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Bangkok Travel Guide (2018) – Cheap Flights & Where to Stay in Bangkok

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Eugenia Liew

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Going on your very first Bangkok trip? Here are some tips on what to do, where to stay (budget hotels from just S$60/night!) and how to score cheap flights to Bangkok.

Plus, find out which are the top Bangkok shopping malls to put those Carousell haggling skills to the real-life test. More of a foodie chasing after the OG tom yum goong? Head to one of the recommended weekend night markets like Rod Fai instead.

 

The ultimate Bangkok travel guide (2018)

Contents

  1. Cheap flights to Bangkok
  2. Where to stay in Bangkok
  3. Getting around Bangkok
  4. Shopping in Bangkok
  5. Bangkok cafes and street food
  6. Bangkok attractions
  7. Changing money – What’s the SGD to THB exchange rate? 
  8. Data roaming vs Thailand SIM card vs WiFi router rental

 

Cheap flights to Bangkok – SIN to BKK

Return trip from Singapore to Bangkok on budget airlines Price
Average air fare $230
Off-peak months (Jan, May, Jul, Sep) $180
Peak months (Nov, Dec) $330

Bangkok is the by far the most popular nearby holiday destination among Singaporeans. How much it’ll cost you to fly from Singapore to Bangkok (and back) largely depends on what airline you choose, when you fly and how early you book your tickets. SIN to BKK is only 2.5h, which is relatively short, so if you’re a petite passenger (or are prepared to pretzel up your legs), you can save on air fares by choosing to fly with a budget airline. In the above table are estimates of how much you can expect to spend flying with airlines like Scoot, Jetstar Asia and the likes.

Generally, if you can get return flights for under $200, it’s a good deal. You can use third-party comparison aggregators like SkyScanner, KAYAK and Expedia to check the prices. They are like the MoneySmart for air fares and help you score affordable flights.

Because of most airlines’ dynamic pricing system, deciding when to book your flights can be tricky. However, according to findings from KAYAK, it seems that the sweet spot is 1 month before your trip. Apparently you can save up to 29% on air fare – worth a shot, right?

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Bangkok hotels – where to stay in Bangkok

Now onto accommodation. To me, the “best hotel in Bangkok” isn’t a 5-star hotel with fancy toiletries and pretty pools – none of that matters if it’s going to take me an hour to get to my destination. Who plans to spend that much time in the hotel when in Bangkok anyway?

Retail-obsessed Singaporeans gravitate towards the Pratunam shopping area when looking for a hotel. If that sounds like you, read this guide to the 15 best Pratunam hotels in Bangkok.

Aside from convenience, the hotel you choose should also be reasonably comfortable and affordable (i.e. value for money, so strike Shangri-La off your list).

Accommodation options Cheapest price per pax
Hostels $14 to $20
AirBNB $15 to $30
Hotels $30 to $50

Budget hotels in Bangkok (mostly $60 to $80/night)

Here are 8 popular hotels and how much their cheapest rooms cost (for 2 pax). They’re mostly the standard double or twin rooms, and they cost between between $60 to $80 /night. The better ones may be slightly more expensive at around $100/night.

Bangkok hotel Cheapest estimated price per room
Ambassador Hotel Bangkok $60 to $70
Asia Hotel Bangkok $60 to $70
Bangkok City Hotel $60 to $70
Hotel De Bangkok $60 to $70
Ibis Hotel Bangkok $70 to $80
Arnoma Hotel Bangkok $100
Dream Hotel Bangkok $100

Bangkok AirBNB (from $30/night)

AirBNBs in Bangkok are actually around the same price if you look at rooms in the Pratunam/Siam area, which is the most popular. Prices average at around $75/night, but if you book early (or are just plain lucky), you may be able to find rooms (“rare finds”) for $30 to $60.

Hostels in Bangkok (under $20/night)

For backpackers who don’t mind communal kitchens and washrooms, hostels are a great way to save money. Rooms are around $14 to $20+ a night.

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Getting around Bangkok – tuk tuk, the Bangkok BTS map & more

Once you’ve settled your flights and accommodation, you can finally start planning your adventure. There are several local travel routes that you need to plan for – first and foremost, you need to figure out how you’re going to get from the Bangkok airport to the city.

