Three Unique Things to See in Asia that You Won’t See in the USA

If I wanted, I could write this post forever because there are such vast differences in the food, culture, and landscapes between the United States and Asia.

Also, they’re both gigantic and could feature an endless amount of content based on them.

I’m going to stick to 3. Not just three things, but three things I was able to capture on video (I’ll get better at this, I promise).

Here are three unique things to see in Asia that you won’t see in the USA. Courtesy of this single dad blog.

The Mekong Delta

Incredibly beautiful, exotic (in an American’s eyes), and relaxing. Unless, you hit the overcrowded, hawker-filled, easy-to-find tours that we did.

mekong delta vietnam travel
One of the few shots I could get that wasn’t filled with other boats/tourists.

It’s a mangrove of palms trees, home to countless numbers of birds, insects, fish, and things with four legs. I’ve always wanted to visit it ever since I saw it in National Geographic when I was a kid.

Nature was still there, but the main tourist destinations are anything but natural. People are constantly bugging you about money and trying to sell you something. I’m there to relax, so fuck off guy who wants money for showing me some bees I didn’t want to see.

travel mekong delta vietnam honey bees
Stupid bee guy. Nothing against the bees. Long live the bees.

You’re probably better taking a multi-day trip to the more remote parts of the delta if you really want to see what it’s like. I’m not sure, I only did the crappy tour I found in District 1 for $8.

More Motorbikes than Bike Week at Daytona Beach

Seems almost everyone in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other Asian countries only drive motorcycles. Hondas and Suzikis are everywhere in these countries. Sometimes carrying an entire family.

motorcycle asia vietnam thailand cambodia
Become one with the shoal by renting one of these bad boys.

It’s madness. But it’s madness in the same way a shoal of fish is madness. Everyone moves together and it seems much more peaceful than the rush hour anywhere in the United States.

New Restaurant, Dirty Dishes

Apparently, many restaurants in Hong Kong don’t entirely clean the dishes they’re placing on your table. They leave behind soap residue and cleaning materials. Weird.

asia things to see and do
Thankfully, this is what post-meal looks like.

Normal. For locals. They have their own way of cleaning the dishes in a bath of hot water and tea before they eat. Maybe this is why no one leaves a tip here at the end of a meal?

Check it all out in the video below! Pardon the language, this is a single dad blogger here.


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So you want to live in Hong Kong? There’s heaps of beaches, a wild party atmosphere, mountains to explore ghost villages in, and some lovely places to take your kids. If you haven’t seen it, check out here for a quick idea of how life is for my daughter and me.

If you’ve gotten this far and you think, I can’t live abroad, you’re wrong. I’m a single parent, and I live abroad with my daughter. I’m from a small town in the middle of Michigan, there’s nothing special about me.

I didn’t leave the USA for the first time (except to Windsor, Ontario at 19) until I was 24. If I can do this, the only thing stopping you is you. Or, probably a million other things, but don’t let them get in your way. Do it.

single parent parenting blog
My dad came over to visit us in Hong Kong late 2017. Read that story here 🙂

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Hong Kong, wonder no more.

Essentials Included in the Cost of Living in Hong Kong, per month

Transportation: $100

Taking a ride on Hong Kong’s MTR is an ultraconvenient way to travel. It’s cheap, fast, clean, and relatively uncrowded when you’re not traveling during the rush hour. The MTR is the city’s subway system.

Buses are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. There are so many; there are big buses and little buses, red buses and green buses. You literally can’t walk down the street without getting blasted by their exhaust pipes in some places, like next to Prince Edward Station. Buses in Hong Kong are affordable, safe, well-marked, and the plethora of information online regarding Hong Kong’s buses is excellent for mapping your route ahead of time.

Taxis and Uber are available. More expensive, but safe and they are everywhere.

Walking is ideal in Hong Kong if you’re staying in a tourist area. No reason to hop on transport at all if you’re within a kilometer or so of where you’re going. You’ll get to the city from ground level!

 

Ferries and boats are continually bubbling through the waterways of Hong Kong. Use them to cross from TST to the Island. Or take one to an outlying island and see what you can find. Highly recommended!

Overall, transport is relatively cheap if you avoid taxis. Shouldn’t be more than a few dollars a day if you’re using public transportation. Since travel is something impacting your cost of living in Hong Kong everyday, so might as well look for ways to save!

