Monkey Abroad

Showing YOU what it's like to travel all over Asia with 20 dollars a day

About

Here at Monkey Abroad, you can find videos, advice, and stories about the life abroad. I created this blog with the hope that I can inspire you to pursue your own dream of overseas traveling and living! [Last updated: December 14, 2016]

monkey abroad

Sand monkey in Koh Lanta, Thailand

My name is Kevin Cook

After graduating from university in 2011 and working a few unfulfilling jobs, I saved enough money to enroll in a 3-week TESOL training course in Phuket, Thailand in April 2013 so I could teach English in Thailand. After that, I taught English in the remote northern mountains of Thailand for half a year.

Check out my Thailand photo essay with 67 photos about my 6-month stay in Thailand

monkey abroad

A classroom full of rambunctious Thai teenagers

When my job in Thailand was finished, I packed up and migrated to China to continue teaching and traveling. Here I taught English at a college in Rizhao, Shandong for ten months and began studying Chinese. Then I moved to Shanghai, where I lived and worked in an international high school for two years and saved enough money to travel around Asia.

While living in China, I got into some pretty AMAZING adventures…

…Like playing in the (AFLC) American Football League of China. (Click here to watch a video of the AFLC championship game)

American football league of China

That’s me (#44) playing in the 2016 AFLC championship game in Shanghai, China.

…Eating some of the most amazing street food in the world…

Xi'an street food

Grilled lamb Skewers in Xi’an

…And visiting the border of China and Pakistan.

Karakoram Highway

White Sand Lake, near Kashgar, XinJiang China


Traveling for 20 Dollars a Day

I just finished filming an original YouTube series called Traveling for 20 Dollars a Day to show YOU what life is like on the road, living with only 20 dollars a day. I posted a new video every week (18 episodes) for five months. Check out a full playlist of the series:

Did you actually live on only 20 dollars a day?

No, I didn’t. In fact, on many days I went over the budget. The point of this Traveling for 20 Dollars a Day series isn’t to realistically chronicle my lifestyle of getting by with only 20 bucks a day. This series is for newbie travelers who’ve never visited these cities to help them determine whether they are getting a fair price on meals, transportation, and accommodation. Plus, I tried to make these videos as entertaining as I could by inserting lame jokes whenever possible.

Be sure to follow to my blog and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on the adventure!


Why Monkey Abroad instead of Human Abroad?

Drawing monkeys is a relaxing hobby of mine. I worked as a cartoonist in university and published a comic strip about a strong yet naïve gorilla called MONKEYZILLA for the University Daily Kansan. Click here to view my collection of comics.

monkey abroad


Websites I’ve been featured in:

Travel on Inspiration | Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad

Flip Nomad | Meet the Nomads – Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad

Vietnam Advisors | Traveling in Vietnam for less than $20 a Day

China Daily | American man ‘survives’ Shanghai on 130 yuan, goes viral


Other YouTubers I’ve collaborated with:

Trevor James – The Food Ranger | Traveling The World for $20 Per Day with Kevin Cook

Kyle Le – Kyle Le Dot Net | Best Pho in Saigon


Top Posts of Monkey Abroad

27 Proven ESL Games for Large Classes

24 Awesome Thai Nicknames

5 Reasons to Live in Thailand

TEFL Certification Online vs. Onsite – Which is Better?

Living in China vs. Thailand – Which is Better for Westerners?

My 7-Step Guide to Teaching ESL Overseas

73 Comments

  1. I’m soooo excited and extremely proud of you! I can’t wait to read and follow you about your wonderful adventures abroad! Love, your Aunt Julie

  2. Kevin, essayer d’apprendre autant de la langue et de la culture de la Thaïlande que vous pouvez avant que vous alliez. Bonne chance. Jennifer

  3. Jennifer’s subtle way of pushing you to learn to speak and write some of the Thai language before you leave. Good advice…

  4. Hi Kevin,

    I will be taking the ATI Thai TEFL course in November, and was wondering if you could answer a few quesitons I have about the same. If so, please let me know your email address. Thanks, Tia

  5. Hey Kevin! I am thinking about doing the Special Thai Project beginning this October and just have so many questions! How much out of pocket money should I plan on taking with me? I know that I will be getting paid to teach, but is that enough? Would you recommend cash or will credit cards be enough? I also have somet hings here in the US that I should probably take care of. I have a car payment, for example. How did you handle any bills at home? You sound like me…I have worked a full time job now for over 5 years and its just not for me. With an undergrad in Cultural Anthropology, I KNOW that teaching overseas is exactly where I need to be. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! 🙂

