Baht Man and Robbing – A Average Day’s Money Spent in Thailand

With my British pound still rooted at the bottom of  Mount Baht I’m starting to wonder if it will ever climb somewhere near to its previous lofty heights. Adam Smith who is featured on the new style British £20 note is on present levels in no danger of suffering mountain top nose bleeds, unlike predecessor Sir Edward Elgar whose £20 note was for a long time trading around the 70 baht mark.The 90 baht days of the Asian Financial Crisis may never return. Dollar, pound or euro, the unfurling of the mountain top flags may have to wait a long, long time.

My worry is the British pound and it must now be of grave concern not just for tourists but the many pension income ex pats. With certain visa regulations requiring set levels of bank deposit, income or combination of the two, some British ex pats will have found their pensions have now fallen beneath the visa bread line. A worrying time for many but how would it impact me on a typical vacation day in Udon Thani city, Thailand. Today’s Baht/Pound exchange rate is a nice round 51.00 baht and I’m going to use a not too distant back figure of 65 baht to evaluate the impact of my depreciated pound.

The day starts for Wonderful Wi and myself at the Napalai Hotel on Pracharaksa Road, always our choice of residence when in Udon. The room rate is 900 baht per night which includes a buffet breakfast.The Napalai is a decent hotel but the room rate seems more Pattaya priced and not a reflection on its location in a sleepy Issan city, not daylight robbery more shades of mischievous teenage hoodies loitering on  street corners. Hard habits die-hard and one year we must try a different hotel. Napalai Hotel, Udon Thani We go down to breakfast around nine and the buffet is a really good spread. Cereal, fruit, omelette and various oriental dishes give a choice that sets you up for the day ahead. The samlor journey from the hotel to the Chareonsri Shopping Centre incurs our first expense of the day, 50-80 baht is the varying price range of the ride.

Shopping and me don’t really go together and after an hour or so I leave Wilai to the discounts, fashion and food, to head off in search of a familiar tongue and a skin that’s a whiter shade of pale. With a mid afternoon rendezvous arranged with Wilai at the Thai Yai restaurant, clutching 400 baht worth of last years fashion and the Bangkok Post underarm, I take the short walk to the Irish Clock Pub in Soi Sampantamit Road. Thai Yai restaurant, Udon Thani

After two hours of sun, smoking and tranquil peace and quiet, the 200 baht bill leaves me in good spirits for my second samlor ride and an afternoon date with Wilai, the shopaholic and alcoholic together like a Mills and Boon book embedded in a best beer guide. Green curry noodles, a plate of spring rolls, a beer and iced lemon tea and we walk away leaving 200 baht on the table and that includes a decent tip that’s acknowledged with a delightful smile.

We take a half kilometre stroll back to the hotel and a chance for Wilai to watch a movie on the hotel bar TV. The gentle walk over level ground has somehow rekindled the pangs of hunger in Wilai and a large Beer Leo for me and a cocktail and Thai dish for Wi are ordered. A “Lady Pink” is Wi’s wording for her favourite Napalai drink or to those of you with your tongue the right way in, a Pink Lady cocktail and the rare sight of young Wilai indulging in the ruin of many and the fuel of fun. Another beer and 400 baht goes with the help of another more than welcome tip.

After an afternoon TV snack Wi prefers to skip a trip to one of Udon Thani’s fine restaurants in favour of a light bite at the hotels evening buffet. Eat as much as you want and with two coffees and a fruit juice, the bills still under 250 baht. Value added snacks that won’t tax your holiday budget.

The Centre Point Night Market is located next to the railway station and is a vibrant place for an evening of shopping and relaxing at one of it’s many bars. After a look around the crowded stalls selling cheap fashion clothing, dvd’s, souvenirs and  trinkets galore, I once more leave Wilai to it and take refuge in the covered bars. A few beers, some takeaway food for that ever hungry young lady and with some “suck em and see” pirate dvd’s, we take our last samlor ride of the day back to the Napalai. Total market spending, about 400 baht.

The hotel bar and another dubbed Hollywood movie set the scene for the day’s final act. A couple more Beer Leo’s, a cocktail night-cap for Wilai and then I usually spend a good hour on the Napalai’s Internet. The connection is normally slower than a samlor and only slightly quicker than a drunk Englishman on a computer keyboard. Finishing the evening with a shot of vodka or two the bar tab arrives at around the 450 baht mark. Another typical day in paradise draws to a close, so let’s tot up the spending.

