A Week in Chiang Mai – Photo Diary

Here is a selection of photos to show a little about what our life is like in Thailand. We tend to get into a routine and do the same things on a regular basis. Our life is simple, but very enjoyable. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t grateful for the opportunities we have. We live in amazing times.

Visa Run to Myanmar

Every digital nomad knows this story well. After two or three months you have to travel to another country to renew visas for another short stay. Fortunately, visa runs are well established in Thailand and there are tours specifically for getting a new stamp in your passport. A day trip to Myanmar from Chiang Mai costs less than $20 with lunch and some sight-seeing included. Now we are good for another two months in Thailand.

Myanmar border

Visa run to the Myanmar border.

Great Thai Food

One of our favourite restaurants in Chiang Mai is Imm Aim (formerly Pun Pun). We go there 4 or 5 times a week because the food and atmosphere are great. I love small family run restaurants and the open garden is so relaxing. Imm Aim is a must try for anyone visiting Chiang Mai.

Motoko doesn’t eat much meat, and I’m trying to eat less, so we prefer vegetarian restaurants like this. It’s nice to get higher quality vegetables and brown rice with dishes that are flavoured with natural herbs, not grease or salt.  Also, it’s getting scarier to eat meat all around the world and the environmental footprint of beef, pork and chicken production is far too heavy for my liking. It’s better for the planet and my body to eat less meat.

Lunch @Imm Aim Chiang Mai

Lunch at our favorite restaurant “Imm Aim”


 Networking with Nomads

One of the best parts of being in Chiang Mai is all the travellers and digital nomads we meet. I generally try to arrange several coffee meetups with different people throughout the week. It’s great to be able to connect with like minded people. In Canada, I don’t feel like I have much connection with anyone anymore. Back home, everyone seems so pre-occupied with working and shopping to fill their over-sized houses with stuff they don’t really need. In a place like Thailand, it’s possible to have real relaxed conversations with people from all over the world. My people are in Chiang Mai.


Coffee and Conversation

 Accommodations in Thailand

We had a great house sublet for the first two months in Chiang mai. It was a three-bedroom house with nice furniture and fast internet for about $300 per month. After that we moved to a tiny one-room studio in a better location for about $200 per month. I purposely wanted to go from one extreme to the other; a 6-room house with a garden to a 1-room studio with no kitchen or washing machine. It was a little hard to get used to at first, but now that we are settled in, it’s not that bad. We don’t need much to have a good life. Less stuff and less space simplifies everything so that more time and money can be spent on enjoyable and productive activities, like meeting with friends.


The last day in our house.


A Simple Routine

Our lifestyle doesn’t really change much in different countries. We spend a lot of time behind a computer, exercising, going to cafes, meeting people, reading,  playing guitar(me) and walking around in every country we live in. People often ask if we are homesick or we miss Japan or Canada. The answer is not really. Sure there are great things about different countries that we would like to experience again, and we will, but we don’t really feel like we are lacking anything in a new place. Our surroundings may change, but what we do with our free time is always very stable.


Going to the Yoga class

Walking to Yoga class

Getting back to Nature

I’m a city person. I love cafes, music, restaurants and the culture of interesting metropolises, but I’m starting to change. In Chiang Mai, we have been doing weekly hikes with my uncle, to a popular temple at the top of a mountain. It really is mentally and physically refreshing to get some fresh air, exercise and quiet time. I need to spend more time outdoors.

Enjoy the Hike on Saturday morning

Our weekly hike.

 Teaching English Again

We volunteer to teach English at an orphanage once a week. I haven’t taught in a few years and thought I would never teach again, but I do enjoy teaching. These children have very little possessions and toys yet are very happy, polite and fun to be around. In developed countries, kids seem to have everything, but always seem to be whining for more. All kids should experience developing countries for a year or two.

I’ve been making resources and materials for teaching children for many years now. I’m in the process of reviving some old projects to help teach English literacy and conversation ability to disadvantaged children. If any of you are interested in a project like this, please contact me.


Teach English in an orphanage.

 Eating Out

We eat a simple breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit in our room everyday, but we go out to a restaurant for every lunch and dinner. In Thailand the food is so amazing and inexpensive that we never get tired of going to restaurants. In Canada, the opposite is the case. Too often restaurant food is processed or pre-cooked so it is bland, despite the high prices. In Canada, we never want to go out because there are so few opportunities to eat healthy food with fresh ingredients. In Thailand, if you avoid the western food, you can eat a healthy, delicious meal in virtually every restaurant you go to. Also, the fresh coconut water and fruit shakes are amazing. Great Thai dishes can be typically found for between $2 and $3 per dish.

