Tag Archives: travel thailand

Backpack Thailand: Travel Cheap

So you wanna backpack Thailand on a budget? Here are some tricks to keeping things wallet friendly and as cheap as possible giving you more money to spend on activities and adventures in Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand is incredibly cheap and you can make your money go far by following my budget Thailand tips below. As I live in Bangkok, I’m a frequent backpacker and like to keep things cheap so I can travel as much as possible and spend my money on scuba diving.

1. Eat local. Thai street food is delicious and cheap. Most dishes will cost between 30-60 baht. When on the islands, the most expensive restaurants are normally on the beach front, so I’d avoid these touristy restaurants if travelling Thailand on a budget. Western dishes such as pizzas and burgers etc are generally made using imported items which means they are much more expensive. Stick to noodles, rice and soup if you want to travel Thailand cheaply.

 2. 7-11 convenience store is your new best friend. Snacks, alcohol, toiletries…there’s nothing you can’t do here. (You can even pay in cash for flights here with Air Asia or Nok Air). Beer is obviously much cheaper here than at a bar and a large bottle of water costs around 13 baht.

3. Save the planet and save your money by refilling your water bottle at a water filling machines. You can fill up ONE large bottle for ONE baht. If you’re consuming around 5 bottles a day then that’s a serious saving and definite help for the environment. If you’re reluctant to refill plastic bottles then consider buying a refillable bottle instead. I bought my mum this one for Christmas as I think it is a great size, contains a filter and is available in various colours. 

4. Negotiate. Most prices in Thailand are up for negotiation and this includes accommodation. If you have unlimited time then you can haggle with hostels and hotels and if you stay longer then they might give you a discount. Always haggle with patience and a smile!

5. Having said that, you can find fantastic accommodation deals on both booking.com and Agoda. I usually compare the both to find the best deal. Agoda also do ‘insider deals’ once you have an account with them which I find to be very reasonable rates.

6. Drink local. Most travellers find that their biggest expense in Thailand is spending money on alcohol. While Thailand is generally cheap for alcohol, it can add up when drinking every night. Thai beers are great – Leo and Singha (I avoid cheap Chang at all costs…here we call it a Changover!). Thai rum Sangsom is also delicious with coke and costs next to nothing! Imported beers or wines is incredible expensive so avoid these if you want to keep it cheap. Tax is exceptionally high on most imported goods.

7. Shop around different tour operators when booking snorkelling/island hopping/day excursion trips. I often find your guesthouse charges you more than the street stalls tours.  Snorkelling tours in a long tail boat are often cheaper than in a speedboat. For the cheap tours, the agencies will fill up the boat as much as possible so be prepared for the boat to be busy and to make some new friends. Make sure to enquire if National Park fees are included as I have been caught out many times. For example booking a snorkelling trip for 400 baht which is a great price, only to find out the morning of the trip that National Park fees are an extra 400 baht, doubling the cost of my trip. These are fixed by the government and tour operators cannot reduce the cost of National Park fees. Read more about National Parks in Thailand here.

8. Shop in markets. I’m not sure how I can ever return to the world of H and M now that I have discovered 100 baht dresses and bikinis at Thai markets. As a general rule, I find that if the price is written on the items then haggling is not possible. My haggling tip for Thailand is to negotiate the price down for one, and then consider buying two or more to make it even cheaper again.

9. Use night buses. Not as comfortable as trains or planes but they are generally the cheapest way of travelling around Thailand. Package deals can often be booked which include ferries which I think is a good idea as they often take you all the way to the pier rather than dropping you in a town near the coast. From Bangkok you can leave from Mochit 2 Terminal (to go North), Ekkamai or Sai Tai Mai/Southern Bus Terminal (to go South). Some tourist companies leave from Khao San road and these tend to be the more comfortable buses in my experience. A friend has a travel company and you can get great discounts by booking multiple tickets and group tickets as well, as each time you add a trip it decreases in price, saving you money. 

10. For travelling to Thailand’s many islands there are often multiple options concerning boats. There are slower ferries, faster ferries, long tail boats and speed boats. The cheapest options are obviously the slower transport so if you aren’t in a hurry the always take the ferry or a long tail boat.

11. Take public transport. It’s an obvious one but taxis can be at least three times more expensive than local buses and songtaews (trucks) so stick to public transport to save a lot of money. If you’re in a group then a taxi might be worth sharing however as they still are very reasonably priced when on the meter.

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Visit Thailand: Explore beyond Bangkok

Most Thailand visitors find themselves in Bangkok at some point during their trip. I find many people have a love/hate relationship with Bangkok and it’s my mission to try to convert tourists to loving this crazy city that I call home! However, I understand Bangkok can be overwhelming and mental so here are some perfect day trips or weekend trips to escape the big bad city and explore more of Thailand.

