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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Koh Mook, Could this be the best unexplored Island in Thailand? Blog Post Guide
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Koh Mook – Thailand

Koh Mook – Could this be THE BEST unexplored island in Thailand?

Tropical Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

When we decided to go island hopping in Thailand we only had a few weeks to fill and with so much choice it can be hard to decide on just a few. There were a few criteria that we wanted our tropical islands to meet – beautiful empty white sandy beaches and no crazy party atmosphere. After visiting Koh Lipe we had a pretty big task to complete because of how much we enjoyed it there. If you haven’t seen our Blog Post on Koh Lipe – check it out here.

After scouring the map to find islands on our journey we came across Koh Mook, found perfect accommodation and after viewing the photos we couldn’t wait to visit.

WHERE IS KOH MOOK? Located in Southern Thailand on the Southern Andaman Coast. Koh Mook is also known as Koh Muk, with Muk in Thai meaning Pearl. So welcome to Pearl Island.

Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

HOW TO GET THERE? There are several ways that you can access Koh Mook with the most common being by speedboat or van+ferry combo. 

From the Islands– You can access Koh Mook from another island (we came straight from Koh Lipe) using the speedboat.

From the Mainland– If you travel from the mainland then you can go by ferry from Pakbara Pier with Hat Yai being the closest airport. Often the ferries are combined with vans to make a package – it is much better value and far easier.

Tropical Flowers, Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Frangipani on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand

WHY VISIT? If you are looking for a quiet, undeveloped Thai island experience with a picture perfect beach then look no further.

Pro’s – Koh Mook is so quiet which means you get the relaxed island vibes. We also found food much cheaper here than in Koh Lipe with a great selection of low key restaurants. The local islanders were the friendliest we met which was the cherry on top of our visit.

Tropical Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

Con’s – There are few beaches on this island and if you are looking for the perfect white sandy photo there is really only one, where we spent all of our time. Sivalai Beach – if you google Koh Mook this is the poster child for the island.

Top Sights

Sivalai Beach

Technically known as Hao-Laem Beach but because the Sivalai Beach Resort sits on this beautiful peninsula this is the most common name. If you stay at this resort you have direct access to this beach and if you don’t, then its not far at all to get here. Luckily for us we were staying a mere 10 minute walk away. This beach is a big reason we came here, most days there were only a handful of people enjoying it, soft white sand, clear blue ocean, frangipanis and palm trees. It was a tropical island bliss.

Palm trees on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach perfection, Koh Mook
Frangipani on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Koh Mook, Thailand

Beachside dining at The Perfect Bar & Restaurant

A very highly rated place (just take in the Trip Advisor reviews) because the food is delicious and reasonably priced, it’s located in a wonderful beachside setting BUT most importantly the staff are just insanely nice. Always wearing the biggest smiles which made you feel so welcome. We ate here a few times and loved each occasion.

Cycling around the Island to Charlie Beach

You can easily hire scooters in Koh Mook or grab a free bike like we did from our accommodation. My insta worthy yellow beach cruiser was the perfect companion to explore the island. We cycled through local villages, took a cruise to our moonlit dinner reservations and visited Charlie Beach (also known as Farang Beach) on the other side of the island.

Beach cruiser palm tree grove, Coco lodge, Koh Mook, Thailand
Beach Cruiser at Coco Lodge, Koh Mook, Thailand
Cycling on Koh Mook Island, Thailand
Cycling on Koh Mook, Thailand

Beachcombing

That favourite past time to while away the hours on the beach whilst you search for mermaid treasure (that’s what I like to call the shells I collect – or hoard as my husband would say!) You have come to Koh Mook to relax right? So take in the views, stroll along the beach and see what treasures you can find

Tropical Beach Shells, Koh Mook, Thailand
Cowrie Shells on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand

Emerald Cave

This is actually one activity that we didn’t do when we were there but we heard great things.

WHERE TO STAY? We stayed at Koh Mook Coco Lodge. Offering simple bamboo huts in a palm tree grove located right by the ocean. Only a 10 minute walk from Sivalai Beach and an even shorter walk to the local town where all the restaurants are located this was the perfect place for us.

They offer free bicycles to use, the huts are really clean ( they are also made up everyday for you) and come with free bottles of drinking water. They do have their own restaurant which we had breakfast in but wouldn’t recommend it. There are also a lot of wild dogs here which some may find a bit aggressive but we didn’t mind them. The owners are very friendly but speak little English. All in all it was great value for money.

Thai Bamboo beach huts on Koh Mook, Thailand
Coco Lodge Bamboo Huts, Koh Mook
Koh Mook tropical sunsets Thailand
Beautiful Koh Mook sunset

How Long to Stay? We stayed for 3 nights but you could easily spend longer in Koh Mook. If you are looking for a quiet little paradise then a week wouldn’t be a stretch.

