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Need Help - Chiang Mai Mid February 2015


williamthemac

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Leaving the States for Chiang Mai in mid February 2015. I work solely online. I am planning to stay in Southeast Asia for a bit, but this is my first time out of the country.

I am planning on getting my multi-entry visa next month in Atlanta, Georgia. I heard that February is high season and they also start burning the crops. I need help with a few things. I just got my passport last month. Again, I make all my money online so I'm fairly flexible. I just don't want to be blind going in.

- What do I do about my cell phone (Galaxy S5)

- Should I get a long term hotel for cheap or get a few days at a hotel and try to find a place to rent (if so, on the latter, who do I go to?)

- Is Chian Mai the best decision for a newbie to land in, or would you suggest another part of the country?

Thanks so much to everybody's help.


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CM's good: loads of expats, malls, familiar foods, airport and it's cheaper than other top places here.

I'd get a hotel for a few days and have a look around for a room... something like Hillside Condo might suit a singleton.

Phone: pick up a local SIM for peanuts. DTAC is good, cheap and good coverage. 3G. Top up at 7/11.

Not sure about your visa. Non-immigrant Multi O's are typically awarded to those married, retirees etc.

All the best.

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- Cell phone: just change out the SIM card when you get here. You can buy one at the mall or 7-11, the employees will even change it out for you. You can do monthly plan or you can pay as you go at 7-11.

- Rent a room at a guesthouse ($25/day or so) for a couple of weeks while you get the lay of the land and until you determine in which part of the city you'd prefer to live. Then start going into condo managers and asking to see vacant rooms in their building. You can rent a studio apartment here for $200/month or so if you wanted. (There are many, many guesthouses here with varying price/quality ratios. I've stayed twice at The Britannia in their "Super Executive" room for 800 thb a night and liked it both times. Good location, easy transport, plenty of restaurants nearby. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation whatsoever with the place, just a satisfied customer.)

- Chiang Mai is a good mix of relatively low cost of living, Thai culture, and Western amenities. Internet is pretty reliable too....sounds like that might be important to you.

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- Cell phone: just change out the SIM card when you get here. You can buy one at the mall or 7-11, the employees will even change it out for you. You can do monthly plan or you can pay as you go at 7-11.

- Rent a room at a guesthouse ($25/day or so) for a couple of weeks while you get the lay of the land and until you determine in which part of the city you'd prefer to live. Then start going into condo managers and asking to see vacant rooms in their building. You can rent a studio apartment here for $200/month or so if you wanted. (There are many, many guesthouses here with varying price/quality ratios. I've stayed twice at The Britannia in their "Super Executive" room for 800 thb a night and liked it both times. Good location, easy transport, plenty of restaurants nearby. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation whatsoever with the place, just a satisfied customer.)

- Chiang Mai is a good mix of relatively low cost of living, Thai culture, and Western amenities. Internet is pretty reliable too....sounds like that might be important to you.

When you get a condo, do you need to provide a deposit and then first month's rent? Or do you just give them the rent and move in?

Do you need to sign a lease?

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Not all US cell phones have SIM cards that can be taken out. Is your phone locked to a particular provider?

CM is a great place to start your adventure. Are you coming here to work or travel around? Lots of great places to explore in SE Asia.

Definitely book a room for at least 3-4 days. Due to the long flight, you'll be a bit jet lagged for at least a few days.

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Craig's spot on with your Samsung S5. You'll need to get it "unlocked" which with some U.S. carriers, like AT&T, I think, can be a real pain.

Might be possible to get it unlocked here in Bangkok at the MBK Mall, but best to check if you can do it in the U.S. ahead of time.

Mac

My brother came here last year with his AT&T iPhone. He couldn't get a new sim for it as it's not possible to remove it! So...we just bought him a cheapie phone for a few weeks.

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Rent plus deposit (1-2 months' rent for deposit, depending upon length of lease.)

Utilities will be water & electricity (definitely), internet (probably), and TV (if you want it.)

I've read a lot about the month-long hotel prices in the area. It doesn't seem that much different from rental prices. I wonder if it would just be simpler to stay in a decent hotel?

Let me know if that's not a good idea.

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Not all US cell phones have SIM cards that can be taken out. Is your phone locked to a particular provider?

CM is a great place to start your adventure. Are you coming here to work or travel around? Lots of great places to explore in SE Asia.

Definitely book a room for at least 3-4 days. Due to the long flight, you'll be a bit jet lagged for at least a few days.

My phone is with T-Mobile and I am able to remove the back and take out the sim card. That's all I would need, right?

My goal for coming to Southeast Asia is to live cheaper, to of course broaden my horizons and travel, but more importantly I want to create more passive income for myself. Right now I work as a full-time freelance writer. I make decent money for living in the South where it's less expensive... about $3,000 to $5,000 a month on average.

But, just things like gas and groceries and rent and utilities are bogging me down and putting me in this continuous cycle of having to take on as many freelance projects as I can and having barely anything left at the end of the month.

