The Ultimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide
When you are about to travel to Bangkok, you should have been looking at the following ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide before. Bangkok is a pulsing and crazy city, with a lot of cool stuff to do and see as well as many things you should watch out for/ know about. Bangkok is a world metropole and a must see when you are in Thailand. So, definitely give it a try, regardless of what you might have heard of it before.
I have only heard bad stuff about Bangkok before I went there. People told me it is dirty, to crowded, dangerous, polluted and much more. This is true in a way, but there is also countless of positive stuff you need to take into consideration when you think of Bangkok. I have to admit, that I did not really liked Bangkok at that specific time.
Because of what I got told, I was prejudiced, which is not good at all. Never do that. Today, I regret it, because I know better and now I see what crazy cities like Bangkok really have to offer. I don’t want anyone to do the same mistake that I did. This is why I put together this ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide for you, guys.
As you will read, I tried to cut it down to the core, because of a couple reasons. The most important one for me was, that I think, the more a quick guide tells and offers you, the more stressed you might be, once you are there, because ultimately we all would love to see as much as we can, but that’s just not possible. I know other travel bloggers would do it exactly the opposite way (the more you know, the more options you have and the more you can choose from), but I like to keep it simple. That is why this ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide only thematises a stuff you really need to know.
So, lets get started!
Ultimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide – General information
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and by far the biggest city. It is the pivotal point of the whole country. Whereever you wanna go, you have to fly or drive through Bangkok. Bangkok was founded in the 17th century. Today this city has about 8.2 million citizens. If you add the outer regions, then it summarizes up to 14 million. A crazy number!
It has a lot of different kind of faces to it. On the one hand it is really modern and clean in specific areas. But one the other hand it has a very poor and dirty side to it. The population in Bangkok only consists of Thai people (99 %), which is very different to European countries, where you find a lot of foreigners anywhere.
The climate is typical for the subtropical area. It normally sets between 24°C – 33°C on an average. It is always humid. Especially in the wet season (May to October). In dry season it is not that bad, but still you always start sweating without even moving 😉
How to get to Bangkok
Bangkok can be reached in different ways. Most tourists and travellers come by plane though. Except they are already in the country, then most people use normal bus companies to get around the country, even though a domestic flight is not to expensive. I recommend to take the bus for longer distances, because they are cheap and they mostly drive during the night. So, you don’t really loose to much time.
Short tip: Always take your valuable stuff with you and don’t store it with all the backpacks in the storage rooms. During a night drive, more than 300 $ got stolen out of my backpack from the storage room under the bus. Some people (I got told some bus companies tell their employees to do so) opened every single backpack to find valuables. So, watch out!
Getting around in Bangkok
Always try to get your own scooter, if you are not afraid to drive in this busy enviroment. Driving in Southeast Asia is very, very different to what you have probably experienced yet. Or just take a “Tuk Tuk”. They are cheap and you get around very quick. You will find them at any corner of the street. It is like driving taxi, just cooler 😉
You can also take normal busses, a normal taxi or the train within the city. Does not matter, which way you choose, they are all cheap and quite an adventure.
Food in Bangkok
I had to put this information into this ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, because it is really fascinating to me. Thai food is very delicious and unique in my opinion. Thai people like to eat spicey. They love simple food. Especially street food like fried noodles with veggies, rice with curry, different types of soup or just fresh fruits.
But what got me hooked the most, have been the fried exotic animals like scorpions, spiders, crickets and much more. It might be normal in Bangkok and Thailand in general, but for western people it is quite unusual to see that kind of food. I found it to be very interesting though. I actually liked the crickets, because I ate them in Australia before. So, give that crazy stuff a try! You will find it almost everywhere.
Ulimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide – Highlights and what to see
This is the part of the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide where it comes down to how long you stay in this city. I have only stayed in Bangkok for 3 days. That’s what most travelers do, because, as said, most travelers don’t really like it. So, they leave pretty quickly to go to the north to see places like Chiang Mai or to the south to see the islands like Koh Tao or Koh Phangan. So, I just let you know about the stuff you can and should see in 3 days.
The Khaosan Road is famous and it has to be in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide. It is the place where most travelers go to, because you find the cheapest hostels there and it is THE place to have a great night out. Bar after bar, restaurant after restaurant, cheap prices and special/ crazy stuff to see anywhere. It is also the place where some parts of the Hangover 2 movie was filmed.
