Bangkok is affordable! Warnings about potential cons to keep in mind on your 2020 vacation.
Bangkok is affordable! Warnings about potential cons to keep in mind on your 2020 vacation.
Before the epidemic, Thailand was one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. This tropical country attracts a lot of visitors due to its unique culture, tasty food, low prices, and stunning coastline.
Bangkok, or Krung Thep as it is known in Thai, is the starting point for many travellers. All sorts of visitors, from those looking to splurge to those on a tight budget, have been lured there over the years. You can easily fill an entire vacation in this thriving metropolis with visits to its many temples (and more temples), bars (for all types of interests), restaurants, shopping, malls, and other attractions. After easing restrictions due to the COVID outbreak, the country is once again inviting visitors. Bangkok is a great destination for weekend getaways or extended vacations for Filipinos.
How to Apply for a Visa
A 30-day tourist visa is not required for Filipinos entering Thailand. The Thai government allows visitors to seek for visa extensions while they are already in the country.
Consistent direct flights from Manila to Bangkok are available on both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. You can save money on plane tickets by waiting for sale periods to pick the dates you want to travel. Save money by making your reservation in advance, preferably a few months in advance.
From Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can take one of the following routes into the heart of Bangkok:
You can either follow the signage or simply ask around to find the station for the Airport Rail Link. Get off at the Makkasan or Phaya Thai stop, whichever is more convenient for you. Take a taxi or the Skytrain from there to your hotel, hostel, or guesthouse. Price is roughly THB45 (P70).
Start at the airport and take bus line S1 to one of the central city’s areas. The average cost is THB60 (P93).
Depending on your location, taking an official cab can cost as much as THB750 (P1,162).
Transportation in Bangkok
It is up to you to decide how you want to discover the city. As long as you’re in the city, you can utilise Grab. Standard taxis can also get you where you need to go. As in Metro Manila, taxi drivers may try to overcharge visitors if they aren’t using the metre. You can save time and money by taking the train to move about town. To save money on your rides on the BTS and other public transit systems, invest THB200 in a Rabbit Card. If your card’s balance drops below THB100, simply add THB100 at a time until it’s full again.
Hiring a tuk tuk is an interesting and fun way to go about the city. The latter is analogous to a Filipino tricycle. Depending on where you go, you may expect to spend anything from THB60 to THB100 per ride as a tourist. Payment must be made on a per-ride basis, not per passenger. Alternatively, you might take a water taxi. Depending on where you get off, a river taxi ride will cost you between THB10 and THB40.
Travel plan for Bangkok
There is a wide range of attractions in Bangkok. It’s a great home base for exploring the surrounding area or venturing to neighbouring states and provinces.
*This schedule assumes you have one full day to begin with.
ROOFS. Exit the Grand Palace. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Jump right into sightseeing at Bangkok’s top attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun after a hearty breakfast. All of these locations are easily accessible on foot, so getting around won’t be a problem.
OPULENT. Within the confines of the Grand Palace. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
In 1782, work began on what would become the Grand Palace. After it was finished, it served as the royal residence for several kings and their courts until 1925. Now, many years later, it serves as a popular tourist destination and event space. The palace grounds have numerous structures, including temples and monuments.
The Phra Maha Monthien, located at the very heart, is a complex of monumental structures that once served as the royal palace and throne room of Thailand. The Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, which combines Thai and European styles, will also catch your eye.
There is also the impressive temple of Wat Phra Kaew on the premises. The Emerald Buddha, a holy figure in Thai culture, resides inside. After exploring the Grand Palace and snapping some pictures, head to Wat Pho, which is only a short distance away. An enormous 46-meter-long reclining Buddha can be found there.
CHILLIN’. The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Pho. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Eat at one of the area’s eateries or cafes after seeing the temples, then enjoy the sights and sounds of Wat Arun. The second is commonly referred to as the “Temple of Dawn.” The primary tower-like structure is covered in bright, intricate porcelain mosaics.
Once you’ve visited the sights, kick back and take a river cruise or hang out with the locals in Khao San Road, Sukhumvit, Silom, or any of Bangkok’s other happening districts. Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and other major attractions are illuminated for evening visitors.
GLEAMING. The Grand Palace houses a golden temple. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Men are expected to wear slacks and shirts that cover their shoulders, while women are expected to wear skirts or pants that cover their knees and shoulders.
