Electric city life, rich culture, modish eateries and senescent architecture. Sound like a mishmash of requirements of a group of young travelers? Well, it is. We at TrendE know that travelling as a student can be daunting, especially when trying to cater to everyone’s needs and wants on a budget. It’s almost impossible to find a singular destination to accommodate everyone…or is it? With a mix of old and new, Eastern and Western, not to mention outrageously affordable, Bangkok is the wanderer’s dream and will grab a hold of your soul for good!
The capital of Thailand is a large city boasting many arabesque temples, bustling street food markets and a multitude of discount malls where (if you’re willing to bargain) you can get plenty of bang(kok) for your buck.
Shop till you drop (in replicas)
Our first stop, the Mahboonkrong Mall ( more locally known as MBK) is the number one stop for all your (replica) name brand needs. From Gucci to Fendi, MBK’s stalls have it all. And what’s more, you can get almost anything for a fraction of what you would pay at official retailers. To save yourself the extra buck, remember to put on your pokerface and get out your haggling boots because these vendors did not come to play! Just as quickly as they get out their infamous calculators, we were hooked and spent the entire day exploring MBK’s 8 floors of fashion, electronic and food heaven.
Looking for those Gucci slides you saw Bella Hadid rocking? Look no further than floor 2! A quirky new phone cover? The 4th floor has any kind you fancy. Or maybe you’re feeling peckish after hours of bargain hunting which, by the way, can be done on the amazingly discreet market on the 3rd floor. The 6th floor is home to the MBK Food Island, where you’ll find a cornucopia of foods from all over the world. A personal favorite of ours was Bon Chon Chicken, a Korean fried chicken restaurant with dishes averaging around 220 THB (R95,97) ,with probably the best chicken and waffles you’ll have in your lifetime!
Where to stay
When the day comes an end, we imagine you’d like to rest your tired feet, luckily the lavish Panthumwan Princess hotel is conveniently linked to MBK Mall. Though, keeping in mind your student budget, we found you much more affordable digs that don’t compromise on comfort or cleanliness. The Spades Hostel in Ratchathewi is the ideal place for your group of gals or guys to rest after a day of exploring. A mere 5 minutes away from the MBK via the BTS Skytrain, MTR subway or taxi, The Spades is conveniently located but a stone’s throw away from most major hot spots and transport . A family room with either 2 bunk beds or 2 king size beds (estimating for a group of 4 people staying for 5 days) would set you back about R1600 per person (around R330 each per night). Alongside free WiFi and dainty decor, inside the hostel is a premium tea & coffee room as well as a mock-tail bar.
Food, food, food and high-end fashion
Day 2 came around and we were still reeling from our MBK experience, but decided to visit the Siam Center, one of the top malls for high-end fashion (or as we dubbed it, “the full price mall”). It conveniently interconnects to Siam Paragon, making them all easy to reach via the BTS sky-walk, as well as being a mere stroll away from the MBK area.
Although you’re unlikely to score a deal on fashion and accessories, the food courts leave absolutely nothing to be wanted for. The food scene in Bangkok truly leaves you spoilt for choice, with a mix of familiar franchises and cheap local dishes. One thing you definitely won’t find back home are their infamous Thai street food markets. Now, we know not everyone is up for trying street side food stalls Amazing Race style. The street food markets, both inside Siam Center and outside in the space interlinking the two, are a slightly safer option for the not-so-adventurous few. It is easy to spend a whole day exploring this entanglement of malls.
Goodbye shopping bags and hello walking shoes! Our 3rd day saw us temple-hopping between some of the most iconic temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho (home of the reclining Buddha) and the Grand Palace. Although the reclining Buddha is one of Thailand’s most iconic sights, the lines definitely can put a dampener on one’s excitement. Unless you are prepared to wait an hour plus and place your shoes on a rack (with about 100 others), we suggest sticking to the Grand Palace. With gold florets adorning every cornice, the Grand Palace is a must for anyone seeking the ultimate #travel goals pic! Not to mention minimal queuing time.
More must-see places
As the evening began to near we changed out of our temple-appropriate attire (closed shoulders, knees & toes as well as no tights or sportswear), we took a taxi to the towering King Power Mahanakhon. As the highest point in Bangkok, the Mahanakhon stands 314m high and contains a rooftop bar and lookout point on the top floor, as well as a glass sky-walk under which one can see the bustling streets of Bangkok from the highest point. At a cost of around 1020 THB, the Mahanakhon is not a cheap date but, the view is priceless and totally worth the splurge!
With so many activities offered in Bangkok, it would be impossible to cover all of them in one article. So to narrow it down, here is a list of the top 3 must-try activities to shell out for, or save on during your stay in Bangkok:
Worth the splurge:
- Walk in the sky at Mahanakhon (1017 THB)
- Calypso Cabaret Ladyboy Show (930 THB)
- Grand Palace Historical Tour (1180 THB)
- Take a tuk-tuk to a nearby cafe or mall (100-250 THB)
- Full Body Thai Massage in MBK Floor 1 (400 THB)
- Have authentic Pad Thai (50-100 THB)
Hidden costs are easily incurred while travelling, as food and a bed are basic necessities, but for your convenience, we’ve recommended tried and tested lodging, restaurants and activities to make sure you won’t be eating end of the month salticrax when you return home! No need for a travel agent, all you need is your hard-saved cash, passport and some mates to make your holiday memorable! So, the ever popular saying amongst those with wanderlust, that not all who wander are lost, resonates more than ever after this trip to Thailand. Our hearts have been captured and we will yearn for the oriental gem till our next trip. So, do yourself a favor, grab a group of friends, embrace your inner nomad and let your hearts guide you to Bangkok!
Will you be visiting Bangkok for a vacay? Let us know in the comments below!