Grand Palace Bangkok

Backpacking in Bangkok - Knowing when to spend

You are bound to land on Bangkok's soil at least once, as it is the major hub for travel in and out of South East Asia. And as with every major city, the wide range of things to see and do can leave you parting with your cash quicker than you intended. Sticking to a backpacking budget can be particularly difficult in cities, but the real trick is knowing where to splurge and when to save. With the odd indulgence, and wise scrimping where it counts, it is easy to feel like a prince (or princess) in this super-glam city.

Seeing Bangkok’s sights – Vertigo and Moon Bar

Grand Palace

Of course Bangkok has its key tourist sights, and you’ll want to see them. The Grand Palace for the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho for the reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun with its imposing spires are not to be missed. But one of the best ways to take in the full enormity and splendor of Bangkok is up high. And for that, you really can't beat the Vertigo and Moon Bar at the top of the luxurious Banyan Tree Hotel.

Ok, so you're not able to afford the room prices (not even you flashpackers), but if you stretch to a drink in the roof top bar, you can still take advantage of one of the city's best views. At 61 floors up, the height isn't nearly as dizzying as the cocktail prices but if you can splurge, do – the Lychee Martini is unforgettable. Beers and soft drinks are still pricey but more affordable, and don’t forget, all drinks come with ‘free’ snacks (save on dinner?).

The bar has a strict dress code, so put on your smartest frock (long legged trousers for the boys). You'll also need to leave your flip flops behind – closed toe footwear only. But, fear not, if you don't own anything vaguely verging on fancy, they will lend you some 'smart' wear. You might feel a bit silly in the Asian fitting clothing but it makes for a great photo.

Luxury accommodation at backpacker prices

Vertigo And Moon Bar Bangkok

Inspired by the smell of clean hotel linen at the Banyan Tree, the idea of flicking cockroaches out of your Kho San Road digs won’t seem so appealing. If you’re hankering for more luxury without blowing the budget, head to Lud-B hostel.

Based in Silom, away from Kho San’s low end offerings, and with great transport links courtesy of the skytrain, Lud-B feels like it is in a more upmarket part of town, and yet there is still a thriving backpacker community. With flushing toilets, internet that actually works, showers where you feel cleaner not dirtier coming out, it's a welcome relief to have what feels like a luxury bed for the night. Yes, most rooms are dorms, but take this as an opportunity to mix with your fellow travellers. With a funky communal area where you can take your own beer or buy from the bar, Lud B also offers a chance to save.

Bangkok’s cheap eats and do-it-yourself cooking classes

Sometimes there is no need to splash the cash when a city has perfectly good cheap offerings available. And for Bangkok that means street food. Best locations are Victory Monument, Tha Char Prang Pier and, of course, Kho San Road. With some of the freshest, tastiest and cheapest options, it simply doesn’t make sense to hit Bangkok's restaurants.

However, if you're looking for something a bit different on the eating front, taking a Thai cooking class can be the answer. Ok, so you will have to put in some effort to earn your dinner, and it will be pricier than the street food, but you'll pick up a great skill to impress those back home. Not only that, you get to sample all your good work, leaving with a full stomach – what could be a better two for one offer?

Shopping in Bangkok

Reclining Buddha Bangkok

Bangkok is a great place to stock up on your backpacking wear – buying at source is always cheapest and MBK Shopping Centre has it all. Admittedly, some of the cheaper items probably won’t last so long, but who backpacks in the quality of Armani?

Another key draw is the wonderful array of electrical items. If you've been toying with the idea of a new iPod or camera, give yourself some time to check out what Bangkok has to offer. Of course, you can buy that phony Sony camera for a snip of the price, but when it breaks the night of the full moon party, you'll be cursing yourself. With some of the cheapest (genuine) electronics prices in the world, Bangkok is a great place to make a saving on those expensive items.

Thai Massage Bangkok

Massage – the ultimate luxury and a happy ending

You’re in Thailand so you really should try a Thai massage. It may seem a bit indulgent, but with prices a snip of what you’d pay for the same luxury back home, you simply must try it at least once. There’s no denying that Thai massage can reduce even the most burly bloke to tears of pain, but for a little extra you can upgrade to an oil massage which will leave you floating on air. This really is a perfect treat for your last day in Bangkok.

All in all, if you are careful and know when to indulge and where to save, spending your money wisely in Bangkok can leave you buzzing with a legitimate kind of happy ending to your visit.

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