Dinner at Tiger Kingdom in Town on Saturday night.

Dinner at Tiger Kingdom in Town.

 Life in Chiang Mai

Our life here really is amazing. When you find a great city like this it’s hard to go anywhere else. We are definitely going to see more of the world, but it’s going to be difficult to top Chiang Mai.

Retire Cheap Chiang Mai Thailand

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

18 Responses to A Week in Chiang Mai – Photo Diary

  1. James Clark says:

    It’s a sweet life, John. This makes me slightly homesick for Chiang Mai as well.

  2. Elisa says:

    Can’t wait to get back and drink more coffee and have great conversations with you guys. Should hit up a yoga class as well! 🙂

  3. Chris says:

    Hi John,
    thank you very much for the article. I enjoy every day in Chiang Mai a lot and I will definitely come back here. It was great to “run” into you on one of your hikes up to the temple and thanks for giving back to the less fortunate here and sharing your experiences.
    A simple life can be a very good life.


  4. AJ Aerni says:

    How long are you in Chiang Mai John? Have you been to Pai? I think I’m gonna go for the weekend this weekend. Care to join me on a nomad road trip?

    • John says:

      Hi AJ,
      We’re here until March. We haven’t been to Pai yet but we’ve heard good things about it. Sorry our weekends are booked, but maybe we can meet up in Chiang Mai during the week.

  5. Leandro says:

    Hi John,

    Just came across your blog and enjoyed reading this post! Also currently in Thailand for a while and Chiang Mai will be a stop off point so this post makes me look forward to it even more.

    Everywhere online I have never read about a visa run to Myanmar. Do you mind elaborating the necessary steps to do it, I take it there is an organised tour of some sort?


    • John says:

      Hi Leandro,

      The visa run is to Mae Sai. Every tour company sells one day mini van tours there for as little as 500 baht. You can do a tour with a few stops and a buffet lunch for as little as 700 baht, although 1000 baht is more common.

  6. Sergio Felix says:

    Another great post John and you surely seem to be enjoying life a LOT over there in Chiang Mai.

    I was wondering about the visas though, do you really have to be doing that Myanmar trip every two months?

    I mean I wouldn’t bother but I thought you could do this for somewhat longer periods?

    Maybe four or five months?


    • John says:

      Hi Sergio,

      Just like every country, there are other visa options. If you’re over 50 you can get a retirement visa. If you study the Thai language, you can get an education visa. If you start a business or get hired here, you can get a work visa. Leaving the country, is the easiest way.

  7. Eicha says:

    Hai.. i enjoy reading this… im student from Malaysia and im doing a SWOT about chiang mai.. ur post very helpful to me..thanks.. 🙂

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Hi John, I enjoyed your article on living there. I am so interested in shaking up my life and doing something completely different and would be totally interested in teaching English to kids. I am going to look in to this a little further. It is so hard to believe that you can live there temporarily for that cheap. Gonna check out flights and see how much from Canada. I am 51, single and would love an adventure. You would be the person to be in contact with regarding teaching children? Thanks so much

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi…we are thinking of moving to your city after 6 months in Hurghada…red sea…I’m american, my hubby is Egyptian…Question..how are americans treated…how about arabs?

  10. Hey John,

    After working in Korea as a teacher for what will be 4 years in March, I feel I’m really needing a break and a release from the stress, anxiety, and so on.
    Your information is clearing up some things up for me–like the $20 visa run. Also, your ideas about blogging and about personal development–the last two I will keep learning about and crafting these skills in hopes to improve life inside and outside myself in various ways, while I’m alive making a positive mark. Loads of helpful information here, so thanks.

    I have Chiang Mai in mind as my next home. I hope to live without working for a while, find some peace, then just see where that new environment and lifestyle takes me.
    I’ve been making a website with aims to get a dialogue going and to share my own ideas about making the best of our lives, to state it simply (as well as share my works of fiction, music, etc.).
    As you know, there’s a ton to learn.
    I think you have a lot of experience living abroad,so it looks like I’ll be reading in more depth your take on things. To live life in peace and also help people… I think maybe that’s the dream… but entering a new stage in life–I’ll just learn and take it as it goes.

    Best to you and your family.

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