With the current bad economy, people all over the world are trying to save money. In Bangkok, Thailand, it’s no different. Many of my Thai and expat friends are trying to cut corners to save some money and doing things that are free in Bangkok, instead of having to pay to have fun, has been a strategy a lot of them are following. Luckily, in Bangkok, there are tons of free things you can do if you’re trying to save money but these are my top ten favorite things to do for free.
1. Visit One of Bangkok’s City Parks – Bangkok has some lovely city parks, which most people don’t usually visit. The parks are clean, well taken care of and have lakes, walking trails, horticultural areas, weight lifting machines, takraw and muay thai matches going on and a lot more. You can spend a fun afternoon in one of Bangkok’s city parks and they’re all completely free. For great Bangkok city parks, check out Lumphini Park, Chatuchak Park, Sanam Luang and Queen Sirkit Park.
2. Take Photos Around Bangkok – Bangkok is one of the world’s most photo worthy cities and it’s free to take them. With a mix of traditional and new, weird and normal, Thai and western, religious and non-religious, Bangkok is a perfect place to take photos. Anywhere in Bangkok you’ll see monks in saffron robes, tuk-tuks, strange food, amazing faces, sometimes even elephants. A morning, afternoon or evening taking photos around Bangkok is not only fun, it’s also free.
3. Visit Bangkok Art and Culture Centre – Just opened last year, Bangkok has a fabulous new art and culture center located right next to Siam sky train station. It’s free admission, with constantly changing art exhibits, traditional Thai and modern Thai as well as international art, and don’t forget to check the artwork outside in the front courtyard – that changes often too.
4. Visit Bangkok’s Many Temples – There’s a Thai temple just about on every block in Bangkok and they’re beautiful too. Spend a morning or an afternoon touring some of Bangkok’s temples. Here you can talk to monks, learn something about Buddhist art and culture, feed the stray dogs that many of Bangkok’s temples take care of, or just relax and meditate in a lovely, peaceful environment.
5. Go To Hua Lamphong Railway Station – I love visiting Hua Lamphong railway station at the end of the underground train line. Hua Lamphong is a wonderful example of 1920s art deco, but is still a fully-functioning railway station. You can wander around, take photos of the trains and the old platforms, or go into the terminal, watch all the travelers milling around and, if you have a few baht to spend, even buy a cup of coffee at one of the many cafes and restaurants inside the terminal. Hua Lamphong is like going back in time into Bangkok’s past and shouldn’t be missed.
6. Go Window Shopping – You don’t actually have to buy anything to enjoy Bangkok’s many shopping centres. From malls like MBK, Siam Paragon, Emporium, Central World Plaza, Central Ladprao, Central Pinklao and many others, to Siam Square, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Chatuchak Market and beyond – just looking at all there is to offer is just as much fun as buying it, and free too!
7. Free Wi-Fi in Bangkok – If you’ve got your laptop with you, head to one of the many free wi-fi spots in Bangkok and spend some time browsing the internet. Au Bon Pain at Siam Discovery Centre, Central World Plaza, Erawan Center, The Barbican, Cafe Kaldi, Irish X-Change, The Big Mango Bar and Tamarind Cafe are just a few places in Bangkok where you can get free wi-fi.
8. See Erawan Shrine – Another fabulous free place in Bangkok and one of the most popular religious shrines, Erawan Shrine is right next to Chidlom sky train station. At Erawan Shrine you can see traditional Thai dancing girls, pray to the Hindu deity Phra Phrom (yes, Hindu, not Buddhist!) that is a representation of Brahma, or ask for happiness in romance (as many Thai girls do when they come to pray here). Erawan is also a cool place to take photos as it’s always full of worshippers, with candle and incense smoke blowing in the wind, and traditional Thai music playing.
9. Visit Khao San Road – The most popular destination for the world’s backpackers, Khao San Road is still a fun place to visit, even if you aren’t one. It’s a great place to people watch (there’s strange people from all over the world here), there’s a couple of cool temples to see, roadside food is awesome, and it’s near the river so you can watch the boats going by too. Plus, you can’t come to Bangkok without visiting Khao San Road.
10. See Chinatown – While in Bangkok, you have to see Chinatown or Yaworat as the Thais call it. Easily reachable by boat or underground train, Chinatown in Bangkok is one of the world’s largest. With tons of Chinese and Thai temples, little alleywise crammed full of shops, a huge textile market, more gold shops per block than just about any other place in the world, incredible street food stalls, Chinese medicine shops, and a history of opium, prostitution and gambling, Chinatown will capture your attention for days.
These ten things are only a few of the hundreds of things you can do for free in Bangkok. Spending time in Bangkok doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact it’s one of the best cities in the world for things to do for free. The sights, the sounds, the exotic smells, the rich flavors, the astounding faces, the kind people – all things money can’t buy and all available in Bangkok.
Photo – Take photos around Bangkok like this old-fashioned photography shop.