In the northern province of Chiang Mai’s provincial seat, backpackers from around the world compete to stay at guesthouses in the Chiang Mai Gate area due to modest room prices ranging from Bt80-300/night.
Recently, Price of Travel conducted the latest survey for the Backpacker Index for 2014 of 124 world cities ranked from the cheapest to the most expensive.
Asia’s cheapest city is Pokhara in Nepal with a daily backpacker index of US$14. Hanoi came second place at US$15.88, while Chiang Mai of Thailand is ranked third of US$17.66.
Living a backpacker lifestyle in Chiang Mai, a British tourist said he was renting a room for one week – a room with a fan without facilities and shared bathrooms – which he said could help him conserve his money and stay longer in town.
“Oh, Chiang Mai’s a very cheap city, but it also has a very good quality. Compare Chiang Mai to Phuket or Koh Samui, Koh Chang. There’s no comparison. You’re paying a lot of money and you’re not getting very much. But here you can get a real quality of life, and everything is far more cheap,” said the English tourist.
Restaurants in the Chiang Mai Gate area offer inexpensive food, resulting in even lower spending for tourists. A hamburger costs only Bt35 and Phad Thai, one of Thailand’s famous dishes among foreigners, costs only Bt40.
With easy lifestyles, backpackers in Chiang Mai spend Bt500/day or US$15.62/day on average, including food of no more than Bt300/day together with accommodation of Bt200/night.
A German tourist commented that commuting around town in also cheap. “In terms of transportation, we also rent bikes, motorcycles or use red taxis. In comparison to Germany, it’s very cheap.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai Office indicated that there are about 200,000 backpackers, or 10 percent, of 2 million foreign tourists entering the province annually. Most of them are independent travelers from Europe and opt for cheaper lifestyles compared to other tourists in this northern province who spend Bt3,000/day on average.
Although Chiang Mai has tried to upgrade its image from a being a low-cost tourist destination to that of an upscale world class destination to welcome travelers with higher purchasing power, the province has its outstanding charm which cannot help but attract all types of tourists to get a glimpse of its beautiful and unique identity.
Price of Travel is a database of travel costs in the world’s main travel destinations. The site features over 110 cities, with information for each listing accommodation, transportation, attraction, food, and drink prices.
While Asia dominates the lower cost segment of the list with the first 11 spots, Price of Travel says Europe dominates the expensive part at the bottom. Switzerland’s Zurich is ranked at the top as the most expensive city of US$122.22/day.