I went to Bangkok for 5 days with my family (oh my God!) and we set our budget to $100 USD
As a long-time solo traveller, it has been difficult for me to plan my travels with a group. Moving by myself without a plan has always been my greatest achievement without having to put extra efforts to. In March, while I was visiting home, my friends and I were able to score a seat sale. I was actually a bit hesitant about joining the group but it was about time that I try this group travel thing for the first time. I was pretty scared to be stressed as most of my friends didn’t travel as much – I was anxious (at the same time excited) to be the leader of the band.
Some things you may want to discuss before you go
It sucks to tackle our indifferences but let’s face it — we might all be travelling (and there is always someone in the group who will claim he/she is the pro traveller) but we are all unique individuals who lead unique lives — we will never have the same travel styles.
If you are the assigned leader of your team, ask everyone and consider what appeals to each of the members of your travel group. You may like extreme sports, relaxing on the beach, cityscapes, organised tours, etc but some of our friends are suited for certain activities. Conduct a poll and make sure to ask for everyone’s opinions.
I’m 100% sure that all groups of friends have that one person who always disagrees. If this is the case, play the ‘majority wins’ card to make things fair and easy.[/us_iconbox]
Like travel personalities, finance is another hard thing to discuss when it comes to group travel. You can’t just book a hotel you like if the people in your group can’t afford it. As I’ve experienced, staying in dorms is still the most favourable to the majority but put other options on the table.
The restaurants you’ll eat in is also one thing to consider. Luckily, it’s not difficult to find cheap (but very good) food in Thailand as they are all over the place! This applies to most countries in Southeast Asia so this region is still the best area to travel with friends.[/us_iconbox]
What to expect when travelling with your family to Bangkok
I have to be honest – I found no disadvantage in travelling with friends to Thailand. Surprisingly, we’ve managed to navigate our travels with very minimal disagreements. The only ‘disadvantage’ I see (which is honestly not a big deal at all) is becoming the leader of the band. Seeing me as the person who travels a lot, my friends heavily relied on me with itineraries, directions and everything that goes with travelling.
I’ve known these people since I was young so we pretty much have the same wavelength. Knowing the friends you travel with plays a big part in travelling with friends to Thailand so before you venture into it, most especially if you are going to be the team leader, make sure you are willing to babysit.
Getting to the city from the airport wasn’t hard for us because Grab Taxi is operating in Bangkok. Taxis are always a good option for big groups as you can split the costs. Note that if you are passing through an expressway, the driver might ask you to pay for the toll on top of the fare set by Grab Taxi.
If you are from Asia, I’m sure you are familiar with this app. Take note that the Grab app is kind of ‘illegal’ in Bangkok but there are still people who do it. Booking a taxi as a group with Grab has saved us from taxi hustlers as its rates are fixed. The only negative thing about using this app in Thailand is there may be times the drivers will not pick you up in the exact destination. They might ask you to walk a few blocks depending on the police force present in your pick-up point.
There is also a mini bus taxi that you can find in the arrival area. This costs THB 1,000 ($30 USD) for 4 people including luggage fees.
You can also go by bus which will cost THB 150 ($4.68 USD). The Airport Express has hourly buses from 5:00 in the morning to midnight. You can find the Airport Express Counter at Level 1, near entrance 8.
Lastly, if this is still too expensive for you, there is a 24-hour bus service at the second floor of the arrival area but you need to transfer to another bus if you take this. This bus only goes to the Transport Centre.[/us_iconbox]
As a Philippine passport holder, I am allowed to enter Thailand for 30 days visa-free. If you want to know if you can enter Thailand without a visa, you may refer to this list.
Filipino nationals are not usually questioned when entering Thailand, however, for other nationals, since the issue about the so-called ‘begpacking‘ started, they will probably ask Western backpackers to prove they have enough money to sustain their travels in Thailand. The last time I checked, you need to show you have at least $700 USD in cash.[/us_iconbox]
Hostel dorms are usually good when travelling as a group. There were 7 of us in this trip so we got an 8-dorm bed in Chern Hostel – a super clean and cheap hostel I found through Booking.com. It cost us THB 2500 ($78 USD) for 4 nights.
I only spent THB 3,200 ($100 USD) for 5 days in Bangkok. Let me clarify, however, that this does not include shopping allowance, which, by default is allocated by many people when travelling to Bangkok. Our tours were also sponsored by Kkday so we didn’t have to think about that, too. The bulk of our allowance was spent on food. No big splurges on shopping, FYI.
To have an idea of the daily costs of travelling in Bangkok, see the pricing chart below:[/us_iconbox]
Thailand’s weather is perfect for travellers any time of the year because of its tropical climate but there are ‘tourism’ seasons you have to take note of:
Low Season (Jul-Oct). A few showers and thunderstorms followed by occasional flooding. Prices are extremely low than usual.
