Pockets jangling – 1,500-baht weekend in Bangkok

Is Bangkok ready for the descent of an aircraft filled with penny-pinching Japanese tourists intent on eating out of the 7-Eleven and sleeping under bridges? Perhaps.

Japanese travel site Soranews today sets out how tourists can spend a weekend in Bangkok for a “mere” 50,000 yen (US$340, 12,900 baht), which, from the parsimonious point of view and salary grade of this reporter, seems like way more than enough, but then I live here.

As coronavirus restrictions in Japan ease, international travel is becoming a thing again, but with the Japanese yen in a precarious situation, going abroad is expensive. The challenge was to spend two nights in Thailand for less than 50,000 yen, including airfares, accommodation, transportation and food.

The first thing that reporter Go Hatori did was to buy an air ticket. Straight away, Go was cheating, having booked in advance with AirAsia. The return flight from Narita to Bangkok only cost him 43,960 yen (US$302, 11,340 baht), but that certainly isn’t the walk-up rate. (11,340 baht spent, 1,560 baht to go)

While the airfare was certainly cheap, it left Go with just forty bucks for the rest of his trip. Would he be able to enjoy himself? Would he even find a hotel? A backpacker’s hostel didn’t appeal to Go, so he looked for a single, private room and found one for just 1,430 yen (US$9.80, 370 baht) with toilet, hot shower, free WiFi and a window. (1,190 baht to go)

With accommodation booked and boarding pass in his hand, Go boarded his flight with just over 1,000 baht in his pocket to last him for the entire the trip.

Pockets jangling - 1,500-baht weekend in Bangkok | News by Thaiger
Reporter Go found a single, private room a for just 370 baht with toilet, hot shower, free WiFi and a window.

On arrival, Go skipped on to the 50-baht S1 bus from the airport to Khao San Road. Off the bus, it was a 20-minute walk to the Bonita Guest House, where his cheap room was much, much better than he’d expected. There was a ceiling fan, a desk, a chair and a private bathroom/shower room. This was great value. There was even a little balcony. Amazing! (1,140 baht)

Craving a bowl of Tom Yum Goong (spicy soup with shrimp), he set off to find the nearest place that sold it, a food stall so well-known that it’s featured in a Japanese-Thai food blog and rated the best in Bangkok. One bowl cost 150 baht… with 10 baht more for rice. Shocking! It would have been absolutely perfect if he’d had a beer… but he had an orange juice for 30 baht, then visited a fruit stand and obtained a fine mango for 40 baht – proper Bangkok prices! (910 baht)

Pockets jangling - 1,500-baht weekend in Bangkok | News by Thaiger
A bowl of Tom Yum Goong (spicy soup with shrimp) – the best in Bangkok – cost 150 baht,

Soon it was raining pretty heavily, so Go headed back to his hotel room early. After one day in Thailand. What would he get up to tomorrow?

Well, the first thing was to buy a bottle of water from the nearby 7-Eleven for 7 baht. Next, Ba Mee Haeng, a noodle dish without any broth, at 55 baht. (848 baht)

And as he wandered the streets, hankering for something sweet, he came across a lady selling what looked like toast being grilled over charcoal. He ordered some jam on toast and a sweet iced coffee, both costing 20 baht. (808 baht)

Go then headed to the pier to take the Chao Phraya Express boat to Oriental station. (793 baht)

At Oriental, Go went in search of Charoen Saeng Silom, a restaurant famous for braised pork leg. It was not even 8:30 am, but Go was fully on vacation mode and ordered Khao Kha Moo with rice for 60 baht. The pork leg was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. (733 baht)

Now, a motorbike taxi (34 baht) to Soi Charoen Krung, an area of cheap massage parlours. Most offer an hour of Thai massage for about 100 baht. Go enjoyed an hour of very skilled massage (120 baht) and followed up with an hour-long foot massage, also 120 baht. (459 baht)

With just over $10.33, Go wondered if he was in trouble. He still needed to buy souvenirs for friends, so he paid 44 baht to get back to central Bangkok. (405 baht)

In search of the perfect souvenir, he came across a herbal inhaler for just 10 baht! As he needed to buy 11 souvenirs and they cost just 10 baht each. (295 baht)

Hungry again, last up on his Thai gourmet tour was some Khao Man Gai, chicken with a sweet soy sauce dressing, for 50 baht. But just as he left the restaurant, it started pouring with rain, so Go hopped on a bus, squandering a massive 8 baht on a bus that all the passengers soon got off. Go never established why, but he boarded another for 15 baht and got off near Khao San Road. (222 baht)

As his final Thai meal for the trip, he than had some Khao Pad (fried rice) for 60 baht. The airport bus the next morning would cost around 60 baht, so he had about 100 baht left to play with. A nearby convenience store was offering the one thing missing from Go’s trip up until now — a cold beer – Singha at 41 baht. (61 baht)

And with that, Go arrived back at Suvarnabhumi Airport next morning with enough left for a breakfast bun before boarding with 11 baht in his pocket to boost his budget in his next visit.

Pockets jangling - 1,500-baht weekend in Bangkok | News by Thaiger

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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