Living Abroad in Thailand (Episode 27)
This is the first episode of a new series of the podcast called "Living Abroad," which focuses on exactly as the title says: living abroad! We want to bring to light what it's truly like moving and living abroad in places that are very different from our home country. In this first episode of the series, we talked about our experience living in Thailand, specifically Chonburi.
In the episode, we talked about:
- Why we moved abroad in the first place after college in 2014
- Why we moved to Thailand and specifically Chonburi
- How we found jobs on Craigslist teaching English there after first being scammed
- Cost of living in Chonburi and Thailand in general
- Our hotel room-like apartment with unbelievably cheap rent, even when blasting the A/C constantly!
- Living off of just $900 USD per month
- Food in Thailand: the cost of eating out and groceries
- Spending about $4-6 per day on exquisite Thai food
- Things to do in Chonburi: Night Market, attend a Soccer game and drink outside with the locals afterwards, go to Monkey Mountain, and more!
- Places to go around Chonburi, like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Bang Saen Beach
- The brutal heat and torrential rain
And much more! If you'd like more information about our lives in Chonburi, Thailand, check out the blog post below! We added a couple of extra things to do as well, like the Hell Garden and Chinese Temple!
Wine: Lion's Gate - Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)
Have you ever wondered what it's like to live abroad in a country whose culture is extremely different from yours? We once wondered and now we know! We've lived in several places around the world and wanted to share these experiences with folks who are curious about living abroad. We've created a series of podcast episodes, highlighting what it's like to live in the specific cities we've lived in.
This episode was dedicated to the first foreign place we've lived in: Chonburi, Thailand.
Living in Chonburi, Thailand
Cost of Living
(4:35) Back in 2014, we'd earned around $900 USD each per month. Not much from a Western viewpoint, but that's considered a decent salary in Thailand. That proved to be true while we lived there.
(5:10) Rent: for renting our somewhat small, kitchenless studio apartment in Chonburi, we spent around $150 USD per month. However, it would've been cheaper if we hadn't run our air conditioner constantly!
Looking back though, we don't think we could really survive off of just $900 per month. We could right after college because we didn't have any sort of bills to pay, but now, we don't think we could. Thailand is a really cheap place to live, though, so we aren't surprised that we survived on that in 2014!
(6:41) Food is incredibly cheap in Thailand. We had to eat out every meal every day because we didn't have a kitchen-- and we made it work with our $900 per month salary.
We often ate breakfast for free at our school, since it was provided for us. As for lunch, we went to a restaurant right next door to our school every day. We'd get a plate of rice, some sort of meat, and vegetables. We'd normally pay about $1-$2 each on that. We'd pay maximum $3 if we were craving something really lavish, like two meals or a fried chicken dish!
(8:19) As for dinner, we'd often go to an adorable little cafe/restaurant right across the street from our apartment building called Black Ice. It was our go-to place for dinner! We'd often get rice with stir-fried chicken with basil and a fried egg, or pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่). That is still one of our favorite meals to this day and we still crave it! Plus, it was only about 50-60 baht, which is around $1.50 USD. What a deal!
Even though we ate out for every meal, we didn't break the bank and thoroughly enjoyed it because Thai food is unbelievably delicious. No regrets.
(10:30) Keep in mind: not all apartments in Thailand come without kitchens. Ours just so happened to not have one. We did search for other apartments at one point and found some with kitchens. However, the rent was higher.
Things to do/Entertainment
(11:34) Every Friday night, go to the street market! We went to it almost every Friday to just have something to do pretty much. Also, to eat some awesome food we don't eat during the rest of the week, like kebabs, dumplings, and even crickets (we only ate those once, though)! It was also just cool to walk around and admire some of the wild stuff they had, like grenades, rifles, bugs for sale, dogs for sale, and other stuff!
There are bars there, but not so many that are foreigner-friendly. There was a brothel next door to our apartment building, so there's that! Ha! We just mainly went out to eat and occasionally drinks beers at the restaurants with friends. Beer was so cheap, too. About 40 baht ($1.28) for a large bottle of beer!
(14:28) There's also places in the surrounding area you could go. You could always go to Bangkok as well, since it's about an hour and a half away via minivan! You could even go to Pattaya, which is just an hour away. There's also Bang Saen, which has a beach, boardwalk, and is also a college town. That's also about 25 minutes or so from Chonburi.
(15:27) There are several means of transportation and all are affordable. Generally, we used song taos and motorbike taxis. Song Taos are pickup truck taxis. Yes, just someone's pickup truck with a roof and benches in the truck bed! However, there very convenient as there are many of them, they go all over the city, they'll stop for you anywhere you are along their route (no bus stops!), and they're cheap. We never paid more than $5, even when going extremely far!
