Looking for your next great, budget travel destination?

Or perhaps you would like to plan an excursion to a country rich in culture that won’t break the bank?

The city of Bangkok is an excellent introduction to the realm of budget travelling, especially in the Southeast Asian region.

 

bangkok city
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Located in the heart of Thailand, Bangkok is widely regarded as one of the cheapest cities to visit in Southeast Asia. It’s steeped in backpacking culture and attracts multitudes of tourists from all around the globe annually. It’s fairly easy to explore the city and is also home to arguably some of the best food in the region.

On top of that, it is also a tourist-friendly city. The locals are used to interacting with tourists and the city is generally safe. Though, you should be aware of potential scams (The Grand Palace Scam and Tuk Tuk Scam come to mind) and do your best to avoid them.

The above notwithstanding, Bangkok is still a great travel destination for the budget conscious.

 

When To Visit

In general, the best time to visit Bangkok is from November to February as the city is drier and experiencing a slight cool down in temperature. However, if you want to avoid the Christmas and New Year crowd, we would recommend that you plan your trip for late November to early December.

 

Buddha-statue-at-the-Songkran-Festival
Image via onthegotours.com

 

Do note that the peak season in Bangkok is from December to January, and also in April during the Songkran Festival.

The low season falls from July to October, when daily drizzles and heavy downpour may derail your travel plans. Though, hotels and airfares are also cheaper during this period of time.

 

Getting Around

 

bangkok transport
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Getting around Bangkok may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. Here are some public transportation options for you to get around the city:

 

Train

 

bangkok train
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Getting around Bangkok via train is fast and reliable. The BTS Skytrain/MRT will take you to most of the attractions throughout the city and is a cheaper mode of transportation. The fares range from 15 to 52 baht depending on the number of zones crossed, while the day pass is priced at 140 baht. You’ll be able to purchase the tickets from counters or ticketing machines in each station.

 

Car Ride Hailing Services

 

grabcar
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Grab and Uber are great alternatives to get around the city. You’ll only need a smartphone with a sim card and the associated apps installed. But do note that communication may be an issue when you’re trying to describe to your driver where the pick-up point is. We suggest waiting at a more identifiable landmark for an easy pick-up.

 

Boat

 

bangkok chao phraya express boat
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Taking a boat along the Chao Phraya River is a unique way to travel in Bangkok, not to mention you’ll be able to avoid the gridlock. There are two boat services operating in Bangkok, namely, Chao Phraya Express Boat and the Saen Saep Express Boat. The former is popular among tourists as it makes stops at many of the city’s popular landmarks. The Saen Saep Express Boat, on the other hand, is catered towards locals for their daily commute.

Also, the Chao Phraya Express Boat is one of the best options to visit the Grand Palace complex, Wat Pho, and the Siriraj Medical Museum.

 

Car Rental

 

bangkok minivan
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When we mention car rental, we don’t actually mean driving a rental in Bangkok. Far from it, we don’t suggest trying to navigate the confusing and complicated streets on your own if you’re not an experienced driver.

 

bangkok van interior
Image via abangkoktour.com

 

What we do recommend, however, is that you rent a private charter with a driver for a hassle-free experience. You’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle that will take you around the city at your own pace.

Whether you plan your own itinerary or buy a guided tour package is up to your preference (and budget).

 

Taxi

 

bangkok-taxi
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Taxis often get a bad rap from tourists due to overcharging, not using the meter, scamming passengers, etc. We understand that there are risks involved but it still does not change the fact that they’re one of the ways to travel around the city.

If the destination is too far from a train or boat station, and you’re not keen on ordering a car ride, then you can just hail a taxi. Flag downs are 35 baht and the average ride within the city is around 70 to 100 baht.

We recommend staying away from waiting taxis at popular attractions like Khao San Road as they tend to be unscrupulous. If you face a driver that refuses to use the meter, just get off and hail a moving taxi instead.

 

Tuk Tuks

 

bangkok tuk tuk
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Speaking of bad rap, tuk tuks are even more expensive than taxis. Most of them (not all) are even involved in scams (Gem scam and Closed for Today scam). But if you’re a first-time traveller to Bangkok, and really want to try taking one for the experience, just agree on a price first and don’t let them talk you into taking a detour along a more “scenic” route.

