According to a new cost of living survey by the Economist Magazine, Bangkok is now the second most expensive city to live in in the ASEAN region. For those of us who’ve lived here for years, that news comes as no surprise.
Singapore came in as the most expensive city in ASEAN and the tenth most expensive in the world. Bangkok, world-wise was only 72nd (which shows you just how cheap other ASEAN cities are). Interestingly too, I’ve been saying for years that Kuala Lumpur is cheaper than Bangkok and the Economist survey proves that thought right too, as they rate Kuala Lumpur third most expensive in ASEAN and 90th most expensive in the world – 18 places behind Bangkok.
Since I moved to Bangkok in the early part of the 21st century things like groceries, eating out and entertainment costs have gone through the roof. Groceries in particular are ridiculously expensive, with some products lately going up in price 1-3 baht a month (3-10 cents). Not a huge difference to the more affluent, but to those on the average Thai salary of less than 300 baht a day, it’s an enormous monthly price increase.
The only things I can say have stayed the same for me are my rent (it hasn’t increased in nine years) and small items like bags of fruit on the street (still the same 10 baht they’ve always been). But bus fare has increased, taxi fares are up, eating out at restaurants is up 10-20% in the last couple of years, movie theater tickets are getting expensive, clothing prices are up, toiletries are up, airline tickets are up, hotels have increased in price and on and on.
What used to be a cheap city to live in, Bangkok is still cheap compared to many other places, but nowhere near the bargain place it was a decade ago.
I now tell people, if they want a cheap holiday in Thailand, spend only a few days in Bangkok and head to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Koh Chang, Surat Thani, Khon Khaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon si Thammarat or one of a hundred other smaller cities or towns in Thailand. They’re still fascinating and beautiful and far cheaper places to enjoy yourself in.
Photo copyright – Bangkok’s crazy traffic jams by eguidetravel, Creative Commons License