Food (local HK food, specialty cuisine, western food, groceries): >$300

Cooking in Hong Kong is difficult. Why? Space is limited in Hong Kong, so accommodations can be small. If you’re wealthy enough to afford an apartment that comes with a full-western kitchen, you’re probably not too worried about your money anyway, so I can’t imagine why you’re reading this.

I have a hot plate and a rice cooker/steamer, but I have to store them under my bed, and I cook on top of my fridge (just to give you a sense of space limitations in Hong Kong).

If you’re cooking, however, you can buy rice/noodles relatively cheap. Fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced in the wet markets (sometimes less expensive for locals than you), and if you shop around (like I do) between the nearest Wellcome, Park n Shop, and Vanguard you might be able to find some meat and yogurt (and sometimes even beer!) with a 50% off sticker stuck to it. That’s usually a good way to go.

Affordable ‘street food’ is available, but not like in Thailand. You can find plates of fried noodles, rice and (add ingredient), etc. for less than $2.50, even in the more touristy areas. Fast-food-style restaurants dot the ground level corners of Hong Kong’s buildings.

You could easily eat this for every meal and spend less than $10 per day on food. But do you really want to do that to your digestive system? No judgment, I love the occasional gut bomb.

Bakeries are abundant, and they offer everything from sugary donuts to tuna fish buns to banana bread to rolls stuffed with red beans. Most buns are less than a dollar, few are more than $2. If you get them warm, they’re extra delicious, but the bakeries are always a good option if you aren’t gluten-free.

hong kong cost of living, parenting blog
Seaside clams on Mui Wo. The plate was under $10.

There are a gazillion restaurants that can eat up your cost of living in Hong Kong. Chain restaurants like Cafe de Coral and Fairwood are yummy, and most meals are between $4-$7. Western restaurants like Outback Steakhouse are no stranger here. Some bars have great deals on burgers (like a place on the island that has an impressive burger and a craft beer for about $12, just wish I could remember where it was). Hotpot, Korean BBQ, and other buffet style restaurants usually let you eat all you can for an hour or two starting at $20. If you want to splurge and eat at something 5-star, Hong Kong has that, also, but your budget is going to soar.

Western comforts are everywhere. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, 7-11 are all thriving in Hong Kong. Don’t get Pizza Hut though, get PHD, it’s way better here.

Rent: $400-infinity

Rent is wild in Hong Kong. $400 gets you a shoebox. Well, a bed, a bathroom, and no more, anyway. If you’re looking for an apartment akin to a modern apartment you would have in New York City, you’re also going to be looking at over $1,000 in rent each month. $2,000-$3,000/month isn’t an uncommon price for a relatively basic apartment on the island.

cost of living in hong kong
Hong Kong is filled with buildings like these. Each hold hundreds, if not thousands, of different living accomodations.

Rent increases every year in Hong Kong; it’s definitely the most significant contributor to an inflated budget if you’re picky about where you live.

My daughter and I live in a tiny place, but it doesn’t bother me. I actually prefer small areas because it’s less to keep clean and helps maintain my minimalistic ideals.

Utilities (electric, wifi, water): Free-$??

This will vary based on your accommodations. If you’re paying for everything yourself, expect your cost of living in Hong Kong to be similar in prices to the United States.

Internet starts around $30/month. I tether my computer to my phone. Why? My prepaid monthly plan gives me unlimited data for $12.50. Head over to Chungking Mansion in TST to find the guys selling sim cards and data plans.

Shop around between the shops until you find the features you want. I was previously paying $36/month for a similar service to what I have now.

Fresh Water: >$5

Bottled water prices aren’t inflated here, but they aren’t cheap either. You could easily spend a couple of dollars each day on bottled water if that’s how you’re getting your drinking supply.

I recommend you don’t do that unless you want to quintuple your cost of water.

Instead, have a refillable bottle (or two or three) and fill them at the children’s playgrounds where you’ll find fountains with cold water. Better yet, buy a several liter bottle with a handle when you first get here and refill that each time you need to. It’s how I survive!

Laundry: $40

If you’re doing laundry 4 times each month, you’ll probably spend $10 each time if you drop them off at a cleaner, depending on how many clothes you have. If you do them yourself at LaundryUp or a similar place they will be cheaper, just a few dollars each time.

School: >$200

Local or international? Montessori or corporal punishment style? Hong Kong’s schooling system is diverse and competitive. You can pay over $1,000 a month for the top international schools, or you can do like I did and send your children to a local school where they will learn Chinese like my daughter did. That school costs less than $200/month.

