World on a Budget: Bangkok
One of the best things about Bangkok is that it already is a prime destination for the budget friendly. It has all the sights and sounds that you would want in a city vacation. The city has elements of the old and the new; the urban and the traditional all in one place. You can travel around the city easily and try out exotic cuisine without spending a fortune. But if you want to take the savings a step further and spend your money where it really counts, this handy guide can get you to the best places and activities for free.
Puppet Shows of Old
Thai puppetry is deeply rooted in the country’s tradition but this ancient performance is getting rarer by the day. The Artist House is one of the few places where you can watch an otherworldly maneuvering of intricately-made puppets. This show promises to be unlike anything you’ve seen before and the settings rest the past ways of the country. Captivating life-size statues gaze at the river from the house’s veranda while a 600-year-old stupa sits in the back garden. The show starts at 2:00 p.m. every day, except Wednesdays.
Malls Like No Other
While shopping isn’t exactly free, some of Bangkok’s malls are definitely worth a visit. With the mall’s outlandish themes, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities to share with friends. Terminal 21 features floors that are themed around a certain international city. London, San Francisco, and Tokyo are just some of the cities you can ‘visit’ while hanging out at the mall. Bathrooms are also themed accordingly, too!
Also worthy of mention are Mansion 7, a mall with a haunted house theme, and Asiatique, a night bazaar market.
At the Chatuchak Weekend Market, you don’t have to spend anything to have a wonderful time. The market’s grounds sprawls over 35 acres and is known as the largest market in the world. Over 5,000 stalls selling everything from live animals to religious artifacts can be found in this amazing market. The nearby Chatuchak Park is a great place to unwind after perusing the unique finds.
Bangkok is literally bursting with temples. This city has balanced its modern skyscrapers with ornate temples that feature celestial Buddhas and other artifacts of worship. Almost every neighborhood has a temple nearby and most of them can be toured for free.
Head to Wat Pathum Wanaran that's just across Siam Square. The temple is located beside two shopping centers, CentralWorld and Siam Paragon, so it is very easy to tour after shopping. Wat Indraviharn in Khao San Road has a shimmering 32-meter Buddha that will surely impress tourists. The biggest and most important Chinese temple, Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, is situated in Chinatown.
At the Wat Mahathat, you can experience monastic life and a divine insight to your questions. Free meditation classes at 7 a.m. are offered daily while fortunes are also told within the temple.
Thai Boxing Matches
A Muay Thai match at Lumpini Stadium will cut you back a thousand baht but you can watch Thai boxing for free at the same level of intensity. The MBK Shopping Center holds junior fighter matches outside the mall for free. Held every Wednesday starting at 6 p.m., MBK Fight Night offers the right dose of adrenaline and excitement without costing a cent!
At the heart of Siam’s shopping district stands the Erawan Shrine. This popular shrine stands beside Erawan Shopping Mall but still draws people to make their offerings and pay their respects. Hundreds of yellow flowers surround the small, golden statue. A group of Thai classical dancers also perform at the shrine several times in a day, offering their thanks to the gods and mesmerizing visitors with their graceful performance.
Rivers and Sunsets
Wat Arun is a wonderful sight to behold during sun sets. Standing along the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun’s location makes it picture perfect as the sunsets behind it. There are plenty of places along the river to go to if you want to enjoy the marvelous view over drinks or dinner.
Learning is Free
There are plenty of museums that can be enjoyed free of charge in Bangkok. The best and most celebrated of these museums is the Bangkokian Museum, which features the essence of Thai identity and artworks. Enjoy modern Thai exhibits at the Silpa Bhirasri Memorial or discover different kinds of prisoner contraptions at the Correction Museum, a former prison.