You might have heard this before, but in case you haven’t, let me tell you that Thailand is a cheap country to visit. If you exclude the price of the flights (which could be more or less depending on where you are flying from), it is relatively cheap to find accommodation and to survive there.
However, if for some reason you haven’t got much money left at the end of your travels or if you simply want to make the best out of your money, here’s a list of amazing things that you could do in Bangkok for under 150 THB (£3.50 / $4.30 / €4.00).
Experience Bangkok for Under $4
Wander the Khao San Road
This is for many the heart and soul of Bangkok. Khao San Road is where everyone comes together to dance in the street, drink cheap alcohol and buy friendship bracelets with people they barely know. The music is incredible and extremely varied, which means even the fanciest music consumers will have a great time. Also, quite a few bars offer live music, which makes the whole experience so much better.
Alcohol wise, quite a few people will try to sell you some type of beverage before you even know it. However, before you agree on anything, make sure that the bar is decent and that you’re not being scammed or dragged in some shady alley.
I and my friend paid 200 THB altogether (so 100 THB each) for a bucket of alcohol and the entrance in a bar. If you do get a bucket to make sure you keep an eye on it at all times, as often crowds might hide people with negative intentions. However, if you decide not to buy any alcohol, enjoy Khao San Road, all for free!
How to get there: Khao San Road is pretty much in the Centre of Bangkok. However, public transport doesn’t get anywhere close to Khao San Road so if you live further away from the centre the best way to get there would be to share a taxi with someone.
Check out these recommendations if you are after eat-love-pray experiences in Bangkok.
Relax in Lumpini Park
If you want to spend a few hours in a relaxed and open space, try Lumpini Park close to. It’s right in the middle of Bangkok, it is easily accessible and the best of all, it’s free. Many Thai people and tourists alike visit Lumpini Park, some to practice sports, or to rent a boat on the lake, or simply to sit in the grass and enjoy the lovely weather. Also, quite a few festivals and shows occur in Lumpini Park every week, so it might be worth checking if there is anything going on during your stay in Bangkok.
How to get there: You can take the metro (MRT) and stop either at Silom or Lumphini. (I recommend Silom though, as it is closer to the main gate). You can also take the sky train (BTS) and stop at Sala Daeng.
Sniff Out Ratchada Train Market
This amazing market is only available from Thursday to Sunday between 5pm and 1am, but you must give it a go. It has everything that one might wish to find in a market: great food, shopping stalls, live music, cool bars, and fancy beverages.
Needless to say, you don’t have to spend a penny to be there, unless you want to buy stuff. However, you can just sit on a bench and enjoy the music and do some people watching. The food there is as cheap as it gets, around 40-50 THB for a meal, so even if you do decide to spend some money in there, you won’t spend a fortune.
How to get there: You can get the MRT and stop at Rama IX station, which is next to the Central Plaza Shopping Mall. From there you should walk about 15 minutes in order to get to Ratchada. Also, the Market itself is situated in the proximity of another big shopping mall called Esplanade, so if you need to get there by taxi but the driver doesn’t know where Ratchada is (not very likely to happen), try to take Esplanade as an orientation point.
Find Amazing Street Food in Bangkok
Bustling Chinatown (or as the locals call it Yaowarat)
This is an incredibly busy area in central Bangkok, bustling with merchants, food stalls, cars, tuk-tuks and probably about everything that you could possibly imagine. In terms of food, this place is pure heaven. This is the place where you could find almost any type of Asian food that you might fancy. I have had a huge portion of duck ramen for about 50 THB and a whole pineapple for 20 THB. You can also find all kinds of fruits, such as grapes and cherries for a lot less than in a supermarket.
As most of the food in this area comes from street vendors, I would suggest taking some precautions to make sure that your trip to Chinatown won’t end at the hospital. As a rule, EAT street food, but make sure you ONLY eat where the locals eat. Also, you want your food to be fresh, so make sure that you eat where you can clearly see some sort of stock rotation going on. Therefore, the busier the seller, the fresher your food will be.
How to get there: As I had purchased an MRT (Metro) card during my stay in Bangkok, I was happy to realize that you can get to China Town by MRT. The last stop, Hua Lamphong is also the closest you can get to Chinatown. After that, a 15-minute walk is necessary to get to your destination.
Pier 21 Canteen Restaurant
I can’t possibly stress enough how amazing this place is. Situated at the 5th floor of the Terminal 21 shopping mall, this canteen-like restaurant has incredibly cheap prices, even though it’s theoretically in a shopping mall.
The way it works – you buy a special card which you load with money and then you just go and buy the food that you want, using your card. Most food is Asian/Thai food, yet I was able to find some spaghetti bolognese at some point.
