Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Low on budget? Don't fret, you can still enjoy Bangkok City

I used to be a backpacker a few years back living at different cheap and budget hostels and hotels in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong to name a few. I even slept several times in airports and train just to save money.

However, the place I have frequented most for the past years is Bangkok City mainly due to its similarity to Manila. In addition, we regularly sourced our merchandises for our online shop in the Philippines from here. Because of this, I believe I have gained enough experience to survive in Bangkok City in less than 100 Baht per day; of course accommodation is a separate thing.

Hence, if you are low on budget don't fret; just follow my tips below to enjoy Bangkok City.

1. Before travelling to Bangkok City choose your hotel/hostel wisely; if possible near to a train or LRT station. In doing so, you have saved a few hundred Bahts transportation money between the airport and your hotel. There is a train link (City Line) at the basement level of the Suvarnabhumi airport and it operates from 6 am to almost midnight. You may check its schedule on the net. More so, there are several stations along this City Line that connect to other train lines making your travel faster and cheaper.

tuk tuks at Khao san road

2. If you are alone and you want to socialize while visiting Bangkok City then book a hostel instead. You can have a bed as low as 200 THB per day. The main drawback is you have strangers as room mates while you must learn to be patient while waiting for your turn to use the toilet and bathroom, LOL.

3. Don't ride Tuk-Tuks as often as possible especially those lurking along the road waiting for passengers. Aside from being expensive chances are the driver will try to coerce you to visit gem shops, massage parlors, temples and other tourist traps. In addition, tuk-tuk drivers will sometimes drop their passengers where touts are waiting. It happened to us. Coming from MBK Mall, my wife and I were dropped by our tuk-tuk driver in one of the side entrances of Grand Palace. Two guys approached us immediately and told us that the place was closed for renovation and they could arrange a cheaper tuk-tuk to bring us to another temple or palace. I laughed at them and I told my wife that the main entrance was at the other corner. I just wanted my wife to experience a tuk-tuk ride in going to the Grand Palace.

4. Take "Taxi-Meter" instead. Make sure though that the driver will use the meter. I have encountered many taxi drivers trying to negotiate a contract instead of using the meter. I would simply leave them and look for another taxi knowing that there is no shortage of taxis within Bangkok City. Sometimes, when the wife or family was with me, to avoid delay, I usually negotiated with the taxi driver; I normally add 50 Baht to the meter and most of them would agree if they know that you are not first timers in Bangkok.

food cart
5. Avoid fast-food outlets. You didn't visit Bangkok to indulge on Big Macs or KFCs. Trust me; a filling meal at these fast-food outlets will cost you at least 140 Baht per head. Whereas if you are in Pratunam area, you can dine at Platinum Fashion Mall food court at less than half of that amount with plenty of menus to choose from. It is much cheaper at Khao San Road where a Pad Thai, cook in front of you, is just a measly 30 Baht; dining however is al-fresco style. In my case, aside from these Pad Thai vendors, I love to eat at push cart style food vendors where they have chairs and tables around their cart. I can have a cup of rice with two viands for 40 Baht. I can even lower it to 30 Baht by asking a single viand to go with my rice. Water? I always bring the complimentary water from my hotel whenever I go out.

6. Don't arrange your Bangkok tour through an agent or while you are still in your country of residence. Of all the hotels we stayed in Bangkok, regardless of star rating, their reception staff could arrange your tour with their accredited local tour agent. They can even haggle the price for you. We did this several times and all our tours went well and smoothly. In fact, our tours were even cheaper that the advertised price in Manila.

7. Walk, walk and walk. There are plenty of amusing spots you will see while strolling around Bangkok City. You can even watch people buying antiques and amulets along the road. Or try "dirty fried chicken" or if you are the more daring type have a taste of deep fried scorpion or caterpillar to name a few of their exotic street foods. Bangkok has plenty of magnificent Buddhist temples within the city while there are numerous places where you can shop at very low prices.

8. Buy clothes and souvenir items at Pratunam, Chatuchak, Bobae Market and Khao San road. Don't bother searching for these items at the malls.

9. Alcohol shots? Look for mobile bars during night time. They sprout like mushrooms in places where there are plenty of tourists such as Khao San, Sukhumvit and Pratunam areas at night time. If you find these places still costly for your shots then you can simply buy beers at any seven eleven outlets or better yet buy your beers at small local stores.

10. Lastly and most important, plan your trip to Bangkok as early as six months before your intended flight so you can avail of the promo fares of several budget airlines. Our recent trip to Bangkok have cost me almost thirty thousands pesos (670 $) for four of us, round-trip. We booked our October flight as early as June. Update: We booked last month (December 2014) four RT tickets for June 2015 travel for around 20k pesos only.

When leaving Bangkok City, you can still enjoy the locally produced sweets and knick-knacks for free. You can have a handful of these free taste sweets at Duty Free shops inside Suvarnabhumi airport. I love their coco roll in cocoa dip and rice cakes.

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