Shoulder Season (Apr-Jun; Sept-Oct). Hot and dry. Temperatures in Bangkok can go up to 32°C. Better to go out of BKK and visit the north for a cooler temperature.
High Season (Nov-Mar). Dry (but cool season) and is a famous season for travellers looking into spending Christmas and New Year abroad). Prices are incredibly high everywhere.[/us_iconbox]
Getting a sim card with 1.5GB of Internet valid for 7 days will cost THB 299 ($10 USD). This also comes with THB 100 worth of calls for 1 month.
Good thing I wouldn’t have to purchase all these because I recently bought a portable wifi device which allows me to be connected anywhere I am. No need to deal with changing sim cards and disposing them after![/us_iconbox]
Day 1: The mandatory shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market
It’s been a long time since I was able to visit Chatuchak Market. I loved how it didn’t change a bit! Everything was still cheap. There were a lot of new food stalls, too! I did allocate a budget for my Bangkok trip so I had to be really careful in purchasing. In the end, I just bought sweet basil and chilli seeds to plant in my garden!
The Chatuchak Market app is available for download in case you get lost in one of the biggest weekend markets in the world. [/us_iconbox]
It is encouraged to split your group when shopping at Chatuchak. It is way easier as everyone has different interests. If you go together, you will just end up waiting for one another in every store. It’s such a tedious process! What you can do is to set a meeting time and place most especially if not all of you has Internet data. Make sure your group will follow the scheduled meeting.
You should also know that there are many police officers standing outside the Chatuchak Market so Grab Taxi drivers will have to ask you to walk a little when booking a ride. Again, Grab is not legal for every taxi operator in Thailand. They can get huge fines when caught.[/us_iconbox][us_separator type=”default” thick=”3″ style=”dashed” color=”primary”]
Day 2: Maeklong Railway Market and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Adventure on a day tour from Bangkok to witness the busy markets and a serene temple. Eat like a local at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Work your way through the maze of market stalls on the river in a paddle boat. Find traditional delicacies and souvenirs to bring home.
Enjoy a moment of peace at the Wat Bang Kung temple. The golden Buddha that sits in a tree is a must-see attraction. Finish up shopping at the busy Maeklong Railway Market. Banter with vendors and watch the incoming trains rumbling through the market. Look no further for an authentic Bangkok day tour experience. [/us_iconbox]
I’ve done a floating market tour before but this was inside Bangkok and most people refer to it as ‘fake market’ because it is small. In this tour, we were able to visit the legit floating market of Thailand which is very rich in culture as you can observe the daily lives of Thai people in that area. This is not just a market but a way of life!
I also loved that we were able to see the train pass by the Railway Market. Imagine a rail full of small shops and they have to move a little whenever the train passes by! The spices and local delicacies were also very cheap. I was able to buy chilli flakes, vinegar, Thai fish sauce for less than THB 100 ($3.12 USD)!
Both markets have a wide array of interesting food choices so that was really a plus![/us_iconbox]
I understand that people take great efforts to bring goods to the Floating Market but man, their prices are ridiculously expensive! A THB 50 ($1.56 USD) pad thai in Bangkok costs double (literally) here. I didn’t buy anything in the Floating Market because I just didn’t find it reasonable.
I have nothing bad to say about the Railway Market. It really was a cool experience![/us_iconbox]
Day 3: Ayutthaya
The day tour to Ayutthaya lasted for 8 hours. Since it was outside Bangkok, we were required to wake up early (around 5:15) to get ready for the 6:00 pick up. We slept through the long drive before the long day of temple hopping.
Glimpse the history of this magnificent city as you wander around exquisite temples and scenic rivers. Head to Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, home to ancient kings. Marvel at its fusion of Italian, Thai, and Chinese architecture.
Drop by Wat Mahathat and Wat Lokayasutharam to encounter the famous Buddha head covered in tree roots and a huge reclining Buddha. Stand in awe at Wat Phukhao thong, and climb up its central tower to marvel at the stunning view of surrounding rice fields and the town of Ayutthaya. Discover the extravagant ruins of the Thailand’s former capital![/us_iconbox]
I seriously avoid temple tours when going to countries like Thailand. They are the least interesting for me but the group insisted on signing up for this tour. Majority wins so I couldn’t do anything about it.
However, KKday’s tour guide for this activity was very funny and energetic! I would never have enjoyed this tour if the tour guide was lame and has the habit of endlessly talking even if no one’s listening. If you sign up for this tour, make sure to request Chu Fah as your tour guide. He really is the best![/us_iconbox]
Day 4: Thai cooking class at Baipai
Enjoy a hands-on cooking class taught by seasoned professionals at Baipai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok. Focus on innovative use of local ingredients, gain presentation skills and learn traditional Thai cooking techniques.
