If Southeast Asia Backpacking is a college degree, Bangkok is your 101 course.
Smack at the heart of Thailand, Bangkok is widely regarded as the epicenter of the backpacking culture in Southeast Asia. First of all, it is cheap, one of the cheapest travel hubs in the world. Many other destinations in ASEAN can be easily accessed from Bangkok: Vientiane is just a bus-ride away. Siem Reap can be reached within the day. Hence, the tired backpacking trail in the region often begins and ends here. If you think this backpacking thing is a game, Bangkok is Level 1. It only gets harder from here, but you wouldn’t even notice because Bangkok would subtly prepare you for it.
And on top of it all, it is also tourist-friendly. Locals are used to tourists, and scams notwithstanding, it is relatively safe. Truly, Bangkok is an ideal destination for first-time travelers.
And my God, don’t get us started with the food. In 2012, we first visited Bangkok as part of a longer backpacking journey. We have returned four times since, and it’s mostly because of its cuisine!
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Bangkok: Asia’s Backpacking Capital
The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is the commercial, economic, and political center of the country. It is a wild, highly developed third-world metropolis but is still very much in touch with its past. Bangkok’s history as the Thai capital began in 1782, when King Rama I had the people move south following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. Bangkok lies at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, seen as a very strategic military location back then. It was also King Rama I who ordered the construction of the Grand Palace complex and many other temples, which remain standing until today.
Here are a few more facts you need to know:
- Language: Thai. Their language can be quite daunting to non-native speakers, especially its lengthy words and tongue-twisting pronunciations, but as with every other language, it only intimidates in the beginning. English isn’t widely spoken, but what the locals lack in English fluency, they make up for with their friendly attitude toward tourists.
- Currency: Thai Baht (THB, ฿). TTHB100 is roughly USD3, EUR 2.6, SGD 4.2, PHP 164 (as of August 2018).
- Modes of payment: Cash. Although some restaurants and hotels accept credit cards, smaller establishments prefer cash.
- Electricity Info: 220V. Most common sockets are sort of a combination of Types A and C. They have two holes that can accept both flat and round pins. This type of socket can take plugs that are Types A, C, and F.
Best Time to Visit Bangkok
November to February, when the temperature and precipitation levels are kind and low. But because of the pleasant weather, it is also the peak season. High season begins in November and ends in April, around Songkran Festival (Thai New Year, April 13-15). If you’re visiting within this period, prepare to share the city with millions of other tourists.
Bangkok could’ve been a year-round destination if it weren’t for the bouts of rain and flooding problems, which is why it is best to avoid the wettest months.
Rainy season is from May to October, but the wettest months are September-October. We have tried traveling to Bangkok in January, July, September, and October, and we can tell you that the precipitation level can definitely affect your overall travel experience. We’ve been stranded in some sites because of torrential rains and flooding and ended up wasting much of our time.
How to Get to Bangkok
Bangkok is one of the busiest and most connected cities in the world. If you’re living in a major city, chances are, there’s a direct flight from where you are to Bangkok.
The city is served by two airports: Don Mueang Airport (DMK), which was the main airport until 2006, and the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), which is now the primary gateway, used by all Thai airlines except AirAsia, Nok Air, and Orient Thai. If you’re coming from Manila, you’re most likely using Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Manila to Bangkok
If you’re flying from Manila, the most cost-efficient nonstop options are Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines. Cebu Pacific has lower base fares, but note that Philippine Airlines already has 30kg check-in baggage allowance and other add-ons included in their published rates. Cebu Pacific’s standard rates include 20kg baggage allowance.
Here are sample roundtrip rates:
However, it’s not uncommon to find roundtrip fares for less than P5000 during seat sale!
Bangkok Airport to City Center
Just in case you missed it, Bangkok has two airports: Don Mueang Airport (DMK), located 25 km north of the city center, and the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), 30 km west of the city center.
Airport to City Center by Taxi
If you’re a group or carrying heavy luggage, you might want to consider taking a cab. Don’t be too scared of taxis. They’re still cheap by international standards, although you must always insist on using the meter.
At the airport, follow the signs that reads Public Taxi. They’re aplenty. Find the taxi queue and when you reach the desk, tell the staff your destination. You will be given a ticket with two copies: one for the driver, one for yourself.
