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How to Enjoy a Week-Long Holiday in Chiang Mai For Under $500

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Joanne Poh

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There are enough Singaporeans holidaying in Bangkok to single-handedly keep all the city’s shopping malls, massage parlours and Thai discos in business.

But what happens when you want to enjoy your pad thai without having to breathe in the smog of a million moped exhaust pipes? Head up to Chiang Mai instead.

This northern Thai city is filled with ornate temples, bustling night markets and, yes, hipster cafes and trendy restaurants. Best of all, the weather’s more bearable and everything is even cheaper than in Bangkok. Here’s how much a holiday in Chiang Mai would cost you.

 

Airfare

When searching for air tickets online, other than budget airlines Tiger Airways, Air Asia and Scoot, also check Malindo Air and Lion Air, which operate flights to Chiang Mai that are often cheaper than the other three. Use an aggregator like Kayak to compare prices.

So long as you don’t try to book tickets two days before, you should be able to get tickets for well under 250 SGD. Occasionally, ticket prices fall below 200 SGD.

Cost: 230 SGD

 

Accommodation

Chiang Mai really shines when it comes to offering affordable accommodation. Check out Agoda to get an idea of the full range of guesthouses, hotels and resorts available.

If you’re on a budget, you can find very basic and relatively clean guesthouses in the 10 SGD range. That’s a super low 5 SGD per night if you travel with a friend.

If you want air con and comfy surroundings, stick with the 20 SGD to 30 SGD per night range. If you do your homework by looking at the pictures and reading reviews, you can enjoy some seriously nice accommodation at that price.

Price: 10 SGD per person per night / 60 SGD for a week

 

Transport

Those spending most of their time in the old city will find that they can walk pretty much anywhere within the city walls. For excursions further afield, such as to hip neighbourhood Nimanhaemin, you’ll save quite a bit by hailing songthaews rather than tuktuks. Just tell the driver your destination and bargain like your life depends on it.

You shouldn’t find yourself paying more than 20 THB (0.79 SGD) or 30 THB (1.83 SGD) for trips within the city walls.

To get to destinations outside the city walls or a bit further away, such as the bus station so you can catch a bus to other cities like Chiang Rai, expect to pay a little more, up to 50 THB (1.97 SGD). Obviously, you’ll have to bargain, and drivers will try to quote you prices 5 times too high at the start.

Unless you’re travelling in a big group, avoid tuktuks altogether as you’ll end up paying many times the price.

The airport is thankfully not fair from the city, and you can catch a songthaew, tuktuk or taxi to get in, the former being the cheapest option. A taxi ride should cost less than 200 THB (8 SGD).

Price: 550 THB (22 SGD)

 

Sightseeing

One of the best things about Chiang Mai is the fact that the main sights, namely the many temples, are free to visit.

Other than temple hopping, most visitors will spend some time picking up deals at the many night bazaars, enjoying Thai massages and bar or cafe hopping.

Here are some of the main sights in Chiang Mai and how much it’ll cost you to visit.

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Free, two-way transport fee by songthaew 200 THB (7.89 SGD)
  • Wat Phra Singh – Free
  • Wat Chedi Luang – Free
  • Wat Jed Yod – Free
  • Chiang Mai Night Bazaar – free, pay for your own purchases
  • Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre – 90 THB (3.55 SGD)
  • Chiang Mai National Museum – 100 THB (3.94 SGD)
  • Nimanhaemin Road – Free, pay for your own drinks/food
  • 1 hour Thai massage – 150 THB (5.91 SGD) to 200 THB (7.89 SGD)

Cost: 500 THB (20 SGD) to keep you busy for a week

 

Food

You can get away with spending very little on food if you stick to local street food and eateries frequented by Thai people and not tourists. A bowl of khao soi gai sold on the streets can cost as little as 50 baht (1.97 SGD).

However, chances are you won’t be able to avoid restaurants targeted at tourists at least some of time, or you’re there to hang out at hipster coffee joints. Be prepared to budget 200 THB (7.89 SGD) for a meal and drink under such circumstances.

Cost: 2,000 THB (79 SGD) for a week

Total cost of a week-long holiday in Chiang Mai: 411 SGD

Have you ever been to Chiang Mai? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.