9 BUDGET FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK
Bangkok is an amazing city, well developed and housing a hugely multicultural population. With its rapidly expanding business epicenter there are many foreigners living and working in Bangkok. It is therefore necessary to offer people a broad range of lifestyle options necessary for its continued growth. While this means endless food and nightlife choices are now offered, it also means that the average cost of living has increased dramatically over the last few years. In twelve months, the average price of living has risen quickly. However there are still plenty of budget friendly options that will keep you both entertained and within your daily spending limit.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Trekking through temples
There is something very special about Thai temples with their ornate decorations and elaborate designs. In Bangkok there is more to see than just the main temples. Many Wats are hidden in some of the most popular neighborhoods. If you’re in Chinatown check out Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, a beautiful and interesting Chinese Buddhist temple situated right in the heart of Bangkok. Other temples worth noting are Wat Indraviharn in Dusit or Wat Patum Wanaran which is located right near Central World Plaza shopping center. Anyone wanting to try meditation may find Wat Mahathat is the one for you. Offering free meditation classes three times a day; 7:00am-10:am, 1:00-4:00pm and 6:00-8:00pm, Wat Mahathat is an all encompassing temple visit. Wat Mahathat is not only a free visit but a chance to gain some inner peace and balance along the way.
2. Absorb some culture
Lucky for travelers, Bangkok is home to a few free Museums which makes learning about Thai culture easier during your time there. When delving into the ideals and philosophies of Thai culture and understanding what it means to come from the land of smiles, we suggest you skip expensive entry fees at the Bangkokian Museum.
Animal lovers might enjoy the Royal elephant Museum (also known as Chang Ton) where you can learn about all things elephant. Keep in mind it is a small museum and somewhat limited. Other museums include Silpa Bhirasri Memorial and Museum and the Corrections Museum which was a former prison.
3. Venture to Khao San
Although not entirely free, there is absolutely no cost to stare in amazement as you wander down this world famous street. Depending on where you’re coming from, a relatively cheap cab ride will bring you into this backpackers' mecca filled with street food, market stalls and hoards of drunk western travelers all searching for something. If big parties aren’t your thing or in your budget you can enjoy window shopping for all the touristy goods for sale. Fill your stomach up with Pad Thai on the street (between 40-60 BHT depending on what meat you choose) and wash it down with a fruit shake and our favourite, Roti pancakes covered with Nutella and sweetened condensed milk. If standing on the side of the road gobbling down your food isn’t you thing, head to the next street over Rambuttri Street and check out their little street food restaurants offering very cheap thai food and a place to sit. Beer is also a bargain-buy here, so wash down dinner with a few, and enjoy your surroundings, including the amazing bands playing in nearby bars.
4. See a movie.
In Australia our cheap Tuesday movie tickets now come in at a mind blowing $12, which makes the discount somewhat laughable. Compare that to everyday prices which range from $18-$22 and add in a drink or some food and you’re looking at around $30 per person. If you’re in a similar situation save your pennies for Bangkok where the latest blockbuster cost 200bht for a basic ticket. The cinemas are new especially Siam Pentagon and have always got a few English speaking blockbusters available. At about half the price of the cheapest Australian price, date night was within our reach and killed a few hours. As we don’t usually have the time or energy to see a film at the cinemas it was a real treat to enjoy something so simple. See an evening movie and grab some cheap dinner in the food court beforehand and make a night of it for about $10 per person. A great option if you can’t afford a night out for drinks or a restaurant dinner. Grab some snacks at the 7/11 together with drinks to make thing cheaper, and enjoy! Just don’t forget to stand up when the national anthem and tribute to the King is played.
5. Get closer to nature
Bangkok is no doubt a sky scraper city, however it is interspersed with some lovely parks which make for a nice oasis away from the hustle and bustle. Lumphini Park is of particular note with its 58 hectares of trees, grassy areas and scenic lake; it has all the elements for an encounter with nature. Head to 7/11 or a street food vender and get some take away nibbles or drinks and sit down and enjoy. If you’re really feeling energetic you could get in some exercise and go for a run on the 2.5 km running track or join in an evening outdoor aerobics class for a laugh. Sometimes there are even free concerts, especially in the cooler months.
6. Chow down on some typical Thai
Soi 38 is infamous for being selling some of the best Thai street food in Bangkok, including the best Pad Thai. This really is a serious claim to fame, considering how many street food stalls there are in Bangkok. Don't worry, the selection and quality of all food on offer at Sukumvit’s Soi 38 will not disappoint. Prices are dirt cheap and the flavours are all out this world- arrive hungry so you can sample a few different offerings. Not entirely walking distance from most areas in Bangkok, it will cost you a short cab ride. Also note that things don’t get started here until a bit later, anytime after 8-9pm. It is often where youth eat after a big night drinking
7. Wander the malls
While shopping isn’t for everyone it’s a great way to immerse yourself into everyday Bangkok culture and to kill a few hours. We were happy enough to walk around viewing some interesting Thai designs and other fashions until we felt hungry. Siam Paragon has an impressive food court with everything from typical Thai cuisine, to designer cupcakes. Central world offers an impressive department store and is absolutely huge. Platinum mall is often where the retail sellers go to get their goods. Clothing prices are dirt cheap, (perhaps not all of the beautiful designs you’ll see in the mega malls) but great value if you’re after the usual stuff. MBK is a shopping world of its own with everything on offer being subjective to how well you can haggle. Bag yourself a bargain here with everything you could ever dream of being readily available. Regular department store displays or events at the major shopping centers offer much to see and do; if that’s not enough, people-watching will entertain you for hours.
8. Spread your wings a bit
Watching beautiful butterflies do their thing is not just for kids! Get amongst the insect action in the grounds of Queen Sikit Botanical Gardens. In Rot Fai Park, the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is perfect for insect lovers and kids at heart. Not far away from the Chatuchak Markets you can combine the two activities. We’d recommend the relaxing gardens after you’ve braved the insane market! Parents will love this attraction for short attention-spanned children (money well spent). Take your camera for some selfies with these colourful and quick-moving little critters.
9. Chatachuck markets (JJ Markets)
Without making shopping too much of a common theme here, the Chatachuk weekend markets are well worth a look. Open on both Saturday and Sunday, the markets are one of the largest in the world. There is nothing you cannot buy at this market with the usual tourist grabs, boutique designers, electronics, animals, toys, food, flowers, the list really does go on. One area of mention is the amazing second hand vintage area where you can pick up original Levi jeans for 100 BHT, old used army boots, every basketball or baseball jersey known to mankind and some beautiful vintage imports from Hong Kong or Korea, all for a nice price. Set aside a few hours for this market and be prepared to dig through racks and racks of clothes before you find what you’re after. Get there early to avoid as much of the scorching heat as possible, especially because some areas are undercover and turn into a sauna by 12 pm.