Bangkok:

Budget Guide

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Bangkok on a Budget

Dates Visited: January 2019

Doing Bangkok on a budget is really quite easy for the average backpacker. Being the largest city in Thailand, Bangkok tends to be a bit more expensive than other parts of the country.

Nonetheless, this city has a lot to offer to the average backpacker looking to get the best bang for their Baht. Our guide will go over cheap things to do in Bangkok, where to stay, and how to get around, all while ballin' on a budget.

Dates Visited: January 2019

Doing Bangkok on a budget is really quite easy for the average backpacker. Being the largest city in Thailand, Bangkok tends to be a bit more expensive than other parts of the country.

Nonetheless, this city has a lot to offer to the average backpacker looking to get the best bang for their Baht. Our guide will go over cheap things to do in Bangkok, where to stay, and how to get around, all while ballin' on a budget.

1. Stroll Sanam Chai Road

Budget Friendly Things to do in Bangkok: Saranrom Palace
Budget Friendly Things to do in Bangkok: Ancient Artillery Museum

Walking along Sanam Chai Road is a great introduction to the beautiful architecture of the city, and an easy start to seeing Bangkok on a budget. Located across the street from the Grand Palace is Sananrom Palace. It's a large peach colored building and a former residence for royal guests. Though nowadays it serves as the Museum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the connecting Sananrom Park.

If you keep strolling towards Sanam Luang Park, you will walk past the Ancient Artillery Museum located outside the big yellow Ministry of Defense Building. Right next to the Ministry of Defense is the Bangkok City Pillar.

2. See the Bangkok City Pillar

The Bangkok city pillar, also known as Lak Mueang, is the city shrine of Bangkok. Lak Mueangs can be found in most cities throughout Thailand. Historically the city pillars are said to house the city spirit deity. They're typically a place of worship where people can go to pray and give donations or offerings. There is no entrance fee, but be mindful that you should wear modest clothing that covers at least your shoulders and knees.

Bangkok City Pillar

3. Temple of the Emerald Buddah

Across the street from the Bangkok City Pillar is the Temple of the Emerald Buddah. If you happen to be here on New Year's Day, this is one of the best places to go to see Bangkok on a budget. We went and it has free entry from 9:00AM-5:00PM on January 1.

Unfortunately, every other day has a 500 THB ($15 USD) entrance fee, so it's normally not very budget friendly. We didn't realize it was free until walking by around 4:45PM so we didn't get very much time inside. However, if you make a day out of seeing this and the Grand Palace all in one go it could be worth the price.

Tip: Be sure to wear along pants and a shirt that covers your shoulders, the dress code for this temple is very strict.

Budget Friendly Things to do in Bangkok: Temple of the Emerald Buddah

4. Visit Wat Arun

If you want to skip out on the pricier Temple of the Emerald Buddah, Wat Arun is one of the more budget friendly things to do in Bangkok. Ticket prices are 50 THB ($1.50 USD), but you will likely have to take a ferry across the Chao Phraya, the main river that flows through the city.

Taking the ferry is much cheaper than taking a grab across the river if you want to go by foot. It costs only 4 THB ($0.13 USD) each way so it's quite cheap. The bathrooms at Wat Arun are also only a few Baht to use, which coincidentally lead through a market and into the Temple itself. So if you need to use the restroom first, then you might even accidentally find yourself in the temple for a whole lot cheaper than you thought!

Bangkok on a Budget: Wat Arun

5. Go to Golden Mount Temple

Whether or not you decide to cross the river to see Wat Arun, Golden Mount Temple is also only 50 THB. It's also about 2km  (1.25 miles) from both the Wat Arun ferry port or the Temple of the Emerald Buddah. Walking is the cheapest and easiest way to get around Bangkok on a Budget.

This Buddhist temple dates back to when Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. However, when Bangkok became the new capital this temple was renamed from Wat Sakae to Golden Mount Temple. As always, be sure to wear moderate clothing at a temple. When entering past the ticket stand, there is somebody checking to make sure shoulders and knees are covered.

Bangkok on a Budget: Golden Mount Temple
Bangkok on a Budget: Golden Mount Temple

6. Sunset at the Giant Swing

Contrary to popular relief, the Giant Swing in Bangkok is not actually a swing. It's on the way to Sanam Chai Road so it's an easy pitstop to make. Admission is free so it's perfect if you're visiting Bangkok on a budget. Our favorite time to walk by is sunset because less people are there taking pictures and the colors are unreal.

Bangkok on a Budget: Giant Swing

7. Weekend at Chatuchak Market

The Chatuchak Market is a well known weekend market on the north side of Bangkok that offers a huge variety of shopping, dining, massages, and more. Depending where you're staying, a Grab or Tuk Tuk to the market could cost you 150-200 THB ($5-6 USD). However, a cheaper option would be to take the MRT since there is a stop on the blue line leading directly into the market.

Wednesdays and Thursdays only the plant section of Chatuchak is open from 7:00AM-6:00PM. On Fridays, only the wholesale part of the market is open from 12:00PM-6:00PM. Saturdays and Sundays, the entire market is open from 9:00AM-6:00PM. Pro Tip: most stalls will stay open after 6:00PM which is when more locals tend to come in. Hence, prices are a bit lower than during the tourist rush.

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Bangkok on a Budget: Chatuchak Market
Bangkok on a Budget: Chatuchak Market

If you walk around the corner from Chatuchak, you will find the Camp Vintage Flea Market, which is another cool little market in Bangkok. We thought it was funny the 'vintage' clothes being sold here are mostly of American or British Rock Bands.

Though these clothes were slightly cheaper than buying them at home, the prices were absurd for Thai standard prices. Beside the market, the connecting outdoor bar and restaurant had a nice atmosphere and reasonably priced for a few beers.