Bonus: her school paid for a field trip this year where they took us to Disneyland! My schools were never that cool; for one field trip in elementary, we went to my home because we had a pond. Yawn town.

Lifestyle Choices: $200

Everyone needs entertainment in their lives. The question is: what kind of entertainment do you enjoy? Hong Kong has everything you can think of: scuba, golf, parties, theme parks, boat excursions, the list goes on forever. Your cost of entertainment solely depends on what you like to do.

If you’re on the alternative side, street drugs are easily locatable in Hong Kong. Quality can be low (or superb), prices are high, dealers are shady, but the cops don’t seem to care too much (at least not enough to stop the obvious slinging in some areas).

Be warned: drugs are illegal here, and you’re not going to bribe your way out of an arrest here like you might in other Asian countries. Not only that, but the addition to your cost of living might not be worth the quality of the products here. Probably equally bad for your health.

Visas: Free, 3-month validity

You’ll have to leave Hong Kong to renew your visa (the easiest way is to hop on a ferry over to Macau and back) every three months if you want to stay any longer without finding a job and getting a working visa.

Tourist visas are free, fantastic! But they aren’t unlimited. Border hop too many times and you’ll be treated with a stamp in your passport that limits your future trips, even banning you for a year.

Side note: Hong Kong is passport friendly in the sense that they offer you a small slip of paper to place in your passport instead of taking up precious stamp real estate. Don’t lose this seemingly insignificant piece of paper though, you need it upon your exit. Otherwise, your first stop is to fee city.

Those fees don’t help your cost of living in Hong Kong, so avoid them by being organized.

Health Insurance: up to you, $100 for me

When considering the cost of living in Hong Kong, you should likely invest in travel insurance. You can receive travel insurance through your credit card, airline, or through the servicor I prefer: World Nomads.

I pay about $100 per month for both my daughter and me, and that covers anything I’m worried about. The piece of mind is well worth the cost, but World Nomads also does well in keeping its promise to pay out when you make a claim.

Total Cost of Living in Hong Kong for My Daughter and Me: ≈ $1395 per month

This price tag doesn’t include transportation in and out of the cost of living in Hong Kong and is a rough estimate based on the information provided and assuming going the cheapest route every time. And this is for a single parent blogger, not a lone traveler.

Even if you’re alone, that $1,395 could easily jump to over $2,000 if you aren’t paying attention to your budget or are living above the basics.

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Is there shame in being a shit parent? Yes. And guilt. And regret. And self-loathing. But it’s not the end of the story.

Parenting isn’t easy is fucking hard. There’s no sleeping in if you stay up late, you occasionally get another person’s poop on your fingers, and half your ice cream always gets stolen by someone a third your size.

how to be a better parent
Snarfing ice cream.

But those are the easy struggles.

Sometimes you have a 4-year-old, virile monster who won’t settle down, refuses to relax during their bedtime stories, and keeps yelling for food and water when they literally just filled their bellies with both. And half my ice cream.

How I Know I’m Shit

It’s right about 45 minutes into that situation that I lose my shit.

As negative reinforcement for her already scrambled emotional-state (exhausted and playful at the same time) I take away a book each time she gets rowdy, then a stuffed animal, then they’re all gone, and she loses her back tickle.


Her emotional state deteriorates because I’ve just removed her bedtime routine entirely as a punishment for not following her bedtime routine. Great idea, Dad.

So she starts yelling and screaming in frustration, as toddlers sometimes do. So I threaten to put her things in the garbage. She doesn’t stop. Garbage bin: book. She screams.

Garbage book. Screams. Garbage book. Yells. Garbage stuffed pig. Screams. Garbage stuffed elephant. Wails. Garbage stuffed panda.

how to be a better parent
All the things I threw away.

It doesn’t stop until we’re both mentally and physically exhausted and pass out upset with each other.

Then comes the morning. The wake-up routine goes perfectly well, and I take her to school.

On the public bus ride back to my home it hits me like a baseball bat: I’m a shit dad. I handled the previous night like a rookie.

Where do I go from here? I asked myself a question, “how to be a better parent?”

I took myself on a three-step process to right where I had wronged.

If you’re how to be a better parent, do what I did.

Take These Three Steps to Know How to Be a Better Parent

be a better parent
Me, being a good parent.

