Backpacking Bangkok: Ultimate Bangkok Budget Guide (2024)

Planning to backpack Bangkok?

Then you’ve come to the right place as I’m a full-time backpacker and I’ve backpacked Bangkok more than once.

Thailand and Bangkok are often known as the holy grail of backpacking – a right of passage into the world of budget travel, so to say.

But there can be quite a few questions which need answering before setting off on your trip, so I’m here to give you a complete guide to backpacking Bangkok.

Spoiler Alert: It’s really easy! Let’s get into it, shall we?

Backpacking Bangkok

The good news about backpacking Bangkok is that Bangkok is really cheap, which means it is really easy.

It also means that if you make a mistake such as overspending on dinner or buying the wrong type of ticket, you won’t have wasted too much on your error.

On my first budget trip to Bangkok, I spent 4 days in the city and I spent around 5,300 Baht ($150). That works out at around 1,325 ($37.50) per day, which is pretty cheap if you ask me.

This includes the four main expenses of backpacking: accommodation, activities, food and transport.

Image of a young man in a grey t-shirt and patterned shorts smiling with a blurred backdrop of Bangkok’s urban landscape.

Obviously some days I spent more than others, but to give you an idea of the average day for me, here is a breakdown of everything I spent on my first day (excluding accommodation).

Train from airport40 Baht
Grand Palace Ticket500 Baht
Wat Pho Ticket300 Baht
Wat Arun Ticket200 Baht
2x Ferry Rides10 Baht
2x 1.5L Water Bottles26 Baht
Chicken Pad Thai60 Baht
2x 30 minute bike taxis250 Baht
Total1386 Baht

It’s definitely possible to do it cheaper than I did too. For example, you can definitely find Pad Thai for less than 60 Baht, and the bike rides could be changed to public transport.

The beauty of backpacking is that everyone is different. Flashpacking in Bangkok is also really popular, for example.

To help you spend as little as possible on a trip to Bangkok while still having a good time, I’ll now go into detail about every aspect of where you spend your money while travelling to show you how to keep your spending tight.

Note that Bangkok is more expensive than other parts of Thailand since it is the capital, so naturally you will spend more money in the city than you will in other parts of Thailand.

The golden hour casts soft light on the towering stupas and lush greenery at Wat Pho, with silhouettes of visitors enjoying the peaceful surroundings

How To Get To Bangkok On A Budget

Bangkok is often the first destination for people backpacking the Banana Pancake Route, which means most people arrive in Bangkok by flying.

Obviously, it depends on where you are, but it’s usually cheaper to fly with a connection than to fly directly.

Me, for example, I got a flight from Dublin to Doha and then from Doha to Bangkok. Unfortunately, Ryanair doesn’t fly to Thailand – my flights would’ve been a lot cheaper if they did.

A Qatar Airways airplane docked at a gate during the night, illuminated by airport lights, with 'Qatar' and '25' prominently displayed.
This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps me to keep my site up and running! Read my disclaimer for more information.

If you are already in Southeast Asia, there could be some cheaper alternatives such as bus and train, but for most people, this will not be the case.

I recommend using Skyscanner to find the best flight deals. Remember to be flexible with your dates for the best prices, and make sure to look at all of your options thoroughly to find the cheapest price.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty expensive getting to Bangkok since it’s usually a very long flight, 14 hours in total for me, but the good news is that once you are in Bangkok, it’s cheap.

Motion-blurred shot from inside a boat showing another boat passing by in the floating market with vendors and colorful goods.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

Backpacking Bangkok Hostels

When I was in Bangkok, I stayed in the NapPark Hostel @ Khao San.

I can’t say it was my favourite hostel in the world, but it did the job and I would recommend it.

The rooms are very clean and there is aircon on all day long, so it’s always very cool in the rooms which is nice.

The NapPark Hostel sign with a logo of a sleeping person under a tree, alongside a pillar with the quote "hostel life can be a bit chaotic... but it's never boring."

It’s also really social as there are events every single day (usually karaoke in the evening or a free Thai boxing show) so it’s really easy to meet new people.

The hostel is also in a good location as it’s a few streets down from the famous Khao San Road, so you’re in the central hub for backpackers, but avoiding the huge prices of hostels actually on Khao San.

