Discover the bustling city of Bangkok on a budget with Marco Polo’s top money saving tips:
The Chuvit Garden off of the hubbub of Sukhumvit Road is a lovely place to relax. It is a private park that belongs to a wealthy man who doesn’t charge an admission fee. The park is particularly peaceful and atmospheric in the early evenings when the lanterns are lit.
Tourists have to pay an admission fee in Bangkok’s most renowned temples but off the beaten track you can find wonderful monasteries that do not require a donation. One of the best is the Wat Bonwon Wiwet Monastery, which is a peaceful green oasis with exquisite murals and ponds full of fish and turtles. Daily 9am–6pm | Free admission | Phra Sumen Rd | Near Khao San Rd | Saen Saep khlong boat: Tha Phanfa
Discover Designs from all over the world at the Thailand Creative & Design Centre. View the international highlights from a variety of fields – ranging from the Vespa to the Barbie doll. This creative centre, which is supported by the government, contributes towards making Bangkok a design metropolis. There is a lovely café with a gorgeous view of the city, a souvenir shop and also a library of 25,000 (mostly English) books about art, architecture and design. The TCDC is situated in the upmarket Emporium shopping centre and is a popular meeting place for creative young Thais. Tue–Sun 10.30am–9pm | Free admission | 6th floor of the Emporium shopping centre | Sukhumvit Rd, Soi 24 | www.tcdc.or.th | Skytrain: Phrom Pong (direct entry)
Affordable gourmet cuisine: the restaurants in the city’s top hotels all compete for custom and many offer excellent and reasonably priced lunch menus. For as little as 400 baht you can dine in high-class restaurants. See the ‘Bangkok Post’ for all the special offers.
Massive choice at minimum prices: the large shopping centres all offer a huge selection of meals including Thai, Chinese, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines. Some of the best are: Siam Paragon, Central World, Emporium, Mah Boonkrong (all on the Skytrain route).
Cabbages and condoms: Don’t be put off by the name of this restaurant nor the framed condoms on the wall. The restaurant is run by a birth control and AIDS prevention organisation and everyone receives a condom with the bill. They serve Thai food that has just the right level of spiciness for the Western palate. There is also the option to dine outside in the tropical garden. Open Daily | 10 Sukhumvit Rd, Soi 12 | Tel. 0 22 29 46 10 | www.pda.or.th/restaurant | Skytrain: Nana | MRT: Sukhumvit
Street vendors do their shopping at the Bo Beh Market where you can buy jeans and T-shirts for next to nothing. Items are usually sold in dozens, but you can ask for individual pieces at the discretion of the dealer. Krung Kasem Rd | Saen Saep khlong boat: Tha Charoenrat | Skytrain: National Stadium, then 5 minutes by taxi.
Bangkok’s shopping centres are constantly trying to attract custom by offering discounts. Check up on sale dates in the city’s newspapers: the ‘Bangkok Post’ and ‘The Nation’.
Happy Hour in Bangkok’s bars is usually from about 5pm to 8pm and drinks cost 50% less. Posters or bar bouncers will let you know which bars have a happy hour.
Cheap Charlie’s – the name says it all. The only place you will find cheaper beer is at the supermarket! The open air bar is an institution and a favourite among Western patrons. It is outside of the main bar area but still in the middle of the tourist centre. Daily 5pm–midnight | Sukhumvit Rd, Soi 11 (across from the Ambassador Hotel) | Skytrain: Nana
The Dallas Cowboy Pub is the place where live bands perform country and western music. The beer is cheap, the Thai cuisine is spicy and the clientele are usually students. Daily 6pm–1am | 412 Siam Square, Soi 6 | Tel. 0 22 55 32 76 | Skytrain: Siam Central
Even on the supposedly expensive Sukhumvit Road, you can still find very reasonably priced accommodation. The Suk 11 Hostel offers basic rooms (with air-conditioning) from 500 baht. 80 rooms | 1/33 Sukhumvit Rd, Soi 11 (across from the Ambassador Hotel) | Tel. 0 22 53 59 27 | www.suk11.com | Skytrain: Nana
The D&D Inn is one of the better bed and breakfasts in the area with rooms that have air-conditioning, a tv and a fridge. There is also a swimming pool. 65 rooms | 68–70 Khao San Rd | Tel. 0 26 29 05 26 | www.khaosanby.com | Saen Saep khlong boat: Tha Phanfa
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