    • Hey Erin! I suggest bringing a minimum of $2,000, but the more the better. Bring your credit card and about $500 cash to exchange immediately once you arrive at the airport in Thailand. You’ll be making ~30k baht/month which is enough to live comfortably. I’m actually able to save a lot of what I earn. I didn’t have any bills when I left so I’m not sure what the best way to handle that is.
      My advice: sign up before you change your mind. You’ll be glad you went abroad to teach. It’s been such an incredible experience every day. And I’m staying for more semesters after this.

  6. Thanks! I really wish I could sign up to go this October but realistically, I just do not think I can pull it off. My goal is to make it there in about one year. It looks so amazing. I’ve been reading all of your posts and watching videos. I have complied an entire financial plan and I WILL be there within a year. Actually, “Alex” is calling me tonight to talk about it! I am so excited about this! How do things work as far as cell phones, paying on a credit card balance every month, etc.? I know I would be bringing a credit card with me, so how do I pay the balance every month? Is anything different since I will be in Thailand, or do I just pay bills online like usual? Any advice on that? Sorry for all of the questions, but I have never been abroad and am not sure how everything works just yet. I am trying my best to get everything in line before I go. Thanks!!!

    • I’d put a hold on your phone plan or cancel it all together. Once you arrive, you can buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone to use here. It’s the cheapest, most effective communication.
      You’ll have access to the internet throughout your stay, so paying bills will be just like home. Be sure to contact your bank and let them know you’re moving to Thailand in advance so they don’t cancel your card!
      You can email me: dtxkevin@gmail.com if you have any more questions.

  7. Hi Kevin, just looking for some job advice. My situation is I have a bachelors degree and 6 months free to teach English in Thailand. I must be back in Australia in March to start my Dip Ed.
    Would you suggest doing the Celta or just wing it without?

    Cheers,

    Paul

    • Hey Paul,
      I wouldn’t go with a CELTA, just because it’ll cost you upwards of $2,000. You can opt for a TEFL/TESOL for anywhere around $300-$1500 (which is your best bet for finding a job in Thailand). Yes you CAN wing it, but that’ll require a lot of work on your part once you arrive in Thailand (eg: finding a school that doesn’t require a TEFL/TESOL, dealing with visa/work permit issues, etc.). It’s up to you.
      I opted for a TESOL onsite in Thailand and it was a great experience. Total cost of the course/job placement was $1k. Hope this helps! Email me if you have any more questions dtxkevin@gmail.com

  8. Im glad i found this blog! i love ur stories and the way u tell the world how Thailand is through letters letting others getting to know more about thai society and stuff 🙂 also u are a teacher i wonder if u could help me with the academic paper i have been assighed to write. it would be so great if u could read my paper and see if u can understand what i try to say hehe anyways, keep it up with the blog u are doing a very very very good job 😀

  9. Hey Kevin, great ‘About Me’ page.

    Thanks for including a link to your guest post on my site.

  10. Hi Kevin. I give you a lot of credit for taking the leap in doing something different and out of the norm. I’ve been looking at a lot of posts on your site and I think a big key attribute that you have is you’re open to new experiences. Time and time again I’ve met a lot of people while working overseas especially in China who refuse to learn the language, eat the local food and stay within the expat community. Usually, these people end up being miserable and don’t last very long. You have a big future ahead of you and I look forward to keeping abreast of what you’re doing. I myself am contemplating moving back to either Vietnam, Thailand or China teaching English or working at a mulinational company. You’ve inspried and reminded me of what is so great about living overseas. The rat race of American life, espeically work can be easy to fall into and hard to get out of and follow what you truly want to do. Keep up the great work.

    • Richard,
      Sorry for the late reply! I’m glad my blog could inspire you. Sometimes living in China and trying to speak Chinese can be a real challenge, but you’re right–it’s important to stay positive and be open to new experiences. That’s pretty much the whole point of traveling. Thanks for the kind words, man.
      Kevin

  11. Hey I just stumbled across your blog. Great videos and funny, interesting articles I’ve read so far. Keep up the good work!

  12. Kenji,
    I really appreciate you saying that, man. Thanks
    Kevin

  13. Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been doing a ton of research to teach English abroad. With the course you took in Thailand, are there jobs available for someone who doesn’t have a degree?