 

Accommodation

 

bangkok baiyoke hotel
Image via lifeinarucksack.com

 

For the budget conscious, Khao San Road and Silom Road offer the best deals for accommodation options. Khao San Road is popular among visiting backpackers due to its vibrant and festive environment. The streets are also filled with hostels, guesthouses, budget hotels, food vendors, restaurants, and bars. However, there is no train station within walking distance which makes transportation a tad difficult.

For an easier access to public transportation, Silom is the place to be. As the business and financial district of Bangkok, it is also home to a wealth of budget hotels within an earshot to Hualamphong Station. There are even malls, shops, and night markets within its inner alleys to satiate your shopping needs.

If you’re eager to stay at any one of these locations, there are a number of online resources such as traveloka, agoda, and even Airbnb for you to pick your preferred accommodations.

 

Attractions

 

bangkok grand palace
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As the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok offers a myriad of sights in and around the city to the visiting tourists to take in. These attractions can be reached by a variety of transports and are usually easy on the wallet.

You’ll also be glad to know that many of Bangkok’s top attractions are located within walking distance of each other. Bangkok’s temples, Chinatown, and even the Siriraj Forensic Museum are also easily reachable via the Chao Phraya River.

 

The Grand Palace

 

bangkok-grand-palace
Image via Tivistar

 

Located in the Ko Rattanakosin area, the Grand Palace is filled with structures, pavilions, and courtyards including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Here’s another interesting tidbit, this sprawling complex has been the official residence of the Kings of Thailand since 1782.

 

wat phra bangkok
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There is an entrance fee to get into the complex which we think is worth it as the ticket allows you to visit both Wat Phra Kaew and Dusit Palace at the same time.

Also, keep in mind of the appropriate dress code. Don’t wear shorts or tank tops and make sure your legs and shoulders are covered. Nonetheless, you can rent a sarong or pants near the palace gates if you fail to comply with the dress code.

 

Wat Pho

 

wat-pho-reclining-buddha
Image via bangkok.com

 

Wat Pho is another popular temple to visit in Bangkok. The temple is located within walking distance to the Grand Palace. The temple’s other name, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha aptly comes from the giant reclining Buddha statue situated within its walls.

The 15m high, 46m long visage of the divine Buddha rests inside the well-decorated hall and is quite popular among tourists for the photo ops.

 

Pagodas_of_Wat_Pho_temple_in_Bangkok,_Thailand
Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

The temple also houses the largest collection of Buddha images in the country. More particularly, the wat is home to over 1,000 images of Buddha, 91 chedis (stupas or mounds), four great chedis, two belfries, and a bot (central shrine). Other buildings such as pavilions, gardens, and a small temple museum may also be found on the temple grounds.

Interestingly, the temple is also considered the earliest public education centre in the country.


Wat Arun

 

wat arun bangkok
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Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is home to the most recognizable landmark in Bangkok. The captivating 70m tall spire (prang) towers over the Yai district and the Chao Phraya River. It’s a majestic view you won’t miss, even before you reach the temple.

Its intricate design and architecture, along with its picturesque location makes it one of the most photogenic spots you can find in the city.

 

wat arun sunset
Image via matteocolombo.com

 

For the best results, we recommend positioning yourself opposite the river during sunset, when the structure is illuminated amidst the background of the setting sun. The best part is, you don’t even need to pay the entrance fee if all you’re after is a photograph from across the river.

 

Floating Markets

 

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Image via klook

 

Honestly, if you were to judge the many floating markets in Bangkok based on the price of their goods, it would not be budget-friendly as these markets are considered touristy areas.

But don’t feel compelled to buy anything from the vendors if you think it’s not worth it. Just the experience of slowly going down the canals on a boat is enough in our mind.

Regardless, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is definitely worth making the trip to by virtue of being the most famous.

 

Shopping Haven

 

bangkok shopping
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Attractions aside, the bulk of your experiences in the country will probably be shopping-related. It is, after all, one of the best cities to go on a shopping spree in Southeast Asia.