Taxi fare to the city center from Don Mueang and from Suvarnabhumi Airport are almost the same. Both will also incur a ฿50 airport surcharge, which is collected PER RIDE, not per person.
- If the traffic isn’t so bad:
Travel time: around 30-40 minutes
Fare: ฿250 + ฿50 surcharge
- If traffic is normal (which is bad, lol):
Travel time: around 45 minutes to hours
Fare: ฿400 + ฿50 surcharge
If you’re coming from Suvarnabhumi Airport, you will also have to pay the ฿75 expressway toll fees, on top of the fare.
Suvarnabhumi Airport to City Center by Airport Rail Link
This is the fastest way to get to the city proper because you’ll be dodging Bangkok’s infamous traffic jams. You can find the station at the basement of the airport’s passenger terminal. There’s a train every 15 minutes from 6am to 12 midnight. It’s connected to the city’s BTS Skytrain at two stations: Makkasan (฿35) and Phayathai (฿45), the last station. The journey takes around 25 minutes.
If you’re staying in Silom area, you can connect at either station.
- The Makkasan connection will take longer but is easier because there’s only one transfer involved. At Makkasan Station, just switch to the MRT Blue Line (bound for Hua Lumpong) at Petchaburi Station and alight at Silom Station (฿24).
- The Phayathai connection requires two transfers to get to Silom. At Phayathai, transfer to BTS Sukhumvit Line (bound for Bearing) and get off at Siam Station. Switch to BTS Silom Line (bound for Bang Wa) and alight at Saladaeng Station.
If you’re staying in Khao San, you can get off at either station and just take a taxi. Fare shouldn’t exceed ฿60.
Don Mueang Airport to City Center by Bus and MRT
If your hotel is in Silom area, here’s how to get there from Don Muang Airport.
- At the terminal, head out and look for Bus A1.
- Hop into the bus and alight at MRT Chatuchak Park Station (Blue Line).
- Take the MRT Blue Line bound for Hua Lamphong.
- Alight at Silom Station (฿40). It’s the 13th stop from Chatuchak Park.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
For budget travelers, Khao San Road and Silom Road offer the cheapest accommodations. Khao San is the backpacking center and has a very festive vibe with lots of street food, restaurants, and bars. Its popularity among travelers also triggered the mushrooming of scams here. There is no train station around.
Silom is the business and financial district of Bangkok. There are malls, shops, and night markets in its inner alleys. The famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it and what you intend to do, haha) Pat Pong is also located around the corner. The best part is that it has its own train station that links it to rest of the city.
I was able to try three budget hotels in Silom: Sunflower Silom Place, Nantra Hotel, and Smile Society. You can read my reviews here.
But for crowdsourced ratings, here are the top-rated properties according to online users (as of July 2017).
Top Budget Hotels in Bangkok
- Folk Poshtel Bangkok. Check rates and availability here.
- Aster 9 House. Check rates and availability here.
- Nap@Pan Bangkok. Check rates and availability here.
- Villa Mungkala. Check rates and availability here.
Top Hostels and Dorms in Bangkok
- Been Hostel Ratchathewi. Check rates and availability here.
- Augusta. Check rates and availability here.
- The Quarter Bangkok Poshtel & Coworking. Check rates and availability here.
- Poshtel. Check rates and availability here.
Search for more Bangkok Hotels
Pocket Wifi and Data SIM Card in Bangkok
You have two options: 4G Pocket Wifi and 3G/4G Sim Card.
4G Pocket Wifi
You’ll find many pocket wifi rental booths around Bangkok, but if you want to stay connected from the get-go, you can reserve one in advance via Klook and just pick it up at the airport. Klook’s 4G Pocket Wifi provides hi-speed internet provided by AIS that can be used anywhere in Thailand.
- Connect up to 10 devices at once, which is great if you’re traveling with a group because you could just split the cost.
- Pick up and drop off at a 24-hour booth at Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Muang Airport, so make sure you get it upon arrival.
- Inclusive of a power bank that can last 6-8 hours on top of the 8-10 hour battery life of the WiFi device.
3G/4G Data Sim Card
Klook’s Local 3G/4G SIM card allows internet connection anywhere in Thailand.
