Some major cities are nearly impossible to tackle on a tight budget. Between the cost of transportation, accommodation and, most importantly, food, you might find yourself having to cut corners due to a lack of funding. Thankfully, Bangkok, Thailand is not like most major cities. You can experience Bangkok on a budget—and this is how to do it.
Bangkok is definitely a unique city! If it’s your first stop in Southeast Asia, it’ll be different from anything you’ve ever experienced. One awesome thing about living in the City of Angels is the cost of living. Wondering how to explore this amazing city without breaking the bank? Keep scrolling for our guide to a weekend in Bangkok.
Day 1: Eat ungodly amounts of food in Chinatown
Anyone visiting Bangkok needs to devote at least one day just to the amazing food here. If you think you’ve experienced Chinatown in places like San Francisco or New York City, Bangkok is going to blow your mind.
During the day, spend some time exploring some of Bangkok’s temples. The Wat Traimit or the Temple of the Golden Buddha are two great ones to kick off the day with—and they’re free!
After dark, anyone with taste buds should make their way to Thanon Yaowarat, or Yaowarat Road, the main road that runs through Chinatown. While Thai food has yet to leave me disappointed, Chinatown has been my favorite hub to visit when I’m feeling extra ravenous. Grilled bread rolls with filling of your choosing, from chocolate to tea butter, black sesame dumplings in a ginger soup, fried noodles—the options are endless and awesome. Be sure to go to Chinatown on an empty stomach, because you will be disappointed when you find yourself loosening your elephant pants and realizing you can not eat a single bite more.
For more authentic food experiences throughout your visit, venture into one of the many side streets to find even more amazing street food. I would suggest getting one plate everywhere you go and splitting it with friends so you have room to try as many things as possible. This is also a good way to keep your foodie experience on the less expensive side. Although, you can easily fill up on your own for under $5.
Day 2: Lumpini Park, Chatuchak Weekend Market and a night out on the town
Start your day off at the BTS stop Saladaeng, just walking distance from Lumpini Park. Lumpini Park is a treasure amid the busy city. It’s not everywhere you can find a relaxing escape from the busyness that is Bangkok, but Lumpini Park is filled with monitor lizards and very few tourists. And, of course, it’s free.
After spending the morning at the relaxing Lumpini Park, take the BTS or MRT to the stop Mochit, where you will find the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The market might be crowded and overwhelming in stark contrast to Lumpini park, but you will find everything from unique clothing to secondhand shoes for overwhelmingly cheap prices. All of the vendors are willing to bargain as well, so it’s easy to strike a deal! You could spend anywhere from an hour to an entire day exploring the stalls of this market.
JJ Green Market is a smaller, cleaner version of Chatuchak, but a little less well-known. I would highly suggest making the short walk to JJ Green before heading downtown for the evening, since it’s only a five minute walk from the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Don’t forget to grab food at one of these markets before heading downtown, as it will be loads cheaper here! This brings us to the most fun part of our day 2 itinerary: Bangkok’s nightlife.
The nightlife in Bangkok can really suck you dry; it’s not unheard of to hear people spending upwards of thousands of baht at a single club. While the high-energy lights and music downtown might sound like a good idea at the time, you’ll definitely need to watch your budget! If you need a cheap place to get drinks, Cheap Charlie’s is a good option. It’s not as high-end as some other places, but you can get pretty much anything, from Red Bull Vodkas to beer, for only 80 baht (about $2).
There are plenty of bars and clubs to hang out in after having your fair share of cheap drinks. Levels Club & Lounge is a good spot with no cover fee. You can also try Wanderlust Roof Top and Phra Nakorn Bar for good (and cheap!) drinks. Sky Bar is nearby Level and is a great spot with a rooftop view, so while the drinks are on the pricier side, it’s worth checking out!
Day 3: Spend the day in Ayutthaya
The last stop on our weekend trip to Bangkok is a bit outside the big city. Even if you only have a weekend in Bangkok, visiting Ayutthaya is a must on your travel itinerary. Ayutthaya is the old capital of Bangkok and the city reflects all of this history with every corner you turn. In fact, the historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Center! Temple after temple are scattered about the small city and there are also stunning restored ruins. Better yet, it’s only about an hour bus ride from Bangkok.
How to Get There
In order to get there you can either get a bus from the northern bus terminal by BTS Mochit stop to Ayutthaya which costs around 60 baht ($1.70). You can also take the BTS to Victory Monument to grab a minibus. They usually cost about a little more than the buses do. Once you get to Ayuthaya, you will be hard pressed to find ways to spend too much money, since most things are cheap or free. The cost of walking through the ruins of breathtaking temples is only about 350 baht ($10), depending on which ones you go to and how many you choose to explore. Some of the ruins are free to explore, while others charge you about 50 baht ($1.50).
I must advise this: avoid the tuk tuks at all cost! I was charged 900 baht for a tuk tuk to drive me around to all of the temples for the day. While that is still only about $25, you can rent a motorbike or moped for 200 baht ($6), or a bicycle for even less if you are feeling ambitious and rather athletic. Regardless, most of the temples you can see from the tops of others because they are so close together, so getting a taxi or hiring a driver to get you to all of the different ruins isn’t necessary.
If you’re feeling a little tired after all that exploring, treat yourself to a authentic Thai massage! Although they’re not free, most places charge between 200-400 baht, which is only $6-12 USD. It’s an easy and cheap way to treat yourself!
Ready to go?
In the end, one could spend weeks in Bangkok and still not discover every nook of the city. That doesn’t mean, however, you can’t experience some of the best of Bangkok in just one weekend. If you follow the itinerary above, I promise you will leave Bangkok feeling satisfied, cultured and extremely full.
There’s a reason Thailand made our list of the top 10 cheapest countries to backpack through. Ready to go? Book a cheap flight to Thailand, grab a hotel or hostel room and get going!