Australia really did a number on my wallet. Even with the camping and budget adjustments, that place is not cheap. Thank goodness then for cheap flights to Bangkok, a place where my budget could do a 180. The first thing I noticed on arriving in Thailand was not the beautiful beaches (those will come later hopefully) or the charming people, but mostly just how inexpensive everything was! Bangkok on a budget was just what I needed!
And yes Thailand is cheap. Not as cheap as China was, or as I expect Vietnam will be, but its incredible affordability is part of what makes it so very attractive to backpackers. Bangkok, the enormous and frenetic capital of Thailand, is where I first started to feel out what was cheap, what wasn’t, and what was a total rip off.
Bangkok on a Budget: What’s Cheap
The food here is unlike anywhere else on earth. It’s so inexpensive and so plentiful its kind of ridiculous. A plate of pad thai costs about 40 baht ($1.33 USD) and a nicer sit down meal for two might run you 250 B ($8.30). It gets better: at night ever street corner is overflowing with carts selling every kind of Thai delicacy you can imagine- from fruit shakes to BBQ to egg rolls- all for usually under $1. And it’s all absolutely delicious.
So far eating is the frontrunner for my favorite thing to do in Thailand and is perfect for Bangkok on a budget.
Clothing and Souvenirs
In the evenings giant outdoor night markets spring up down every street and alley selling just about anything ever: paper lanterns, watches, plastic buckets, fashionable dresses, toy helicopters, fake pills and on and on. Everything is priced low to begin with and then you start the bargaining.
The public transportation system is somewhat wanting, but a trip on the sky train runs 20-40 baht, and a public ferry up the river is just 14 b. For everywhere they don’t go you can hop in a taxi. Your ride anywhere around downtown should run you more than 150 baht (assuming they don’t decide to take you on the “scenic route” which seems to be a pretty popular game).
While a big night out can be costly, it’s still much must cheaper than at home or in Australia where a mixed drink at a bar could easily cost $9. Here it’s more like $3. The ubiquitous “buckets” on Kho San Road cost 200-300 baht but carry quite a kick. The most economical option is to pick up an extra large Chang beer at the 7-11 for a mere 40 baht. They’ll even open the bottle for you! So while drinking in Bangkok may not be the cheapest in the world a few nights out will still allow you to visit Bangkok on a budget!
What’s not as cheap:
If you’re craving some comfort food from home it’s probably going to cost you. A personal size pizza at a local restaurant ran me 260 baht- that’s pretty much normal western prices! Of course with Thai food being so delicious and cheap, this isn’t really a big problem.
I honestly didn’t do a ton of sightseeing in Bangkok- I was too busy being social and/or hungover. I did, however, manage to get downtown to see the Grand Palace. Admission was 300 baht but well, well worth it to see the elaborate and shiny 18th-century palace and religious center. This includes admission to Wat Phra Kaeo (the Emerald Buddha), the holiest spot in Thai Buddhism, and to a couple nearby museums. In fact, it’s actually not so bad a deal at all. If you are going to see the sights of Bangkok, this one will keep you on your budget.
As for Bangkok itself, what can I say? It’s very big and very dirty and very, very, exciting. I feel like after a week there I barely scratched the surface of the place. Luckily I’m fairly certain I’ll be back- with prices like that I can’t really afford not to. Bangkok on a budget is doable and hopefully, I will visit again soon!
Looking for Budget Accommodation in Bangkok? Try These!
D Hostel Bangkok is bright and airy with comfortable rooms located close to all the sights in Bangkok. Relax in their cozy common room, play pool or relax on the terrace all without breaking your Bangkok budget.
Nappark Hostel is located on Khao San Road in the heart of it all. Meet new people in this social hostel; head out or relax at the tea cafe on site.
Sloth Hostel is a new hostel just off Khao San Road and it will welcome you in with its quirky design and adorable sloth drawings all over the walls. Plus they offer airconditioning and free wifi everywhere!
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