Prepare four Thai dishes with help from your instructor. Reward yourself with a taste test of your work once finished. Delight in the bold flavors of Thai cuisine. Take home complimentary recipe cards so you can share delicious meals with friends and family back home. [/us_iconbox]
Everything! I really love cooking so getting to know how to cook the Thai dishes first-hand is a remarkable experience. I like the idea of having a photographer going around and taking pictures. Since our hands are full, it’s impossible for us to take pictures of each other so I was glad this was covered by Bai Pai.
I also loved that they gave us gifts at the end of the course! I wouldn’t tell you what it is but I’m sure you are going to like it.
There is also a store inside Bai Pai Cooking school where I was able to buy quality mortar and pestle and a bunch of Thai spices that definitely fit my kitchen![/us_iconbox]
Day 5: Muay Thai class
Experience a masterclass in Thai boxing at the highly regarded Boxing King. Discover the origins behind Muay Thai also referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs”. Learn about the eight points of contact from hands, elbows right down to the shins and legs. You’ll be trained by professional Muay Thai masters who will help you refine your technique.
Muay Thai also teaches you the method of self-defense and strengthening of the mind. Make sure to pick up on these skills when in Bangkok and who knows, you may even introduce Muay Thai as a permanent addition to your exercise routine! Reserve a space today for an unforgettable experience on your trip to Thailand’s capital. [/us_iconbox]
The trainer was super funny! He didn’t speak a lot of English so we had to do a lot of sign languages. He is very good at what he does and I learned a lot despite being a first-timer. His lessons are easy to remember!
I also liked that we hired a photographer from WanderSnap to take our pictures during the class. Rachel Moolkum, a local in Bangkok was able to capture our amateur Muay Thai moves perfectly! When you’re doing something as interesting as this, it is best to stay focused on your activity/tour rather than think about the pictures.
Not only that Rachel took pictures of us while in action but she also brought us to a good lunch place after the session. The cafe was located close to the Muay Thai gym and guess what? It’s her University! We were able to get a glimpse of student life in Bangkok while having a very good conversation with a local. Rachel is also very good in English (I mean really good) so we were able to ask questions about the Thai culture. Better book Rachel as your photographer in Bangkok![/us_iconbox][us_message color=”yellow” icon=”fas|gift”]Use the code FRIENDSOFTRISHA upon checkout at WanderSnap to get $10 USD off your booking! This code is only valid until 01 September 2018.[/us_message][us_iconbox icon=”fas|thumbs-down” size=”52px” iconpos=”left” title=”What I didn’t like about the Muay Thai classes” title_tag=”h6″]We weren’t informed that we had to go to the Boxing Gym ourselves. We were waiting in the hotel lobby for a long time not knowing the transportation to go to the class was on us. It was not included in the tour price. With this, we were late for our session and had to wait another hour for the next class. Well, we weren’t in a rush since it was our last day but still, not knowing really sucked. [/us_iconbox]
Top Activities in Bangkok
Other activities we did in Bangkok
When travelling to another city, I make sure that I will be able to attend a local event or watch a music performance (preferably bars). I asked everyone if they are interested to go to a Saxophone Bar to watch a Jazz gig. They liked the nightlife in Khao San so they immediately accepted this suggestion.
The Sax Bar was a bit far from our hostel (we had to take a taxi) but it was a great night of food and drinks! Note that bars like this are expensive in Bangkok as it is an expat’s nest but we didn’t mind the price because it was an enjoyable night! Not sure if you are cheap on alcohol but if you are, don’t be. Drinking is a part of a cultural immersion.
By the way, before coming to the Sax Bar, we went to 7/11 to buy beers. ?
Events like this can be easily found on Facebook. I suggest you search a particular event when travelling to an interesting (and bustling) city![/us_iconbox]
We ate in different places every day. Bangkok is an incredible venue for the taste buds so being in different restaurants each meal was a rule. Of course, there are some places where we ate twice (like the trusted THB 50 pad thai across our hostel) but we sure did explore Bangkok’s Chinatown and Khao San for some gastronomical activities.[/us_iconbox]
We also frequented Khao San (almost every night!) to experience the vibrant nightlife on the streets. We didn’t drink in bars – we bought THB 70 Thai beers at 7/11 and partied on the streets.
When we got tired of Khao San, we explored the controversial Sois. We went to the Soi Cowboy to witness the so-called Red District of Thailand. Just in case you are wondering, we didn’t watch the ping pong show because they were charging THB 1500. It’s way out of our budget and I already saw one in Phuket 6 years ago.[/us_iconbox][us_separator type=”default” thick=”3″ style=”dashed” color=”primary”]
What’s in your Bangkok itinerary? Have you tried travelling with your family?
When did you go? What did you eat? Where did you stay? Which activity did you enjoy the most? Is it hard to travel with a group? I’d like to hear your thoughts! Please leave your ideas and suggestions (that may not be in this post) in the comment box below!