Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok Guide – Spend Less Do More

Bangkok templeFrom shopping malls to street food stalls, religious temples to bars and nightlife, Bangkok has so much to offer the intending tourist. Of course you will want to explore Siamese culture and history, ride a Tuk Tuk and cruise the Chao Phraya river, take in a cabaret show and navigate your way through the food and shopping at Khao San Road and the Damnoen Saduok floating fruit market. If you would like to do something unique in the 'City of Smiles', however, you will find plenty of options, catering to a range of travel budgets.

But it didn't cost a baht!

Religion is an important part of the Thai way of life. If you're an early-riser, start your day by observing Buddhist monks collect alms from devout faithfuls before sunrise in the ancient neighbourhood of Monk's Bowl Village. And even though you have probably already seen numerous gold and emerald statues of Buddha laughing, walking, teaching or just reclining at some of the more than 30,000 temples across the country, visit a temple with a difference at Wat Mahathat where you can sample the monastic life by practicing your own mindfulness in a free meditation class.

On Sunday afternoons, Lumpini Park holds a free concert by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. Set in an open and relaxing atmosphere, the songs you will hear range from pop to classical and traditional Thai. Check in advance as this two hour event is seasonal.

Instead of buying a hamburger meal deal for lunch…

Sample the street meat at Chatuchak Weekend Market. For the equivalent of just a few dollars you can get a real taste of what the locals eat and while meat is the specialty here, many stalls are dedicated to providing vegetarian culinary delights as well. Complete your meal by indulging in Chatuchak's famous Coconut Ice Cream.

Siriraj Medical Museum is an unusual tourist destination, but it's certainly worth a visit for those interested in science and medicine. Creepy, morbid and not for the faint hearted, you might want to head to the Forensic and Anatomy museums before lunch as some of the more gruesome exhibits are quite confronting. From dead bodies to skeletons, macabre injuries and disease the cadavers are not just there for shock value – they play an important role in education and medical research conducted at the nearby hospital.

You could take a rushed half day tour of the popular sites…

But why not avoid the hordes of tourists and crowded streets while finding out how Thai people used to live at your own pace? Enjoy a private leisurely tour of the canals (Klongs) in a longtail boat. Considered the roadways of the past, you can see the rows of old houses that line the banks of the canals, hidden well away from the modern thoroughfare. Be sure to stop at the floating markets along the way, even if only to observe how the locals interact with each other and prepare their food outdoors.

Or discover the history, art and architecture of Siam just outside Bangkok in the 'Ancient City' (Muang Boran). This open air museum is easy to get to by public transport and once there you can hire a bike or golf cart to explore the recreated grand palaces, temples and houses as well as spectacular scenery and markets set in magnificent parkland.

Treat yourself…

You've saved on your accommodation so instead of buying trinkets and t-shirts, buy a souvenir you will really make use of when you get home. Take a walk down the main city streets and you will see an abundance of tailors. You can pay as little or as much as you want for a bespoke suit that can often be ready to pick up in as little as 24 hours. Keep in mind, however, that the idiom 'you get what you pay for' generally rings true when it comes to buying a custom made suit in Bangkok.

And if you have a few extra days…

Floating marketsTake the time to explore the rest of Thailand while you're there. Catch an overnight train or bus or hire a car and head for the hills. If you reach northern Thailand, join a two or three day trek to see the hill tribes in Chiang Mai. Some of the tours include a village homestay, cooking with the locals, learning about ancient medicines and even an elephant or buffalo ride and bamboo rafting.

Drive to the Sai Yok Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi. Thankfully it's not every day that most people come face to face with a tiger but, having been raised by monks since they were cubs these tigers are willing to pose for photos at close range and some of the tamest ones will even allow themselves to be patted and stroked.

And of course, a trip to Thailand wouldn't be complete without spending time at some of the idyllic beaches for which the country is known. The good news is it is still possible to find some relatively untouched locations so avoid the masses and stay for a few nights at some of the lesser populated beaches at Khao Lak or Krabi as you unwind from your Thai adventure.

Spend Less, Do More

Your Cheaperthanhotels Team

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