Thailand and Japan budget, Bangkok --> Tokyo --> Kyoto

Don't panic, we're still here after two weeks of ghosting you. We got too distracted by Bangkok and international travel to post my weekly budget update... hey, I made it almost nine months without missing a week!

These two weeks we watched some free Muay Thai, visited Chinatown and the Jim Thompson house and many markets, drank our weight in Leo beer (so much better than Chang) and cheap carton sake, took a ferry and train and buses and a taxi and walked like 10km a day, saw many temples and HUGE monitor lizards, finally got a clean bill of health from the nicest hospital I've ever seen, bought expensive jewelry, lost a train card, went massively overbudget... time flies!

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Our goal: $50 per day total, including transportation, accommodation, visas, and bills back home. For two people.

In every budget update I will add a prorated estimate of our bills back home (loans, phone plan, etc. which may vary slightly by month), to include in our $50/day travel budget. I am not including travel insurance -- this would add about $5.75 per day to our total.
  • Days: 14
  • Location: Bangkok, Thailand; Tokyo & Kyoto, Japan
  • Splurges: jewelry, metro cards, and flights
  • 2-Weekly spending: $1204.36
  • Avg. spending per day: $86.03
  • Avg. spending per day incl. bills back home: $89.23
  • Avg. spending per day overall in Asia: $48.15

So what are our living expenses in Thailand and Japan this week? 
  • Conversion rate: 30.13 Thai Baht (thb)=$1.00 USD;
    • 107 Japanese Yen (jpy)=$1.00 USD
  • Accommodation: $280.88
    • We spent nine more nights at Yaya Guesthouse which was around $16 per night. The location is great and although the room is a bit stuffy, we got REALLY good discounts by booking through
    When things got stuffy we went to Lumpini Park...

    And watched giant monitor lizards!
    • We flew to Tokyo and spent one night there after getting in super late. The place was super cheap and great -- we should have stayed much longer! It was only $21.22 per night, and had a separate bedroom, small kitchenette, washer, shower, TV, couch... really it was excellent.
    • Our place in Kyoto is $38.73 per night, which is much more than we would regularly spend. However, Kyoto is a tourist city, so this is about as cheap as it gets. We DO have a private room, so that's excellent!
    Do NOT amuse the baby using this product!
    • If this isn't adding up to you, it's because we spent one night on an overnight bus. What a bargain ;)! More on that below.
  • Food and drinks: $290.46
    • We found a great restaurant which had sort of expensive food, but the beer was 75thb (around $2.50) for a large bottle, so it's a fun spot to hang out for a couple of hours around dinner time. We spent too much money there on grilled meat and amazing veggies and *tons* of Leo beer.
    • We also had some famous duck... it's as good as non-famous duck, which is amazing.
    Remember: walk everywhere, stumble into beautiful things.
    • En route to Japan, we got Dunkin Donuts sandwiches at the airport (yep.) and some AirAsia meals, which we should have pre-booked for way cheaper. Oops. We got hungry.
    • In Tokyo we picked up LOTS of noodles, 50% off sashimi and gyoza (discounted right before the store closes) to have with rice at home, coffee with egg sandwiches for breakfast... basically we are trying to enjoy Japanese food on an ultra low budget. We kind of succeed sometimes!
    Japan: home of the $30 melon.
    (and 4 liter bottles of whisky).
    Transportation: $394.88

    • Bangkok city buses: $2.79. We took the bus to and from the Chatachuk market area twice, both times to peruse the market then watch FREE Muay Thai at the Channel 7 stadium. So fun! So worth the $0.70 per person round trip!
    Beautiful Chatuchak park near the market and stadium
    • Grab: $13.64. Since our flight out of Bangkok was pretty early and we weren't sure the buses would be running early enough, we took a Grab to the airport. I think it was worth the extra cost, to minimize the stress of the journey!
    • Flights: $293.17. OK, this was a big one -- but getting from Bangkok to Japan was of course expensive! We snagged two one-way AirAsia flights for under $300, and I'm pretty happy with that.

    • Overnight Kosoku bus: $29.20. We took the overnight ~7 hour bus from Tokyo to Kyoto. It was as comfortable as an overnight bus can be, which is to say it was 10 times better than any Greyhound I've taken. Nothing glamorous, but we made it to Kyoto within two minutes of our scheduled arrival time. Gotta love that Japanese punctuality.
    • Metro cards (didn't use all of it but did lose one with $14 left on it!): $56.08. When we first got to Tokyo, we bought two metro cards (about $5 each) and put some money on them for the rest of our trip. We used the cards to get to and from our AirBnB in Tokyo, which meant a few trains. We have money left on one, but I lost another one in our hectic day around town shipping some documents.
  • Entertainment/miscellaneous: $238.14
    • In Bangkok, we saw many (maybe 10?) FREE Muay Thai fights. Simply head to the Channel 7 stadium on Sunday around 1:45pm, and from 2:30-4:30 watch as many fights as they can jam in. It was awesome! So many KO's, a little blood, and LOTS of screaming bookies.
    • We did some clothes shopping these two weeks. I got jeans ($3.32) and a bra ($1.66) off the streets of Bangkok, picked up a second hand sweatshirt ($3.25) in Tokyo, and Warren got a second hand Adidas jacket ($9.25). Just soon enough, too, because the next day it got VERY chilly in Kyoto and we used our new threads!
    • Just before leaving Bangkok we MAJORLY splurged on a necklace for Warren's mom -- we don't do souvenirs, but she's gonna love this one. Happy Mother's day!
      • (I got myself a small necklace too, but who's counting, eh?)
    • We had to ship our medical stuff off to the US, so that was $14.02 airmail with tracking via Japan Post.
    Notice how friendly this hospital mirror is?
    • Finally, museums and temples. We went to the Jim Thompson house ($6.64), which displayed lots of beautiful Thai architecture and artifacts; Bangkok's famous Wat Arun ($6.64) and Wat Pho ($6.64) temples (including the reclining Buddha); and Ninna-ji Temple in Kyoto ($9.35) which had some beautiful paintings and history.
    Gardens of the Jim Thompson house
    Wat Arun, the white temple, or Temple of the Dawn, or something...?

    Yep, it's completely carved and tiled!

    Wat Pho complex (including a lady for scale)

    The details are just incredible.

    I can't help myself
    So many golden Buddhas.
    Those little guys have got nothing on the giant famous Reclining Buddha!
    Insane huge statues at the Ninna-ji Buddhist Temple.
    (lady for scale)
    Once you get inside, though, it's remarkably peaceful and beautiful.
    Loved this pine tree mural
    Kyoto has many bright temples in this style.

    This gorgeous building was constructed to hold *just papers*
    A picture of a picture of a giant pagoda.

    All around this tucked away statue, it smelled like pine trees.

    The wood around this intense head-stomper was all pink. Loved it.
    • Oh, we also bought a one-cup coffee filter thingy for about $5... so that we don't have to go out for coffee every day. 
    Just another beautiful Japanese city park.

    Considering that we bought a Mother's day gift, travelled from Thailand to Japan, took planes and trains and automobiles, and saw some incredible world heritage sights, going over budget was worth it. We knew Japan would be expensive, but hopefully our cheap lives in other parts of Asia will balance out our overspending. If not, I'll drown my stingy sorrows in sake and raw fish. Kampai!


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