23 May 2024

Disclaimer: If you have already used up your quota, then just read this for fun. But if you are finding out that there is a significant amount of free money to spend on specific items in a specific albeit declining timeframe, then hopefully this article can bring some pre-festive season cheer.

New Year is coming and so is the end of the relief package called “Khon la Klueng” (half-half scheme) which has enabled you to scrape through the financial hardships caused by COVID-19.

You have just over a month to go before government money in your “Pao Tang” application on your mobile phone returns to where it came from. Basically, the maximum spending per day is 300 baht (150 baht from the government) so if you have 4,500 in your “wallet”, you must spend 300 baht every day in December. You don’t want to give back anything so here’s how to empty the “wallet” in style:

1.  Enjoy some expensive meals. Many people preferred quantity over quality when using the “half-half” privilege. They would have one bowl of noodles and get another one to take home for free, or they would buy a coffee for themselves and get another one for a relative or friend. You don’t have time to do that. Go reward yourself with a steak or luxurious salad. Some really good shops are taking part in the program. Pay 150 baht or a little more and you can have a very nice meal.

2. Have a foot massage. Most people think about food but you don’t have to. Find a parlor with the “half-half” sticker and at Bt150 you can have a very relaxing couple of hours or even longer.

3. Visit the market. A lot of vendors at fresh markets have joined the half-half scheme so you can buy cooked food or grocery items such as garlic, red onions, dried chili, noodles, peanuts or spices. Ideally, grab items that have a long kitchen life.

4. Into gardening? They stock up on seeds or your favorite plants at any nursery or plant market including Chatuchak market. Open Tuesday to Thursday, a lot of vendors there accept payment via the half-half program. Grab the plants you like or buy fertilizer, pesticide, flower pots or potting soil. Just make sure you are spending Bt300.

A lot of vendors at Chatuchak market accept the half-half payment. (Photo by Veena Thoopkrajae)

5. Buy something you have been hesitant to buy for a long time. We’re talking about those inedible goods, things that you will always think you’ll buy later such as earrings, charger cables for your phone or small home decorative items.  You can find a lot of items like these at retail carts or vendors in hypermarts or supermarkets showing the sign.

6. Once you have everything you want and still have to spend 300 baht, try to locate a drug store near your place or office and stock up on some regular and essential medicines and medical supplies things like sterilized saline solution, face masks, gloves, cold medicine, vitamins and supplements and Thai herbs like Fah Talai Jone, even PPE suits.

7. Look out for clever retailers who go out of their way to allow you to use your half-half in buying a more expensive item like a smartphone or a computer notebook. For example, a computer shop allows its customers to collect (or deposit) 150 baht a day at a shop for 20 days. The buyer uses that as a 3,000-baht discount when buying an item. Some shops allow one buyer to use more than their budget of half-half too.

8. Keep your pre-paid train cards for the moment and use half-half to buy BTS or MRT tickets. There are specific booths for the half-half ticket buyers. You can buy one ticket at a time but within your 300 baht quota, you can buy as many tickets as are in your budget. This means you can treat your friend if you go on a trip together. This option is not however recommended during rush hour as queues at ticket booths are usually long.

9. Feed yourself every day. Get food delivery, coffee or snacks through the “Pao Tang” app which directs you to either Grab or Line Man food delivery near your place. Simply order from them and follow the steps and you pay half of your food price every day under the maximum budget of 300 baht. Top up with your own cash for pricier dishes.