- Pick up at Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Muang Airport.
- Unlimited data for 7 days anywhere in Thailand (64kbps after the first 2.5GB)
- Inclusive of THB100 call credits
How to Get Around Bangkok
The Thais have their own address system and first timers in Bangkok can be easily disoriented. Wikitravel explains it really well: “Large roads such as Silom or Sukhumvit are thanon while the side streets branching off from them are called soi. Sois are numbered, with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the other side. Thus, an address like 25 Sukhumvit Soi 3 means house number 25 on the 3rd soi of Sukhumvit Road.”
Although it is not as sweat-free as in Hong Kong or Singapore, commuting in Bangkok is quite easy. Vehicular traffic can get crazy during rush hour though. But you’re used to the giant parking lot that runs across Manila called EDSA, you’ll be fine in Bangkok (or any other Southeast Asian city for that matter).
Getting around via public transportation means using one or more of these four modes:
- Train (BTS Skytrain/MRT). Bangkok’s train system is fast and reliable, and will take you to many attractions throughout the city. I found myself taking the train most of the time during my stay because there was a train station very near my hotel. Also, even during the busiest hours, I never experienced getting almost squished to death. The BTS fare ranges from 15 to 52 baht. And you will need 5 or 10 baht coins to get in. Most stations have a counter than can break your large bills and a ticket machine that accepts bills.
- Boat. The two boat services operating in Bangkok are the Chao Phraya Express Boat, which plies up and down the Chao Phraya River and is popular among tourists for it stops at many of the city’s most popular landmarks; and the Saen Saep Express Boat, used mostly by locals who commute to work. The Chao Phraya boat is the best option for you if you intend to visit the Grand Palace complex (at Tha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien), and the Siriraj Medical Museum (Wang Lang Station) within one day! Fare is ฿15.
- Taxi. Always my last option. If my destination is too far from a train or boat station, I would just hail a cab. A ride costs more than in Manila but nowhere near the rates in Hong Kong or Singapore. The flagdown is 35 baht and the average ride within the city is probably around 100. You might encounter cab drivers who take advantage of tourists by not using the meter and then overcharging. If the driver refuses to use the meter, just get off the vehicle. Know that all cabs in Bangkok must use the meter. Many of these drivers wait for tourist passengers at the popular attractions like temples and Khao San Road. I always walked far from them and just hail a moving cab.
- Tuktuk. I didn’t even bother. They are very expensive, even more expensive than cabs, and many of them (not all, but it’s hard to know) are involved in scams. If you really want to try for the heck of it, just agree on the price first.
Things to Do in Bangkok
Grand Palace and Temples Tour
If you’re fit and you enjoy walking, you’ll be glad to know that many of the city’s key attractions are located within walking distance of each other. For example, Bangkok’s most popular temples and shrines, Chinatown, and even Siriraj Forensic Museum are easily accessible from the Chao Phraya River and can be easily visited in one day.
How to get there: If you’re coming from Silom, walk to Sala Daeng BTS Station and take the Skytrain to S6 Saphan Taksin Station (฿25). Take Exit 2, and walk to the boat terminal. Buy a ticket and board a Chao Phraya Express Boat (฿15).
Here are the usual stops:
- Grand Palace. A complex of structures, pavilions, and courtyards including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Boat stop: Tha Chang Pier (No. 9).
Opening hours: 8:30am-3:30pm.
Entrance fee: ฿500.
- Wat Arun. Probably the most recognizable landmark in Bangkok with a 70m tall spire (called prang).
Boat stop: Tha Thien pier (N8) and then cross the river on a smaller boat.
Opening hours: 8:00am-6:30pm
Entrance fee: ฿50.
- Wat Pho. Famed for the enormous reclining Buddha that it houses.
Boat stop: Tha Thien pier (N8) and then walk up the perpendicular road to Wat Pho.
Opening hours: 8:00am-5:00pm
Entrance fee: ฿100.
Dress Code: The rule is to have your shoulders, knees, and heels covered. The following are not allowed:
- Shorts, short skirts, mini-skirts, tight fitting trousers
- Torn trousers/pants
- Sando, vests, sleeveless shirts
- See-through shirts
At the entrance to the Grand Palace, you’ll be approached by vendors selling pants, telling you that you won’t be able to enter if you don’t buy from them. Ignore them. You can borrow pants inside, but you will have to make a deposit of 200 THB. You will get it back on your way out.