Step 1: Recognize It and Admit It.

Say it with me: “I did something shitty. I can do better.”

This is probably the hardest part because you have to own it. But taking that ownership and letting go of the idea that you’re a great parent is freeing up yourself to committing to better. You’ll set your goals higher for yourself because you know you can improve.

Once your goals have been refocused, step two is a bit easier.

Step 2: Act Sorry.

When learning how to be a better parent, it takes effort. When I got Auburn home from school, I had her books and her stuffed animals laid out on her bed.

She’s very perceptive, “I thought you threw these out!”

“I did. And that was wrong,” I put my hands on her cheeks so she would look me in the eyes. “I overreacted yesterday, and I’m sorry about that.”

be a better parent
We usually get along 🙂

I’m not sure exactly what was going through her mind at that moment, but I hope it was understanding. Understanding that I’m not perfect, and that’s okay, even though my reaction wasn’t. Understanding that I’m trying my best and I can admit when I’m wrong. Understanding that I love her, even if I don’t always show it.

The important thing here is that I’m not just saying I’m sorry, I’m acting sorry. Her books and animals were cleaned and placed nicely on her bed. I made eye contact with her while I sincerely apologized.

It goes a long way, and if you’ve set your new goals to reach that standard of recognizing and reconciling your mistakes, you’re already on the path to becoming a better parent.

That brings us to step three.

Step 3: Do better.

I’m not going to be using my negative reinforcement tactic of throwing away books and toys anymore. It’s counter-productive and only escalates the situation. I want to honestly know how to be a better parent.

how to be a better parent
She’s generally a happy kid and makes it easy to be a parent.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that my next tactic is going to be a useful and effective one, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been reading about using fewer words and remaining nonchalant in times of stress; enacting those behaviors have been a different story, but I like to think I’m improving.

And that’s what step three is all about: doing better. It’s about making an effort by reading, exploring, and experimenting with what works for you.

All you have to do now is repeat steps 1-3 for the rest of your parenting life, and you should eventually be a substantial parental figure.

how to be a better parent
Is your kid this cool? Mine is, duh.

Parenting is a wild ride–are you in control?

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learn cantonese in hong kong

“Do you know, Daddy?” She blinks.

“No, sweetheart. I don’t know what that means.”

“Ugh!” She stomps her foot.

“Honey, I don’t speak Chinese.”

“Oh, right.”

This was a snippet of a conversation I had with my 4-year-old today.

Why? Because she was trying to tell me something in Chinese.

language immersion in hong kong
Auburn and her Chinese grandma at the park. She’s so loved!

I recently took a solo 12-day trip to Cambodia. It was my first time spending time away from my daughter in over three years. During these 12 days, she stayed at her Chinese Grandma’s home.

Before I left for Cambodia, Auburn’s Chinese language skills were relatively basic. Her speaking was minimal, though her listening skills seemed well-developed (she’s been learning for roughly six months). I really want her to learn Cantonese in Hong Kong, but overall it’s been difficult.

However, since I’ve returned to Hong Kong to reunite with my daughter, she’s been speaking and communicating in Chinese in full sentences, constantly.

And I’m not at all surprised.

learn cantonese in hong kong
Here’s her surprised face. 😛

How I Predicted My Daughter’s Rapid Advancement in the Chinese Language and What That Tells Us About Language Learning

Before I left for Cambodia, her  Chinese skills reminded me of myself a few years ago before I traveled solo to Mexico.

I was speaking a little bit of Spanish at the time, I could understand much more than I could speak. I didn’t at all feel fluent or confident in my skills. I could ask for directions to the bathroom, but I couldn’t always understand them.

However, I spent two weeks in Mexico. The majority of my time was in Morelia, but I saw some other, beautiful places as well, such as San Miguel de Allende.

I knew I was immersing myself in the Spanish language–that was my goal. What I didn’t realize while I was there: I was rapidly developing my ability to speak Spanish.

language learning in hong kong
I lost my phone in Latin America and all the pictures I had, so here’s Hong Kong Harbor

How? I was hearing it in the grocery store. Listening to it on the bus. But most importantly, I was speaking it every day because I had to. I was finally working a muscle that hadn’t been effectively exercised. And it quickly strengthened.

Before my two weeks in Mexico, I understood enough of what people said, so the words were already in my head. Much like my daughter’s comprehension of Chinese before I left for Cambodia.

