Another long weekend is coming up on the first week of April, and what better way to take advantage of this brief respite from daily routine than to go on an adventure. However, long weekends are in my opinion, is too short (oh the oxymoron) for a good, long vacation, but it’s the perfect length of time for me to venture to familiar destinations that aren’t too far away. My go-to location: Bangkok. Before you groan and shout, “not another article about Bangkok!” let me explain to you why we’re bringing up this humble city yet again.

For one, the proximity of Bangkok makes it a great place to visit when you don’t have as long a break. I mean, who wants to deal with incessant travelling times when you could have been using those 16 hours being sat on a plane, exploring some unknown terrain instead? Also, Bangkok is so culturally rich – packed to the brim with history and filled with modern festivity – that it is impossible not to want to come back for more. Like every lively city, there is always something new to be discovered with each trip and so for this article, lets switch things up a bit and take the unconventional route. When I mean unconventional, read it as: Stuff is gonna get real weird around here. Lastly, why would you want to spend a ton of money travelling when you can make this Bangkok trip for 3 days under SGD 500?* Here’s how to do it.

Getting there and staying there

It’s not hard to get to Bangkok but it certainly is easy to fall into overly-priced tourist trap travel packages offering extravagant fees for a short flight and a crappy hostel dorm thrown in the mix. No! You, my friend, will not fall for this again; nor will you be tempted to spending your hard-earned pay on an overly lavish room you barely spend time in. Instead, think about your itinerary; will you be spending a lot of time outdoors exploring or in your room relaxing? Regardless, you can easily get an affordable package that has a happy medium in amenities and comfort to cater to both the avid wanderer, and the lazy homebody.

We are doing it the Singaporean way: as cheap as we can find it, and for free if we can get it. I suggest browsing through Fave because there is always a cheap package that offers great accommodation inclusive of decent return flights. Currently on the site (and will probably not be there for long judging by what a steal it is!) is this one:

A 3 day 2 night stay for 2 at the Premier Room in the Anantara Bangkok Sathorn costs only SGD 190 inclusive of return flight tickets! This hotel is perfect for those that want to hit up Bangkok for a bit of R&R and self-discovery, but it’s also great as a comfortable retreat for adventurous souls at the end of a long day. You’ll get a great view of the bustling city either from your room with the ceiling-to-floor windows; or head to the ZOOM Sky Bar and Restaurant for a 360-degree panoramic view of Bangkok. This will totally call for selfie sticks to catch a shot of yourself against that spectacular backdrop!

anantara-2 anathara-1

Look for this package from Fave and claim 4% cashback!

So, we’ve got your flight and your hotel sorted. That wasn’t that hard now was it? You can always check out Fave for more options because these suggestions were only two out of the many packages the site offers; if these don’t fit your fancy, there are plenty more that should.

Budget check: SGD 190 down, SGD 310 to go…

Got the hotel, now you’ll need to get around. Of course, if this is your first time to Bangkok, you really need to try a tuk tuk. Trust me, your life will be changed. I can tell you that it isn’t the most practical way of getting around, but it sure is interesting. A normal tuk tuk ride should cost your around 30 baht (SGD 1.30), but it depends on where you are going and when, since you’ll be better off walking than being stuck in rush hour on a tuk tuk.

tuk-tukThey see me rollin’, they hatin’. Source

Alternatively, you could use other safer forms of public transportation like the Bangkok Skytrain or the Bangkok MRT. Purchase a one-day pass for 120 baht ( SGD 5) and have unlimited travel in that one day.

But if you want to go somewhere on your own time, or if you have plans to head off the beaten track, I suggest renting a car. This will save you the grief on having to bargain down tuk tuk drivers (and glancing death right in the face each time he takes off). Car rentals are relatively cheap- just beware of airport rentals which usually inflate the prices, or shady private rental services with cars so old, I am sure that they are run on mainly prayers and wind drafts. For a total of SGD 101.51 for all three days, you can book a rental car from Expedia (up to 8% cashback) or ZUJI (up to 6% cashback). Add-on special equipment based on your travelling needs such as GPS and insurance. For more options on rental rides, check out our car rental merchants on ShopBack.

road-tripThis deal will give full control over your travelling times which will be especially great for those who are particular about punctuality and convenience. It’s also perfect if you are a family on vacation with younger kiddos as you can explore within the air-conditioned recesses of the car. No more sweaty tantrums.

Budget check: With the rental car, SGD 208.49

So I’m here. What do I do now?

To those who have been to Bangkok, you probably think that you’ve seen it all. I’ll have you know that Bangkok – like most diverse cities – is not as simple as it seems. Yes you may have seen all the main sites like the Grand Palace or the Reclining Buddha, but trust me when I say that there is more to Bangkok than meets the eye.