Here’s a quick do-it-yourself walking tour that will take you to the most popular sites in Bangkok: 6 Popular Attractions in Bangkok, A Walking Tour.
If you book with Klook, you may choose a full-day tour or a half-day tour. Both tours have an English-speaking guide, who will share with you the history and recommended spots in the area so you could appreciate the site better.
✅ Half-Day Tour. Lasts 7 hours. CHECK RATES or RESERVE HERE.
✅ Full-Day Tour. Lasts 11 hours. CHECK RATES or RESERVE HERE.
Muay Thai Live Show
- A show about Muay Thai. The show lasts 1.5 hours
- See fight scenes and martial arts on stage.
3D Art in Paradise
Marvel at optical illusions with the whole family at 3D Art in Paradise. Have fun taking photos and making the most of the five themes — Safari and Underwater, Classic and Famous Pictures, Fantasy, Nature and Scenery, and Modern Art.
Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Location: Esplanade Mall, 4th Floor, Ratchadapisek Road, Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400
Nearest Train Station: Bangkok MRT Cultural Center Station. Esplanade Mall, which is just beside Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market, is only a few minutes walk from this station.
Sompong Thai Cooking Class
- Learn how to cook your favorite Thai dishes: 3 savory dishes, 1 curry paste, 1 dessert.
- The fee covers all ingredients you will need
- English-speaking instructor
- Located in Silom, which is very accessible
- Inclusive of a visit local open market and hand pick fresh ingredients
- Learn about the history of these Thai dishes
- Create Thai curry paste from scratch
- You get to take home a recipe book
Madame Tussauds Bangkok
Don’t pass the opportunity to snap photos with your favorite celebrities (I mean, their life-size wax figures). Party with the A-list Hollywood stars, perform with the famous singers and entertainers, brush elbows with powerful political leaders, and play with topnotch sports personalities!
Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Location: Madame Tussauds, Siam Discovery, 4th Floor, 989 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Nearest Train Station: BTS Skytrain Siam Station. Take a five-minute walk from Siam Station to Siam Discovery, where Madame Tussauds is located.
Siriraj Forensic Museum
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm
Entrance fee: THB 200
I love dark tourism, and this is my fave spot in Bangkok. I walked through chilling galleries of gore and violence. It was a little out of the way, but if you’re into CSI or Final Destination, this is your wonderland right here.
Also known as the Museum of Death, it houses a huge collection of artifacts gathered in the 120 years of the Siriraj Hospital’s service as a pioneer in the medical field in the country, including the mummified body of Si Ouey Sae Urng (Si Quey). Regarded by many as modern Thailand’s first serial killer, Si Quey was a cannibal who victimized children in the 1950s. He was executed and his remains have since been kept at the hospital.
How to get there: Board the SkyTrain (Silom Line) to S6 Saphan Taksin Station, take Exit 2, and hop onto a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Siriraj Pier N10 or Tha Rot Fai Pier, both on the west side of the river. Walk a couple of blocks into the hospital complex. Follow the signs to Adulyadej Vikrom Building. The museum is on the second floor.
More info: Siriraj Museum
- Siam Square. Made more popular to foreigners as the shooting location for the hit movie The Love of Siam, Siam Square does not disguise itself with pretenses of being culturally significant. It is what it is — a shopping and entertainment district. Yet, if you think about it, it somehow represents a generation — a younger, more industrialized, more fashionable Bangkok. Catering mostly to college students and young adults, Siam Square comprises several blocks harbors a wide array of stores — over a hundred of ’em — apparel stalls, boutiques, bookshops, record stores, restaurants, cafes, even cinemas. How to get here: Just take the BTS Skytrain System and get off at Siam Station.
- Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine. Aka Pen*s Shrine. Dedicated to the Goddess Tuptim, who is believed to reside in a big tree at the Nai Lert Park. Around the site are dozens of phalluses in all colors and sizes, with one as long as 10ft. How to get here: Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine is located at 2 Wireless Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok. To get here, take the train and alight at Chitlom Station. Walk down Wireless Road until you see Swissotel. You’ll see a short street to the basement car park. Walk across the parking area and you’ll see the Shrine tucked in a corner of the park.
