There is a growing perception that Bangkok and Thailand is becoming an expensive country. There has been a surge in inflation that has accompanied the continued expansion of the economy since the 1990s. Tourists often seem to get the brunt of the high prices as many hotels base their profit margins on inflated food and beverage prices. There is also a massive ‘middle-man’ sector to the economy that organise tours, tickets and rental vehicles for prices that include a 20% profit margin.
All is not bad, however. Thailand still remains a country with man fabulous bargains for shoppers, culture vultures and foodies. Here is a list of some of the best bargains in Bangkok
Bangkok Metered Taxis
If you make the effort to walk out of your hotel and around the corner you will soon find a taxi prepared to go on the meter. Don’t get a taxi on the main road in Khao San. Walk towards the river and you will soon secure the services of an honest taxi driver. The meter starts at 35 Thai Baht. If you share a taxi it is cheaper than the sky train or underground. For just a few dollars you can get to all the major shopping and tourist spots in Bangkok. If you speak a bit of Thai the drivers are often keen to chat; some turn out to be real characters. You could base a blog around the bizarre conversations to be had with Bangkok taxi drivers.
There are thousands of small places to eat on the pavement. They vary in quality. Hygiene might be an issue for those with delicate stomachs. I have, however, never been poisoned by street food. You can get a great phad Thai for 40 Baht. I have also had some brilliant massaman curries from street vendors. They are a fraction of the price of restaurant dishes, and often just as good. For more information about street food in Bangkok see the articles on this page.
Shakes, Juices and Fruit
Thailand has some of the best fruit in the world. The tropical climate produces bumper crops of fruit that you can buy very cheaply from street vendors. For 10 Baht you can get a bag of pineapple. You can also get cold and freshly squeezed orange juice on the street. It is better than any juice in a carton you will get in a supermarket. Another great experience is coconut juice. It has a distinctive taste and is a great way to re-hydrate.
Forget fake watches and replica football tops at night markets like Patpong. The real pirate bargains in Bangkok are found in MBK and Pantip Plaza. Don’t fancy giving Microsoft $300 for Office? Then pick up a copy for $10. For high –end professional software as well as PC games you can save yourself hundreds of dollars. You just have to read the installation instructions carefully. You could always get a knowledgeable friend or a computer shop back in your own country to help you with installation if you run into difficulties.
At the budget end of the accommodation market you get few bargains in Bangkok. Cheap rooms are generally small and very basic. This is especially true around Khao San. For those prepared to spend $30 a night there are some real bargains to be found. Areas such as Silom and Sukhumvit have plenty of good mid-range hotels. The intense competition means they often offer discounts. For $30 a night you can get an air-con room with satellite TV and fridge in a hotel with a swimming pool.
If doing Bangkok on the smallest possible budget possible then you can find hostels near Khao San as well as along the river and in the suburbs where they have beds for as little as $4 a night.
Medical Procedures and Dentists
Bangkok is the number one destination in the world for medical tourism. For those who want a breast enlargement, eye improvement procedure, sex change etc. Bangkok is the place to go. There are several reputable clinics in the city as well as the excellent Bumrungrad Hospital in Sukhumvit. Bangkok also has a number of first class dentists that offer implants at a fraction of the cost in Europe, the USA or Australia.
Getting a feel for Bargains
As you explore Bangkok you will discover the bargains to be found in this great city. You will also get a feeling for places that have inflated prices.