How to Learn Cantonese in Hong Kong

In her 12 days of staying with her Chinese family, I knew she was going to do what I did with Spanish. She finally made the jump from understanding and knowing, to speaking.

learn cantonese in hong kong
Auburn and her older cousin. Great to see them getting so close while Auburn learns her language!

Only she did in

I did it in my late 20’s. My daughter did it before she was 5. Anyone can do it.

Anyone Can Rapidly Speak a New Language

But only if they’re willing to put in the work of learning the words and recognizing the sounds. This I think is the most tedious part of learning a new language. It’s a rough adjustment phase, it takes time, and the process feels slow (and sometimes frustrating).

Once it’s passed, however, speaking skills rapidly improve.

And it’s totally worth it. For Auburn, it was imperative that she learn Cantonese in Hong Kong. it means the chance to communicate with family, and it makes my eyes get a bunch of dust in them. Stupid dust.


Learning a new language is possible for anyone–now it’s your turn to commit. Please subscribe below to my email list if you liked this article and want me to continue writing! Your subscription is my favorite form of encouragement!

 

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for a dad this year, you can’t ask a better expert than a single dad.

Why?

Because a single dad has the clear head of a loner, the few wants of the strong, and an insatiable yearning for something more. Single dads have the perfect psyche to know exactly what to get a dad for Valentine’s Day.

This single dad blogger has the answer.

These are the 3 things I would ask for this Valentine’s Day…if I weren’t single.

*Affiliate links are present. Your cost stays the same, I take a small commission from Amazon. Read here for more information.

Top 3 Valentine’s Day Gifts for a Single Dad


Beard Grooming and Trimming Kit

It’s February and it’s still cold out. A beard keeps our faces warm and protected. A beard kit keeps our beards their sturdiest.

Check out this beard kit on Amazon. It has organic ingredients, makes styling easy, and is a perfect gift for a dad keeping up his beard game.


The Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift is the best VR headset available. I’ve tried a few of them and the realism of the Oculus outweighs the others. It’s getting into a whole new world.

Best of all, they’re as cheap as they’ve ever been! They’re $200 less than the last time I checked the price.

Click here to read more about this awesome Valentine’s Day gift for a single Dad, or any person, really.


Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch

It might not look like a smartwatch, but it is! This is the best watch to buy a dad for Valentine’s Day.

Why? This single dad blog will give it to you straight.

It’s sleek, simple, and smart. Just like Dad.

Check out this hybrid smartwatch here for more details.


These are the top 3 Valentine’s Day gifts for a single dad this year–what are you getting for Dad?

It was our last day in Chiang Mai, my first birthday since I’ve started this single dad blog, the mid-point of our 2 weeks in Thailand.

We woke up early, brewed some coffee, and sat at a table in the middle of the garden where tiny rainbow-colored fish wiggled in a pond.

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The guesthouse owners arranged a taxi for $5 to the airport and flew back to Bangkok. From there, it was $10 per person to hop on a bus and we were off to Hua Hin.

The bus from Bangkok Airport to Hua Hin is found on Level 1 next to Gate 8.

The buses were clean, comfortable, and stacked with a free bottle of water.

We had plenty snacks and sandwiches from 7-11, and as I took my first drink of a Chang, I noticed a sign saying there was a $300 fine for drinking alcohol on the bus.

Oh well, it was already open. And I’m a single parent blogger, I could use a break.

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Five rumbling hours through rain later and we pulled into the bus stop outside of the city center.

A mini-bus was waiting to take us to our hotel. Having forgotten to change money or withdraw any Thai Baht that day, we simply had to take a sustained look of disdain along with an upcharge to take us to the money changing place before our hotel.

It was dark out by the time we got to our hotel, so we ate, and promptly went to sleep half way through our 2 weeks in Thailand.

The next week was rather uneventful because that’s how I planned it!

We stayed in ‘Angel Room’ at Hin Ngam Condo, a lovely, relaxing resort with two kids’ pools for Auburn.

2 weeks in thailand
Our balcony over one of the pools

She loved the slides, zero-depth entrance, and jet tub. There were squirt guns, pool toys, and the trees next to the pool would drop big leaves in that Auburn loved to collect.

It was easy to let her swim all day while I relaxed and read a book in a lounge chair.

Honestly, the whole week was like this. We had no reason to go anywhere in Hua Hin.

