To Explore Bangkok you don’t need much money in your pocket, I managed to budget Php15,000 or US$300 for 4D3N that includes airfare and hotel stay, it’s the same budget I always had whenever I travel Boracay. I think the secret to an affordable travel is ‘planning ahead of time’. I was able to book a flight, hotel cheaper than their usual price and was able to travel some of Bangkok tourist spots.
Bangkok, Thailand – The Overall Experience
Bangkok is the most visited city in the world according to Forbes and it’s the first Asian country to make it on the top of the list, ousting London. The number of overnight visitors were about 21.47 million last year (2016) and still growing.
I had the best out-of-the-country travel exploring Bangkok, I have experienced authentic Thai cuisines, especially street foods. I get to see sky towering and complex structures of their temples and statues, experienced their means of transportation, blend with the locals and see some of the most visited tourist spots. This is just inside Bangkok, there are still parts of the Thailand be explored and 4 days isn’t enough to experience them, a series of travels might need to be arranged for tourists to experience everything Thailand has to offer.
What I didn’t like (rant here): The only thing that I think the country needs to regulate is their taxi system, it seemed that I didn’t leave the Philippines when it comes to riding a taxi. I rode different taxis for 4 days and they were all asking additional fees on top of how much the meter is showing. One incident was the driver asked for additional Thb40, I gave him Thb500 and he deducted Thb80 on top of the meter, I argued with him and he kept saying “taffic, taffic (traffic, traffic)”, I told him I paid for the toll fees, he didn’t reply, I let it go.
I don’t want to judge a country just because of a single dislike, I fell in love with Bangkok because of a lot of things. My advice is to take the long way commute if you’ve done your research on how to, or get a hotel near BTS Skytrain and prepare itinerary locating every BTS stations.
Bangkok Street Foods
Street foods in Bangkok are much similar to Manila, wherein food stalls are lined-up on the street sides, the prices are pretty much the same as well.
There are a lot of street food destinations in Bangkok and with my 4-day stay, I was able to visit Phetchaburi Soi 5 and Chinatown.
Phetchaburi Soi 5.
Phetchaburi is an alley in the streets of Bangkok, the street foods are in Soi 5, Soi 7 and Soi 10. According to my research, you’ll be able to find the best Tom Yum in Soi 5 so I went there to find it.
How to get there: BTS or Skytrain is the main train system in Bangkok, ticket dispensers are placed and labelled with destinations and prices but you have to have an exact amount because it does not return change, if you don’t have an exact amount, you have to buy your ticket from the ticketing window. Soi 5 is about 5-min walk from Ratchathewi station, take exit #3 and head to the north side of the road. You have to cross the street going to Pechaburi Road, and from there you’ll be able to see alleyways with labels ‘Phetchaburi’, look for Soi 5 then turn right.
I went to try a specific food house, Pee Aor Tom Yum Goong (PeAor), known to have the best Tom Yum in Bangkok. Tom Yum is a soup-based Thai food with noodles and a choice of seafood or meats.
It’s delicious, the distinct taste is probably from spices that you can only get in Thailand. Nothing beats authentic dish. I also ordered cheese sticks and coke, all for the price of Thb152 or Php234.
The oldest district in Bangkok and the structures remain unchanged since the time it was developed. You’ll enjoy walking through the alleyways while shopping. You can also visit some Chinese temples near the market. And most of all, street foods!
How to get there: From BTS Saphan Taksin station you need to ride the Chao Phraya Express Boat up to Ratchawong pier station, then from there it’s an easy walk going to the market. Most people getting off BTS are also heading for the boat and to Chinatown.
What to see: There are Chinese temples right outside the market, wide variety of dry goods to choose from, authentic Chinese and Thai restaurants, Thai street foods, tons of jewelry shops, textile shops, toys and action figures, fruit stands that serve local and unfamiliar fruits (some are weird looking) and some other wholesaler shops.
I have walked around for more than 2 hours, trying everything from caps to shirts to shoes and going through food stalls after food stalls, eating as much street foods as I can, and from every stall, I make sure I have take-away. Most of their street foods have either fresh coriander or fresh parsley and of course, red chilies. Two things I recommend for first timers, Thai BBQ and Thai sausage.
To cap the day, I bought three bottles of 500ml Thai beers. For first-timers, note that they have regulations when it comes to selling beers, some convenient stores do not sell alcohol in between the time of 11AM-2PM then 4PM-5PM, it has something to do with moms and pops fetching out kids from school, but of course, you can buy alcohol from small store owners anytime of the day, like what I did.
My plan is to visit at least three temples, but I had to cut it down to two because the traffic was so bad. I was able to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha). There are plenty of activities you can do when visiting the temples, you can just take pictures, there are wishing wells, observe the monks while they pray and just enjoy the scenery.
Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew)
At the center of Bangkok, you’ll find the complex structures of temples and once has been the official residence of the King of Thailand and the royal family.
How to get there: Take BTS and get off at Saphan Taksin station or S6, take exit #2 and board Chao Phraya Express Boat up to Ta Chang Pier, from there you a 5-min walk will lead you to the entrance of the Grand Palace.
What to see: Sky towering temples, it’s like a whole city of temples and some of it are still being developed. There are also some commodity shops and restaurants right outside the Palace.
Make sure you have sunglasses and have applied sunblock lotion because you’ll be exposed to the sun during the long walk towards the palace, visiting time is only until 3:30PM, an entrance free of Thb500, and most importantly, DO NOT wear shorts, otherwise they will not let you in, you can buy pants outside the palace for Thb100.
Wat Pho (The Temple of Reclining Buddha)
Within 10-min walk from the Grand Palace to the south, you’ll reach Wat Pho, it’s a 46-m long reclining Buddha and the biggest Buddha in Thailand, the temple was the center of education in Thailand during early years, it was the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage, which is still being practiced and taught today. Visiting time is until 5PM, entrance fee of Thb100 will be collected before entering the temple.
The Best Pad Thai
*Images were taken from AMA’s facebook page ‘coz I was too busy eating. Lol!*
There are shops and restaurants right outside Wat Pho, this particular restaurant has TripAdvisor logo so I went inside. For only Thb80, AMA Arts & Eatery has the best Pad Thai that I have tasted so far, or maybe that’s how authentic Pad Thai should taste like.
Siam Square and Siam Paragon
Siam Square is an open-air shopping center where you could find mixtures of fashion and foods, most of the stalls are already western inspired but still keeping a little bit of Asian fusion. The things you can buy here are more expensive compared to Chinatown and Phetchaburi.
At the opposite side of the street, you’ll find Siam Paragon, it’s a luxury mall where you can find branded bags, branded clothing, some western restaurants, etc.
How to get there: Take BTS Skytrain to Siam Station. There’s a bridge connecting the mall and BTS and if you go down the stairs of BTS you’ll set foot on Siam Square.
There’s nothing much to do in Siam Square and Siam Paragon, I just ate street foods located in between Siam Center and Siam Discovery then entered the mall and didn’t buy anything because if I do my budget for a day will run-out, lol!
Leaving Siam Square I went to a shop that sells Thai snacks, I spent all my Thb100 buying snacks that I will be bringing back home. These are must-try snacks:
- Initial Budget: Php15,000
- Cebupac seat sale: Php5,100 back and forth + Travel tax 1,600 = Php6,700
- Hotel Accomodation: Thb2,100 or Php3,234 for 4D3N
- Daily allowance: Thb500 or Php770 x 4 days = Php3,080
- Grand Total: Php13,023
- Saved: Php1,977