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posted by The Bangkok Consultant
Recommended: Using your mobile in Thailand
Travelling to Bangkok is always going to be interesting and exciting, and living in the city is quite a unique experience. The sticky weather is somewhat overbearing at times but is unheeded by the exceptional attractions that make Bangkok what it is. It's worth considering, the best time to visit Bangkok is from October to February since the weather is much cooler and dryer.
It is easy to see that Thailand has one of the most unbalanced distributions of wealth anywhere on the planet, despite some recent developments. It is a familiar sight to see many poor migrant workers come into the city from the countryside every day for work, which can often be seen next to ostentatious displays of wealth, like luxury cars costing more than the entire annual income of a single village. Bangkok is a high class city, but these huge gaps in wealth allow budget conscious travellers to find deals for long term stays.
Where to Stay
The traditional area of Khao San Road can be suitable for backpackers but are usually only home stays and may not be comfortable for extended periods of time. For short stays, the Khao San area is well documented among backpackers and fellow nomads alike, and you'll be within walking distance of many of Rattankosin's cultural sites.
Greater Bangkok is the northern suburb of the city. This part of the city is known for its many markets including the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, and the lesser known Nonthaburi Market. Whether taking a relaxing stroll in Queen Sirikit Park or partying at Royal City Ave, Greater Bangkok has plenty to offer.
Sukuhumvit is the main vein of the city and is one of the most popular parts of Bangkok for tourists. Sukhumvit stretches for miles and has easy access via the BTS Skytrain with hundreds of hotels and apartment buildings to suit all budgets. For a closer look check out some of Bangkok's Neighbourhoods.
Unfortunately, prices can often depend on how full an apartment building is and sometimes it can simply come down to the mood of the person at reception on any given day: otherwise prices below should be correct. It is recommended that you ask for a price including all utilities because landlords tend to exaggerate the electricity bills to bulk up their rent. If you don't want to use your air-con then, perhaps, pay the smaller price, but you may find you suffered the heat of Bangkok only to get overcharged anyway!
The Mansion Sarasinee, Soi 25, Pradipat Road, Saphan Kwai (MAP). Excellent rates can be found for extended stays and can be as low as 11,500 baht per month. The beds are comfortable though there are no kitchens, but the Saphan Kwai area offers a multitude of small eateries and street food around the local vicinity, and there is enough room on the balconies for a small electric hob. Rooms come with a large fridge and dining table. There is plenty of space to kit out your room with toasters and appliances if you don't wish to eat out for every meal. For monthly rentals water and electricity bills are not included in the price.
This apartment building is near On Nut BTS station (MAP) and offers rooms for as little as 8000 baht a month, or 10,000 a month with all utilities included. A two-month deposit is required, and you pay extra for a room with a microwave. Tel: 023 322 211 Web: www.kvmansion.com
An economical choice, for extended periods, is Chaiyapruk Mansion (MAP). This rundown apartment building is a five minute walk from Phra Khanong BTS station. You can get a basic room here for 5500 baht a month but, make so mistake, this place is a dive. The rooms are bare so you would have to kit the place out. However, if you want to spend a long time in Bangkok for next to nothing then pop along and see what's available. Inquiries (agent): firstname.lastname@example.org
This apartment building is typical of the types of condos you can expect to find off of Sukhumvit Road. Many apartment buildings need to be viewed via an estate agent, but if you see an office on the ground floor then you can usually walk in and ask the building manager what they have on offer. Condo One (MAP) offers one bedroom apartments from between 15,000 and 20,000 baht a month. All apartments have a kitchen and a bathroom. Two and three bedroom apartments are also available. Email: one_skv_67hotmail.com. Tel: 027 143 823 - Mob: 081 358 0124. Ask for Teera.
Eat on the cheap
Street food is the cheapest and most convenient way to eat in Bangkok and can be some of the most flavourful. You can find street vendors everywhere in the city selling meats on sticks, fruits, soups, curries and so on.
Thais typically tend to eat, little and often (5-6 meals a day), at roadside stalls rather than cook at home. You can have a small feast for yourself for as little as a hundred baht or a simple meal for around 40 baht. It is so easy to eat healthy in Bangkok and prepared fruit is available for 20 baht, which can count as one of your 5 meals a day.
The food is safe and so is the water (not tap water), which is often provided for free with your meal in small metal cups. Ice is also safe to drink in Thailand. So get stuck in and take a chance on a few meals you wouldn't normally eat - you never know you might be pleasantly surprised.
Doing laundry throughout the city is cheap and easy to do. You can use local laundry services but this can be costly. The cheapest option is to use one of many washing machines in the local area which cost just 20 baht per use. Washing powders and softeners can be purchased at 7 Eleven for 10 baht a wash.
Getting a pay and go Sim Card for your phone or tablet is cheap and easy to do. 7 Eleven stores are everywhere and sell Happy Tourist Sim Cards (ask for a Happy SIM Card) by Dtac which is the local mobile phone company. There are several top-up packages available for mobile internet. When topping up just ask for "Happy Sim top up."
Like most cities in the world cars, traffic and high-rise buildings cannot be avoided. Fortunately, the Skytrain offers the cheapest and quickest way of getting around the city, with a maximum cost of 52 baht anywhere on the two lines.
The three major bus stations in Bangkok are Ekamai, Mo Chit and Sathaanii Sai Tai that will take you in and out of the city. The biggest station is Mo Chit and deals with all services from the North and Northeast of Thailand. At the other end of Sukhumvit Road is Ekamai, the Eastern bus terminal. The Sathaanii Sai Tai or the Southern bus terminal is a little out of the way and getting to and from the station can take an age. See more on inner-city travel.
Tuk Tuks can be an amusing way to get around the city if a little uncomfortable. They can weave in and out of traffic, but you'll need to be good at haggling. Locals can get around for 40-50 baht, but if you are a falang (foreigner) starting prices can start at 300 baht or more.
Getting a train from the Suvarnabhumi Airport is relatively straight forward. On the basement level of the airport you'll find the ARL (Airport Rail Link) which will take you into the city for 45 baht: terminating at the Phaya Thai station. From there you can transfer to the BTS Skytrain for further links to the city.
There is a thriving community of expats in Bangkok, and there is a whole host of things to see and do, as well as lots of new people to meet if you know where to look. The "World Hash Harriers" organisation is a great way for like-minded expats to get together and connect with new people, not just in Bangkok but around the world. They offer "The world's most eccentric running club" and other social events. Visit www.gthhh.com for more information.
The Foreign Correspondents Club at Chit Lom is also excellent. There are film shows and host discussions with guest speakers. You do not have to be a member to go, but you will pay more - as a non-member. See www.fccthai.com for details.
Most Westerners receive a 30-day visa upon entering the Kingdom of Thailand by air. However, the rules are always changing for permits issued at the land borders. You are currently only allowed to traverse the border once by land to gain a 2-week visa depending on where you cross. The closest place to do a visa run from Bangkok is at Poi Pet on the Cambodian border; it takes around 4 hours to get there. There is a mini bus service that leaves from Victory Monument.
In 2015, the METV visa was introduced, which is valid for six months from the day it is issued, so apply for it around three weeks before your trip to be on the safe side. This visa is multi-entry, meaning you come in and out of Thailand as many times as you like during the six months. When entering the country, the visa entitles you to stay for a maximum of 60 days. So if you want to get the most out of your visa, it is wise to plan your trip, so that you come back to Thailand a couple of days before your visa expires. That way, you get another 60 days, which can extend your visa for an extra few weeks. There is no restriction on the amount of land crossings when renewing your METV visa for another 60 days.