The room was super comfortable; the pool was a fantastic place for Auburn to play, and, frankly, I didn’t want to do anything besides relaxing all week long, happy 31st to me 😀

2 weeks in thailand
Auburn on top of the elephant slide. She never slid down it, just climbed up and climbed down.

There were a few food stalls outside the resort that we liked to eat at in the evening. One night they served us something that we weren’t sure what it was.

I saw it again recently in Hong Kong.

It was lung.

A soup full of lungs.

And we ate it.

All of it.

Great news: you can make it at home.

After the *refreshing* week in Hua Hin, and roughly 2 weeks in Thailand, we were back to Bangkok for a few days.

We took a full day to explore The Grand Palace. The Grand Palace costs around $15 per person. It’s beautiful there, and scary.

2 weeks in thailand
All three of us just outside the entrance to The Grand Palace, Bangkok

There’s an incredible temple, massive, golden statues with peaceful faces, and immense murals depicting everything from death to debauchery.

You can enter an old arsenal there. It’s a display of an array of flesh-severing pikes and bone-crushing maces.

vacation in bangkok
This buildign houses the weapon aresenal. There’s a million cameras on it.

Some of them are easily recognizable from movies and TV; others are frightening to see for real. Their shapes give a vicious indication of what they do to a person.

2 weeks in thailand, vacation in thailand
Inside The Grand Palace

If you’ve made it this far into The Grand Palace, you’re probably hungry by now. So be smart, open your backpack and eats the sandwiches and snacks you brought along.

There are 1,000,000 instagrammable spots in The Grand Palace, I recommend you find them.

vacation in bangkok
Both exhausted. There’s a lot to see in The Grand Palace.
cost of living in thailand

So you want to live on an island in Thailand? You’ve seen the pictures of coconut trees backdropped by a beautiful blue sky with people snorkeling in the turquoise waters, right? If you haven’t seen it, check it out here, courtesy of Matador Network.

koh tao cost of living
Koh Nangyuan, just 15-30 minute boat ride from Koh Tao

If you’ve gotten this far and you think, I can’t live abroad, you’re wrong. I’m a single parent and I live abroad with my daughter partly by running this single parent blog.

Thailand islands are as gorgeous as every backpacker blabs they are. Honestly, I didn’t want to write about the cost of living in Thailand, especially on the islands, because I like to keep my secrets to myself. So, foregoing my general feelings of disdain towards spoiling the places I love, here is the cost of living on Koh Tao for me and my daughter over our course of six months there. So you’re wondering about the cost of living in Thailand? Here it is, specifically for Koh Tao.

If you’re looking for a place to stay on Koh Tao, click here for a few ideas! It’s an affiliate link that costs you nothing but helps support this site. Cheers, my friend!

Essentials Included in the Cost of Living in Thailand, per month

Buying a Motorbike: $300

You need to be mobile. I bought a motorbike for $300 and when I sold it before I left Thailand, I sold it for around $290.

On the islands, there seem to be mafia-style price controls that make it far more expensive to use a taxi each day than to simply invest in your own motorbike.

A few caveats: you’ll likely be driving illegally, random checkpoints will pop-up where police may stop you and fine you for XYZ (though this never happened to me once in 6 months, not even riding in Chiang Mai on vacation last month), and if you don’t already know how to drive a motorcycle then don’t try to learn in Thailand; you’re going to hurt yourself and possibly someone else.

Renting a Motorbike: $75

You can also rent a motorbike; it will cost you around $75/month or more depending on the bike you rent.

Gasoline: $15

Gasoline wasn’t a huge expense because Koh Tao is quite small. You can drive from the north to the south in about 30 minutes pretty easily.

Food (local Thai food, western food, groceries): $300

Island food is a bit more expensive than the food you’ll find on the mainland, of course (you’re paying for the shipping costs, essentially), but it’s still incredibly cheap. Overall, food is likely to be one of your largest factors when calculating your cost of living in Thailand.

For breakfast I recommend stopping at a smoothie stand, they cost between $1-$1.33. Add on a barbecued pork skewer or fried chicken leg and at most, you’re looking at a $2 breakfast.

A pad thai will be as little as $2. A margherita pizza can be $3. A burger and fries will be about $5. You can go up from there, it just depends on your taste and spending habits.

Ice creams are as cheap as $0.45 in 7-11, or $0.66 from the guy who drives a scooter around selling coconut ice cream.

