The best of Bangkok on a budget: top 5 things to do

The perfect destination to find fun ways to mingle with the locals and have some affordable adventures. Here are our top 5 things to do to in Bangkok.

A tray of grilled roasted mash cassava in banana syrup
  • Jetstar

Thailand is famous for its exotic culture, religious roots, mega markets and delicious cuisine. A trip to the capital city, Bangkok, is a feast for your mind, body and soul as you immerse yourself in the city's fast-paced days and vibrant nights. And it's the perfect destination to find fun ways to mingle with the locals and have some affordable adventures. Here are our top 5 things to do to in Bangkok without blowing your budget.

Be-bop at a swinging dance studio

Step back in time and get your groove on at The Hop dance studio where fast feet and cool beats fill the air and dance floor. Tuesdays and Saturdays are social nights open to anyone looking for an inexpensive, lively night out.

Don't know how to swing dance? No worries. Show up just before 8pm for a free beginners’ dance class, then stay late practising your newfound moves. Bangkok is probably not the place you'd expect to find a community of lindy-hopping boppers decked out in 1940s fashions—and that's exactly why The Hop needs to be on your to-do list.

Location: 252/8 Si Lom, Suriya Wong

Our favourite link: The Hop Bangkok opens in new window

Weave your way through Chinatown

Spending a day exploring the skinny lanes and maze-like alleyways of Bangkok's Chinatown is a great way to flood your senses with culture. The crowded streets are adorned with intriguing traditional Chinese decorations and fragrant with incense and the tempting scent of countless street food delights. As you wander through this iconic hotspot, you’ll find remarkable historical buildings and stunning architecture to admire, along with the many weird and wacky stalls where you can browse for hours, and even pick up some cut-price souvenirs.

Location: 300 Yaowarat Rd, Khwaeng Samphanthawong

Our favourite link: Chinatown Walking Tour opens in new window

Learn to meditate at a Buddhist temple

Learning to meditate while travelling may come in handy for that inevitable disagreement about where to eat dinner later on. It can also offer a much needed respite from the rattle and hum of the thumping city. For those looking to get a little zen, Wat Mahadhatu Buddhist Temple holds free meditation classes with a Buddhist monk. There are three daily sessions in English held in the temple’s Meditation Centre. During the three-hour class, a monk will talk about meditation principles, Buddhist philosophy and way of life, before and in between seated and walking meditation exercises. The classes are free, but make sure you leave a donation.

Location: Section 5 at Wat Mahadhatu (aka Wat Mahathat)

Our favourite link: Renown Travel: Wat Mahadhatu opens in new window

Enjoy the city lights on your way to Asiatique Night Market

There’s no better way to marvel at Bangkok’s city lights than from the Asiatique free ferry. The 15-minute boat ride gives you plenty of time for evening-glow selfies and Insta-worthy shots of the Asiatique Ferris Wheel. Once the shuttle arrives, you can spend the evening strolling the 1500 shops and stalls spread over four districts. It’s a slightly upscale market, but the people-watching and photography are completely free. Be sure to head to the boardwalk for great views of the city skyline.

Location: Sathorn Pier, Chao Phraya River

Our favourite link: Asiatique: A complete guide opens in new window

Take the stairway to a heavenly view at Wat Saket

From Khao San Road, it's a 20-minute walk to the entrance of Wat Saket (Golden Mount). This is not just a temple tour, it's a cardio workout, with over 300 stairs to climb to reach the top. Challenge your travel companion to a race: the climb may be steep and tiring but the visuals are worth it. At the top, get your camera primed to capture some of the best panoramic views of the city.

A heads up: sunset is a popular, picturesque time to make the hike. If you want to be up there for the evening glow, go early or expect a long queue.

Location: Pom Prap Sattru Phai District

Our favourite link: Travelfish: Wat Saket