Airport to downtown Bangkok – Airport Rail Line ($1.90, under 30 minutes)

Getting from Suvarnabhumi airport to city Fare
Public van 40 baht (S$1.70)
Airport Rail Line (ARL) 45 baht (S$1.90)
Taxi, Uber, etc   350 to 420 baht (S$14.70 to S$16.70)

The easiest way is to take the Airport Rail Link (ARL), which is a train from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to either Phayathai Station (MRT) or Petchaburi Station (BTS sky train). Fares start at 15 baht (S$0.60), increasing with every stop (there are 6 stops in the line) and capped at 45 baht (S$1.90).

The ride is 30 minutes, which – thanks to Bangkok traffic – is usually faster than taking a car or taxi. The terminal is on the first floor of the airport. Do note, however, that you won’t be able to take the train if you had a red-eye flight. The city line operates from 6am to midnight only.

Aside from the ARL, you may also take a (less comfortable) public van. However, the fare is 40 baht (S$1.70) which is only $0.20 cheaper so I don’t recommend it. If you’re carrying a lot of luggage and want to zip straight to your hotel, you’ll have to get an airport taxi or uber. The price should be around 350 to 420 baht (S$14.70 to S$16.70), which although cheap by Singapore standards, is a lot more than the train fare.

Exploring Bangkok – MRT, BTS sky train, tuk tuk & more

The train network is by far the most convenient way for tourists to get around Bangkok. There is the regular subway (MRT), as well as the BTS sky train. BTS stands for “Bangkok by sky train”, and it is designed to cover the most popular districts in central Bangkok. There are 2 lines – the Silom line and Sukhumvit line – which meet at Siam Station. For both, fares begin at 15 baht ($0.60). Check here for the BTS sky train and MRT map.

bangkok tuk tuk
Beware of tuk tuk scams in Bangkok. Image credit: Flickr (didierbaertschiger)

Then there’s the iconic tuk tuk: Personally, I’m not a fan of the retro ride. It’s literally a bumpy ride, and instead of cool wind in your hair, your face is blasted with hot exhaust from neighbouring cars. But what I hate most about it is that the fares depend on the route and current traffic condition – i.e. it’s however much the driver wants to earn from you. This means that unless you’re a seasoned traveller, you’ll have to do your due diligence to avoid getting kutok. Yup… No thanks.

According to online reviews and advice, a general rule of thumb is to knock 5 to 15 baht ($0.20 to $0.60) off the fare quoted.

Other than that, it’s the usual suspects – bus, taxi and uber. Buses are not recommended for first-timers as it’s much easier to lose your way. If you’re thinking of cabbing, opt for Uber instead, which is marginally cheaper. If you can’t get an Uber ride, just use the app for a fare estimate.

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Shopping in Bangkok – shopping malls & night markets in Bangkok

Bangkok shopping malls in Siam, Pratunam and Sukhumvit

If you’re headed to Bangkok, chances are, you’ve got an empty luggage waiting to be filled with new clothes. Shopping is one of the top 10 things to do in Bangkok, for sure. The most popular Bangkok shopping mall districts are Siam, Pratunam and Sukhumvit. Here are the top shopping centers and what they sell.

Where to shop in Bangkok Key features Price range
Palladium World Shopping Mall (Pratunam) Former Pratunam Center. Newly renovated with 5 floors of wholesale apparel and accessories. $
Platinum Fashion Mall (Pratunam) Cheap, trendy “blogshop” clothes. 4 floors of wholesale apparel and accessories. $
MBK Center (Siam) Shopping mall with affordable apparel, accessories, electronics and food. $$
Siam Center (Siam) Shopping mall for young and trendy international brands like Sephora, Forever21, Superdry and more. $$
Central World Bangkok (Siam)   Largest shopping mall in Bangkok with clothes, accessories, electronics and food for almost every budget. Mostly international brands. $$ to $$$
Emporium Shopping Mall  (Sukhumvit) Mid- to high-end shopping mall with clothes, accessories, electronics and food for almost every budget. Mostly international brands. $$ to $$$
Terminal 21 (Sukhumvit) Shopping mall with “zones” inspired by other iconic shopping districts around the world like Champs-Élysées in Paris & London’s Carnaby Street. $$ to $$$
EmQuartier Bangkok (Sukhumvit) High-end fashion and luxury mall with international designers like Gucci, Chanel and the likes. $$$
Siam Paragon (Siam) High-end fashion and luxury mall selling from Mango and Zara to Chanel and YSL. $$$

Weekend night markets in Bangkok

Rod Fai train night market in Bangkok
Rod Fai is one of Bangkok’s popular night markets. Image credit : Flickr (sebastiandahler)

If you’re more into street food and vintage finds, make a beeline to the hip night markets. A few of the more popular ones are Rod Fai market (also known as the “train market”), Ratchada night market, JJ Green night market, ARTBOX and Chatuchak night market. Needless to say, you’re more likely to get cheap, value buys here than at most shopping malls.

