4 Tips for Seeing Bangkok on a Budget:
Thailand’s fascinating capital city has long attracted visitors, expats, and digital nomads for a number of reasons.
The nightlife is vibrant and intriguing; there’s great and affordable food everywhere you turn; amazing beaches and nature escapes are just a few hours’ worth of travel away, and the locals are some of the friendliest in the world you’ll ever meet.
It used to be relatively easy to explore the city on a budget. Nowadays, however, the cost of living in Bangkok is higher than ever, which means that prices have increased tremendously over the years.
Indeed, it’s no longer the cheapest destination in Southeast Asia, but you can still cross it off your bucket list without breaking the bank.
For one, you can check out tour packages from Traveloka and other leading travel booking services.
You’ll find that websites like this are very convenient for when you want to find the most economical tour packages available for any city in Asia.
For another, you can also do a DIY tour of the city while being cognizant of options available to you that will allow you to save money.
So, before you finalize that Thai holiday you’ve been planning in your head, make sure to read our list of easy Bangkok travel budget tips below.
Take to the streets for your eats
When traveling, you may come to find that your highest expenses come out of keeping yourself fed and watered.
You can save a lot of money and have a more authentic experience if you choose to eat as the locals do—Thai street food is incredible for its price, and you can find it practically everywhere.
Check the open-air markets, and look for the stalls with the longest queues. That’s a promising sign that whatever they’re serving up at the counter will be worth the effort of standing in line.
If you’re not sure where to start, Netflix’s Street Food documentary series has an entire episode dedicated to Thailand, and all of the featured chefs and establishments are located in Bangkok, including Jay Fai’s drunken noodles and tom yum, Khun Suthep’s hand-pulled noodles with barbecue pork, and Jek Pui’s curry.
If the heat and humidity of the markets is too much for you, you can have the same great food at a food court, which are usually equipped with air-conditioning.
Try Food Republic at the Siam Center mall, or the food court at the Terminal 21 shopping center called Pier 21.
Party hard and smart
Many people come to Bangkok for the nightlife, and for good reason. It’s a veritable party town that has something for everybody, whether you love to chill out to live music or dance the night away.
However, keep in mind that drinking from bars and clubs can run on the expensive side, and you may find yourself going over budget if you aren’t careful.
To experience Bangkok after dark without shelling out too much, head to the Khao San area, Bangkok’s backpacker haven.
There are a number of great clubs and bars in the area that caters to its local population of revelers on a budget, just like you.
For the ultimate cheapo experience, however, you can just get your liquor from a convenience store and just party right on the streets.
This is a common occurrence in the area and is an excellent way to make new friends.
Get familiar with the Khao San Road area
As stated above, Khao San Road is backpacker central. If you aren’t picky about where you rest your head, trawling this 1-kilometer stretch can net you some of the most affordable accommodations in the city.
It also happens to be close to some of Bangkok’s most famous attractions, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
If you’re looking to stretch your money just that little bit further, checking into a backpacker hostel or a smaller guesthouse can help a lot.
Every hostel has its own gimmick to attract guests: fantastic amenities such as an outdoor swimming pool or a billiards table; spacious shared workspaces for digital nomads and holidaying executives who need to touch base with their offices; or nightly events such as game nights, karaoke, and barbecue mixers.
Game the public transportation system
Bangkok’s public transport network isn’t the best in the world, but it’s not the worst either; it’s perfectly functional.
If you can familiarize yourself with the mass transit system and are a fair hand at navigating using Google Maps, you shouldn’t have any problems getting around to sightsee.
Another, more scenic way of getting around in Bangkok is by making use of the express commuter boats that ply the Chao Phraya river.
Though confusing at first, you shouldn’t have any trouble making sense of which boats stop at which piers if you download a map of the routes and the corresponding boats that ply them before heading out.
Utilizing the trains and express boats means not having to deal with Bangkok’s horrendous traffic, as well as saving money on fare.
To save even more money, avoid falling prey to certain common scams. Most tourists think that their visit to Thailand isn’t complete without riding a tuk-tuk, but drivers of these auto rickshaws are notorious for fleecing foreigners, either by overcharging or taking you to some trinket store instead of your destination.
Unscrupulous cab drivers also scam passengers either by turning off their meters, having rigged meters, insisting on flat rates, or taking the long, winding way to your destination in order to keep the meter going longer.
Needless to say, you’re best off avoiding these individuals entirely, if you can. Look up common scams online, keep your wits about you, and always be wary when a friendly local is a little too friendly.
With our tips and a bit of caution, you should be able to explore Bangkok while staying well within your budget.