Book your stay at NapPark Hostel @ Khao San

How To Eat In Bangkok On A Budget

There are so many reasons to travel to Thailand, but one of the biggest reasons is the cuisine. And the best bit is, it’s cheap.

Eating in Bangkok on a budget is incredibly easy. The best way to eat is street food, and no, street food doesn’t give you food poisoning like all of the rumours.

Well, I suppose in some instances it can, but so can restaurants! 99% of the time, street food is safe to eat.

It’s more authentic too as it’s not a tourist trap, meaning the food is tastier and it’s cheaper.

Close-up of a traditional Thai dish, Pad Thai, served on a white paper plate with a mix of noodles, eggs, and greens.

On my first night in Bangkok, for example, I got this Pad Thai for 60 THB. That’s the equivalent of $1.68/€1.54/£1.32. The fact you can get whole meals in Thailand for less than $2 still blows my mind.

I’ve since seen Pad Thai for as low as 40 THB, so even if you “overpay” slightly as I did, it’s a minimal difference compared to currencies at home. That’s why I recommend backpacking Thailand if you are a beginner – it’s not a biggy if you make a “mistake”.

On a typical day, I spend like 130 THB on food. This looks like 60 THB on average for dinner, 40 THB on lunch (something from 7-Eleven) and 30 THB on snacks (again, 7-Eleven).

I always recommend to book a hostel with a free breakfast. Not only does it mean you don’t have to pay for 1/3 of meals for the day, but it’s always a good opportunity to get to know the people you are staying with in the hostel.

How To Get Around Bangkok On A Budget

Getting around the city while backpacking Bangkok is also really easy.

Once you’re in the touristy part, most of the main attractions aren’t too far apart. For example, from Khaosan Road to the Grand Palace is only a 20-minute walk.

And once you’re at the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are only a couple of minute’s walk (and ferry for 10 THB) away.

So one of the best ways to get around is by walking – which is obviously good if you’re on a budget, but it also allows you to get a real feel of Bangkok. I find I don’t get a true understanding of a place until I’ve walked its streets and experienced what everyday life is like there.

Busy street scene in Bangkok with a crowd of people, vendors, and vehicles, under a hazy sky, showcasing the vibrant street life.
A random street I walked down in Bangkok – see what I mean when I say you get a feel of the city?

For things a bit further afield, the best way of getting around when on a budget is by using Grab. Grab is Thailand’s equivalent of Uber, as it doesn’t operate there.

It’s very affordable and better than taxis as there are common scams in Bangkok where the “meter is broken” and you get overcharged.

Personally, I opt for the bikes on Grab as they’re considerably cheaper (usually a quarter of the price) and faster too as they weave in and out of traffic. The only downside is the lack of safety – most of the time you aren’t given a helmet.

Grab is one of the few Thailand travel apps I recommend that you 100% have downloaded.

First-person perspective of a night ride on a motorbike with the Grab logo on the driver’s jacket, reflecting urban nightlife transport.

10 Free Things To Do In Bangkok

When you’re backpacking in Bangkok, you’ll want to stick to mainly cheap or free things to do. I still recommend doing a temple tour in Bangkok to see the 3 “must-sees” but outside of this, you can definitely have a great time in the city by only doing these free things to do in Bangkok.

1. Walk up Khaosan Road

As a backpacker, you simply cannot visit Bangkok without taking a walk up or down Khaosan Road. It’s arguably the most famous backpacking street in the world.

While the tales of the road not being what it once was are true, it’s still worth checking out the street that is of such significance in the world of budget travel. Millions of backpackers just like you have walked down this exact street.

To be honest, I don’t even recommend eating, drinking or partying on the street as it’s way too overpriced due to its popularity, which is why walking down the street is one of the best things to do – the atmosphere in the street itself is still good.

Khaosan Road, a street in Bangkok popular for those backpacking in Bangkok, at dusk with rows of parked tuk-tuks and neon signs, highlighting the city’s nightlife ambiance.

2. Explore the Floating Markets

Just like with Khaosan Road, it would be impossible to make a trip to Bangkok as a backpacker or otherwise without checking out the floating markets.