  • Napalai Hotel room rate – 900 baht.
  • Samlor – 300 baht.
  • Charoensri Shopping Mall – 400 baht.
  • Irish Clock Bar –  200 baht.
  • Thai Yai restaurant – 200 baht.
  • Napalai Hotel bar afternoon – 200 baht.
  • Buffet evening meal – 250 baht.
  • Centre Point Night Market – 400 baht.
  • Napalai Hotel Bar evening – 450 baht
  • Newspaper/cigarettes etc – 150 baht.

Chopsticks and 100 dollarsTotal spending for the day comes to 3450 baht which is more than I expected and I must have a word with young Wilai about her excessive drinking. At today’s exchange rate of 51 baht/pound against a typical 65 baht that converts to £67.64 and £53.08 respectively, a daily difference of £14.56. Over a 20 day stay that amounts to £291.20 which is a large amount. Add on car rental, fuel, taxis, internal flights and those other little holiday expenses and the pound adjustment races past the £400 post.

For ex pats residing in the Land of Smiles, their own self-satisfied smirks may have dropped at the corners as they have seen their monthly pensions fall by large baht adjusted amounts. This subject was covered in a specific post by My Thai Friend and is a valuable read with its additional view of monthly spending costs in Thailand for the ex pat community. If you have any thoughts on the rising baht from an ex pat or tourist perspective then I’d be delighted to read them. Perhaps someone should tell the Baht man that he’s robbing us blind.

Credits Photograph     Money and Credit Card     © Susan Leggett |

Photograph     Chopsticks and 100 dollars     © Alexey Arkhipov |


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

6 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    HD another “classic.” You really got me excited when you said the GBP hit 51 yesterday, but I checked this morning its nearer 50 again.

    I have to renew my retirement extension in June, last year my pension covered the 800,000 baht income level. This year no way, so I am now devising schemes to make sure I don’t have to take an early bath from LOS!

    It is indeed worrying times.

  2. Malcolm says:

    Martyn , a year ago for us American expats or retireies living here in the LOS, the thai baht for us was 26 per US dollar now it is 36.32 per dollar and that makes me a little happier, if it would just creep up to 38 and stay I ,and I know the rest Americans here would be 38 life goes on as normal lower than 30 and it’s belt tighting time , glad I could loosen mine a little, what with the extra lbs. I have put on this past year ha ha .
    Great post, and love the way you have fun when you are here, and the great way you treat Wilai while on a holiday , but I must say you should cut back a few beers during the day ,ha ha Malcolm

    Malcolm’s last blog post..Lunch Time In Whang Pho

  3. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – I hope the baht picks up for you, especially Visa wise. You could always try pay per post….ouch, that hurt.

    Malcolm – Sorry Malcolm I obviously didn’t research the dollar. I wrongly thought 40 was a decent exchange and it was about 33 at the moment. Glad it’s moved more into the comfort zone for you. Cheers.

  4. Frances says:

    Thanks for illustrating the £/Baht situation by way of your lovely holiday – sounds like you and Wi have great fun! We still earn in £ right now so our income has dropped since we’ve been living in France so things are v tight, but on the bright side we’re feeling lucky that we managed to get a mortgage and buy our first house last year before it all went pear shaped!

    Frances’s last blog post..A new fox cub and our bunny gets ‘head tilt’

  5. martin in bulgaria says:

    Hi Martyn, Another good read had here. The pound is sinking, but the captain has already left the ship! As an expat who has all his life savings in sterling we have seen nearly a 30% drop in exchange against the BGLeva. I wish now that I had opted to go Bulgarian full hog and exchanged everthing to local currency. Another BAD decision, but you go on what you think at the time. At least I haven’t lost too much as my savings are very small!
    Most expats just don’t have the choice though, it cant’ go on like this surely!

    martin in bulgaria’s last blog post..Living or Surviving in Bulgaria?

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Frances lovely to hear from you and I hope Sophie is walking the tightrope unaided once again.

    Martin I didn’t realize the Leva had dropped 30%, the pound must be taking a complete battering all the world over. I expect it to recover at least 10% of its losses by the year end, I hope that helps you through these lean times.

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