Ping Pong show
This is quite controversal, but I still needed to put it in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, because it is something special about this city. A Ping Pong show is a nighttime performance in dodgy bars, where naked women do all kinds of tricks with her vagina. I know it sounds disgusting at first, but for some girls it is the only way to make money a local told me. I personally did not really like it to much, but I was definitely an experience I never forget. It is only about 10 $ for half an hour to watch it and I have met two girls from the UK during the performance I watched. It was a birthday gift (weird ey?) from one of them.
So, it can not be that bad, if even these girls went there. But decide for yourself…
Wat Trai Mit
Is a temple area in the middle of the city. I can highly recommend this temple area. It’s very pretty. Additionally I not only recommend it, because of the nice golden statues, but also, because of the view from the top. It feels like you can see the entire Bangkok. Such a nice view!
This temple is a Buddhist temple where you can pray and have a look at all kinds of statues…
Golden Buddha Statue
The Golden Buddha is huuuge. It’s quite impressive. Additionally it is an important symbol for a lot of Thai people. But there is not only this one in the temple area of Wat Trai Mit. You can marvel at many others.
In this case I do not pick out 1 specific one, because Bangkok has heaps of them, but I had to put them under the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, because the view from any sky bar is just absolutely fantastic. And to get up is not to expensive. So, give it a try. You’ll love it. Promised!
Don’t miss out on this one. The floating markets in Bangkok are really special. It is such a cool scenery and you get so much cool stuff there. Mainly delicious food and clothes. It is a cool experience to be at a market where you can only get around with a boat and shop directly from the local vendors.
Another controversial thing to do is visiting the Tiger temple. I have not done this one, but I still had to put it in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, because it is a big attracion for many people. At the tiger temple you can pet tigers and take photos with them. I don’t like the this kind of animal treatment. Even though the operators say the tigers get treated very well, you can easily see that this is not true. This is why I highly advise against this activity. But still, everyone has his/ her own choice to make 🙂
Wat Arun & Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is another temple area and you should not miss it. It might be prettiest one out of all temple areas within Bangkok. You can find the famous emerald Buddha in there. Also check out Wat Arun, which is another temple in Bangkok. The best spot to get a good photo and where you have the best view onto it is from the other riverside. It just looks stunning. Try it out!
The Golden Mount is another temple area where you have a great view over Bangkok. Additionally you can see heaps of nice ornaments in there. The Golden Mount itself is very pretty, because of its style. It’s golden from the outside with beautiful decorations. A great eyecatcher!
Ulimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide – Budget saving tips
There are heeeeaps of budget saving tips out there for anything you can possibly think of regarding travelling. I just wanted to put the stuff into the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, that I personally always use and that refer to Bangkok. I don’t want to give you general tips here, but advice, that is perfect for this city (usable in whole Thailand though).
Use your credit card to get money
The Thai people will tell you exactly the opposite when you enter the country or when you run around the city. They will tell you it is way better to change your money at a currency exchange. They try to convince you over and over again. Don’t listen to them. Just like anywhere in the world it is better to get the highest amount possible out of the ATM by using your credit card. You might pay a little fee (depends on your credit card), but you still end up being better with this option.
Take the Tuk Tuk
The cheapest and easiest way to get around is the Tuk Tuk. I have met a couple people in Bangkok, who rather wanted to take a taxi, because they said it is saver. But Bangkok is not dangerous, if you stick to tourist spots. Don’t worry. And, because the streets are crazy busy in Bangkok, the Tuk Tuk is the best way to get around not spending a lot of money.
Search for a cheap hostel
One of my favourites! Some travelers don’t want to stay in cheap hostels, because they need comfort or they have heard a couple negative things about them like “they are dirty” for e.g.. But in Bangkok most hostels have a pretty good standard. They are not like the dodgy ones in small villages, away from civilization. And staying in them is a good way to save money instead of paying big amounts on a hotel room.
This is almost like tradition to me. That’s why I had to put it in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide. In Bangkok you will find an overload of sales people constantly asking you to buy something from them. And there is sooo much stuff to chose from. So, if you decide to buy something, that you like, than negotiate as much as you can. Thai people will give you a very high price first. Always retaliate with 1/5 of that price. Some of them might get angry. Some of them just don’t talk to you anymore. But that’s not a problem, just go to the next. There will be one where you get the stuff, that you want for the price, that you want.
And, if you don’t, than just always tell them this: “You give me ridiculously high price, so, I give you a very, very low price mate!” Say it with the proper attitude and they will start talking to you again or not be angry anymore. It always works and then the negotiations can go on.
