Bangkok, or Krung Thep, as the locals call it, is the capital city of Thailand. It truly is an urban metropolis that never sleeps and is the perfect mix of jam-packed streets, bustling markets and quiet, traditionally historic centres. Bangkok is a city where you will inevitably be immersed into the vibrant South-East Asian culture. This is a place where old meets new, and as a result, it has cooked up something very unique and special. Sparkling gold temples dotted between dramatic gabled rooftops and traditional stilt houses built over the Chao Phraya River are just a few reasons why Bangkok is the place to be. Oh, and not to mention it is cheap, safe and a great place to meet like-minded travellers!
Whether you are in town for a short city escape or an extended period, let’s take a look at all you need to know while visiting The Big Mango.
How Much Should You Budget?
Bangkok is a very affordable city. So affordable, in fact, that you only need to budget 700-1000 Thai Baht per day to really enjoy yourself. That is about USD$20 – USD$30… per day! And yes, we are including accommodation as well. It is mind boggling how far your money can go here, giving you a bit of wiggle room should you wish to splurge, which, let’s be honest, is going to happen.
In saying that, an excellent, centrally located hotel/hostel will cost no more than 600 Thai Baht, or USD$20 per night, and authentic home-made street food will set you back a whopping 30-60 Thai Baht (USD$1-USD$2) per meal. Coming to a total of around USD$25 per day, there is plenty of room to spend any excess how you like; shop ‘til you drop, grab a bargain at the flea markets or splurge on a Hangovertini at the Lebua Sky Bar, the world’s highest open-air bar!
Hangovertini at Lebua Sky Bar
Where Should You Stay?
Siam Square is the perfect place to stay in Bangkok and should be the first area to consider. It is regarded as the cultural centre of Bangkok and is bustling with entertainment, cafes, restaurants and shopping malls. There are many hostels in Siam Square, but it is hard to look past Lub d.
Lub d is perhaps the premier hostel in the area which caters to all travellers; groups, couples, friends, or solo. Just USD$16, or 500 Thai Baht, can get you a perfectly adequate room with more space than usual in the area. What’s more is that the hostel is located steps away from the BTS, or SkyTrain, which can take you anywhere in this great metropolis. How much more convenient can you get?!
What To Do In Bangkok?
The question should be: what can’t you do in Bangkok? We could name every sight here, but the best way to get a feel for Bangkok is to walk around for yourself and discover because there is something to see on every corner!
Upon arrival, your first stops should be the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and neighbouring Wat Pho. This is Bangkok’s most famous attraction and it is easy to see why. The elaborate towering peaks of the Palace intertwined with the highly detailed mosaics make for a jaw-dropping sight. Next, Wat Pho. The home of the reclining Buddha. Yep, you read it correctly, and features the largest collection of Buddha images in the whole of Thailand!
Wat Phra Kaew
Taking a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River and experiencing the floating markets is also a must. A river cruise is the best way to see how the residents of Bangkok travelled back in the day, when the city was known as the Venice of the East. Enjoy the highly unique city skyline and reflect on the iconic history of the city. There are many floating markets to explore, but there are 2 in particular that should be on your list; Damnoen Saduak and Khlong Lat Mayom. The latter is closer to the centre, at 17km away as opposed to 100km and is more authentic with less tourists.
Markets. Bangkok is full of them. The top 5 markets to visit are Chatuchak, Talad Rod Fai, Neon Night Markets, Sampeng Market and Klongsan Market. These markets have a different feel from one another and should be added to your to-do list immediately.
Talad Rod Fai (Train Market)
Hanging out & Nightlife
Nightlife is something that Bangkok is not lacking whatsoever. With a plethora of options, there is something to suit all tastes, after all, a night out in Bangkok is a must-do. And, contrary to most opinions, it is also quite safe. Whether it is a trendy rooftop bar, pub or club, there is no shortage of entertainment options. The best spots for hanging out? Probably Khao San Road and Siam area.
Khao San Road offers many cheap bars and clubs with much of the same feel. They are packed with travellers, expats and a few locals, with most not opening until around 9pm. The top 5 bars/clubs here are Adhere The 13th Blues Bar, Roof Bar Khaosan, The One, The Club and Superflow City Beach Club.
Siam, on the other hand, has a wide range of entertainment options both venue and budget wise, and isn’t as packed. The top 5 in this area (within 1.5 km) include; Groove at CentralWorld, Red Sky Rooftop Bar, Mixx Discotheque, Hard Rock Cafe and CoCo Walk.
Siam Square Bangkok
In a nutshell, if you are after a more traditional experience, Khao San Road is the place to be, however if you would like a range of options that aren’t so cramped but still full of like-minded travellers and more varieties of drinks, Siam area & around is the way to go.
First thing’s first, you will need to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city. Take the Skytrain from the airport to the city, which takes about 30 minutes and costs 40 Thai Baht, or USD$1.30. Or, if you are coming through a low-cost carrier, you will likely be arriving through Don Mueang Airport. The best way to get to and from this airport is via taxi, which takes 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on traffic and costs 350 Thai Baht, or USD$11.
Once you are in the city, the best way to get around is the BTS, or Bangkok Transport System Skytrain. It is very cheap and convenient, no matter where you are staying. You can also take a taxi or tuk tuk, but remember to always negotiate the fare and route beforehand.
Sawasdee! Welcome to Bangkok!
Greetings in Thailand
Bangkok is a wonderful place where the fusion of old and new combine to create an energetic and dynamic culture and the locals are some of the most hospitable in the world. Here, you will make some unforgettable memories, meet some amazing people and experience things you otherwise may not anywhere else in the world. It is an extremely affordable city with some excellent hostels and entertainment options, namely in Siam Square. So, pack your bags and welcome to Bangkok!