I know a number of threads on thissubject exist already, so I hope this posting isn't offensive – Iwould just really appreciate advice that addresses my personalcircumstances directly.
I've been staying in Chiang Mai for aperiod, and have managed to live on ~10 USD a day without sacrificingthe amenities of a private fan room w/ bath and internet. Budget isa concern for me, so this suits me perfectly, but beyond that I amgrowing somewhat listless in the city.
An idea I've recently been consideringis finding an apartment in Laos for a period of 3 months or so, dueto the reports I've heard of Laos' relative tranquility, natural andarchitectural beauty, amenability to walking, and low cost of living. I don't want to live in a city, but having something like a localbar with the chance for conversation would be nice.
Further, I devote much of my time tostudy, and that's greatly facilitated by internet access. I wouldn'tbe averse to getting something like the Lao Telecom modem, but wouldobviously need to be in an area where that provides service.
Sorry for such a multi-part question;advice of any type would be appreciated. What areas would yourecommend? Am I wrong in considering Laos? What sort of budget canI reasonably expect?
Actually, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on Chiang Mai as I've been struggling with Luang Prabang vs Chiang Mai as my two choices for short-term living (3-4 months).
Chiang Mai's biggest pluses, to me, were its modern gym facilities, Muay Thai/Yoga/MMA lessons, Thai massage, and convenient international air connections.
However, I chose Luang Prabang because it just seemed to be a much prettier and atmospheric town vs Chiang Mai, which National Geographic designated as "getting uglier and uglier" in their rankings.
What were your thoughts on Chiang Mai?
Sorry it took so long to get back toyou, placeshifter! My input by now, I expect, will only be oftrivial interest, and must be taken with a grain of salt in any case– I only spent about a week each in Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang.
I had read your other thread aboutmoving to Luang Prabang, and given that you cited the concreteurbanity of Seoul as a major incentive for your departure, I doubtChiang Mai would have pleased you too well. The amenities youdesired are certainly established there, but the atmosphere is a bitlacking.
To me, it was far more pleasant as atravel hub than Bangkok, but it's not a place where I couldcomfortably settle (I met many older expats who didn't share myreservation, but their attachment was more romantic in nature). Themorning fruit markets and the like served as a good counterpoint tothe concrete-city atmosphere, but weren't sufficient to change mybasic perceptions.
Luang Prabang, conversely, is a highlyattractive city, and given its mainstream appeal its amenities seemto be quite well-developed. I managed to find a rather inexpensiveguesthouse that still offered wifi, and imagine that it would be aneasy enough matter for you to get consistent (albeit slow) internetaccess given your budget. Massage parlors are certainly abundant,though I'm personally clueless as to how Thai and Lao massagesdiffer. I did not look into gym facilities at all, unfortunately, socan't help on that point!
I'll attempt to help from my limitedexperience if you have any other questions, and hopefully in a fartimelier manner than this first response.
I haven't been to Laung Prabang, so it must really be the exception that proves the rule. Every city I have been to in SEA is a concrete jungle. Their charm lies not in their architecture, but in the fact that you can do what you want (within reason) without a lot of hassle. People here are friendly, the weather is conducive to being outside most of the time, and life is leisurely. You want architectural charm, then Europe's your place. They've got that in spades. But leisurely and hassle free it's not. Can't have everything I suppose.