Eat street food
In my opinion this is also an important one. That’s why I had to put it in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide. Street food is a very good opportunity to save money, because it is cheaper than going into restaurants and it’s more convenient compared to cooking your own food. Cooking your own food is a very good thing too. But it takes a lot of time, which you could spend on other cool things. And, because the food in Bangkok is very healthy most of the time and prepared within 2 minutes, it’s just the best option in my opinion. Additionally you have soooo much to choose from.
So, just eat street food. And by the way, streetfood is really fresh as well, because the vendors have to have fresh food. They get new products every single day. So, there is not big difference in cooking yourself or eating streetfood.
Ulimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide – Accommodation tips
This part is also very important and it needs to be in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, so that you guys know where to go. I am gonna leave out the expensive hotels in Bangkok, because I assume, that most readers are more into a good combination of good standard for an affordable price or just searching for a cheap place to stay at. To still give you some options on high budget accommodation, have a look at these three:
The second thing it would recommend to you is to check into a backpacker hostel. They are cheap, and as said above, the standard in Bangkok is always quite good in comparison to the price you pay. I have stayed directly at the Khaosan Road at a place called Chada hostel, which is at the right end of the street. I took it, because it was clean, cheap (about 10 $), in the centre, close to all the hot spots, not to loud at night and, because you have your own room.
Obviously you can find countless more backpacker hostels, which might be suitable for you. Most of them can be found around the Khaosan Road. You will not have any problems to find one and they are all pretty much the same.
Besides that, I would recommend you to search for a homestay or maybe even use Couchsurfing, which is always a very good option in my opinion. I did both. A homestay in Bali for 1 week and did couchsurfing in Melbourne. My experiences with it have not been in Bangkok, but it is pretty much the same everywhere.
I can only recommend both types of accommodation. With both options you will be comfortable and stick to a low budget. Plus, you get to know the locals, which is always a good thing. Sometimes you even understand each other that well, that you might even become friends or at least have a contact to can always come back to. Of course there are also some black sheep. So, just watch out a little.
Ulimate Bangkok Backpacker Guide – What to watch out for
Guys, the last thing I want to tell you about in this ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide is what you should watch out for in my opinion. Even though Bangkok has a lot of positives, it still does have some negatives, as said at the start – just like any other city in the world.
People in Bangkok are friendly most of the time, except of some sales people, who are idiots. But that belongs to the 2nd point. Nevertheless Bangkok does have some bad people, who want to steal from you. Especially from “stupid” backpackers. Always make sure to store your valuables safely (in a safe at your accommodation), to keep your relevant belongings with you (close to your body) and watch out, when people come to close to you with their quick hands 😉 And maybe don’t go into dark alleys at night on your own. I had a big issue with that…
If you stick to the advice, then you should be fine.
To be clear about this topic straight from the start: I don’t dislike sales people. I have actually worked in sales myself and I think sales is a good thing. It’s very missunderstood by many people, because it has a bad image, but if you take a closer look, it is very valueble to our society.
That said, I have to say, that the bad image obviously comes from somewhere and you can see that with 95% of the salesmen in Thailand. Especially in Bangkok it’s even worse. That’s why I had to put it into the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide to inform you about it to make sure you know about the following before you arrive.
Most Bangkok sales people see you as a walking ATM machine. One salesman even told me that one time. They don’t look at you like a customer with needs, but more as if you are a walking $ sign. And that’s how you get treated. They approach you countless times. Sometimes even a group of people at the same time. This might just be temperament or the natural behaviour in Southeast Asia, but in my opinion it is very rude and it can get very annoying.
So, brace yourself to that…
Dangerous suburbs/ places
This is a common sense thing, but I still wanted to put it in the ultimate Bangkok backpacker guide, because sometimes people carelessly forget about that. Don’t go to dangerous suburbs or any dangerous place in Bangkok. You have these bad places in almost any bigger city of the world. Especially in countries, that can be considered as poor countries. And Thailand is still one of them, even though it is very developed in comparison to other countries within Southeast Asia. I am not saying, that something has to happen, when you walk around poor neighbourhoods, but the chances are likely higher than in normal/ save suburbs.
But of course that’s up to you as well…
I guess, you don’t want to get food poisoning 🙂 I had that in Southeast Asia one time and it is not very nice. So, do one of these three things:
- Cook for yourself and buy your food from local market or the supermarket
- Eat street food – 99% of the time it’s fresh and you won’t get sick
- Eat where the locals eat – These places are always good in quality, cheap and fresh
Guys, at the end of the day, it is all up to you. You can use all these tips or just do it the way you want to do it. But I promise you one thing: If you take all the stuff I listed above into consideration, then you will be save, you’ll save money and you will eventually get the best out of your short stay in Bangkok!
Want to know more about Chiang Mai? Read here