What I want to do is lower my living costs (rent, food, utilities, car payments, gas) and leverage my income to start doing more affiliate marketing (which is something I do for clients, but not myself). So that's a huge reason.

The last one would be Muay Thai and MMA, which I train here int the states. I'll be excited to train over there for sure.

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Craig's spot on with your Samsung S5. You'll need to get it "unlocked" which with some U.S. carriers, like AT&T, I think, can be a real pain.

Might be possible to get it unlocked here in Bangkok at the MBK Mall, but best to check if you can do it in the U.S. ahead of time.

Mac

Sure, I'll check on that. I'm with T-Mobile. But, I can clearly take out the Sim card and replace it. Are you saying that, even if I replace the Sim card when I get there, my phone will be locked?

- William

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Craig's spot on with your Samsung S5. You'll need to get it "unlocked" which with some U.S. carriers, like AT&T, I think, can be a real pain.

Might be possible to get it unlocked here in Bangkok at the MBK Mall, but best to check if you can do it in the U.S. ahead of time.

Mac

My brother came here last year with his AT&T iPhone. He couldn't get a new sim for it as it's not possible to remove it! So...we just bought him a cheapie phone for a few weeks.

I had my Samsung galaxy s3 (at&t) unlocked at a phone shop $20.I'm from NC.It uses a mini sim card which I got from 12call.Works with out any problems here.

I got a condo 1 br condo near Chang mai Universty.I signed up for 3 months at first but decided I liked it and after 1 month signed up for 1 year.about $300per month,plus electricy,water. I pay the meter rate not land lords.

good luck and welcome to CM

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Rent plus deposit (1-2 months' rent for deposit, depending upon length of lease.)

Utilities will be water & electricity (definitely), internet (probably), and TV (if you want it.)

I've read a lot about the month-long hotel prices in the area. It doesn't seem that much different from rental prices. I wonder if it would just be simpler to stay in a decent hotel?

Let me know if that's not a good idea.

Entirely up to you, of course. In my opinion, in a "long stay" hotel situation, you will pay more money for less room. In addition, if you rent a hotel room by the month they will also likely charge you for both electricity and water (it won't be included in the room rate in a long stay situation) - and those rates will be at least 2X the rate that you can find in some condos. There is a government rate for utilities and the hotel will not give you that rate (to be fair, some condos charge above the government rate also - you have to ask before moving in to understand the full cost scenario.)

Lastly - and something that may be important to someone who works online - you may very well be sharing an internet connection in a hotel room with the rest of the hotel. In a condo, you have the option of obtaining your own dedicated wi-fi connection for your home. I pay less than $30 U.S. per month for internet and I have absolutely no complaints. By contrast, I have friends who have tried to use "community internet" in their condo building only to find out it really wasn't a feasible option for anything other than answering email in one corner of their room (because of the distance from their room to that floor's router.)

Others may have differing perspectives, of course. (It really isn't that difficult to find a very affordable condo here.)

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Re the burning off season, if you currently enjoy robust health - great, but even so you might find February - April a testing time. I've never suffered respiratory problems, but once was enough for me.

If you are an asthma sufferer or have any kind of respiratory problems, I suggest you stay away until the the beginning of the wet season.

I personally think the monthly room rental deals offered by some hotels are great value. It doesn't finish with the room rent: you might have to pay extra for utilities, but you'll still save a lot, and because it's only for a month at a time, you'll still have some flexibility about your next move. I take the point of another poster, though - check out the wifi before you sign up and move in.

Edited by dundas
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Craig's spot on with your Samsung S5. You'll need to get it "unlocked" which with some U.S. carriers, like AT&T, I think, can be a real pain.

Might be possible to get it unlocked here in Bangkok at the MBK Mall, but best to check if you can do it in the U.S. ahead of time.

Mac

Sure, I'll check on that. I'm with T-Mobile. But, I can clearly take out the Sim card and replace it. Are you saying that, even if I replace the Sim card when I get there, my phone will be locked?

- William

I have t-mobile and have been to Thailand several times with my phone (LG). Just being able to physically take the sim card out does not mean you will be able to use the phone - you also need to unlock it. T-mobile is pretty good about allowing that, I have done it several times - you just call them and they will give you a code to input on your phone. You must meet certain requirements (i.e. current on your bill), but just call them and they will tell you what you need.

As others have said, I understand some stores in Thailand will unlock it for you, but I have never tried that - as long as you can do it "officially" through T-mobile that is the way I will go.

Good luck.

Edited by californiabeachboy
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February is an excellent month to be in Chiang Mai. Its still relatively oool and the burning season is yet to start. If you are here early Feb then check into a guest house and get a taste of the city and just leave when you sense the burning. Leave the condo idea until May if you care to return.

March and April are the burning months and the air truly isn't good but Chiang Mai as a city still carries and the busiest holiday of the year is during April and the place is absolutely packed but as a tourist that doesn't have to be here then best to avoid but that will be your choie.

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