Exploring Thailand’s capital on a budget

After a lot of in-flight movies, some broken sleep on the plane and a time zone shift, your Thailand flights touch down. Most travellers spend a few weeks in this curious Southeast Asian land, and it’s easy to see why.

Regardless of the long-haul journey – which is pretty exhausting – there is just so much on offer here, meaning one week would never be enough. Night markets bursting at the seams with local traders, temples atop hillsides, trips on the river, full moon parties on tropical islands, large and small wildlife species, delicious rice dishes… the list of attractive features goes on. Booking four to six different stops is pretty common – popular locations include Phuket, Ko Samui, Khao Lak, Chiang Mai, Pai and Pattaya.

Bangkok – Thailand’s capital – is one city you definitely don’t want to miss. Thailand is known for being pretty cheap, but which sights and food and drink options are best for those on a budget in Bangkok? Let’s find out…


Find out which bars have a happy hour

Going out for drinks in Bangkok doesn’t have to be expensive. You might imagine that exclusive rooftop bars – like the Octave Rooftop Bar and Lounge on Sukhumvit Road – are out of your league. But some of them have a happy hour with buy one get one free drinks or half price cocktails. You can still experience panoramic views of this beautiful city at sundown between 6 – 8pm, while sipping a fruity cocktail on a budget.

Other popular bars with a happy hour include Diplomat Bar at Conrad Bangkok, Axis & Spin and Playground Bubbles & Mixology Bars.

Shop the markets

Bangkok has massive shopping centres like Terminal 21, which offer lots of different products and eateries. However, the best way to bag a bargain is to shop the markets. Haggle a little with the stallholders and you can get yourself a pair of elephant trousers, a lucky model of an elephant, handcrafted candles, cute strings of lights, photographs, clothes, jewellery and more at bargain prices.

The best markets in Bangkok include Chatuchak Weekend Market and Rot Fai. You will also find lots of floating markets nearby.

Avoid the hotel spas

If you are looking for a Thai massage, foot massage, aromatherapy treatment or similar, avoid the more luxurious spas inside hotels. It’s better to pop into one of the massage shops on the street, which tend to have more reasonable prices and offer equally good service. You can generally get massages for as little as 250 – 300 baht for an hour!


Eat at food courts or food stalls

Instead of heading inside restaurants, dine at food stalls or food courts in shopping centres to discover affordable eats. Terminal 21 is a great example of a shopping centre with a food court (even if you don’t go there to shop)! Another option is to find a supermarket, like Foodland, which often has a food counter called Took Lae Dee. Many Thai people will simply get a pot of noodles from the 7-11 at lunchtime – the pots can be heated up in the shop for an instant hunger fix.

Walk around or catch the ferry

Most attractions will have an admission fee, and it’s worth splashing out on one or two of the top places. If you really want to experience Bangkok, the best way to immerse yourself is to walk around. You will see all kinds of people, buildings, backstreets and food stalls.

Catching a ferry on the river will take you past many of the interesting sites too. Avoid the tourist boats and climb aboard a ferry (you may have to jump off a tire to get into it, but it’s worthwhile). Ride it to the end of the route and back again to make the most of your river journey.

Experiencing Bangkok on a budget is actually pretty easy and, although it has a reputation for being more expensive than other Thai cities, you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy your trip.

Images by Ian Gratton and Visions of Domino used under Creative Commons license 2.0


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