In nomad list’s best places to be a digital nomad, Canggu and Chiang Mai top the list. So after my wife and I spent 3 months in Bali, it was time to check out the 2nd place named on the list – Chiang Mai.

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So our big plan was to come to Chiang Mai at the end of January, but with me being asked to be in the grooms party of my friends wedding the plans changed a little bit. As it turns out this was the best change of plans because Chiang Mai was the most polluted place on earth in March. The PM2.5 index was in the 900’s, which is extremely hazardous for ones health. The farmers of the region begin to burn their crops which sends smoke and haze over the whole province. It usually lasts until the first rains, which this year were May 12. After the first rains the PM2.5 has come right down to 58 which is less than Ubud and Canggu in Bali.
The burning season also corresponds with the hottest time of the year and the temperature that we have experienced in May has been minimums of 26 and max of 40. The heat is a dry heat and riding the scooter on the hottest days is painful. The heat is intense and you almost need goggles on the scooter because the hot air burns your eyes.  It also appears to me to be a very quiet time for tourists also. Nimman area seems very quiet and peaceful. I am of course comparing this to Bali where the traffic is insane.
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I also made a post about the cost of living in Bali which you can check out of you are interested.
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So below is the breakdown of the costs my wife and I had while living in Nimman area. All prices are in AUD. 
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Rent – $917
Cleaner – $30
Scooter – $135
Fuel – $37 – Rode 2000kms 
Insurance – $150
Sim Card – $23
Washing – $0 (washing machine in apartment)
Transport – $13 (to and from airport)
Food and Drinks – $1000
Storage of belongings in Australia – $58
Travel Vaccinations – $250
Weekends Away – $250
Total – $2850
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Rent 

The first thing that I will say about rent is that you can find some really cheap options and some more expensive options. We paid $900 AUD (18000 THB) for our one bed room apartment in the Palm Springs Arecca Building in Nimmaheim. We found this place on Airbnb before we came and booked it on there.
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As it is May and low season in Chiang Mai I would probably have done things differently now that we are here. I think its much better to get to Chiang Mai, book a hotel for a night or 2 and go around and have a look at some different places. Be warned that some places will only want a minimum of 3 months and that most you will have to get your own internet connected and pay for utilities. The benefit we had with our Airbnb apartment is that everything is included. We just arrived, put our things away and had cable TV, internet connected and we felt like it was home straight away.
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For my wife and I we need to have a separate room with a door to separate the rooms. We have lived together in studio apartments and even a one bedroom apartment where the walls didn’t go fully to the roof and its just hard for us. My wife works from home and she needs her space. We also have different schedules as she loves to stay up late and I love to get up early and go running. So for us a studio was hard because we just found it hard to live together as we were always waking each other up or disturbing each other.
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In Chiang Mai, if you are alone then maybe you can find a really nice studio for around $400 or $500 AUD (10,000 THB) for a month. This would definitely suit a solo person much better but if you are a couple and need some space then the 1 bedroom apartments are great.
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My wife and I stay at the Palm Springs in Nimmaheim and it is centrally located and close to all the main areas. We are just a 10 minute walk from Maya, the main mall in the area. We are also very close to the 7eleven, Starbucks and main road. The condo has a full kitchen, 2 TV’s, washing machine, 2 air conditioners, big bathroom and most importantly a separate bedroom. The building also has a small gym and swimming pool and also a co working area with wifi on level 2 where the gym and pool are. If you are into the gym then this one is really not for you. It only has 10kg free weights, a treadmill, bike and one multi cable machine. It’s good enough for me but if you are serious about the gym then you may want to check out another condo or just get a membership to a gym close by.
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Unlike Bali, the condos here have a washing machine and are setup as if you are living in Australia or a similar place. That meant that our washing bill was nothing because we could do it ourselves. If your place doesn’t have a machine then there are services that offer washing and there are a few laundromats around the Nimman area that you can use.
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The condo is staffed by a full time security guard at the front gate and they have a juristic person who mans the front desk from 9am – 6pm. You can also get parcels or mail easily sent to the condo and the front desk will hold them for you. I did some online shopping from Lazada, which is a great online store in Thailand and very cheap and got the things sent to the condo.
Our condo also has AIS box setup for the TV in the living area. It is a smart TV where you can get netflix and cable TV. There is also the option to use the browser where you can watch Youtube or just browse the internet.
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If you want to get the apartment cleaned during your stay you can use the app beneat. They are a cleaning service and have a minimum order of 2 hours. For a small apartment you may not need to use them but we used them once during our stay. The cost is $13 AUD (365 THB) for the 2 hours and they do absolutely everything.
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Renting a Scooter 

I rented a scooter for a month from Mango Bike Rental and the cost was $135 AUD (3000THB). I had to give a copy of my passport and 1000THB as a security deposit. You can definitely pay less than this to rent a bike but I got a bike that only has 8000kms on the clock and is not that old. I find that for safety and quality, riding it is much better to rent a newer and better quality bike. The guy that runs the place is very friendly and they have a huge selection of bikes. Their reviews on google are really good and I had a hassle free experience renting from there. There are some other rental companies around and it may be easier for you to just rent one that is closest to where you are staying. For me Mango Bikes was the closest so that is why I went with them.
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Food