However, most meals cost between 30 THB and 60 THB, and what you get is definitely worth it, especially for the price paid. Drinks are between 10 THB – 30 THB and are purchased the same as the food.
How to get there: You can get to Terminal 21 both by MRT and by BTS. If you choose the MRT, you need to stop at the Sukhumvit, and if you choose to get there by BTS, your stop is at Asok. Either way, Terminal 21 is a pretty big building. You won’t miss it.
Siam House Café Restaurant
There isn’t too much to say about this place, except that you need to try it. It’s a really small and clean restaurant just off of the very busy area Silom Road and close to the excellent COOPER Bangkok Hostel.
The restaurant is a family run business and they sell amazing Thai food for very little money. You can get a proper meal and a drink for under 100 THB and great customer service alongside. Still not sure of the quality of this place? Check Trip Advisor here.
How to get there: Silom Road and Siam House Café are really close to the BTS line. So, if you take the BTS towards Saphan Taksin and you stop at Chong Nonsi you should be about 10 minutes away(walking) from Siam House.
Bonus Tip: If you do have a bit more money to spend on food, check Cabbages & Condoms. This is a restaurant in the Sukhumvit area, which became famous for its cheeky name and for the mind-blowingly delicious Thai food that they serve.
Explore the Culture and History of Bangkok
Luckily for us, the budget travellers, Thailand has plenty of amazing temples which charge very little for the entrance. Central Bangkok, for example, has a multitude of temples. Most places will charge something between 50 THB – 150 THB for entrance, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to enter in all the temples that you come across. You could take some great pictures from the outside as well.
How to get there: There isn’t necessarily an answer to this, as Bangkok has many temples and you might have some temples really close to your accommodation. However, if you want to get to the famous temples of Bangkok, such as Wat Arun or Wat Pho, I would suggest getting there by boat.
Personally, I got the BTS to Saphan Taksin, and from there a boat to all the temples in Central Bangkok. The one-way journey from Saphan Taksin to Wat Arun pier cost me 40 THB, and from there I just decided to go wandering on my own. However, you can take guided tours around the temples, which would include the boat trip as well, and would last around 2 hours.
Jim Thompson House
This is a lovely little place close to the MBK shopping centre. Jim Thompson was an American soldier who fell in love with Thailand and moved there and decided to start trading Thai silk around the world, which later became extremely famous. He had a little house which is now the Jim Thompson House museum, and you can visit it for 150 THB (or 100 THB if you are under 22). The price includes a guided tour, which is offered in English, French, Mandarin or Thai. There’s not so much to see, but it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours.
How to get there: Jim Thompson House is a 10-minute walk from the National Stadium stop if you choose to take the BTS.
Bangkok Cultural Centre
Situated in the proximity of the same MBK shopping centre, Bangkok Cultural Centre is a free art museum, where you can see a different major exhibition every month or so. The building in itself is massive (9 floors) and it has enough cafes, restaurants, gift shops and exhibitions to keep you busy for a few hours. Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the amazing Gallery Drip Coffee on the ground floor. Best things about it? It’s all free.
How to get there: See the previous point. Both Jim Thompson house and the Bangkok cultural centre are situated really close to the MBK and the National Stadium BTS stop.
What are your top tips for a budget trip to Bangkok? Share them in the comments below…
Fantastic to see someone else loving Bangkok, my home for the last three years!
Thanks Steffi! Wow, 3 years in Bangkok, so do you speak any Thai yet! 😀 We lived here for 2 months and really loved it, I think it’s one of my favourite places and I would definiteley go back again. We loved the vibe, the food, the people and the flowers everywhere 🙂
Great guide by the way! 🙂
yeah I’ve got some Thai but nowhere near as good as I’d like….ALSO I would NOT say that khao san is the centre of Bangkok?? Only if you are a backpacker who never leaves. Siam is generally thought of as the centre
That’s great, must be amazing to be able to understand at least a little bit of Thai 🙂
This is fantastic. Bangkok will more than likely be our very first stop, so I’m always searching for what other people liked (or didn’t about) about there time there. Obviously there is so much to see and do (and eat!) we will probably need more than one trip to take it all in.
Hey Tina, glad you liked the guest post, so many great tips here from Claudia! Bangkok is a great city to explore! We lived here for 2 months and loved it, such a friendly place and the street food is great. Enjoy! 😀
Great post! The first time I went to Thailand was two years ago and I loved it so much that I spent my last summer there as well. Especially in Bangkok there is so much to see and do for little money 🙂
Hey Becky, yeah we love it too, it’s one of our top cities and we spent a great 2 months living there. Superb value and loads to do! C&K