I’m giving you my budget based on usually eating pad thai or something similar, pizza once a week at least, and occasionally some monster BBQ skewers at a beachfront restaurant for $6 at sunset. Add in that I also have to feed a child and our food budget was about $300 each month.

You could easily eat three meals a day at $2 a piece and keep your food budget under $200.

Rent: $150-$600

Rent depends on what you want to rent. Do you want a tiny, ant-filled bungalow like I did? Or do you want to stay in a resort?

I’m not telling you where I found a place to stay for $150 per month on Koh Tao. That’s privileged information and it’s difficult to find. If you scour my blog and do the footwork on Koh Tao, you’ll be able to find it. However, you can easily find a bungalow for $200 per month almost anywhere on the island.

The best resorts on Koh Tao serve up a price tag of around $600 per month. They are gorgeous. You can get a private villa with a pool overlooking the sea where you can watch the sunset in privacy surrounded by palm trees for that price.

Utilities (electric, wifi, water): Free-$??

Many places don’t charge you at all for utilities. Other places do. If you find a place that charges you, you’re never going to pay more than $50 per month for electric, wifi, and water. If you do, you’re either getting ripped off, or you’re blasting your airconditioner non-stop.

Fresh Water: Less than $5

You can purchase heaps of one-liter bottles if you want but you shouldn’t. It’s bad for the environment, it’s a waste of resources, and a waste of money.

Instead, buy the giant, cooler-sized bottles from Green Fresh or the ice place in Sairee (not far from the main crossroad). The initial purchase of the bottle is $5, but you can refill it for about $0.66 each time. You’ll probably only have to refill it once or twice each month.

Pro tip: Place the bottle sideways where your feet go on your scooter. You’ll lose some water on the way home, but not much. Drive slowly and safely, no one is racing on the island. If your legs get tired, stop to take a break instead of risking your safety.

Laundry: $10

Charged by the kilo, you can get your laundry washed, dried, folded, and ready the next day (or same day for a slightly higher cost) for about $1.33-$2 per kilogram. I don’t travel with many clothes so I was spending between $2-$4 per week on laundry.

School: $300

My daughter attended school on Koh Tao when she was 3 and 4-year-old. There are a few kindergartens on the island. They are both around Sairee. Both have their ups and downs. One requires you to sign a contract that sticks you if you need to leave early, the other doesn’t. One has a brand new playground, the other is quite small in comparison. All the staff of each are lovely. If you are looking for specific recommendations or have any questions about the schooling on Koh Tao, ask away!

There is also a local school which I’ve heard charges around $70 per month. You’ll need someone who speaks Thai to help you enroll in that school, I’ve heard.

Lifestyle Choices: $200

Everyone needs entertainment in their lives. The question is: what kind of entertainment do you enjoy? Koh Tao has a mini-golf course, rock climbing establishments, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, loads of bars and beer on the island.

Your cost of entertainment simply depends on what you like to do.

If you’re looking to smoke marijuana on Koh Tao, you can, but be careful, it’s illegal and fines can be steep. Jail time, I’ve heard, is worse. There are some bars that let you smoke openly and will sell prerolls, but do so at your own risk. Smoking pot in Thailand is safest on the islands, but be as discreet as possible; Thai police don’t take kindly to people smoking weed.

Other drugs: be forewarned, if you think Thai police will be harsh on you smoking marijuana in Thailand, try getting caught with anything harder. I’ve heard some horror stories.

Visas: $100/3 months/per person

This is actually more confusing and costly than it sounds. The initial tourist visa is going to cost $40. Towards the end of your first two months, it will cost you another $60 to extend it for the third month. You also have to go to Koh Samui to do this, so add in the cost of your boat ticket, taxi to the immigration department, and the time lost spending a day doing this. Unfortunately, visas and visa runs can add significantly to your cost of living in Thailand.

Health Insurance: up to you, $100 for me

When considering the cost of living in Thailand, you should likely invest in travel insurance. You can receive travel insurance through your credit card, airline, or through the service I prefer: World Nomads. I pay about $100 per month for both my daughter and me, and that covers anything I’m worried about.

 

Total Cost of Living in Thailand for My Daughter and Me: ≈ $1200 per month

This price tag doesn’t include flights in and out of the country and is a rough estimate based on the information provided. Either way, for living on such a beautiful island, with healthy food, and a great place to raise kids, it’s well worth it.

There, I’ve given you the keys to my favorite place in Thailand to raise children and live–so when are you moving there?
Cost of Living