Travel guides to Bangkok on a budget
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Bangkok – Thailand

The Ultimate Guide – Bangkok on a Budget

Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
When your outfit matches Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok

WHERE IS BANGKOK?

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand located in the Chao Phraya River Delta with a population of approx 8.2 million people – it is served by two of Asia’s busiest international airports and hosts expats from all over the globe.

Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, Bangkok
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, Bangkok

HOW TO GET THERE?

Bangkok has 2 international airports – the newer Suvarnabhumi Airport and the older Don Mueng Airport (considered to be one of the world’s oldest international airports and Asia’s oldest operating airport…for those travel buffs out there).

Suvarnabhumi Airport is on popular flight routes and stopovers through Asia and is 30km from Bangkok CBD. You can also arrive in Bangkok via popular tourist bus routes from nearby Cambodia. Don Mueng Airport is home to Air Asia who sell some of the cheapest flights around Asia.

Navigating the Taxi’s of Bangkok – Getting a taxi from the airport is a much debated topic across the internet with overpricing scams prevalent – locals say a ride to downtown Bangkok should be approx 300-400thb. While some drivers will regularly charge tourists 900thb+.

It is recommended to avoid any drivers approaching you at the exit of the terminal and instead queue for the ticketed taxi’s – here you take a ticket from a designated booth and your taxi meets you at a allocated space opposite – still here at the official taxi rank drivers will try and quote high prices. Some regular Bangkok visitors recommend insisting the driver turns on the meter before getting in, if they refuse be prepared to get in to a different taxi. 

We paid 500thb for our ride (we arranged this price with the driver when we got in) which although a little over priced was reasonable to us and given we arrived late and we were tired after our flight we were happy to be on our way – there is a toll road and airport surcharge that you are also required to pay which is normal. 

The drive from Suvarnabhumi airport to Bangkok CBD is approx 35-45 minutes depending on traffic.

Airport Bus – The S1 bus offers 60thb tickets for BKK airport to Bangkok city and the A4 bus for DMK airport for 50thb.

Buddha statues, Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Buddha statues, Wat Pho Temple

WHY VISIT?

Gleeming Temples, amazing Street Food and Cheap Accommodation are just a few reasons many travellers flock to Bangkok.

Take long tail boat rides to local floating markets and temples, tuk tuk rides to bars and restaurants, enjoy a cheap local massage and beer while watching the bustling city come alive or shop til you drop in its many malls. Bangkok has something for everyone.

It is the starting point for most backpacker and travellers South East Asian adventures but it is much more than just a stop before venturing further a field.

£1.20 for a Pad Thai dinner or Fresh Coconut Ice Cream in a real coconut husk! Bangkok and Thailand in general is also a great place to visit for the budget traveller. This also means for the luxury travellers out there you get more bang for your buck on hotel stays too.

Top Sights

Bangkok’s Temples should be on everybody’s list of must do’s while visiting the city – Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho are the most popular choices.

Wat Pho Temple – Wat Pho is close to the Grand Palace and was our choice for the day, the entrance fee was only 200thb per person. The Lonely Planet guide does need updating with regards to some prices in Bangkok if you are using these as a reference.

Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok

The 46 metre long Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho is the most popular attraction here and one of the largest in Thailand. Be sure to check out the Buddha’s soles, these alone are 3m high and 4.5m long! They are inlaid with stunning mother-of-pearl patterns depicting elephants, tigers, dancers and flowers.

Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok

Most of the stunning grounds were fairly quiet allowing for plenty of photo opportunities with the fantastically detailed buildings and temples. Bring sun screen and water!

Ladies take something to cover for your shoulders and knees as is customary in all Thai Temples. My husband wore longer board shorts down to his knees (didn’t cover them) and this was ok. I also wore flip flops with no problems.

Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple Doorway, Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple Doorway, Bangkok

Getting Here – To get to Wat Pho we took a river boat from Phra Arthit pier (only 15thb!) It is far quicker and cheaper than taking a taxi or an expensive tuk tuk.

TOP TIP – make sure you get off at Wat Arun and swap boats to cross the river (4thb) to Tha Tian pier if you are going this direction. Here you can walk to the temple very easily. It’s also really close to the Grand Palace which is 500thb per person entrance fee but we opted out of this due to our tight budget. There are plenty of other incredible temples that are free or cost very little to visit.