Malls and an urban sprawl filled with stores, restaurants, and food vendors characterise Bangkok just as they do any other major metropolis. On day two, travel around the city via the Skytrain, foot, or public transportation. Get your feet wet on Khao San Road, Silom, and Sukhumvit (there’s also a Chinatown nearby). Siam Paragon, MBK Center, Icon Siam, and Siam Discovery are just a few of the many shopping malls in the city. Enjoy the city’s activity from Lumpini Park’s vantage point. You can even take a culinary lesson if you’re feeling adventurous. You could also visit Wat Saket, Wat Traimit, Wat Suthat, and a few others if you’re interested in visiting temples. If you’re looking for something to do, catching a Muay Thai match at Rajadamnern Stadium is another option. Klook or their website both allow you to reserve a spot.
SPIRES. Ayutthaya is a great place to visit if you enjoy temples. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
On your third day, you might take a day trip to a nearby city like Ayutthaya, which is highly recommended. Most of the latter’s historic remains have earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People interested in learning more about Thailand’s long and rich history would benefit from a trip here. The park’s historical ruins date back hundreds of years. Wat Mahathat is a popular location for park photographs because to the stone Buddha head that can be seen above the tree roots. Tours of Ayutthaya are the easiest way to see the city, and you can find them on sites like Klook, Viator, and Getyourguide, or at any travel agency in the city.
SNUG. This is the famed Buddha head in Ayutthaya’s Wat Mahathat. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
If you prefer the rail, you can get there from Bang Sue or Hua Lamphong. This is a beautiful yet time-consuming alternative. The base fare for quick trains is THB45, although this can increase to almost THB100 depending on where you sit and which train you take. The regular trains cost about THB15 but take significantly longer.
CALM. Monumental statuary in Ayutthaya’s Historical Park. Image by Joshua Berida/Rappler on Day 4
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and other attractions await you, so plan to spend another day exploring the surrounding area. Tourists and locals alike go to this Ratchaburi institution to partake in some retail therapy or people-watch the bustle of vendors and boats going up and down the river. It’s a popular destination, thus prices there are usually higher than at comparable local markets. Nonetheless, it’s a mind-blowing adventure to view it up close. Taking a tour is the most hassle-free option for getting to the marketplace. Klook, as well as the several travel firms in Bangkok, sells them along with tickets to the city’s various sights.
BUSTLING. The Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Another option is to take a day trip that includes visits to Hua Hin and other sights. Getting to and from Hua Hin on public transportation takes time, so plan accordingly. If you’re travelling to Thailand and can spare the time, staying at Hua Hin for the night is highly recommended.
Hua Hin, Thailand’s DIP beach. Illustration from Day 5 by Joshua Berida/Rappler
On your fifth day in town, you can revisit some of your favourite places or just go shopping and eating. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great place to visit if your fifth day is a weekend. When you there, you can find a wide variety of goods and foods. When people think of the city, this market is often what comes to mind.
Depending on your preferences, you can modify the list of activities and locations. Bangkok is an exciting metropolis with its own distinct character. It’s ideal for vacationers with varying interests, whether they want to kick back and relax for a few days or pack their schedule with of exciting adventures. Spend your evening in a pub or dining at several establishments. Inexpensive restaurants and bars might be found for those who are looking to splurge. Backpackers go to Khao San Road, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and pubs.
Warnings about Possible Scams
There may have been a drop in tourists coming to the country because of the pandemic, but some unscrupulous people will still try to take advantage of the situation. I reflected on my first visit to Bangkok, which had been quite some time ago. My tuk tuk driver dropped me off at the hostel, but by the time I’d checked in and left my bags, he was far gone. I had already given him half of the money we had agreed upon at that point. If I had paid him the full sum on the first day, I would have blown through a lot of cash.
There are likely to be more scam artists operating in Bangkok now that visitors have returned. While wandering the city, keep an eye out for these common scams:
Travelers should exercise caution around tuk tuks waiting outside of tourist hotspots such as hotels, marketplaces, shopping centres, and other popular destinations. They’ll jack up the price unreasonably for a quick trip. They may ask to use your car to sneak into a store of some sort in an attempt to buy gas. Then you’ll be coaxed and cajoled into making a purchase. This can also take the form of an offer to show you around town. After you pay them, they may overcharge you or abandon you.
