How to survive Bangkok for under SGD$30 a day, all inclusive. You Read that right.
The one thing I love most about travelling is the opportunity to be fully immersed in a new culture without the typical Singaporean reservation and awkwardness. Therefore, when I travelled to Bangkok on my own a couple of months back, it felt like a whole new world to me.
Don’t get me wrong; if you’re Singaporean, you’re more than likely to have already visited Bangkok a couple of times just for the food and shopping, and I was no exception. Going to Bangkok seems to irrevocably be our thing – everyone has been to Bangkok a couple of times in our lives. Therefore, why is yet another post on Bangkok needed? Well, it was because I went there alone – and because of that, my cheapskate soul took over. It was undeniably liberating to experience the Thai culture on my own and going as cheap as possible – I’m not sure about you, but saving loads of money while having good fun is immensely fulfilling to me.
Flight + Accommodation
Because I’m a poor intern, budgeting was my principal priority. First things first, I had to settle my accommodation and flight for the trip – things that usually take up the greatest slice of the money pie. Thankfully, food and shopping at BKK are really affordable.
I decided to take a walk on the wild side (well, not really, but still) and stayed at a hostel instead. It was quite a novel experience for me because I’ve always stayed at the hotels (courtesy of my parents) on my previous trips! I was initially skeptical of hostel-livin’, but my Seoul experience changed it all. Indeed, staying at a hostel in Bangkok was similarly exhilarating – fun chats about everything under the sun, late night music and tense but oddly enjoyable card games. I got a package from Expedia for under SGD 200.00 for 4 nights at Thrive the Hostel – which also included a return ticket. You can check out the package deals here!
So here’s a couple of places that I visited during my solo trip to Bangkok. Just a quick disclaimer here – we all approach our holidays differently, so some of the places here may be so obvious a must-go that you’ll be rolling your eyes. But hey, there is probably someone out there that hasn’t tried it yet.
Oh yes. Please, for the love of all things good and true, try their street food. It is quite laughable to admit this… but I’ve been to Bangkok about three times prior to this trip and I’VE NEVER TRIED THEIR STREET FOOD. Why is that, I hear you bellow! It’s mostly because I have clean freaks for parents, who vehemently believe consuming street food will make you ill after. Well, on this solo trip… I more than made up for it. Here’s a couple of them I absolutely love: mango sticky rice (imagine the sweetest Thai mango served on top of sticky rice with salty, sweet coconut cream, and rice crisps), pad thai with prawns, and bowls of steaming hot tom yum soup. Take it on-the-go as you do your shopping; or just mooch about and chat with the owners.
It’s definitely a far cry from all the restaurants I was used to eating at, but needless to say, I felt the whole Thai experience was encapsulated neatly in my various eating sessions – wholesome, unpretentious food and the friendly chats with the nicest people in the world. Plus, it’s so cheap – I never spent more than SGD 10.00 a day on full, and I was madly stuffed to the point the food baby in my tummy became permanent.
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Rod Fai Market or Talad Rod Fai
Everyone’s been to Chatuchak, but exponentially fewer people have been to Rod Fai. First things first, what’s Rod Fai? I would say it’s an incredible treasure trove of all things timeless and transcendent – and I’m not even kidding. Featuring literally hundreds of vendors selling retro antiques, dusty vintage pieces (but as we all believe – the dustier it is, the more legit its authenticity… right?), and various archaic bric-a-brac. Think of it as a huge vintage store one would have wandered into in the recesses of a fantastical Enid Blyton story if you will.
Talad Rod Fai is divided into three main sections, each selling different items – Market Zone, Warehouse Zone and Rod’s Antiques. To cover the most territory you can – though personally I was in a happy daze because this place is quite a dream come true – do visit Rod Fai right when it opens.
One thing, though – this market is only open on the weekends from 5:00 pm to midnight. It’s located on the abandoned and rather rusty railroad tracks near the popular Chatuchak Weekend Market – so it’s definitely not a huge hassle to visit. To make things easier, just book a hotel near Talad Rod Fai so it’ll be practically right at your doorstep – price rates from Agoda in the vicinity start at around SGD 20.00.