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Koh Lipe – Thailand

Koh Lipe – Your Guide to this Thai Island Paradise

Thai Long Tail Boats on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Traditional Thai Long Tail Boats, Koh Lipe, Thailand

WHERE IS KOH LIPE? Located near the Malaysian border in the Andaman sea in Thailand, Koh Lipe is one of the furthest islands to visit on the traditional Thai Island hopping route. 

HOW TO GET THERE? There are several ways that you can access Koh Lipe with the most common being by ferry, speedboat or van+ferry combo. 

From the Islands– You can access Koh Lipe from another island (we came straight from Koh Lanta) using the ferry or speedboats.

From the Mainland– If you travel from the mainland then you can go by ferry from Pakbara Pier with Hat Yai being the closest airport.

Swimming on Koh Lipe Island in front of Castaway Resort, Thailand
Swimming on Koh Lipe Island, Thailand

WHY VISIT? If you like white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise ocean, access to dive sites and a bustling town with cool restaurants and bars then Koh Lipe is the perfect fit for you.

Pros – We loved staying on Sunrise Beach as it was one of the best beaches we visited on our trip in Thailand due to the white sand and clear ocean.

Koh Lipe Castaway Resort Beach on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Castaway Resort Beach, Koh Lipe Island, Thailand

Cons – It is more expensive to stay in Koh Lipe than surrounding islands. Accommodation costs more along with essentials like soft drinks and beer in the local supermarkets being almost twice the price. 

Top Sights

Sunset Beach

Take a walk across the island to visit Sunset Beach. You can snorkel once here and watch the sunset with a cold brew or two.

Diving with Castaway Resort

Located at Castaway Resort they run daily dive activities along with snorkelling tours. You can learn to dive with them and even hire out water sports equipment.

Walking Street

The bustling Walking Street is where all of the restaurants and bars are located. It runs directly between Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. Offering a selection of food for all budgets, our favourite was Banana Roti’s from the street food stalls. You will notice how much they love condensed milk here so a drizzle of that on your Roti is the perfect finishing touch.

Sunrise Beach Walk at Sunrise

Watching the sunrise on the beach is always a favourite pastime of ours and it was made all the easier because we stayed on the beachfront. This time of the morning is always quiet here and perfect for relaxing before a busy day ahead. You could even follow your sunrise walk with Yoga or Sunrise meditation at Castaway Resort.

Palm Trees at Andaman Resort

Palm Trees on the beach at the Andaman Resort on Koh Lipe, Thailand
Andaman Resort Palm Trees Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Walk to the North of Sunrise Beach and you reach the Andaman Resort which is home to a selection of stunning palm trees. The perfect backdrop to your island vacation photos. 

Palm trees on the beach at the Andaman Resort on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Perfect spot for your holiday photos, Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe.
beach views on Koh Lipe in Thailand
Views from the beach on Koh Lipe, Thailand.

WHERE TO STAY? Sunrise beach is the most beautiful beach on the island and we were lucky enough to stay at Castaway Resort. We stayed in a Beachfront Breezy Bungalow and it was just pure magic.

Castaway Resort Thai beachfront villa on Koh Lipe Island
Our Beachfront Villa at the Castaway Resort on Koh Lipe.

These two floored bungalows overlook the ocean which you can admire from either your hammock on the front deck or from your bedroom balcony (or even your bed if you feel like it). The ground floor is your spacious bathroom with steps leading up to the second floor bedroom. The bed situated in the centre of the room is the main focus and the perfect place to relax and listen to the ocean breeze.

Beachfront hammock and private villa deck
Our very own beachfront deck and hammock, Castaway Resort, Koh Lipe.

With woven beach bags, floor cushions and lockable chests to keep your valuables safe, it’s the little touches that make a big difference. This eco friendly resort does not offer hot showers or air con but we felt neither of these were needed. With the heat of the sun, a cold shower was the perfect way to cool down and the ocean breeze provided sweet relief in the evenings. They also use an initiative called Trash Hero to help keep the island clean from plastic pollution by encouraging you to refill your water bottles (or purchasing one of their refillable bottles) from their filtered water station.

Private Beachfront villa accommodation on Koh Lipe Thailand
Can we just live here forever? Koh Lipe, Thailand

The resort has it’s own dive shop where you can take dive/snorkel trips and even learn to dive. You can take part in yoga classes, treat yourself to a spa treatment and even experience sunrise meditation. With a beautiful alfresco restaurant and bar offering fantastic food and a daily happy hour this resort has everything you need for a trip to Koh Lipe. To find out more about Castaway Resort click here.

tropical happy hour cocktails on Koh like
Cocktails and Happy Hour?! Yes Please!

HOW LONG TO STAY? We found 3 nights is the perfect amount of time to visit Koh Lipe

Thank You to the Castaway Resort for hosting us, our stay was gifted and all opinions are our own. We truly only recommend places that we absolutely love.

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