Guardians of the Gate, Wat Arun, Bangkok
Guardians of the Gate, Wat Arun

Khaosan road – busy, loud, touristy and included in most tour books as a must see. It is certainly the centre of Bangkoks backpacker communities and has many bars lining the street, however a short stroll away is the ‘C’ shaped road of Soi Rambuttri. This is a quieter road but still a lively enough alternative to Khaosan Road with many street food vendors and restaurants where the vibe is a little more relaxed. This is actually where we frequented for the cheapest and most delicious Pad Thai street food and enjoyed happy hour beers whilst sitting curb side.

Soi Rambuttri, Bangkok
Soi Rambuttri at night, Bangkok

Most proper sit in restaurants around here (not plastic tables and chairs on the street) offer mains from 150-300thb minimum and large beers for 150thb. For comparison basic street stall bars will sell you a large beer for 90thb or 60thb in the 7-11 Stores.

Massages – you can only walk a few metres between shops before you encounter street side massages being offered on reclining chairs. 150thb for 30 mins or 300thb 1hr. If you walk to the end of Soi Rambuttri away from Khaosan Road they offer them for 100thb for 30 mins and these are a popular and great way to people watch or relax after a long day of walking around the many stunning temples.

Chinatown – at just 1km long the area is packed with vibrant street food stalls and restaurants. Busy and bustling as soon as night falls this is a great place to soak up the atmosphere and try some tasty and cheap cuisine.

Chinatown, Bangkok
Chinatown, Bangkok
Street Food, Chinatown, Bangkok
Street Food, Chinatown, Bangkok

4 delicious freshly cooked Gyoza for only 50thb and 10 chicken satay sticks for just 60thb. They were freshly grilled on the BBQ but they were also very busy and one of mine was still a little raw on the end. I didn’t get sick luckily but just make sure you check before you tuck in. It’s extremely busy so be prepared to queue for the most popular snacks. 

TOP TIP – Getting a taxi back to your hotel from here can be a little bit of work, (as with most of Bangkok) so we walked a short distance away from the busy taxi and tuk tuk area  to flag our driver down because they are known for largely inflated tourist prices right next to the market.

As previously mentioned, taxi drivers in Bangkok are notorious for not wanting to turn on the meter or for using the excuse ‘it is broken’ or cover them up. We managed to get a taxi home on the second attempt – the first one said no to the meter being turned on but the second honest taxi driver said yes. Only 50thb back to Soi Rambuttri. 

*Many people opt to Tip the honest Taxi drivers a little extra – even with the tip it is likely to still be 50% cheaper than the cost of some of the tourist taxi scammers. Don’t feel bad for asking for the meter to be turned on as legally they are required to and just go onto the next taxi if you are not successful.

WHERE TO STAY?

Want a further 10% off already cheap hotel and hostel prices? Click here for your own personalised discount.

We were visiting Asia on a backpackers budget and luckily Bangkok has accommodation to suit every budget from shared dorms to 5 star luxury. Location is always high on our list and is worth researching when visiting Bangkok.

We opted for the well reviewed Khaosan Art Hotel. At just £15 (615thb) per night for a private en suite double with air con it was an absolute bargain. (not a sponsored post we just enjoyed our stay)

There was no lift (common in Asia) and we were on the 5th floor which was quiet enough for us because it was further from the busy street and bars below. If you are staying in a busy area in Bangkok it is worth asking for a high floor so it’s not too noisy. Downstairs had a lively bar with restaurant and provided guests with 20% off their bill. We didn’t eat here as we were busy working our way through Bangkok’s street food delights but it was busy and popular every night.

We pre-booked our stay as we were arriving late and wanted somewhere arranged for a good rate. We ended up extending our trip for an extra two nights for same price at reception with their helpful and friendly staff.

The hotel is right on Soi Rambuttri and is just a few steps away from plenty of street stalls selling Pad Thai for 40-50thb and also budget friendly breakfast options. On the corner of Soi Chana Songkhram and Soi Rambuttri the restaurant sells fruit salad, yoghurt and muesli for 35thb which was perfect for a thrifty traveller and opposite here was my favourite Pad Thai and smoothie vendor.