Khao Yai National Park

Head into this jungle wilderness in one of Thailand’s oldest national parks. See wild elephants, monkeys, gibbons, snakes, porcupines, deer and many more while on a Greenleaf tour or rent motorbikes and head into the park yourself! 400 baht national park fee entrance. Camping overnight in the park is an option or stay in nearby Pak Chong. Minivans from Bangkok take about 2/3 hours.

Read here for more information about Thailand’s National Parks

Bangkok day trips
Get back to nature and spot wildlife in Khao Yai!
Koh Samet

Gorgeous white-sand beaches and lovely sunsets at Ao Prao beach. Go week days to avoid the crowds and be prepared to pay slightly more for accommodation than other islands. Take a minivan ride to Rayong and jump on a cheap ferry boat to Koh Samet. Spend the day lazing by the beach or swimming. I’ve stayed at some questionable accomadation on Koh Samet before but last time I stayed at the lovely Tubtim Resort, spacious wooden bungalows bang on the beach, with green lily pads growing everywhere.

Bangkok day trips
Koh Samet – Bangkok’s famous weekend trip island getaway
Lopburi

A few hours on the train from Bangkok (costing approximately 40 baht) you can find yourself in the ancient city of Lopburi, famous for its monkeys and temples. It’s all slightly off the tourist trail which might be a welcome sight for many. I recommend collecting a map of the different temples from the temple opposite the station and deciding on where to visit. All temples that I visited were walkable and there are certain ones that are home to huge families of macaques. Please be aware of not feeding the monkeys any food that is not natural for them. They also will grab your sunglasses or anything else in range so be careful. If you feel like renting a scooter then you can access the gorgeous sunflower fields (seasonal around November- January) and the Peacock temple is worth a visit as well. Along with the birds there is also a great viewpoint if you feel like some exercise up many stairs.

lopburi bangkok day trip

lopburi bangkok day trip
Monkeys in one of Lopburi’s temples
Whale Watching (seasonal Aug-Nov)

Only two hours from Bangkok, the enormous Bryde whales can be seen! Entering the Gulf of Thailand to feed on anchovies these gentle giants are incredible and one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in Thailand. Wildlife Encounters Thailand offer weekly trips for 2500 baht including transfer from Bangkok and lunch on the boat. An amazing day out!

For more about wildlife in Thailand, read this article

Bangkok day trips
A Bangkok day trip that was a whale of a time!

 

Koh Lan

One of my favourite weekend haunts, Koh Lan is an island just off of Pattaya. Cheap accommodation and a host of beautiful white sand beaches are there to welcome you. Jump in a songtaew (truck) or motorsi taxi for 20-30 baht and spend the day exploring lesser known beaches and taking in great views of the island! I really enjoyed my stay at this resort, it’s walkable to the pier.

Find out more about Thailand’s paradise islands and where to visit

Bangkok day trips
Monks on a beach in Koh Lan, Thailand. A lovely Bangkok weekend trip
Ayutthaya

A interesting and cultural Bangkok day trip. Head to this ancient temple town, one hour by train or minivan from Bangkok. Rent bicycles cheaply and enjoy cycling around and soaking in the culture of these ancient temples and a former capital of Siam. Don’t forget to try my favourite dessert roti sai mai – kinda like a rolled up candyfloss.

Bangkok day trips
The ideal cultural Bangkok day trip: explore the ruins of Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

Tourists come here to see the bridge over the River Kwai and understand more about the dark history of this area where prisoners of war were held by the Japanese during World War II. It is quite far for a Bangkok day trip but I have done it before in one day. I recommend staying one night though. Two hours by car/minivan or a little longer on the train.

Erawan Waterfall

You can combine this with a Bangkok day trip or overnight stay from Kanchanaburi. Visit these stunning, blue coloured waterfalls with 9 steps inside Erawan National Park. Around 45 minutes by car from Kanchanaburi, bring a picnic and spend the afternoon swimming in stunning pools, cliff jumping and getting back to nature.

Bangkok day trips
Bangkok Day trips: Swimming in blue waterfalls in Erawan National Park
Hua Hin

One of Bangkok’s nearest beaches and very big for kite surfing, this is definitely possible as a Bangok day trip or weekend stay. A large stretch of yellow sand beach for hanging out on and a wide range of accommodation is on offer here. Swimming is not always recommended as there are jellyfish lurking! Cha-am is another beach stop just before Hua Hin. You can take minivans or the train to either place from Bangkok.