There are a few options but I personally recommend the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. It was recommended to me by a friend who lives in Bangkok as it’s less touristy and there are actually locals buying things there – and my experience backs that up.

You can take a 1-hour canal tour for 100 THB if you want to, but it’s also possible to explore the canals for free by walking along them, so don’t feel like you have to, but it is very cheap and worth it in my opinion.

3. Window-shop in the street markets

Similarly, you can also check out some of Bangkok’s many street markets, both day and night markets.

You’ll probably stumble across them naturally, and they’re fascinating to walk through.

The phrase “you can find anything here” has become a cliche in the blogging world when talking about a shopping district, mall or market, but it actually is true for Bangkok’s markets. You can find quite literally anything you can think of.

But even if you don’t buy anything, nothing beats a bit of window-shopping every now and again.

4. See some temples

While the 3 big temples in Bangkok (Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun) have entry fees, they’re pretty small, especially the second two, so I still recommend checking them out.

But there are plenty of opportunities to see some temples in Bangkok for free. In fact, there are over 400 temples in the city, so you aren’t short of choice.

Even if you don’t go inside the temples, they are spectacular to admire from the outside. The fact they’re just scattered across the city is surreal.

Personally, I can only go to about 5 temples before I need a break from seeing temples, so I wouldn’t recommend jam-packing your day filled with temples.

The majestic Grand Palace in Bangkok under a clear blue sky, showcasing its golden roofs and ornate decorations with tourists taking in the sight.
The Grand Palace.

5. Admire the street art

Bangkok is known for its street art and there are countless opportunities to see it across the city.

Some of the most famous spots include Chok Chai 4, Soi Charoenkrung 32 and Soi Charoenkrung 30.

You can even take a self-guided street art tour to show you all of the best displays. If you’re a fan of art, you’ll love this aspect of Bangkok.

6. Relax in Lumpini Park

Lumpini Park is Bangkok’s answer to Central Park. It’s a great place to relax, people-watch, or enjoy a leisurely walk. Early mornings or late afternoons are perfect for experiencing the local life here – it’s also a really nice place to catch sunrise and sunset.

It’s a bit mindblowing to me how there’s somewhere so peaceful in a city so, for lack of a better word, not-peaceful, but thank goodness Lumpini Park exists.

You can easily spend a few hours here without spending a penny, so it’s great as a time-killer when backpacking in Bangkok.

7. Catch a free Muay Thai fight

There are lots of ways to embrace the culture in Thailand and in my opinion, one of the best ways is through Muay Thai.

I do recommend paying to do a Muay Thai class at some stage of your trip to Thailand, and I also recommend watching a fight.

Rather than paying for a fight though, you can actually catch a fight for free in Bangkok.

At MBK Fight Night, you can watch free Muay Thai fights showcasing this traditional Thai martial art on the first and last Wednesday of each month.

A Muay Thai gym scene with several athletes training, motorbikes parked in the foreground, hinting at a vibrant sports culture. Watching a muay thai fight is a must when backpacking Bangkok.

8. See the Erawan Shrine

The Erawan Shrine is a popular sight to see for tourists visiting Thailand. And while backpacking doesn’t usually consist of sightseeing…it never does any harm.

It’s a statue of Phra Phrom (the Thai representation of Brahma – the Hindu god of creation) so it’s what you could describe as a cultural experience if you need to justify visiting it.

If nothing else, it’s free. To be honest, I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it, but it’s a nice shrine to check out if you’re passing by. It’s near centralwOrld, so you could be nearby.

9. Take a free meditation class

Bangkok is the definition of a busy city and the perfect example of a city that never sleeps. Life in Bangkok is absolutely mental and I was a bit overwhelmed when I first arrived to be honest.

From the traffic to the markets, it’s crazy, and combine this with the culture shock and it’s pretty in your face.

So why not take some time to relax and unwind at a Buddhist temple, Wat Mahathat. There are free meditation classes here in English. Note they speak English well in Thailand.

They last 3 hours, and while they’re free, you are kind of expected to make a donation. But in my opinion, it’s more than worth it. It’s incredibly refreshing.

10. Walk through the streets of Bangkok

As I said in the “how to get around” section, one of my favourite things to do in Bangkok is to simply walk around the streets with no plan.