8. Walk to Wat Pho

Across the street from the ferry terminal to Wat Arun is Wat Pho. After already paying to see Wat Arun earlier in the day we didn't feel like paying the additional 200 THB ($6 USD) fee to get into Wat Pho. However, if you're looking to do Bangkok on a budget you can still walk around a limited part of the temple (pictured below). Just be sure you don't accidentally walk through the exit gate when there's no guard, otherwise you would skip out on the entrance fee.

Bangkok on a Budget: Wat Pho

9. Spend some time at Sanam Luang

Across the street from the Temple of the Emerald Buddah is the Sanam Luang, a large open grassy park that is free to the public. Sometimes there are community or royal events hosted at this park. Since we visited for New Year's there seemed to be some extra decoration set up for the celebration. Fun fact, the public bathrooms in the park are inside retired city transit buses.

Bangkok on a Budget: Sanam Luang
Budget Guide to Bangkok: Sanam Luang

How to get to Bangkok

Bangkok is the central hub of Thailand, and overall is a cheap place to fly into Southeast Asia. We have travelled to Bangkok both by Plane and Bus, and prefer the bus route if we are in Thailand or a neighboring country. This is because bus is the most cost effective way to travel in most countries, but it also can take quite a bit of time. We understand people don't always have the luxury of time when traveling so we have broken down the pro's and con's below.

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By Bus

Cost: $20-$30 USD on average

Length of Trip: 7-12 hours

We have travelled to Bangkok by bus on two occasions. Once from Siem Reap, Cambodia and once from Koh Tao, Thailand. Both trips cost roughly $30 which include a checked bag and water/snack on the bus.

We prefer using 12go.asia to price compare bus tickets anywhere in Asia. The nice thing is that you can use a credit card to book whereas most ticketing places only accept cash in person. That being said, it's always cheaper to pay cash in person.

Pros: Cheaper, No extra checked bag cost, Free water/snack, Save $$ on lodging with overnight bus

Cons: Takes longer

By Plane

Cost: $45-$90 USD on average

Length of Trip: 1-5 hours

We ended up taking a flight from Denpasar, Bali to Bangkok which was about $86 USD including a checked bag. The flight time was 4 hr 45 min which wasn't too bad at all, but much longer than the average flight within the ASEAN countries. Most flights around South East Asia are relatively cheap and about 2 hours tops. Airlines like Nok Air, and Air Asia are pretty good budget airlines to fly with.

Overall we have found flight prices are roughly double the cost of bus prices, but flying cuts the travel time by about 80-90%.

Pros: Saves a lot of time, Still not terribly expensive

Cons: Costs more, Extra $$ for checked bag, No water/snack included in price

How to get around Bangkok

If you're looking for help with how to use the Bangkok public transit system, Moovit is a great app that tell you exactly where you need to go from Point A to Point B. It will even tell you what stops you need to get off and which bus/train lines you need to change, if any.

Taking the MRT

Similar to Singapore, Bangkok also has a rather large public transport system. The MRT runs from 6:00AM-Midnight everyday and is quite affordable. Costs for an adult ticket run between 15-40 THB ($0.50-$1.25 USD) depending on the number of stops you need. Unfortunately, the Bangkok MRT isn't as large as Singapore's. Our lodging was about a 10 minute drive from the nearest stop. So we ended up walking quite a bit, which in our opinion is the best way to get around Bangkok on a budget.

Taking Tuk Tuks

Another option for getting around Bangkok is by taking a Tuk Tuk. To be quite honest, this is not a cost effective way to get around. The prices tend to be a bit more than taxis or Grabs, however, they can get around much quicker due to their smaller size. But, this also means you can't fit as many people (3 big people, 4 normal sized people).

Nonetheless, we figured we might as well take one ride just to give it a try. We were able to negotiate 150 THB ($5 USD) from our lodging to the Chatuchak Market, which took about an hour.

Bangkok on a Budget: Tuk Tuk Ride
Taking a Grab

If you're looking for a private ride, but cheaper than a taxi, then you might want to try Grab. This app is Asia's version of Uber which can be used with your credit card, however, in our experience most drivers prefer to be paid in cash. It's usually cheaper than a taxi, and it's also quite safe.

Pro Tip: Use Grab prices to negotiate taxi or tuk tuk prices to see if they can match or beat the price. It's also a good tool to use to gauge how much a ride should really cost to make sure you're not getting ripped off by a driver.

Where to stay in Bangkok

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Price: $25 USD/Night (Private Room) + $6 cleaning fee

Amenities: Free Water Refills, Free Coffee, Free Breakfast & Dinner, Excellent Location, Early check-in on request

This homestay was an amazing find on Airbnb. We were instantly sold after finding out we got free breakfast and dinner. The host, Sky, and his family were so incredibly nice and welcoming. Our first day in Bangkok we arrived early in the morning and they let us check in early and even had breakfast waiting!

The meals were so filling that we often had leftovers to save. Bread and jam were also provided to us so we barely even had to buy lunch during our stay. This place was so amazing we decided to stay there again on our way out of Thailand. This homestay was absolutely the best way to do Bangkok on a budget with all the free food and walking distance to many attractions.

Dorms: $5.69+ USD

Private Rooms: $22.15+ USD

Amenities: A/C, Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Coffee/Tea, 24/7 Security, Common Area, Luggage storage

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: $5.06 USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, A/C, Coffee/Tea, Luggage Storage, Laundry Services, Common Area, Parking, Outdoor Terrance

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

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By |2019-11-06T09:37:00-05:00January 2nd, 2019|Asia, Budget Travel, Thailand, Travel Guides|0 Comments

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