- Bangkok Chinatown. Popular for its shops, especially near Charoenkrung Road. But there are also temples around the district. To be honest, if you’ve been to other Chinatowns in other parts of Southeast Asia, this one might disappoint you, unless you visit during the Chinese New Year, when the district really comes to life. How to get there: Take the Skytrain to S6 Saphan Taksin Station (BTS Silom Line), take Exit 2, and walk to the boat terminal. Buy a ticket and board a Chao Phraya Express Boat. Alight at the Ratchawong Pier (N5) and make your way on foot from Ratchawong Road to Sampeng Lane and Yaowarat Road.
- Khao San Road. Backpacking central is what Khao San Road is most known for. At night, the backpackers keep the street alive as they flood into the bars and restaurants that edge the road. If you’re ready for dinner at this point, you’ll have a gazillion options here. Restaurants boast western and local cuisines while outside, crowds gather around stalls that offer the usual (barbeque) and the exotic (crickets).
Day Tours from Bangkok
Many of these can be done DIY, too! But if you’re after convenience and better appreciation and understanding of the place, you can also join a guided group tour to explore other parts of Bangkok and nearby provinces.
Warning: Scams are rampant in Bangkok. If you really want to join a tour, make sure you’re booking with a legit agency. There are numerous fraudulent “tour operators” around the city. To be safe, you can ask the staff of the hotel you’re staying in for recommendations. You can also book with Klook in advance. Klook is totally safe.
Cartoon Network Amazone (Pattaya)
Ayutthaya Day Tour
You can do this DIY by traveling to Ayutthaya by public transportation and hiring a tuktuk to tour you around. (We’ll write a separate post about it.) But if you need a guide and you want someone else to take care of everything for you, you can book with Klook.
- Visit the following places: Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Lokayasutharam
- Visit Ayutthaya Floating Market for lunch (meals at your own expense)
- Sunset boat ride (stop by Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Phutthaisawan and Wat Chaiwattharanam)
- Pick up at the entrance of Century Mall (near Victory Monument Station)
- Air conditioned vehicle with free WiFi onboard
- English-speaking guide
- All entrance fees and boat ride covered
- Travel insurance provided by the operator
- Meals not included
Where to Shop in Bangkok
- Ratchada (Train Night Market). Cheap thrills are always fun, and the colorful rows of tent stalls of Ratchada (New Rot Fai Market) will never leave you wanting. It will absolutely fill your stomachs with the wide selection of affordable Thai cuisine and international dishes— snacks, street food, sweets, exotic delicacies, and milk teas! The market also offers affordable clothing, accessories, shoes, and many more!
Nearest Train Station: Bangkok MRT Thailand Cultural Centre Station. Take Exit 3, then walk towards Esplanade Mall. Ratchada is located just beside the mall.
Opening Hours: 5pm-1am (Sunday-Friday); 8:15am-2:15am (Saturday)
- Platinum Fashion Mall. Located smack in the middle of Pratunam, a major market area, the Platinum Fashion Mall is one of the biggest shopping destinations in the city. While they specialize in wholesale, they also sell apparel and accessories in retail quantities.
How to get here: Just take the BTS Skytrain System and get off at Siam Station. To get to Platinum Mall from Siam Square, walk down Rama I Road until you reach CentralWorld. (You’ll pass by Wat Pathum Wanaram, a temple.) Turn left onto Ratchadamri Road and go ahead until you reach the first perpendicular road after the bridge, Road Phetchaburi. Turn left, walk past Hotel Novotel, and you’ll see Platinum Wall on your left.
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
- Chatuchak Weekend Market. A labyrinth made of shops, once popular only to wholesale traders but eventually became a favorite attraction among tourists. Here you’ll find almost anything you can think of: from souvenirs to flowers to clothes to furniture.
Nearest BTS Station: Mo Chit Station, take exit 1.
Sample Bangkok Itinerary
Here’s a sample itinerary that you may use. I stayed much longer, but if you have only an extended weekend to spend in Bangkok, here’s something to consider.
