Image: Prasit Rodphan / 123rf
Spend a weekend in Bangkok and you’re sure to hear that familiar Singaporean accent in all the famous touristic and shopping spots. That’s because Singaporeans freaking love this city.
The food is excellent, the shopping is incredibly cheap and trendy, and as Singaporeans we’re unfazed by the crowds. But while Bangkok is a very affordable destination, we often find ourselves staying in five star hotels and eating at nice restaurants simply because we can. Which is a pity as this city can be visited very cheaply if you’re willing to do the leg work. Here’s how.
All the main budget airlines, namely Tiger Air, Air Asia, Jetstar and Scoot, operate multiple flights per day to Bangkok, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get cheap tickets any time of year.
That being said, if you choose to fly over public holidays and don’t book well in advance, be prepared to get ripped off.
Otherwise, you should pay around $150 for tickets booked a month or two in advance and not during an ongoing sale. If you book even further in advance or during a sale, you’ll be able to shave quite a bit off the ticket price.
Cost: 150 SGD
Bangkok has such a reputation for being cheap that most Singaporeans just end up staying in four or five star hotels. If you book on Agoda you can stay in a four star establishment for 80 SGD a night—look out for their generous discounts and flash sales. At the time of writing, a room at the Mandarin Hotel is on sale at 77 SGD a night.
On the other end of the scale, a room for two in a very basic guesthouse will cost anywhere from 15 SGD to 30 SGD a night. Be prepared for rather run-down conditions, which will scare those people used to being pampered but be a piece of cake for anyone who still remembers NS.
Because accommodation is generally cheap, few Singaporeans bother looking for accommodation on Airbnb when going to Bangkok, which is a pity because you can get very luxurious accommodation for very little.
This entire luxury condo which accommodates up to three people is going for 29 SGD a night, this one with panoramic views accommodating up to three is going for 15 SGD per night, while this apartment which accommodates two is going for 22 SGD per night.
If you’re determined to do Bangkok on a budget and are travelling with one or two friends, you can easily get something very comfortable or even luxurious for 15 SGD a night or less if you’re willing to do the legwork on Airbnb.
Cost: 15 SGD per day / 90 SGD for a week
Singaporeans usually just hail a taxi or tuktuk in order to avoid actually having to walk anywhere in Bangkok, but if you’re on a budget do consider taking the BTS Skytrain, which deposits you right at the doorstep of some key attractions like Chatuchak Weekend Market. Each ride costs between 15 THB (0.58 SGD) and 42 baht (1.63 SGD).
You’ll probably find yourself taking tuktuks at least some of the time (they’re usually cheaper than taxis unless you get ripped off), and prices are largely dependent on how well you can haggle. In general try not to pay more than 150 THB (5.81 SGD) for rides within the city centre and use Google Maps (download an offline map of Thailand beforehand) so you know how far you should be travelling.
And by the way, if you’re used to taking a taxi from the airport to the city in gridlock traffic, you might be interested in the fact that there is an Airport Rail Link (a train from the airport to the city) that gets you to Phayathai Station in the city centre for only 45 THB (1.74 SGD). Have tried it, and can confirm it is fast and efficient.
Cost: 200 THB (7.75 SGD) per day / 54.23 SGD for a week
Most Singaporean tourists in Thailand don’t even bother sightseeing. They just make a beeline for Chatuchak Weekend Market and the big malls like MBK and Siam Paragon. Still, we’re going to include some of the more famous sights just in case you, gasp, don’t want to spend the entire trip shopping and eating.
Grand Palace: 500 THB (19.37 SGD)
Wat Arun: 50 THB (1.94 SGD)
Wat Pho: 100 THB (3.87 SGD)
Chatuchak Weekend Market: Free
Erawan Shrine: Free
Jim Thompson House: 150 THB (5.81 SGD) / 100 THB (3.87 SGD)
Cost: 800 THB (31 SGD) to keep you occupied for a week
Bangkok is a foodie’s paradise, not only because Thai food is delicious, but also because you can eat virtually everything that’s available in Singapore—sushi, Chinese, Italian, etc—at a fraction of the price.
If you’re on a budget, a meal at a food court (try the famous food court at Platinum Fashion Mall) or simple local restaurant will cost only 80 THB (3.10 SGD) to 150 THB (5.81 SGD), and is almost always delicious. A bowl of noodles at a street stall can cost as little as 50 THB (1.94 SGD) to 100 THB (3.87 SGD).
Cost: 350 THB (13.56 SGD) per day / 94.91 SGD for a week
Total cost of a week-long holiday in Bangkok: 420.14 SGD
Okay, let’s face it, most Singaporeans’ budgets are going to be higher than that because of the copious amounts of shopping they’ll be doing at Platinum Mall and Chatuchak. But if you really don’t care that much for shopping and just want to soak in the chaos in one of Asia’s most exciting cities, it doesn’t have to cost you much.
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