Talad Rod Fai
Address: Sri Nagarindra Soi 51, Khwaeng Nong Bon, Khet Prawet, Krungthep Mahanakorn 10250 (behind Seacon Square)
Watch a Muay Thai fight at MBK
This may be on the brink of sounding slightly sadistic, but I assure you it’s really not. If you’ve been to Bangkok then it’s more or less assured that you’ve seen those trucks featuring the best Muay Thai fighters blasting loud music. Even though it may sound like a cacophony sometimes, I loved it nonetheless. Think of this spectacle as the gladiators of ancient Roman times… but less frightening because they’re not killed for the fun of the people in the audience.
I also do Muay Thai sometimes, and boy, these guys and girls know what they’re doing. Plus, the atmosphere was intense. The organisers usually put up a temporary fighting ring and the fights begin – with both Thai and international talents!
MBK Fight Night starts at 6pm on Wednesday nights.
Address: MBK Center, Rama 1 Rd., Pathumwan
Pak Khlong Talat – 24 Hour Flower Market
I’m not gonna lie, but I absolutely adore flowers. Just having them blooming away can liven up the dullest of rooms. One of my many nonsensical dreams is to prance around in a field of vibrant and soft-petaled flowers. Well, I managed to stop myself here. If you’ve heard of the amazing flower markets in Europe and always yearned to go there, you’ll be incredibly pleased to hear that this one doesn’t lose out in any way.
Thailand’s largest wholesale flower market, Pak Khlong Talat is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Pak Khlong Talat is known not only for its huge myriad of fresh roses, daisies, marigolds and other rarer flower varieties, but also for its flower arrangement and garland-making services! You’ll also find accessories for these arrangements like vases, pots, foams, and for more earthy vibes – twigs. It may seem silly, but I bought a huge bunch of daisies for myself for only SGD 4.00 and used it as my own personal prop for selfie-taking. Yup. It really comes in handy. Please go ahead and follow my example, it’s actually rather fun.
Because the market gets livelier after 12am, go then! Or if that’s not your cup of tea, go in the morning. Do what you want.
Opening Hours: 24 hours, more popular (and crowded!) during the night
Address: Chak Phet Road, the Memorial Bridge or Saphan Phut Chao Phraya pier
Head over to the Art Museum
To be more specific, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA, nice ring to it!). It features a massive curation of contemporary art by both international and local artists – you can easily spend several hours here. I figure this place would be an amazing one for all the art lovers out there. If you love the Singapore Art Museum and its exhibitions and can’t get enough (let’s face it, our museum is lovely but like our country, it isn’t exactly the biggest), you’ll love this place.
For me, I loved it. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about art history or art itself, but I do appreciate some artistic interpretation and the enjoyable haze of being around beautiful things. The guides do speak English, so you wouldn’t be totally lost there – I say that because it’s quite a wonderful thing to be lost in art.
Address: 499, Kamphaengpet 6th Road | Lad Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Now, it’s YOUR turn to go to Bangkok. If you want to plan your travels in the comfort of your own home, get your Bangkok fix for cheap with these great online deals ShopBack has to offer. Check out merchants like Agoda, Groupon, Expedia, and ZUJI (for the cheapest flights); you’ll be jet-setting and prancing with the flowers with a HUGE peace of mind.
Have fun, folks!
UPDATED: So after some deliberation, I’ve decided to return to this post to humbly share a destination in Thailand that my colleague had discovered. While she’s a wizard that’s incredibly well-travelled, having been as far as under the mystifying dance of the Aurora Borealis, I on the other hand, have only been as far as beyond the refuge of void decks without an umbrella.
In any case, we’ve heard of the sweet intoxication brought by the scenery in Khao Yai. Specifically, there’s actually a hotel called Thames Valley, an English-styled countryside hotel.
Nope, this isn’t anywhere in Europe. It’s still Thailand! Pretty amazing isn’t it? However, this isn’t the only unique sight available in Khao Yai. Some distances away, still in the land of smiles, lies a scenery that doesn’t appear to be Southeast Asian.
Palio Khao Yai is deemed ‘the Italy of Thailand’, due to its resemblance to a stereotypical scene from Italy. Its architecture, colours, as well as environment matches the likeness of Italy’s streets.
While I’ve spent Bangkok stripped of all the luxuries that one can afford, I believe a trip to Khao Yai can’t be embarked in a similar fashion. Time to save some money!
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