One thing worth mentioning is the proximity to the bus stop servicing the Airport – the S1 bus stop opposite the hotel serves a bus that offers 60thb tickets for BKK airport and the A4 bus stop for DMK airport for 50thb. This was a big plus for us travelling on a tight budget.

How Long to Stay?

A minimum of 3-4 days for your first time in Bangkok would be enough to tick off the main sights and experience a taste of what the city has to offer. And with more sights and attractions you could fill a few extra.

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Kamenjak – Croatia

Croatias Best Kept Secret – Kamenjak National Park!

Kamenjak National Park, Croatia. I am pretty sure you have never heard of it. If you have, then I hope you have visited because I’m gonna tell you why it’s a must in this post. When you think of Croatia you probably think of Island hopping off the coast of Split, checking out Kings Landing in Dubrovnik or maybe even checking out Rovinj as it becomes ever more popular thanks to Instagram.

Luckily for us one of our Instragram followers suggested travelling to this amazing location when we got to Croatia. We are so glad they reached out to us because they helped create some of our favourite memories. Kamenjak National Park is on the Southern most tip of the Istrian Peninsula.


Source: Google Maps

You cannot camp in the National Park but you can camp right next to the entrance to the park, so you are within super easy walking distance. There are also plenty of hotels and guest houses you can stay with in Premantura. Booking.com has so many choices (all with really incredible reviews) and if you book through my link you get 10% back on your stay.

It is an absolute nature lovers heaven!! I cannot stress this enough! The water is an incredible crystal clear blue, it is clean as clean can be. There are masses upon masses of wild flowers of all different vibrant colours and varieties coating the coast. The rocky coastline is dotted with idyllic, secluded islands and there are literally hardly any cars around. You can cycle your way around the park (this is what we opted to do on our mountain bikes) or walk and find your own private piece of nature to bask in.

This little piece of Paradise is 100% well worth the visit and detour away from the usual Croatian hot spots.  If you plan on visiting the stunning towns of Rovinj or Pula it’s just a short distance down the coast. You will also be pleasantly surprised with the drive back up on the East Coast. Reminiscent of the coastal roads on the Amalfi Coast past cliff hugging fishing ports. We took a few days out of our schedule to just relax here, riding our bikes along the coast and admiring the views….oh the views! 

We stayed at Arena Stupice Campsite in Premantura, the location of this campsite could not be any better for the views. It’s located next to the sea and you can walk and cycle in to the park from the campsite (if you drive in you have to pay a daily fee). The camping pitches are not the flattest, many are on a slant and it’s very hard to figure out what actually classes as your pitch. But there are plenty to choose from so just take your time scouting out a spot.

HOT TIP: If you camp at Arena Stupice Campsite make sure you pre book your spot online before you arrive. You will get a much better rate and a better site to camp on. We ended up booking online when we were stood in reception as they could not offer the same online rate in person.

Plenty of visitors come here to sail, kayak, fish, hike, cycle and just spend time exploring the coastline. 

We are big cyclists so started our cycling tour on the Dinosaur Trail. Fun Fact – Dinosaurs used to frequent this area in the Cretaceous period. How awesome is that?! Along the path you can explore all of the geological curiosities of Kamenjak.

The path continues around the edge of the peninsula and mainly along the coast. We stumbled upon the quirkiest little beach cafe- in the middle of no where. Imagine turning up to what looks like vegetation on the edge of the cliff with a few wooden structures outside.

You hear the murmuring of voices and make your way into the bushes to find what looks like the Lost Boys camp from Never Never Land. Safari bar is surprisingly busy for somewhere thats completely hidden. Take a visit here just to witness the quirkiness including the giant swing, sea shell dens, roller slide and tiki huts. 

As you walk through the bar to the cliffs edge you reach the most stunning view and cliff jumping hot spot where the water is incredibly clear.

We hopped on our bikes to continue the ride and came across vast empty countryside, empty beaches and incredible views. We stopped to take a dip in one cove we had all to ourselves. It’s that quiet we would turn up to a beach and if there were people there we would just move to the next beach which would inevitably be empty.