    • Yes, there are jobs available, but it’s gonna be harder for you to find work. I know that ATI will assist people without degrees to find work, but they can’t guarantee job placement. If you’re feeling risky, give it a shot.

  14. Just came across your blog! Its awesome man.. Youre hilarious! Kick ass videos and very inspiring specially to me whos been traveling around Thailand!.. Anyway i like durian

  15. At the moment im here in Ayutthaya, living with the ancient temples

  16. Hey Kevin,
    I started watching you on YouTube and I decided to follow your blog. It’s all very funny and very informational. Heck, who knows when I’m going to use a squat toilet but now I know how. Anyways good luck on your travels and post some more videos please!!! You have a fan!!!

  17. Wow Kevin you get a lot of inquiries on this blog. Proof reading papers, advice on teaching, it looks like people around the world really enjoy your research abroad and find it very informative. Good job buddy.

    Everything’s the same back here, Kevin F is still getting beatin up by Hallie and Phil is still Mr. Joe coolguy, of course Jason is not in the best of shape but he will beat it.

    Best of luck on future endeavors.

    • Haha, thanks man. Over time, the e-mail inquiries are what really add up.

      Glad you stopped by to let me know how everybody’s doing. I definitely miss the whole crew, and I need to give you a wedding present, so I’ll probably come visit in January.

      Hope all’s well on your end.

  18. Hé, I am glad to discover your channel and your blog for more adventures and stories

  19. Heys kevin ! Love your video ! Wish ur in nyc ! I would love to hangout with u 😉

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  21. Hi Kevin. Your blog really is inspiring. I am Canadian/US Citizen, living in Vancouver, BC at the moment. I’m a Senior Designer, been in the advertising/marketing business for over 9 years. I’m reaching my end of being chained to a desk, feeling like I’m suffocating on a daily basis, dealing with obscene amounts or pressure and idiots. So my partner and I are starting the research to move to Thailand and either teach, or work in hospitality or service (bartending, etc). Still unsure if it’s Thailand or Central America, but fingers pointing towards Thailand. Do you know anything about the ‘bar tending’ scene or customer service? Never been to Thailand, but I’m ready for this new exciting chapter and we are pumped! Researching best areas there as well!!!!

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  24. Hi Kevin, I randomly came across your videos on YouTube and I must say I really admire how much you have embraced and immersed yourself into the Chinese culture and your new surroundings. It must have been a big culture shock when you first started your travels to Asia but you seem to have settled in nicely. I’m Chinese but I was raised in Australia and NZ (where I currently live). I haven’t been back for a holiday in over 10 years and often miss all the street food I had when I was there. Anyway, keep posting more videos and sharing your experiences, you’re journey is very interesting! And you should email me if you ever decide to visit little New Zealand haha.. 🙂

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  26. Hi Kevin, I came across your blog while trying to find a fun way to ”tame” my 26 classes of 65 teens each. THANK YOU, thank you, thank you! Your blog and tips, and suggested games work like magic 🙂 I’ve recently moved to Anhui, China, and only taught small groups (read 5-6 people) before, so truly grateful for the tips. Keep on blogging! Have a great week,
    Dana

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  28. will u visit more Chinese city? yup, i lived in China, and i think Jiangsu is a good place for international friends to go, like NanTong, NanJing, Suzhou and Hangzhou

  29. HI kevin,i’m cathy,and i like to go to travel as well and dance of latin,i’m so happy to see your videos,that’s so exctied to travel around this world, i’m work in shenzhen as designer over 6 year,welcome to shenzhen,let me know if you will come to shenzhen,i would like talk to a little bit more,if you want make a new friend in china,pls add my wechat,ID is cathy197 ,thanks.

  30. Hi Kevin. Just watched your video of $20 travel in Shanghai. As a local , I suggest u to go to some free parks in Shanghai. The scene there is really worth a visit. And as for the other cities, I think that Guiyang and Suzhou. These two cities showcase different landscape, especially with delicious delacies. Hope to see yr new travel videoes.

