Monkey Abroad

Videos and stories of the life abroad – food, culture, travel & work

Pua, Nan

3 Reasons Why Small Town Living in Thailand is Better than Bangkok


No doubt, Bangkok’s bright lights have a tempting allure. But don’t forget about small town life in Thailand. For those who enjoy clean air, friendly locals and a laid-back lifestyle, small town living might be for you. Here are 3 reasons why small town living trumps Bangkok’s urban scene.

Pua School

Pua School, where I work and play.

 1. Small towns are cheap.

Living in a small town makes for a dirt cheap lifestyle. My overall monthly expenses in Pua, including utilities, motorbike costs, occasional leisure trips, food (and I eat like a horse) totals at $400 USD. My rent is covered by Pua school, where I teach English.

My salary is $1,000 USD per month plus side income from private tutoring & extra classes. By American standards, that’s barely enough to pay rent. But in a small town like Pua, you can live like a king with that income and still save more than half of your earnings.

No question, Bangkok has a better bar scene than small towns in Thailand. But if you set your budget at $400/month, there’s no way you could participate in the city’s tempting nightlife.

2. Small towns have culture.

Bangkok is a hustling, bustling city with millions of Thai people. Problem is, it’s so saturated with tourists. It’s like living in the western capital of southeast Asia – not a truly authentic Thai cultural experience. And Bangkok natives are apathetic to outsiders. They just aren’t as friendly to foreigners as the natives are in small towns.

If you want to experience real intercultural immersion, it’s much easier in a small rural town. Small town locals become very excited when they see farangs (foreigners). It’s an opportunity for them to learn the coveted English language (and it’s an opportunity for you to learn Thai). That sort of authentic cultural experience is difficult to come by in Bangkok, where scamming tourists is commonplace.

3. Small towns are peaceful.

Admittedly, I’m still drawn to bright city lights (I’m not against escaping to Bangkok or Chiang Mai for a night out with international friends for the weekend). But small town living doesn’t surround you with constant distraction like urban life does. There’s ample time to devote to constructive hobbies: reading, writing, making Thai friends, practicing a foreign language, playing real football.

Doi Phu Kha

The winding mountain road to Doi Phu Kha National Park in far north Thailand.


I never cared much for nature until settling in a small town in Thailand. Pua, Nan is tucked away beside a lush mountain range. Crisp air and the fragrance and sights of budding flowers and fruits abounds. Just a short drive up winding mountainside roads will take you to nearby Doi Phu Kha National Park. It’s nice to hop on the motorbike and cruise up to the mountaintop park for a soul-refreshing getaway.

In Bangkok, you can’t go ten seconds without getting bombarded by someone trying to sell their wares. And they’re likely jacking the price up on what they’re selling because you’re a foreigner. It’s stressful in Bangkok. That’s why I prefer the small town life in Thailand.

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!


  1. Does that mean no road rage, finger pointing, undesirable mouthing there?

  2. Go Kev!
    You’re getting to see and do things that many never do in a lifetime so continue to savor the moment.

  3. Travel changes ones perspective, doesn’t it! So happy you have the opportunity to experience another side of life outside Dallas.

  4. Another thought: Maybe your next profession could be a travel editor. Your adjectives paint good pictures.

    • Thanks Sharon! Professional travel writing would definitely be a great gig. For now, my goal is to keep posting new content regularly. That, and networking with other successful travel bloggers, is the best way to get the right attention and (hopefully) sell some ad space. It just takes time!

  5. Hi Kevin,
    We’ve never met but a mutual friend recommended your blog and I found your writing style intriguing. Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s entertaining and inspiring!

    • Thanks for visiting MonkeyAbroad Drea! Glad I could be an inspiration, and I hope you’ll continue to stop by so you can stay up to date on more nonsense abroad.

  6. I would be in heaven in Pua, Nan! Cherish the moment brother!

  7. Pingback: Living In Nan Thailand | living in thailand

  8. Hi Kevin, I lived in Pua, Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer, and met you. This is a fantastic website! I am back in the USA. I may be teaching 5th grade in Seattle soon and was looking into doing an exploration of global culture for social studies…, using some of my PC experience in Thailand. I would love to use some of your material…videos. Hope you are well.

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