Bangkok is known around the world for its chaotic, crowded streets, cheap food, cheap clothes, wild nightlife and traffic. Many travelers come here and either love or hate it due to the pollution, noise, and crowds. I used to hate it but when I got to know it more, I changed my mind and even lived here for awhile. Underneath the surface, Bangkok has a lot to offer travelers. It’s a city that slowly reveals its secrets and if you spend a little extra time here, you’ll find that this seemingly ugly city has a lot of beauty.
- Hostel Prices: Dorm rooms start at $3 but nicer dorms in prime locations can cost up to $10. Private rooms in small guesthouses, especially those in the backpacker area of Khao San Road, start at $7. Accommodation is cheap in Thailand.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Budget hotels costs between $15-30 USD per night. Rooms with private showers and air conditioning cost on the higher end. My favorite is Suk 11 guesthouse.
- Average Cost of Food: In Bangkok, you can eat from the street vendors for as little as $1per meal and eat in a nice restaurant for under $25 including a drink or two. Like the rest of Thailand, if you eat at the street vendors like the locals, you’ll be hard pressed to spend a lot of money on food.
- Transportation Costs: Although city buses can be very crowded, they are convenient and inexpensive. For $.25 USD on the non-air conditioned buses and $.50 USD on the air conditioned buses, you can travel pretty much anywhere in the city. The Skytrain and Metro cost $.25-1.50 per trip. Taxis throughout the city cost under $5.
Top Things to Do
- The Grand Palace and Wat Po - The palace was built over the course of 3 years at the end of the 18th century by King Rama I and is the official residence of the current monarchy (though he doesn’t live there any more, it is just used for ceremonies). This is also where you will see the temple of Wat Pra Kaeo housing the 15th century Emerald Buddha whose robes are rotated three times a year by no less than the Thailand’s king himself. Moreover, you’ll find Wat Po to have the famous golden reclining Buddha statue.
- Explore Lumpini Park – Outdoor enthusiasts will find it hard to tear themselves away from Bangkok’s Lumpini Park. Jogging paths, bicycle roads, picnic and chess tables, Tai Chi classes, plenty of shade trees, weight-lifting, and rowboats for rent on its pair of lakes offer plenty to do and all the time in the world to do it.
- The Royal Elephant Museum - Elephants have long played a significant role in the lives of the Thai people. The museum is located within the Parliament compound is a video and artifact testament to the value of the largest land animal and to the beliefs surrounding its participation in religious ceremonies. It is open to the public every day from 8:30 to 4:30.
- Visit the Weekend Market – The weekend market is an ideal place to buy anything and everything. This football stadium sized market place offers the best place to get gifts, knock offs, barter, or have some good food. Definitely come here.
- Temple Hop – Bangkok is full of history, temples, and Thai ruins. There’s about 10 main temples in the city and you can easily just hire a guy to take you to all of them today. They are all have different architecture and layouts. It will take about 5 hours to see them all.
- Hang out on Khao’s San Road - Khao San Road is the infamous backpacker/tourist street in Bangkok. All travel roads lead in and out of there. However, it is more than just a transit hub for travelers. Here you can find nightlife, great food, tons of people watching, and activity all day and all night.
- Visit the Floating Market - The floating market is just outside of Bangkok, and while mostly for tourists, I like coming here. The tours that come here are about half a day and leave early in the morning. It’s not a great place to shop but the area is good for photography and eating, two things I love a lot.
- Go Shopping - Bangkok has so many malls that in the center alone, I can count 12 in a 4 block radius. There is every thing you could ever need here in Bangkok and a great prices. Make sure you check out Siam Paragon (for designer clothes), Pantip (for cheap electronics) and MBK (for cheap knockoffs).
- See Jim Thompson’s House - Jim Thompson was a silk merchant who disappeared under very mysterious circumstances back in the 1950s. His house across from MBK is a traditional teak style house and very informative about life in Thailand. Proceeds from the entrance fee go to help orphaned children.
- Eat from the street stalls - Food from street vendors in Thailand is some of the best Thai food I have ever had, and so cheap it is ridiculous. You can easily have a soup noodle bowl for $.75 USD or even a bit fancier pad thai dish for only around $.75 USD.
- Negotiate with the Tuk Tuk drivers - Unlike taxis the tuk tuk drivers do not have meters, so be sure and set the fixed price before you take off. They are very friendly, but if you are going to play the naive tourist, you will get taken advantage of!
- Avoid drinking in Khao San - While fun, a night out in the backpacker area of Khao San Rd will leave your wallet empty.