Bangkok day trips
View of Hua Hin from Takiap Beach, a good Bangkok day trip or weekend visit.
Water Park

Water parks are a great Bangkok day trip and a fun day out. There are many both towards Pattaya or towards Hua Hin. I loved Splashdown, near Pattaya. It is more of an inflatable obstacle course, this brightly coloured water park will have you and your mates running around behaving like big kids, plus a few beers!

Bangkok day trips
Big Kids Day out in Splashdown – funnily enough no-one made it all the way across these giant floating obstacle courses!

Where are your favourite places for a Bangkok day trip? I’m always looking for more inspiration!

Top Activities to Do in Bangkok, Thailand by a local!

I am not quite a local but three years here isn’t nothing! I also love tourist time and have lots of visitors passing through (you suddenly become very popular when you live in Thailand!) So I am always looking for activities to do here that isn’t the Grand Palace yet again…

Bangkok…gateway to hell or Southeast Asia or whatever Dicaprio says in The Beach! Crazy, overwhelming, polluted, noisy, hot, sticky, smelly, crowded, this is the place that I have called home for the last 3 years.

If limited on time, visit:

  • Temple Time – Wat Pho with the reclining Buddha is my favourite and only 100 baht entry. Get the river boat to Tha Thien.

Bangkok Thailand

  • Party on Khao San road – you haven’t been to Khao san if you haven’t drunk a bucket. Check out Golf Bar and then Da Club for dancing. They do charge entry but are open late so you can keep boozing until 5am.
  • Massage – if you’re brave enough to get a Thai massage, do it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you… Soi Rambuttri has lots of shops near Khao San that offer relaxing oil massages instead 😉
  • Jim Thompson’s House Museum – Visit the house belonging to former CIA agent who revived the Thai silk industry, small but worth doing. Near MBK. 100 baht entry. BTS National Stadium or short walk from Siam BTS.Bangkok Thailand
  • Chatachak Weekend Market – Everything you could possible want to buy and more. You’ll need an extra suitcase (you can buy that here too!). BTS Mochit/MRT Chatachak
  • A bike tour – Get a guided tour around Chinatown on a bicycle, see the flower market and cycle along the Chao Praya river. CoVanKessel company are your guys. Depart: Chinatown

Bangkok Thailand

  • A skybar – my personal favs are Octave and Vertigo. Lebua from the Hangover 2 movie has a fantastic view too but prices to match. Above 11 on Soi 11 near Nana BTS is also a good shout.

Bangkok Thailand

  • Street food – Pad Thai, Noodles, Spring Rolls and fresh fruit or smoothies from the street and the ultimate dessert Mango Sticky Rice.
  • Rent bicycles and cycle around Bang Krachao/Prapadaeng. Take a small wooden boat across the river, rent your bikes and head into one of Bangkok’s last green areas, known as the Green Lung. Narrow elevated paths snake through the jungle and even on the main roads there are very few cars around. Avoid Mondays as most things are closed.

If here for longer and can explore more:

  • Wat Pra Kaew or the Grand Palace. 500 baht entry but it also includes the Ananta Throne Hall with a lot of gold and bling inside!
  • A manicure&pedicure for 300 baht on Soi Rambuttri
  • Vimanmek Mansion – museum, an interesting insight into how the Royals lived. Near Victory Monument
  • Lumpini Park – a green area of Bangkok and great place for spotting the impressive Monitor Lizards that roam around…don’t get too close!
  • Chinatown – large main street to stroll down, avoid the shark fin restaurants and go for some ‘sala pao’ buns by the side of the road!
  • Party like a local at RCA (Royal City Avenue) where a collection of bars and Thai clubs are. Route 66 is a popular one!
  • Explore Asiatique. Take the free boat from Saphan Taksin and eat at fancy restaurants, shop and go on Bangkok’s wheel!

bangkok thailand

  • Drink at a fancy interior designed bar such as Maggie Choos or Iron Fairies. Not backpacker prices but this is where you can find the hi-so’s of Bangkok.
  • Shop at MBK if you can’t make Chatachak’s weekend market. Similar idea with reasonable prices if you haggle! Great for technology but be warned of the fakes! BTS National Stadium or walk from Siam.
  • Try Muay Thai boxing. Take classes at RSM and be prepared to get sweaty! BTS Asok
  • Go wakeboarding at Thai Wake Park at Lake Taco. BTS Bang Na then a taxi

Any activities or places you think are missing from my list?

For exploring beyond Bangkok if you have longer and fancy a day trip or weekend getaway, check out beaches and national parks here

For the Ultimate List of 50 Things to Do in Bangkok, read more here