A short while later we arrive back at our van in the campsite and settle in to our camping chairs to take in the view. We crack open an Ozujsko Limun, our favourite Croatian tipple and chat about how awesome our day was. All thanks to a fellow traveller recommending Kamenjak National Park. If you plan on visiting Croatia and like nature then make sure you visit here! It’s just incredible.

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Dubrovnik – Croatia

What No One Will Tell You About Visiting Dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is a big hitter when it comes to places to visit in Croatia. As such this means that finding places to park your camper van (if travelling this way like us) for a reasonable price is near impossible. Some campsites charge upwards of 45 Euros per night.

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Using all our resources and after much research we decided to not stay in the main town and booked a campsite in Kupari. You can also find cheaper accommodation like we did by staying outside of the main city. For 15 Euro a night, our campsite was located about 20 minutes down the road. You can access Dubrovnik from here by local bus, but we decided that the more fun way (and also an excuse to make an experience out of it) was to travel by boat.

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Kupari is a really interesting place to stay, it is pretty deserted and this is mainly because the beaches have empty hotels that were used a bases for the army. They were destroyed during the Croatian War of Independence and have not since been inhabited. Covered in graffiti and overgrown with weeds it’s like something out of an apocalypse movie. Imagine sunbathing on the beach as you would in a resort, but turn around and the desolate hotels stare back at you. A little eerie but something really amazing to experience. Unfortunately this was the last year that you would be able to see these hotels like this as the land has been bought by a luxury development company who will be building a Four Seasons hotel in their place. They won’t be in bad company as the 5* Sheraton is located just around the bay, also a 10 minute walk from the campsite.

HOT TIP – If you fancy a dip in their pool, you may just be able to walk through the lobby and downstairs, grab a towel from the pool boy and lay on the sun loungers for a while and take a swim. Just saying……

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We decided to use Adriana Cavtat, the boat transfer company that our campsite suggested. If you travel to Dubrovnik and want to take the same boat, I don’t recommend using this company. The transfer itself is lovely but they are never on time and often get full from the previous stops so you can’t get on the boat that you have been waiting 40 minutes for. It isn’t worth the hassle and there are other providers who seemed more reliable. The views on the journey are awesome, arriving into and departing from Dubrovnik this way is just magical so I highly recommend getting on a boat at some point during your stay.

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Dubrovnik is by far the most busy city that we have visited in Croatia. It is overwhelming how many people visit, and we didn’t visit in peak season. Also bear in mind that we visited in the middle of May and it was 38 degrees! Even the gelato shop manager was pointing out how hot it was for us,  but nothing compared to the temperatures they normally experience – over 40 degrees.

The reason it gets busy it because:

  1. It is an absolutely gorgeous walled city that is so well preserved you cant help but fall in love and tell all your friends about it so they want to come and visit. The views from walking along the wall are just insane.
  2. Since Game of Thrones came out and everyone realised that Croatia is where it is filmed, and Dubrovnik in particular is Kings Landing then the city has really thrived with this tourism. Tours, merchandise, souvenirs you name it.
  3. Cruise Ships – hoards of cruise ship tours come to Dubrovnik to experience this beautiful city so the streets are filled with walking tours.

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To avoid the busy period – come out of season, like really out of season. Find out when the cruise ships are not docked in Dubrovnik so there will be a massive reduction in tourists. This way you stand a chance at experiencing this beautiful place in a little more peace.

The best part of Dubrovnik – walking along the city walls. To be honest, we didn’t do any research on this but knew it was a must do activity. So we were pretty surprised to find out that the entrance to the walls is 20 Euro per person, for us on a very tight budget this was a major splurge. But it was 100% worth it. The journey will take you a good 1 – 2 hours, mainly because the views are just to die for and there are so many nooks and crannys to discover. But also because it is so busy and wide enough for just one person you end up queuing in places.

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My main tip would be to not walk the walls at midday, there is practically no shade and maybe 1 or 2 places to find refreshments along the way.

Once we walked the walls we headed down in to the town to discover what other treasures there were. There are plenty of amazing restaurants, bars and shops interspersed with old churches and museums. Take a walk along the waterfront and admire the views, or even take a boat ride out to sea to visit an island.

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Have you been to Dubrovnik? What are your tips for visiting?

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