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Bangkok cafes & street food – where to eat in Bangkok

Those feet need fuel to shop, so make sure you eat your way around Bangkok too!

You know what they say – when in Rome, do as Romans do. So for the most authentic experience, I recommend you snack on all the local Thai delights that you find by the roadside and at the Bangkok bazaars. Most street food should cost you no more than a few dollars.

Aside from everyone’s favourite tom yum goong and mookata, you should try the gai tod (deep-fried chicken), moo ping (skewered pork) and even fried bugs (!!!!). I’ve never had the balls to brave crunching crickets, but my good friend of mine shares that most store owners are happy to let you sample one before you decide whether to buy a bag of it. (gulps)


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If your inner food snob is twitching, don’t worry. There’s more than street food in Bangkok – the city is a actually heaven for hip coffee and dessert shops with Instagram-able walls. Some recommended cafes include After You Cafe, The Commons, Roast Coffee and the newly opened May’s Garden House Restaurant by Studio Ghibli.

Don’t forget to tapao some delicious Thai snacks home for your colleagues and family. The best place to do Thai snack shopping is at Big C Supercenter near CentralWorld. See our guide to the 17 best snacks to buy at Big C Bangkok for ideas.

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Bangkok attractions and things to do in Bangkok

Believe it or not, there are other things to do in Bangkok besides shopping and eating. For one, Thailand is famous for its cheap massages (happy-ending or good ol’ Thai massage, you decide). You’re likely to find massage parlours at almost every turn, but one of the most reliable chains is Healthland Spa. A 120-minute full body Thai massage is 600 baht (~S$25).

If you’re more of a culture buff, here are 5 interesting places to visit in Bangkok.

Bangkok attractions Admission fees
Wat Arun 50 baht (~S$2)
Jim Thompson House 200 baht (~S$8)
Damoen Saduak Floating Market From 300 baht (~S$13) for a boat ride
Grand Palace 500 baht (~S$21)
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) 500 baht (~S$21)

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Changing money – what’s the SGD to THB exchange rate?

The first order of business (after booking your flights, of course) is heading to the money changer to convert your Singapore dollars (SGD) to Thai Baht (THB). The exchange rate is usually around 1SGD = 24THB.

There are many online money changer directories that feature live exchange rates – you can sort by exchange rate to get the most bang for your buck, but I usually just sort by area and go to the best one near me. Unless you’re changing thousands, the difference is usually not that much.

At the time of writing, the best rates are found at

  • Fiat Money Changer (Raffles Place)
  • JL Union Garments Enterprises (Bedok)
  • Firman $hah International Exchange (Bedok)
  • Al-Aman Exchange (Bedok)
  • Peoples Corner Money Changer (Raffles Place)

Read our review of the money changers in Singapore.

How much money should you change for Bangkok? Read our budget guide to Bangkok on how to spend less than $500 on a week-long trip, and estimate from there.

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Data roaming vs Thailand SIM card vs WiFi router rental

Next, if you need mobile data on-the-go, you’ll have to decide between: 1) data roaming with your existing local telco, 2) overseas SIM cards and 3) overseas WiFi routers.

In general, paying for data roaming and getting SIM cards are convenient for those travelling alone or in small groups where it’s enough for one person to have connectivity.

If you have bigger groups, a mobile router (with unlimited data usage) may be more cost-effective.

Option Product How it works
Data roaming with current telco StarHub DataTravel Add on overseas data from $5/GB
M1 Data Passport Add on $10 to use your local data overseas
Singtel ReadyRoam Add on overseas data from $12/GB
Buy a Thailand SIM card DTAC Happy Tourist $5.50 for 3GB + 100 baht call credit
AIS Traveller SIM $5.50 for 3GB + 100 baht call credit
Overseas Wifi routers ReadyWIFI (Ready to Travel by SATS) $5/day for unlimited usage
Roaming Man $5/day for unlimited usage
ChangiWiFi by Changi Recommends $5/day for unlimited usage

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Have you booked your Bangkok trip yet? Share your lobang for cheap flights, hotels and more in the comments below! 

 

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Eugenia Liew

I’m a 90s millennial who’s starting to realise that #adulting is more expensive than it seems on Instagram. When I’m not writing for MoneySmart, I’m usually playing with drain-dwelling stray cats or shopping at Sephora.