  31. I ‘m live in Shanghai. say your video. it’s very funny

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  33. Hi Kevin, suddently hear abt you. This is Fanny.Your adventure in Shanghai is amzing. Next time you eat the ShengJianBao, pls take care of the juicy, it’s hot, dont get your tounge hurt.:) Now I see you are going to travel the world. I can not wait to see your more vedios. But China can not log in facebook or twitter . Hope we can browse your own website successfully in the coming days. ( If no, how to do ??????? You have Chinse wechat????Or whatsapp???? )
    Also, if you stay in Shanghai, you can travel the near city like Suzhou,Hangzhou,Wuxi too. You can enjou more for $20 there. BTW, for your next video, can you just make it longer ? It’s too short to enjoy!!!:)

    • Hi Fanny! Thanks for watching the video 🙂 The next video will be in Chengdu and then in Beijing. I’ll try to make the video a little longer and include more stuff. Stay tuned!

  34. Hey Kevin, nice video! I heard that you are planning to travel around the world as long as you can starting this summer 2016. I am planning to travel the world too after I graduate from my university and I am wondering if you would like to collaborate on some projects while traveling. Would like to talk more about this with you if you are interested.

  35. muchacho, change $10 to THB at Suvarnabumi for train and taxi.. next day, change
    $100 bills at SuperRichThai.com.th (green sign) near BIG C- Rajadamri, the best forex rates.
    1985-1988: rmb0.50 each for shashlik and giant bagel bread, in Xinjiang.
    ice cold draft beer at Guangzhou station was 0.25. EVERYTHING was .25-.50 (5-10 cents!) in those days. rmb18 ($3) for fried rice?– you don’t order cheap food in good restaurants. i was in Jiangmen, Guangdong last year— everything was grey. Xiaolongbao in Siam Paragon. have fun, get lost.
    aloha

  36. again, barely graduated PITT ’69, washed cars at Dollar Rentacar in Waikiki.
    flew JAL to Tokyo one way with $300 and no job offer at Expo ’70-Osaka. ever try
    “tatami surfing”? $150 for a Nikkormat camera, hired by SAS Catering to help open
    the Scandinavian Pavilion restaurant…and close it after six months.
    2 more years around the world, refueled in Stockholm summer. Total: $2/day.
    your $20 beats inflation.//

  37. Hi Kevin
    Can you also travel to South Korea and do the same thing. So we will have an idea on how to travel in Korea with 20 dollars. I enjoyed watching your videos..Thanks, very informative.

  38. Hi Kevin, I’m making an itinerary for a trip from Qingdao to Hong Kong (via Shanghai and probably Hangzhou). Your videos were super helpful (and funny too), thx for sharing! I was wondering if Hangzhou and West Lake are really such beautiful as in pictures. Have you ever been there (as it is quite close to Shanghai)? Is it worth seeing or shall I spare more time to explore Shanghai?

  39. Hi Kevin,
    你好! any chance you’ll be in 台北 this summer? I’ll be there after my Malaysia/Singapore visit–maybe do a $20/day feature on Taiwan street food? Keep up the awesome videos!
    Audrey

  40. HI,Kevin! i am Angela, from china.shanghai. i want so say: u r be gteat!!!!

  41. Good Morning: I am Thai but live in America( VA.) far longer than in Thailand. Because of your writing and pictures, I am visiting Nan ( Pu Nan) in your writing next year. If you have anything to advice me , I will really be appreciated. Thank you.
    I am female and a Senior. I will travel alone.
    Mantana

  42. You inspire me to embark on a China adventure. I speak NO Mandarin but I think I can learn enough conversational Mandarin to not make a fool of myself.

  43. i reccomend ur blog to all my backpacker friends. and they love it. tq for ur tips. Azmiee – Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

  44. Visit the Phlippines. Palawan, Cebu, Boracay. Or here in Japan 🙂 not sure though if your $20 will make it, give it a shot.

    • I’ll definitely be going to the Philippines soon, and I can’t wait to see it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Japan, on the other hand, I’m not sure if 20 dollars/day is possible. But it’s definitely worth a shot. Thanks for watching!

  45. Dude, your story is an inspiration. Many thanks for sharing your travel tips.

  46. Love your videos, man. You inspire me to travel more. I hope you never stop making videos.

    I’m an American who has only been to Italy and Britain. One of my goals this year is to travel to Thailand with a couple of my friends.

    Also, kind of random, but have you considered modeling? I’m not gay, but even I will admit that you’re extremely attractive.

  47. Hello, Kevin, I hope you are still travelling. I just “discovered” your site today, Nov 26, 2016

  48. I love your videos! Keep up the good work =) – k

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