If you're thinking of traveling solo abroad for the first time, you can't go wrong with Bangkok. There are many reasons why it's the most visited city in 2016: The sights to see are numerous, the people are beyond friendly, the location is convenient, the food is glorious, and the prices aren't so far from what we're used to here in the Philippines. With our budget-friendly guide, learn how you can spend a few days here without draining your sweldo for the month:
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
Entrance fee: 500 THB
You can't say you went to Bangkok if you didn't visit the Grand Palace. The 94.5-hectare walled complex is the city's most notable attraction, drawing hundreds of crowds every day. However, don't expect to bump into a princess here. Most of the Grand Palace's many buildings (there are over 100 of them) are off limits to visitors, and are only used by the King for special occasions. Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is also located within the Grand Palace complex: Spot the tiny jade Buddha sitting in a gilded shrine high up in the main temple building. It's the most sacred temple in the whole country, so dress appropriately!
Entrance fee: 100 THB
A stone's throw away from the Grand Palace complex is Wat Pho, Thailand's first public university and the home of the largest collection of Buddha images in the country. You won't see Thailand's biggest Buddha image here—that honor goes to the 92-meter tall statue in Wat Muang, north of Bangkok—but you will find the famous Reclining Buddha, a 46-meter long statue covered entirely in gold leaf that's almost too big for its temple (and incredibly tricky to photograph). Wat Pho is also the home of traditional Thai medicine, so if you want to get a truly authentic bone-cracking Thai massage, you've come to the right place!
Entrance fee: 50 THB
After Wat Pho, walk to the Tian Express Boat Pier to catch a three-baht ferry ride heading to Wat Arun, located on the other side of the Chao Phraya River. This temple is named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn, and it's known for its 79-meter prang, which is decorated with porcelain and ceramic pieces. There are stairs leading to the top of the prang, but it's a steep, dangerous climb, with the descent being just as scary.
Khao San Road
No entrance fee
If you've still got some energy left, head to the infamous Khao San Road, a short cab ride (or an estimated 30-minute walk) from the Grand Palace. It's one of the most famous backpacker areas in the world: The main road is teeming with food and souvenir street stalls, tour operators, money changers, and bars, while the surrounding streets are dotted with accommodation options for travelers of all budgets. Khao San really comes alive at night—go people-watching while downing some Singha or Chang beer, and watch for vendors brandishing scorpion and tarantula lollipops in your face (look all you want but don't take photos—they'll charge you).
Transportation expenses: 100 THB max for a round trip train ticket from Bangkok
Entrance fees – 350 THB
Bike – 50 THB
Ayutthaya, a major archaeological site located 80 kilometers north of Bangkok, was the capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. It's easy to join an organized tour going there, but DIY-ing a trip isn't so hard either (it's way cheaper, too!). A one-way train ticket to Ayutthaya from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong station can go for as low as 15 THB, and it's a very scenic journey. You can also take a bus or minivan from Mo Chit station—it's faster, but more expensive and not as scenic. Rent a bike to get around: Must-see sights include Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, the Ancient Palace, Wat Ratchaburana, and Wat Lokkayasutharam.
Visit a floating market
Transportation expenses: Around 200 THB max for a round trip van ticket from Bangkok
Boat expenses: Around 200 THB max
If it's your first time in Bangkok, you should, by all means, visit a floating market. The two most popular ones are Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa, both located outside the city. You can save yourself the hassle and just sign up for a floating market tour, but if you're on a tight budget, it's pretty easy to DIY. You can ride a bus or van going to Amphawa or Damnoen Saduak, hop on a boat, and observe the local life while munching on sticky rice and pad thai. If you're DIY-ing, make sure to wake up really so you'll get ahead of the hordes of tourists flocking to the markets.
No entrance fee
After grabbing lunch, ride the BTS' green line to SiamParagon, one of the biggest shopping malls in Bangkok. There are several malls located nearby: CentralWorld is another upscale mall, while Platinum is a bargain hunter's paradise. Want to see something really cool? Walk to the Nai Lert Park near Swissotel and check out the Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine, a green corner filled with schlong sculptures of all shapes and sizes.
Check out the nightlife
Budget: 1000 THB max
Bangkok's nightlife shouldn't be missed. For a taste of Bangkok's notorious Go-Go bar culture, you can head to Patpong in Silom or Soi Cowboy in Sukhumvit. Don't worry about getting into a The Hangover-esque misadventure in the red light districts: CCTV cameras are everywhere here, and you're never too far from the tourist police. Want something fancier? Head to the Sky Bar at the 64th floor of the Lebua State Tower, where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Bangkok skyline while sipping on some crazy expensive cocktails.
No entrance fee (but your wallet will most likely get drained)
Your last day in Bangkok's the best time to go souvenir shopping. If you're in Thailand for the weekend, Chatuchak (or JJ, as the locals call it) is the place to go for pasalubong shopping. It's their version of Divisoria: you'll find everything here, from clothes to pedicures to pad thai to puppies. That said, it's huge, and you can easily get lost wandering around the many stalls. If you're disoriented, head to the clock tower, located in the middle of the place.
Eat the street food
Aside from being really tasty, Thai cuisine is also incredibly affordable. The street food scene in Bangkok is legendary, and Pad Thai, satay, and Thai curry are no-fail picks that won't burn a hole in your budget.
Skip the tuktuks
If you really must, ride a tuktuk just once so you can say that you've been on one. The drivers will overcharge you, especially when they find out that you can't speak a word of Thai. Ride the taxis instead, and insist on having the meter switched on.
If you're used to Manila's crazy public transportation scheme (if you can even call it that), Bangkok's train and ferry system will be a breeze. You can easily take the BTS Skytrain and the buses to most of the city's top spots (including Suvarnabhumi Airport), while the Chao Phraya ferry system can take you to the Banglamphu area, where the Grand Palace is located. You'll save a lot, too!
Stay in a hostel
There's no shortage of cheap accommodation throughout Thailand—it's one of the top backpacking destinations in the world, after all. Some of the best hostels in the city: Lub D's Siam or Silom branches (starts at 285 THB a night for a bed in an eight-bed dorm), Nappark near Khao San Road (starts at 399 THB a night for a bed in a mixed dorm), and Bodega Hostel in Sukhumvit (starts at 425 THB for a bed in a mixed dorm).
BTS Stored Value Card: 150 THB
Additional commuting expenses within Bangkok (bus, cabs): 400 THB
Hostel accommodation: 450 THB/night max, 1800 THB for four nights
Meals: 300 THB / day, 1200 THB
Drinks: 1000 THB
Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho: 650 THB
Ayutthaya DIY trip: 500 THB
Floating Market: 400 THB
Total: 6,100 THB or 9,333 PHP