As any experienced shopaholic will tell you, Bangkok truly is a sanctuary for shopping. You can find virtually anything here from electronics, clothes, memorabilia, and even pets.

Here are some popular places to do a bit (or a lot) of shopping in Bangkok.

 

MBK Center

 

bangkok_thailand_mahboonkrong_mbk_shopping_center
Image via wallpapers.lunean.com

 

Formerly known as Mahboonkrong, this shopping mall is one of Asia’s oldest. It officially opened its’ doors in 1995 and has since become one of the most well-known shopping malls in the country.

At eight storeys tall, MBK Center contains around 2,000 shops, restaurants, and service outlets which cater to a wide variety of customers, with the most frequent being the young locals. If you’re interested in budget-friendly electronics or Thai-branded clothing, then this is definitely the place for you.

 

Chinatown

 

Yaowarat-Road-at-night-best-bustling-place-in-Chinatown-Bangkok
Image via livingnomads.com

 

If you’re more into local and traditional shopping experiences, do pay a visit to Chinatown. In contrast to the crowded mega malls scattered throughout the city, Chinatown has a more vibrant, community feel to it.

Once there, your haggling skills will be put to the test as the prices here can go lower – even if they already seem plenty cheap.

Also, you’ll need to navigate the various alleyways to do your shopping. There are specific sections that are catered to certain products. For instance, go to Yaowarat Road for gold vendors, Balanna Plaza for shoes, and Itsaraphap Lane for some food.

Apart from that, remember to immerse yourself in exploring the lively and rich area while you’re doing your shopping. Indeed, wandering around the alleys and discovering the hidden gems is a valuable experience in itself.

 

Central World

 

Central-World
Image via bangkokbits.com

 

Central World is the largest mall in the country and is also one of the largest shopping complexes in the world. Opened in 2006, the mall consists of several specialized levels catered towards women’s clothing, men’s clothing, electronics and so on.

Without a doubt, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for here. The mall also has a great variety of brands in various price ranges. With that said, Central World is not the cheapest place to shop at, especially if you compare them to the other shopping districts.

But if you’re looking for a western shopping experience in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment, then Central World will fulfil all your needs.

 

Pantip Plaza

 

Pantip Plaza
Image via petertorjesen.wordpress.com

 

For all your IT needs, you can head over to Pantip Plaza located in the centre of Bangkok. Pantip Plaza is an IT mall that sells software and hardware such as monitors, laptops, projectors, printers, and even hoverboards.

Oh, and don’t forget to always negotiate! You’ll definitely be able to get a better deal if you can haggle hard enough.

 

Chatuchak Market

 

chatuchak-weekend-market-bangkok
Image via tripsavvy.com

 

If you’re in Bangkok during the weekends, you would be remiss to miss out on the Chatuchak Weekend Market. With over 15,000 stalls, this market is considered one of the biggest in the world.

Chatuchak Market attracts both tourists and locals alike due to the wide range of inexpensive products available. The market is divided into 27 sections selling varied products such as souvenirs, non-branded clothing, wood carvings, paintings, and even live animals.

You should also be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to navigate the massive market and the large crowds (200,000 to 300,000 visitors daily) that visit it.

Having said that, Chatuchak market is definitely a bargain hunter’s paradise and a must go to destination.

 

Platinum Fashion Mall

 

platinum-mall-bangkok
Image via grandsukhumvithotel.com

 

A favourite of many, Platinum mall is a wholesale fashion mall that specializes in fashion clothing and accessories.

The mall is filled with many smaller stores that sell uniquely designed apparels that you can only find in Thailand. If you’re truly a shopaholic, you’ll definitely need more than a single afternoon to fully explore the mall.

Unsurprisingly, the mall sells really cheap clothes if you buy in bulk. And don’t forget to haggle to lower the prices even more.

 

Conclusion

 

Without a doubt, there’s still a lot more to do in and around Bangkok than what we’ve listed above. Although there are tons of online resources that you can find to help you in planning your itinerary, we hope that we’ve at least given you some hints as to how to plan a budget-friendly trip to the affordable city of Bangkok.