BANGKOK-AYUTTHAYA 4D3N ITINERARY
Day 1: RATCHADA NIGHT MARKET
12:10pm – Arrival in Bangkok
01:10pm – Airport Rail link to Makkasan Station, ฿35
01:30pm – Switch to MRT to Silom Station, ฿24
02:15pm – Walk to your hotel, check in, rest
04:40pm – MRT to Thaland Cultural Center, ฿29
05:00pm – Ratchada Train Market, Budget: ฿200
07:00pm – Dinner, ฿100
08:00pm – MRT to Silom, ฿29
09:00pm – Lights out
Day 2: BANGKOK TEMPLES
06:00am – Wake up call
07:00am – Walk to S2 Sala Daeng BTS Station
07:15am – Take BTS to S6 Saphan Taksin Station, ฿25
07:30am – Walk to Sathorn Pier
07:40am – Board Chao Phraya Express Boat, ฿15
08:00am – Get off at N8 Tha Thien Pier
08:10am – Take the boat to the other side of the river, ฿3
08:20am – Explore Wat Arun, ฿50
09:20am – Take the boat to the other side, ฿3
09:30am – Walk to Wat Pho
09:40am – Wat Pho, ฿100
11:00am – Lunch, ฿100
12:00pm – Walk to Grand Palace
12:30pm – Grand Palace, ฿500
02:30pm – Walk to N9 Tha Chang Pier
02:40pm – Ferry to N10 Siriraj Pier, ฿15
02:50pm – Walk to Sirijaj Museum
03:10pm – Siriraj Museum, ฿200
05:00pm – Walk to N10 Siriraj Pier
05:20pm – Boat to N13 Phra Arthit, ฿15
05:40pm – Walk to Khao San Road
06:00pm – Dinner at Khao San, ฿200
07:00pm – Explore Khao San Road
09:00pm – Taxi to Silom, ฿120
Day 3: AYUTTHAYA DAY TOUR
06:00am – Wake up call
07:00am – Walk to S2 Sala Daeng BTS Station
07:15am – Take BTS to N3 Victory Monument Station, ฿25
08:00am – Start Ayutthaya Tour, ฿1300, Book here
06:00pm – Night Market, Food budget for lunch and dinner: ฿250
08:00pm – Back at Victory Monument
08:30pm – BTS to Sala Daeng Station, ฿25
09:30pm – Back to hotel, lights out
Day 4: FLOATING MARKET, SHOPPING
06:00am – Wake up call, check out, leave bags
07:00am – Walk to S2 Sala Daeng BTS Station
07:15am – Take BTS to N3 Victory Monument Station, ฿25
08:00am – Start Floating Market Tour, ฿700 + ฿300 meal budget, Book here
02:00pm – King Power shopping
04:00pm – Back at Victory Monument
04:20pm – BTS to Sala Daeng Station, ฿25
04:40pm – Back to hotel, pick up bags
05:00pm – Walk to MRT Silom Station
05:20pm – MRT to Petchaburi Station, ฿25
06:20pm – Airport Rail Link from Makkasan Station, ฿35
07:00pm – Flight check in
08:00pm – Dinner, ฿150
09:30pm – Flight out
If you follow this itinerary and you spend ฿300 per night at a hostel, prepare to shell out ฿5600 (USD171, EUR147, SGD235, PHP9160), excluding airfare.
If you’re able to snag a P5000 roundtrip airfare from Manila, that places the total cost to only P14,160.
Bangkok is landlocked, so beach bums might get disappointed. But other Southeast Asian destinations are easy to reach from here. If you have more days, consider heading south to Phuket or Krabi or north to Chiang Mai or Pai. You may also cross borders to Vientiane, Laos or Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Below is the list of the usual prices of things you will need for a comfortable budget stay in Bangkok! Bear in mind that the figures are in Thai Baht.
- Meal (street food) – Pad thai costs around ฿40, pork rice ฿50, and a big, big bowl of tom yum noodles ฿100. If you’re eating at restaurants, prepare to shell out at least ฿120.