You never know what you’re going to find around the next corner whether it’s a temple, a market, a main road or an alley way with 10 stray dogs. It’s a lottery but I love gambling with it.

Bangkok is such a, put simply, hectic city, that I can entertain myself for hours by walking around and seeing what I can find. More often than not, I find something pretty cool. Bangkok is full of hidden gems too.

It’s really photographable too, and if you decide to post on your social media, make sure to check out my Instagram captions for Bangkok.

Busy daytime street scene in Bangkok with multiple lanes of traffic including cars, taxis, buses, and motorcycles, flanked by buildings with signs in Thai script, under a clear sky

Josh’s Top Tips For Backpacking Bangkok

Of course, when travelling on a budget, there are some general backpacking tips which apply to any destination, but there are some which are specific to Bangkok, and I’ve put them together for you to help you avoid making mistakes I have, to help your trip go as smoothly as possible.

  • Leverage the Rabbit Card for BTS Skytrain Rides – Save on transportation by using a Rabbit Card, a reloadable smart card for the BTS Skytrain. It offers discounts and saves time compared to buying single-journey tickets. The Skytrain connects major parts of the city, making it a convenient way to explore on a budget.
  • Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Savings on Mobile Data – Get a Thai tourist SIM card at 7-Eleven for unlimited data plans at a low cost. This is much cheaper than roaming services and keeps you connected for navigation, translation, and looking up local information. Note: the airport is extremely overpriced, buy them in Bangkok itself.
  • Or buy an eSIM – If you are from the US and have a new phone, your phone might not have a SIM card slot. If this is the case for you, I recommend getting an eSIM for Thailand, as they are actually really good value for money.
  • Use Revolut – While most places don’t accept cards in Thailand, Bangkok has the most places which do accept cards. It’s best to use Revolut in Thailand to avoid fees for paying in a foreign currency.
  • Avoid Tuk-Tuk Scams by Negotiating Fares in Advance – Tuk-tuks are iconic but can be pricey if you’re not careful. Always negotiate and agree on the fare before starting your trip to avoid overcharges. Better yet, compare the quoted price with the estimated fare on Grab for a ballpark figure.
  • Know the legal drinking age – The legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 years old. Some people mistakenly assume that it is 18, but this is not the case.
  • Take the Free Shuttle Boat to AsiatiqueAsiatique The Riverfront offers a free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin BTS Station. It’s a night market and entertainment complex by the river, combining shopping, dining, and shows, with no entry fee and affordable prices once inside.
  • You can’t drink tap water – I know what it’s like to travel on a budget and always drink tap water, but you can’t do this in Bangkok. Thailand’s tap water isn’t safe to drink, but thankfully, water is very cheap to buy from 7-Eleven.
  • Ride the MRT Subway after Peak Hours for Discounts – The MRT offers discounted fares during off-peak hours, which can save you money if your travel times are flexible.
  • Keep track of the time at home – Make sure you know the time difference for your home country so you can keep in touch with loved ones. It’s important to not forget about who’s waiting at home. For the UK, for me, the time difference with Thailand is 6 or 7 hours.


Below are some questions related to backpacking in Bangkok along with my answers to each question.

Where can backpackers go in Bangkok?

The most popular part of Bangkok for backpackers is Khaosan Road, although in the last few years it has become more of a hotspot for families and couples too. Still, there are some nice bars and clubs to check out in the area.

What is the famous backpacking street in Bangkok?

The famous backpacking street in Bangkok is called Khaosan Road. It’s got lots of popular clubs and bars, although the prices are higher since it’s so popular. In the last few years it has also grown in popularity for families and couples.

What is the minimum budget for Bangkok trip?

The minimum budget for a Bangkok trip is $15 a day to cover accommodation, food and activities. This isn’t considering transport to and from Bangkok. It won’t be a luxurious trip, but you can still get a good feel of what Bangkok has to offer.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a complete guide to backpacking Bangkok on a budget.

It’s one of the best cities in the world for backpacking, no doubt about it.

Bangkok offers the perfect introduction to the art of budget travel, and hopefully this blog post will have helped to show you the ropes.

Now that you know how to keep spending low in Bangkok, do you know where to go next? Backpacking Krabi is my recommendation.