Motorbike taxis are exactly what they sound like. You ride on the back of someone's motorbike and they take you to where you need to go! Usually, the motorbike taxis were more expensive than the song taos.
Regular taxis are available, too, but you have to call them and they're easily the most expensive.
(18:12) Minivans are also a big mode of transportation all over Thailand. Those usually take you to a bit further destinations. For example, we'd use those to get to Bangkok and Pattaya. Those were relatively cheap, but slightly terrifying, as the drivers drive like maniacs, and cramped, since they tend to stuff people in there!
(20:11) Thailand has been referred to as the "Land of Smiles" because their people are just so happy and friendly. That turned out to be very true when we lived there, especially the people in Chonburi. People there were always willing to help us in any way they could, even if they didn't speak English. We'd gotten car rides from random people when it was raining or extremely hot just because the people were so caring!
There weren't very many foreigners in Chonburi, so many people didn't speak English there. Even so, so many people would try to help us no matter what. That was a huge plus and really made us appreciate and admire Thai people.
(24:00) That being said, Chonburi isn't an English-friendly city per say. We'd often experience English menus at restaurants, which was fantastic, but the local people usually didn't speak English, so it wasn't very helpful when ordering.
Since we taught English, it's worth mentioning the students. The children there are incredibly sweet, curious, and fun kids. They were also very curious about us and our lives and really wanted to get to know us. We loved our students there! (You can hear more about our experience teaching English in Thailand here!)
In summation: Thai people in general are some of the friendliest people we've come across in our travels.
Things to Do
(25:44) We already touched on this before, but we went into more detail for these things and mentioned other stuff.
Bang Saen is a college town, where you can go to some bars and other places, and a beach. The beach is relatively nice and the boardwalk is interesting for a nice walk. There's lots of fresh seafood for sale there!
(28:01) Monkey Mountain is another place you can go in Chonburi Province (just outside the city of Chonburi and near Bang Saen). It's just as it sounds: a mountain covered in wild monkeys! You can walk up the mountain and along the way, admire and/or feed the wild monkeys. But use caution: they really like their bananas and peanuts (which you can buy there from local vendors), so they may become a little aggressive and surround you for them!
(30:30) You could also go to the gigantic and very modern mall that's there called Central Plaza. They have tons of stores, cool restaurants, like conveyor belt sushi, and a movie theatre that often plays new movies in English!
(32:51) Chonburi Football Club is also widely popular soccer team and attending their matches is a great time if you're willing to spend at least $20 per ticket. The crowd is so much fun and passionate! Plus, the crowd that gathers outside the stadium to celebrate afterwards is the absolute best part! The one game we went to was one of our favorite nights ever in Thailand.
There's also a good number of little parks you can walk around throughout the city.
We did not mention these two places in the podcast because we forgot, but I need to mention them to you because they're both amazing!
Ang Sila Chinese Temple, or Wat Thep Phuttharam, is a breathtaking and color-drenched Chinese temple in Chonburi. It is one of the most beautiful temples we've ever visited and we both highly recommend it!
Hell Garden, or Wang Saen Suk, in Bang Saen is also a huge must-do! It's a Buddhist garden filled with gory statues depicting what Buddhist hell, or Naraka, is like for those punished there.
(37:50) We already did a podcast and blog post on the weather and climate where we've been, but we felt that it's such a vital part of Chonburi that we needed to mention it again.
When we arrived to Chonburi in November, it was the dry season. It was definitely hot, but not overbearingly toasty, averaging at about 82°F (28°C). However, there's tons of humidity, so it's quite sticky and hot.
Towards the end of our time in Chonburi, so that was around March and April, it became increasingly hot. The temperatures were almost always in the high 90s (F) or mid-30s (C) and the humidity was just off the charts. We were constantly dripping sweat and lethargic. It was brutal!
However, when it rained, which is rarely did, it was wonderful to experience because it just cooled everything dramatically and was fun to watch because it would just downpour.
By the way, if you're going anywhere in Thailand in April, make sure you take part in Songkran! It's basically a festival celebrating the Thai new year where everyone gets water guns and soaks each other! Best holiday ever!
We freakin' missed it because our flight was that day, since we failed to do our research before buying our tickets out of Thailand. Despicable.
We very much loved and always miss Thailand, even Chonburi! Thailand is such a magical place and really isn't overrated in the least! We definitely intend on returning in the future.
Have you ever visited or lived in Thailand? What was your experience? What place would you like to visit in Chonburi?
Wine: Lion's Gate - Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)