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For food our budget came to around $1000 AUD (22,000THB) which is a little more than Bali but we found that the food is a little more expensive here.
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I would just have the usual oats for breakfast. You can pick up a pack in the supermarket for $1.80 (40THB) and this would last me for 5 days. Most of the imported cereals are very expensive so if you like that for breakfast it would be better to bring some from home or buy them in Kuala Lumpur where it is much cheaper. Also spreads such as jam, peanut butter and nutella is very expensive in Thailand so if you want these then once again bring these from Kuala Lumpur or your home.
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My wife and I would also go for coffee everyday at one of the many coffee shops in our neighbourhood. The coffee ranges from 40THB in the local shops to 100THB in Starbucks but for working on the computer the Starbucks is definitely worth it. They have a huge upstairs area with plugins at every table. For lunch we would either find a western place to eat or order food to our apartment using the grab food or food panda app.
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For dinner we would almost always eat street food. Chiang Mai has an abundance of markets where you can find all sorts of amazing food. Our favourite places to eat were the night market at Kad Suan Kaew, which is open Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. We also ate at the food market at the south gate to the old city and the food market at the north gate. They are both a little smaller than the Kad Suan Kaew one but certainly worth checking out as they have amazingly delicious food.
On Sundays, there is a huge night market in the middle of the old city that has a massive selection of food. You can get full meals or you can eat Tapas style trying all sorts of amazing food that is on offer. This market goes on for kilometres and becomes very busy near the Tha Phae Gate, so it is best to go before dark to avoid the crowds. It literally takes hours to walk around the whole area and very worthwhile checking out.

Sim Card

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Getting a sim card in Chiang Mai is super easy and affordable. I read about people paying $45 (1000THB) for a sim card but this is way too much to pay. My wife and I headed to the 3rd floor of the Maya mall and headed to one of the little stalls in the middle area called SKphone. (not an official phone store). There the lady said that we could get a sim card for $11 (250THB) and that we would have unlimited internet and using fast.com the speed is 85 mbps. So if you need to hotspot from a cafe then you have super fast internet.
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You can’t miss the store as it is a little stop selling phone goods and they have the sim cards all shown above the countertop. The company that we went with was AIS and this seems to be the biggest and most popular in Thailand. They do not have card facilities so you will have to pay cash and you will also need to bring your passport or you wont be able to get the sim card. The lady speaks good english and she will set the phone up for you. The whole process takes around 5-10 minutes and you will have your phone setup and ready to go.
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 Travel Insurance 

Travel insurance is a very important thing to get and if you can’t afford it then maybe you shouldn’t be travelling. It’s ok to be reckless yourself but when you don’t have insurance and your family or friends have to pay for medical expenses because you didn’t have it then that really is a shitty thing to put them through. The biggest liability would be the medical expenses as overseas hospitals assume that you have insurance so they make sure they have as many doctors and you get as much care as possible to wrought the system. This happened to my wife in Nepal and she had to end up paying for the hospital visit because of a 2 day rule all insurance companies have. If you buy insurance today, you aren’t actually covered from today, you are covered from 2 days time in whats known as a cooling off period. With any insurance you must read the PDS to make sure that it will infect cover you for what you need it to.
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As my wife is still waiting to become a permanent resident of Australia, we have to get separate insurances. My insurance is from 1cover and I paid $450 for a year for their 90 day multi trip. This means that every 90 days I have to return to Australia to reset the insurance so that it can be valid for another 90 days. As I am working FIFO, this is perfect for me but they have something to suit everyone. My wife goes with another company and pays longer term eg. 2 or 3 months at a time. This is a cheaper option. One company wanted $60 for one week and then $100 for one month, so it makes sense to get the longer option and then extend once you know what your plan is.

Storage in Australia 

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If you are not a full blown nomad ie, have a place back home, then you will have some additional expenses. Our additional expense is the storage of our belongings in a storage unit. This costs us $58 AUD a month. Last year we went to Canada for 6 weeks and had to keep paying our rent on our place, that was an extra $2250 added to our trip budget and we didn’t even get anything for it, Ouch. Things in life are expensive and you have to think of absolutely everything so that you can afford to go overseas for an extended period of time.

Getting Travel Vaccinations

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Medical tourism is a big thing in Thailand and after learning that travel vaccines are so much cheaper here than Australia, my wife and I decided that we would get some while we were here. I also wanted to volunteer at a dog rescue centre and the pre requisite was that you had to have the rabies vaccine, without it you couldn’t volunteer.
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We researched online and found the Sri Rampai hospital had a good reputation and was a good price for the vaccines. The doctors visit was 200THB and then for the rabies shots they are 500THB each. You can literally get whatever shots you want from there so you can just go to the reception and sign up. They are very fast and the first time took around 1 hour and the subsequent times just 30 minutes. The centre is called the Medical Centre of Excellence and you can find it by clicking here.
The whole process for the rabies shot takes 3 weeks with the shots being administered on day 0,7 and 21. It was totally hassle free and I would certainly recommend it over Australia.

Weekends Away

As we were staying in Chiang Mai for 6 weeks we would go away on the weekends. We celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary during our stay and went to stay at Chai Lai Orchid. We also took a trip up to Chiang Rai and to Pai. We stayed in places that were around $20 a night when we went away and found that $20 can get you a really nice place. Living in Australia, you just couldn’t afford to go away like that on the weekends. The accomodation would just be out of reach for most people. It’s also a great time to explore new areas and see the hilltribes of northern Thailand. 

 

Are you planning to move temporarily to Thailand? Let me know in the comments below.