This time around, take the road less-taken by not taking any road at all! Bangkok is famous for it’s waterways and it’s amazing how so many people miss out on a chance to explore them. Don’t be one of those tourists and take a rather unconventional approach to sailing. How does an amazing dinner cruise down Chao Phraya river sound? You can enjoy the twinkling skyline of the city while you stuff your face with a delicious buffet spread, all while sailing across the famed Chao Phraya river. You can go to Fave and enjoy cut price for this amazing activity! Now that’s something you probably don’t do very often.

chao-phraya-cruise

If cruising along on a boat isn’t your thing, then how about cruising along in a jungle on an elephant (no buffet meal included during the ride though)! Bangkok is a tropical paradise filled with wildlife reserves in an effort to preserve the nation’s natural treasures. I have paid a visit to some of these reserves and boy do they cost a ton per entry. Luckily, you can get cheaper tour packages like this River Kwai, Tiger Temple, Elephant Ride & Rafting Tour for only SGD 181.90  from Expedia, to have a once in a lifetime up-close and personal experience with wildlife. Sit atop an elephant as it ambles through the Kanchanaburi jungle, sail along the Khwae Yai river on a bamboo raft, and visit tigers at a monastery. This deal is available on Expedia under it’s Things to Do category, which I recommend you check out as it’ll give you discounts to exciting tours and destinations.

on-top-of-elephant

Also a sight not to be missed is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. If you are up for some shopping and some feasting, this is definitely the place for you, once again, in an unconventional setting above ground. Because these markets are always really busy and haphazard, the environment can get a bit overwhelming and a guided tour is recommended to avoid confusion. Groupon is offering a tour of the floating market for only SGD 55, which is a good deal since you will have a guide with you, plus you are paying a standard fare. Most rental boats will try to overcharge you if you aren’t adept at bargaining. Plus, you get a complimentary paddle boat ride so you can get right into the middle of the action without getting stuck in a floating traffic jam on your own. Check out Groupon for more tour deals like this and receive 4% cashback with each reservation you make with us.

Damnoen-Saduak-Floating-Market-Ratchaburi-bangkokSource

Budget check: SGD 26.59 (based on highest package)

Other unique sites you’ve probably missed

Wat Pariwat, AKA the David Beckham Temple

Oh yeah, Bangkok has a David Beckham temple. No, this is not some bizarre sacrilegious worship of football idols; Becks just makes an appearance in one of the murals on an altar at an actual temple called Wat Pariwat.

david-beckham-templeUncanny

Apparently, Beckham was carved into the altar by one of the temple designers who clearly was massive fan. I guess he felt that the football star’s likeness needed to be included on holy ground.

Location: 762 Rama 3 Rd, Bang Phong Pang, Yan Nawa, Bangkok, 10120 Thailand
Entrance Fee: Free

The Shrine of Chao Mae Tubtim, AKA The Phallic Shrine

penis-shrineFor a moment, I thought they were carvings of mushrooms… I was wrong. Source

Um, yup. This is a shrine erected (pun totally intended) for spirit Chao Mae Tubtim and is filled with colourful wooden phalluses. Legend has it that this shrine will bless fertility to women who patronize it. Located on the grounds of the Swissotel Nar Lert Hotel, you can witness this oddity first hand for free. If you want, you could even book a stay at the Swissotel Nar Lert Hotel with Hotels.com. With rates that start at SGD 381, you can reside in close proximity to this quirky relic.

Location: 2 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Entrance Fee: Free (ask hotel staff to direct you to the shrine)

Papaya Vintage Shop, AKA The Little Shop of Wonders

papaya-vintageSource

Also not to be missed is the Papaya Vintage Shop where odds and ends from all ages are stacked from end to end in a delightfully haphazard way. It is exactly how you’d imagine a vintage shop to look like and you are bound to find things you never knew existed and never knew you needed. They don’t just have the bog-standard dusty relics of old irons and ancient locks, but also a labyrinth of colourful memorabilia redolent of your childhood, along with skeletons of vespas, and gramophones crusted in dust and rust. From old collectible action figures, to arcade game machines, you will lose yourself (perhaps even literally)  on your visit to the Papaya Vintage House.

Location: Soi Lat Pharo 55/2, Lat Pharo Road Wang Thong Lamg, Bangkok 10310
Entrance Fee: Free, unless you buy something

Forensic Medicine Museum, AKA An Exhibition 0f the Macabre

Up for something really off the beaten track? Take a visit to the Forensic Medicine Museum. WARNING: this place is brutal. It’s the stuff a medical student’s dreams and an average person’s nightmares are made out of. This is destination won’t be on many tourist guidebooks because it isn’t for the faint of heart. It showcases various displays of real human specimens, some a bit too gruesome for comfort. Displays include real life mummified specimens of humans, preserved human mutations, mutilated and injured body parts (in real, graphic detail), and skeletons.

siriraj-medical-museumSource

It certainly is an experience walking around with the lifeless eyes of conjoined foetuses floating serenely in their preservation fluid, staring at you as you stare at them. While rather gruesome, it is also a really educational, with its shock factor making the learning experience a whole lot more exciting.

Location: Siriraj Hospital, 2 Prannok Road, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok, Thailand
Entrance fee: 200 baht (9 SGD) per person for non-Thai nationals

Now lets review our budget

Budget check: SGD 44.18

With the amount left, you’ll have over 1047 baht in your pocket to spend on street eats and souvenirs!

No matter how many times you have been to Bangkok, this city will continue to surprise you. So give it another chance and forgo the conventional activities like shopping and beach-bumming to hunt for some unique haunts. Let ShopBack enhance your trip to Bangkok by offering you amazing travel deals, so whether it’s your first or fifth visit to the great Thai city, you’ll still have the time of your life. Click here to visit our travel merchants for deals and cashback for your next holiday.

*All prices will be based on dates for the long weekend on April 3-5, 2015


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