer their own uniqueness and beauty.
We book most of our hotels over booking.com and can easily book a trip somewhere. There are always hundreds of hotels and hostels available which fits any budget. There are also some helpful tools on booking.com such as their filter options and looking at the map to see which hotels are in the area you want to stay.
When travelling through Thailand, there are so many beautiful temples to visit. It’s important to remember to always cover your shoulders and knees. They are very strict with the ladies when it comes to covering your knees and shoulders. Men should cover their shoulders and have shorts that are on the knees. The Thai culture is something that’s very unique and different from the western world and to other Asian cultures. Their culture isn’t something to worry about, in fact, it will amaze you. One thing you need is to have respect.
We will advise that you try all the food. Thailand has some of the most delicious food we have ever had. Our favourite meals are; Som Tam (Papaya salad), Panang Curry, Massaman Curry, Tam Ka (Coconut soup), deep-fried fish, and even just plain fried rice. Don’t be scared to try street food. We mainly eat off the streets and it’s the best food you will eat. It might seem scary at first, but with a friendly smile and some hand gestures, you will get what you want. Our advice when going for street food is to look for places that are popular. Popular places will make the best food, and they won’t serve you food that is old or off. As far as restaurants go, they serve great food too, but they can be very expensive.
Thailand is still a developing country so they aren’t as up to date with a lot of things, and one of those things is catering for vegans and vegetarians. Don’t let this put you off though. Just because they don’t have dedicated vegan or vegetarian restaurants they will always make a plan for you. Thai people will do anything they can to make you happy. They will go above and beyond to keep you happy. We haven’t personally tried it, but what we have heard is that they will make really good vegan and vegetarian food.
Some advice we have for travelling in Thailand:
- Always research the places you go to, so you can visit the best that the province has to offer.
- When taking a Taxi always ask them to turn on their meters. If they don’t want to, make sure you agree on a price before you get into the taxi.
- Rent a scooter or a car if you enjoy exploring without the tour groups.
- Take the trains. All the routes and schedules are easily available on the internet. It’s the cheapest way to travel other than the bus.
- If you don’t feel comfortable with the price they want you to pay then say no. Most of the time they will bring the price down.