- Accommodations – Dormitory beds from ฿100, hostel private room from ฿300, and a budget hotel room for two from ฿800
- Grand Palace entrance fee – ฿500
- Wat Pho entrance fee – ฿100
- Wat Arun entrance fee – ฿50
- Siriraj Medical Museum fee – ฿200
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour – ฿400-720, depending on what’s included in the tour
- Ayutthaya Day Tour – doing it DIY-style may cost at least THB 700 but this only includes the visit to the temples. You’ll spend more if you drop by the floating markets too. Arranged tours cost around ฿1000 if visiting the temples only. It can cost up to ฿1400 if a sunset boat ride and a visit to the floating markets are included.
- Taxi – flagdown rate is THB 35, usual ride within the city is around THB 100
- Train ride – THB 15-52
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bangkok safe?
Yes, Bangkok is generally safe and tourist-friendly. Of course, you should still use commom sense at all times and don’t flash your gadgets in the open or leave your valuables unattended.
My only frustration with Bangkok is that it has more than its share of scams targeting tourists, so always be careful.
What are the common Bangkok scams?
Yes. Bangkok’s scams are more organized than they appear. One of the most widespread modus operandi involves people loitering by the gate of temples (or other tourist spots) and approaching tourists. I almost fell for this. They are very friendly, and they usually introduce themselves as teachers. They claim that the site you’re about to visit is closed because it is a holiday and that they know a more beautiful place that is not on tourist maps. They then hail a random tuktuk (which isn’t random at all for the driver is part of the scam) and tour you around. You will be taken to a jewelry store selling overpriced gems and accessories. The tuktuk may also overcharge you for the ride.
Khao San Road is also rife with scams. You’ll find tourist agents selling all sorts of transportation tickets that turn out to be less than what they promise. For example, you’ll find plenty of “direct buses” to Siem Reap, but most of them are not really direct as they involve switching vehicles at one point during the trip. Worse, some of these buses stop at “travel agencies” that will sell you fake visa.
Patpong is also notorious for scams. You’ll be invited by barkers to a sexy club to see a “pingpong show” or other mind-blowing presentations, to say the least. They’ll say the show is free but you must order a drink. The catch is, the drink is so overpriced.
As in any other city, be careful and vigilant. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What is tipping policy in Bangkok?
Tipping is NOT mandatory in Bangkok, but it is surely appreciated. When eating at sit-down restaurants, a tip of 10% of the bill should be fine. You can also just round off your bill. For example, if your bill is ฿135, you can leave ฿150. Same with cabs. If the meter is ฿105, round it off to ฿110 or ฿120. At hotels, you can give ฿20-50 to the porter who carries your luggage to your room, depending on the number of pieces. For a massage, tip ฿50. For full-day tour guides, at least ฿200 is alright.
Where to exchange money in Bangkok?
Bangkok has countless money changers, but most of them have poor rates, especially those at the airport. Trust me. I made that mistake and lost a lot in the conversion. If you really need to do so at the airport, exchange only a little or enough to get you to the city center.
At the city center, find a SuperRich Thailand branch. SuperRich has the best rates.
What is the power socket used in Bangkok?
Most common sockets are sort of a combination of Types A and C. They have two holes that can accept both flat and round pins, the shape of two door knobs or rubber stamps facing each other. This type of socket can take plugs that are Types A, C, and F. If your plug has three pins, you will be needing an adaptor.
Do I need a visa to visit Thailand?
Foreigners holding passports issued by the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, United States, United Kingdom, Germany and 40+ other countries can enter Thailand visa-free, provided that they stay shorter than 30 days.
To see the complete list of countries, visit this: List of Visa-Free and Visa-on-Arrival Countries
However, visitors must have the following upon entry:
- a valid passport (with at least 6 months validity)
- return or onward ticket
- at least 10,000 baht per person or 20,000 baht per family or equivalent in other currencies, cash.
It will also help to have a hotel reservation.
Note that if you’re not arriving by air, you’re only allowed to enter Thailand twice per year.
Do I really need 10,000-baht show money at the immigration?
In theory, yes. It is the law. But it’s not implemented all the time. Lately, they have been a bit stricter as part of their crackdown on begpackers.
Our team has been in and out of Thailand recently but none of us were asked how much we carry. But it would help to just comply, just in case.
It doesn’t need to be in baht. It can be any currency as long as its equivalent value is 10,000 baht.
This travel guide is a work in progress. If you have something to add or you spot something that needs updating, let us know in the comments section below!