I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories about how inexpensive Thailand is, that you can buy pretty much buy everything for pennies?! Well, depending on which currency you’re converting from that may or may not be true. In the three years since my last visit to the land of smiles, I’ve certainly noticed a big increase in costs, a mixture of the poorly performing GBP (42฿ vs 55฿ to the pound) and general inflation. As with most places there are the cheap as chips options and splurge options, I did a bit of both on my recent trip to Bangkok and made a note of what I spent where, so hopefully you can get an idea of what you might spend when you visit the city.
How expensive is Bangkok?
Probably the biggest expense when you travel is accommodation, and Bangkok has a huge variety of accommodation. We opted to stay in a private room of Lub d hostel next to all the malls (MBK, Siam, Discovery etc.) thinking that it would be a good way of meeting other travellers. Turns out the common areas were deserted and the hostel is next to a very busy road, plus it was a bit on the pricey side. Not at all worth it in my opinion, never mind, onwards and upwards!
Cost per night for “deluxe’ double = 1460฿ (£33.57/$41.68)
Next we moved to another “hostel” Sribumpen + but it was more like a hotel as it was all private rooms. This was in Silom, the business and financial district, a bit more up market area than the mall district with plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels in walking distance. The room was simple, but comfortable
Cost per night for a double room = 800฿ (£18.39/$22.84)
On our return to Bangkok after visiting Krabi and surrounding islands I found a really good deal on Agoda.com which I highly recommend as an accommodation search engine and booking site. We stayed in the Pinnacle hotel near Lumpini Park, it felt a bit far away from everything but actually was only a 5min walk from Lumpini MRT station. After staying in hostels and beach huts I felt like lady muck in my king-sized bed with amazing city views, roof top pool and bar, happy days!
Cost per night for a superior double = 1200฿ (£27.59/$34.25)
Food, glorious food! The street food in Bangkok is second to none and absolutely everywhere. Tiny little carts spring up all over the pavements and some even put little plastic tables and chairs out. As this is how the locals eat, it’s also what I mostly ate a long with the odd late night noodle cup from 7-Eleven and possibly a cheeky fast food meal, naaaawty!
Street cart Pad Thai with prawns = 55฿ (£1.26/$1.57)
Bbq pork sticks x 2 = 40฿ (91p/$1.14)
Street café fish ball soup = 40฿ (91p/$1.14)
Thai green curry with rice in a restaurant near the Grand Palace = 100฿ (£2.29/$2.85)
Noodle soup with pork in a western style café = 120฿ (£2.75/$3.42)
KFC Zinger box meal (yes, yes I know) = 149฿ (£3.42/$4.25)
Massive bowl of nachos at Molly Malone’s Irish pub = 250฿ (£5.74/$7.13)
Noodle cup from 7 Eleven = 13฿ (29p/37¢)
This isn’t absolutely everything I ate, but you get the idea. Local street food = cheap. Western style = expensive.
Beer is the drink of choice in Thailand, most bars and shops stock Chang & or Singha beer as their local drink. Imported beers are available but cost a lot more and wine costs a small fortune in comparison. They also do amazing iced coffee in Bangkok made with super strong coffee, condensed milk, evaporated milk and loads of ice yum!
Large Chang (620ml) from 7 Eleven = 49฿ (£1.12/$1.39)
Large Chang from a hipster bar in Siam = 95฿ (£2.18/$2.71)
Pint of Stella in Molly Malone’s Irish bar = 240฿ whaaaaaat?! (£5.51/$6.85)
Iced coffee in the mall (Starbucks style) = 100฿ (£2.29/$2.85)
Iced coffee from a street vendor = 20฿ (45p/57¢)
2 litres of water at 7 Eleven = 14฿ (32p/39¢)
Coke from a street vendor = 20฿ (45p/57¢)
125ml glass of white wine at The Grand China hotel roof bar = 140฿ happy hour price (£3.21/$3.99)
There are so many transport options in Bangkok, from clean and modern monorail (Sky Train) and Metro system to Motorbike taxis and tuk tuks. Local taxi drivers are a bit naughty and sometimes (often) refuse to put the meter on, so being firm and taking no crap is a must!
Airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi airport is clean, modern and easy to use, plus it’s air-conditioned ahhhhh bliss. Connects to Phaya Thai sky train station, or Makkasan MRT station = 45฿ (£1.03/$1.28)
BTS Sky Train, the monorail system that has two lines = 18฿-45฿ (41p-£1.03/51¢-$1.28) per journey depending on distance.
MRT which is the underground Metro system = 16฿-45฿ (36p-£1.03-$1.28) per journey
Tickets for both MRT & BTS can be bought from the machine or from the kiosk. Most of the machines only take coins, but the nice people at the kiosk provide change too. As a former Londoner I felt right at home using the public transport systems and used them a lot.
Late night taxi from Sukhumvit to near the Siam centre = 100฿ (£2.30/$2.85)
There is no way a taxi driver is going to take you on the meter from a late night entertainment area. We bargained hard from 400 down to 100. On the meter would have been 70 ish I think.
Taxi from Don Mueng airport to city = 235฿ + 50฿ toll (£5.40 + £1.15/$6.70 + $1.42)
Taxis at the airports are regulated and managed efficiently, so don’t feel the need to book a car service that will cost an arm and a leg. Head to the taxi waiting area, grab a ticket. When your number is called head to the desk and tell them where you’re going, they will print out a receipt and give it to the next driver waiting in line who will escort you to their car and put the meter on woohoooo! There is a 50B airport charge and you also need to pay any toll fees on top, but its still pretty good value for a 15mile journey.
Uber from Siam Centre to hotel in Silom (2.5ish miles) = 55฿ (£1.26/$1.5)
Chaophraya express boat to see the grand Palace, Wat Pho, Khao san Rd etc. = 15฿ (34p/42¢) per journey
River taxi to get from Wat Arun to Wat Pho = 4฿ (9p/11¢)
The Grand Palace = 500฿ (£11.49/$14.27) Pretty steep but you have to see it, as it’s probably the biggest attraction in Bangkok.
Wat Pho = 100฿ (£2.29/$2.85)
Wat Arun = 50฿ (£1.14/$1.42) not worth paying, you can see everything from the outside tbf
Jim Thompson’s House = 150฿ (£3.44/$4.28)
All of the markets that I visited are free, apart from any goodies you might buy. Natch!
I bought a local SIM card with AIS at their store in MBK mall, it’s definitely worth getting a local SIM if you’re going to be staying more than two weeks, but probably still worth it if you want to use data on your phone as it’s cheaper than paying for international roaming. The nice people in store also set everything up for me, which was a blessing as I was so jet lagged I could barely speak!
SIM = 50฿ (£1.14/$1.42) + 5GB data = 349฿ (£8.02/$9.96)
Laundry = 50฿ per kilo (£1.14/$1.42)
Steroid cream from the pharmacy (blimmin mozzy bites!) = 240฿ (£5.51/$6.85)
Mozzy Spray from 7 Eleven = 60฿ (£1.37/$1.71)
So as you can see, if you want your money to go further in Bangkok buy local, eat local and drink local. Even if you buy western food etc. it’s probably still not going to break the bank, but what’s the fun in that?! And try your hand at haggling where ever you can, there is almost always some wiggle room. I tend to offer half the asking price and go from there, it can seem intimidating at first but it’s actually good fun, be patient and keep a good sense of humour. Oh, but watch out for those damn taxi drivers! Grrrrr