Be wary of cab drivers that try to rip you off by charging you excessive fees. Some of these drivers have been spotted hanging out at motels. Customers board because they can see them parked easily outside. After the passenger has loaded their bags into the trunk and the car has started driving, the driver will likely demand an exorbitant fare to take them to their desired location. In some instances, the driver will refuse to utilise the metre no matter how many times the passenger requests it.
A local will strike up a discussion with you in an attempt to steal your jewels. First, they’ll ask where you’re from and what you’re doing on your trip before asking if you need a ride or a tour. You’ll be taken to a bogus gem store where they’ll try to pass off their fakes as real if you agree to either of these.
While you are still fairly far from the gate, a local may tell you that the Grand Palace, for example, is closed for the day for some plausible reason. When you ask to be taken on a tour of the area, they’ll suggest other, supposedly superior or more authentic sites. If you don’t feel like going through a series of “jewel” stores, then say no right from the bat.
The red light district of Bangkok is well-known for its variety of acrobatic exhibitions. The intention of the bar show con is to prey on your naughty curiosity. First, they’ll show you some photographs, and then they’ll tell you to come up to the bar. As a hook, they’ll tell you that “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay.” Once you give your assent, they’ll offer you to buy a drink for a female or girls from the menu, and then they’ll perform for you. Short “show” followed by outrageously expensive bill, of course. If you make a fuss, a big guy will just look at you until you give up and pay up.
A nice-seeming person is frequently used in these scams. They initiate conversation with simple, everyday terms in either your own language or advanced English. They’ll act kind at first, but then they’ll try to take advantage of you when you’re not looking. They will then lead you to phoney businesses in the hopes of securing a purchase or service fee.
Just how much money are you planning on spending?
Bangkok is a great place to visit for those on a tighter budget. The city is a favourite among budget-minded travellers who wish to see the world for an extended period of time. In backpacker hubs like Khao San, you can find a dorm bed for P550 or less a night if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom with strangers. It will cost you roughly P700+++ for a night in a nice hostel. If you’d want a little more seclusion, private rooms are also reasonably priced. Private rooms at hotels, inns, and hostels cost between P800 and P1,000 per night on average. A lunch at a restaurant will run you anything from P200 to P300, with the higher end establishments being more expensive. Consume heartily for P100–P150 from a street stall or food court. A visit to the Grand Palace, which comprises Wat Phra Kaew and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, will set you back THB500 (about P770), as will entry to the temple. Each of the two temples, Wat Pho and Wat Arun, has a separate entrance fee of THB100 (about P155). All visitors should make time to see these three landmarks. Throughout addition to the museums and temples already mentioned, there are plenty more to see in the city.
STEP BY STEP. Wat Arun. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
Day visits to places like the floating markets and Ayutthaya are also an option. Booking through Klook is recommended for the two-day excursions indicated, with prices ranging from P2,000 to P2,400. Getyourguide is another viable option for booking. You can also visit one of the many travel agencies dotted along Khao San Road and the rest of Bangkok. Try to haggle the price down to something you can afford. Approximately P1,500-P2,000 is the price range for a few hours of instruction in the culinary arts.
READY. Primarily, they are the cooking ingredients for our class. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Budgeting roughly P1,400 per day will allow you to enjoy all that Bangkok has to offer. Taking public transportation, visiting major sights including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, and staying at a hostel’s shared dorm room are all included. If you want to do day trips and/or take a culinary lesson, you should budget an extra P2,000 to P2,500 every day. It is possible to travel to the Philippines for less than P1,400 per day if you plan well and stay in a cheap dorm. Spending far more than you originally planned on restaurants, shows, and other activities in Bangkok is completely feasible. Where you stay, what you do, and what you eat will all play a role in how much money you wind up spending.
The food is hot and crisp. Steamed rice noodles with a spicy sauce. The image was taken by Joshua Berida/Rappler.
Even though Bangkok is quite cheap, there are still ways to cut costs.
As a solitary traveller, I think a hostel is the best option for lodging. You can make new friends and maybe even plan some excursions with them while in town.
You might want to try eating at eateries courts or on the street.
When hiring a tuk tuk or doing market shopping, it is essential to haggle for a lower price.
If you plan on utilising the rail system quite a bit, it is best to purchase a day pass or a Rabbit Card.
Bangkok’s major sights are conveniently located close to one another, so you may easily explore the city on foot rather than using public transportation.