Howdy folks. The challenge is back and this time we are spending one night…. In Bangkok! (well, I had to, didn’t I?) Folks, once a month I choose a destination and I imagine what it would be like to spend a weekend there, with only $100 USD to my name and see just how far I can make that money stretch. It’s a challenge I dreamt up a year or probably 2 ago now, with $200 but this year I am exploring cities that don’t cost quite as much, so I’ve halved the money.
Basically, we arrive in Bangkok early on a Saturday morning (flights not included in our meagre budget) and will fly out of Bangkok on Sunday evening. We need accommodation for a single night, but first off we need to get into the city!
Now, the good news on that front is that there is an airport rail link. The first time I went to Bangkok there was nothing of the kind and you had to barter with a taxi driver. Doing some internet research the fare is unclear, but the highest fare is 45 Baht to the city. That’s around $1.40USD so return we are talking $2.80. However, that won’t necessarily get you to exactly where you want to go. I intend to plonk us in the famous and infamous Khao San Road district, 5km according to the interweb, from the nearest metro station. We are going to end up in a few Tuk-Tuks. I can only estimate the fare but I would guess from experience in 2015 and what the internet says that you’d need at least 200 baht with some good bartering or getting them to use the rarely used meter. That’s a fraction over $6. Double that because we need it return, with the train, let’s call from and back to the airport $15. And let’s keep $15USD aside for any trips around Bangkok we might need to take in the infamous tuk-tuk. I’ve used ‘infamous’ twice already! 😊
Next it is time to find us a place to doss, and for sure there are plenty of options around Khao San Road. Khao San Road is THE backpacker haven, if you went back 25 years it was probably the main one worldwide. The road is full of bars, restaurants, tour operators and jewellery/souvenir shops, and in its pre-pandemic heyday, it would be packed at night with backpackers.
You can get all manner of cheap accommodations there, if you are severely frugal you might even get something for $10-$15, however these days I prefer a basic level of comfort. In 1999 I paid LESS than $10 AUSTRALIAN dollars (200 baht at the time) for a single room with a fan and shared facilities. The room was basically a bed and a fan, that’s it, and boy it was HOT. I don’t think I could stay in Bangkok without air conditioning today. But what I have found, and these prices maybe pandemic affected, was a number of pretty nice looking places for around $30USD. At the moment you need to stay your first night in Thailand in an SHA approved hotel. The Jam Hostel is offering what looks like a very clean single room (albeit small) with air conditioning at $30 on Booking dot com – slight discount of a few bucks. But there are plenty of other options in the price range and you could save a few bucks going to another place.
So we have already spent $65USD! Just like that! The good news with Bangkok is that there are a lot of temples to see – and they are generally free. Food needn’t set you back more than $5 a meal on average. Let’s say $20 for food whilst you are there. If you eat street food, well then you can actually eat for a buck or two, which leaves room from water and drinks. My goodness, we are at $80 already with ONLY $20 to go.
The one paying sight I suggest you see is the Golden Palace. It’s honestly brilliant, makes for wonderful photos and is only around a 20-minute walk from Khao San Road depending on how fast you walk. Obviously. That is around $15USD which leaves you with only 5 buckeroos.
We are going to check out a few temples, as long as they are free, and wander the Chatuchak Market, the biggest market in Bangkok, where you can pick up a cheap-as lunch on either Saturday or Sunday. Bangkok is also famous for floating markets, and you can take a regular river boat (rather than a more expensive tour) on the Chao Praya to get a sense of the city for only a few baht.
At the right time of day you may find Thai dancing at the Erawan Shrine, Wat Mahathat is one of the more well known Bangkok temples and that has free meditation sessions from time to time. An Art gallery (Called the Artist House) in Thonburi has free puppet shows at 2pm every day. Lumpini Park is a large, beautiful park to wile away a bit of time, and at the right time of year you might even catch a concert.
At the Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan in China Town, well there are crocodiles in this temple. That sounds worthwhile checking out. Count your fingers afterwards! Not a bad part of town to have a meal! So there is PLENTY in Bangkok to do for free! And in fact you could find a place for $20 and have a bit more money for a beer or two, which is always needed if you’re hovering around Khao San Road.
Much of these things I didn’t even know about despite visiting Bangkok four times. So I know what to check out the next time I’m there! Thanks for reading everyone, hope you are well in your corner of the world, and May the Journey Never End!