Are you a cycle tourist on a budget? Maybe just a tourist on a budget? We all know how big cities can expose the everyday cycle tourist to some exuberant cost and cause havoc with the cyclist’s fiscal outlook. Particularly if you are stuck in a big city waiting on visas!!!!! Our extended break in Bangkok gave us some time to scour out the 5 best free things to do in Bangkok.
1. Grow Your Knowledge Of Thailand At ‘The Siam Museum’
The Siam Museum is located just south of the Grand Palace and most importantly close to all the other main attractions in Bangkok. If you search ‘top ten things to do in Bangkok’ nearly always this is on the list and most blogs will also inform you that there’s an admission fee. However, the fee is wavered if you rock up after 4pm! The museum closes at 6pm but it is enough time to get around to most if not all exhibits. Initially, we thought the museum would inform us of the ancient civilisations during and before the Siam Kingdom. There is some discussion about the Siam History but the museum is overwhelmingly targeted at describing how Thailand has formed it’s current national identity. There was a tendency to concentrate on colonial and post-colonial periods. From the exhibitions we believe that the colonial period had a significant influence in Thailand even though they were never colonised. They are very proud about not becoming a colonial province and they should be considering most of their neighbours were.
2. Stroll around Chatuchak Weekend Market
These markets are very famous in Bangkok and they are gigantic! It is worth a look at the markets, however, in comparison to the local village markets this market is expensive. It does have all the souvenirs a tourist/backpacker generally wants from Thailand. We didn’t buy anything here other than a coffee which, by the way, was very overpriced. I’m sure someone with good haggling skills could get a reasonable bargain. In comparison to other large markets we have visited, the Chatuchak Market is organised, clean and spacious.
3. Temple Watch
There are hundreds of temples in Bangkok. However, many of the larger temples you have to pay a small admission fee. This small admission fee can put a hole in your pocket quickly if you try and visit all the main temples. There are smaller temples that you don’t have to pay for but some of the temples you can just walk around the outside to get a reasonable feel for the temple. Our favourite temple was the Wat Aron (Temple of Dawn) and it is worth the admission fee, however, as it is gargantuan you can still see it from outside easy enough. It’s worth noting that there are countless numbers of temples in Thailand and many are as impressive as the ones in Bangkok that don’t have admission fees. In fact, we even slept at a few during our time in Thailand.
4. Take A Walk Around Koh San Road
This is a walk just to tick off the bucket list as it is a novelty worth seeing. Koh San Road is the famous backpacker street in Bangkok and, for the cycle tourist, it provides a glimpse into ‘what we are missing out on’ Ha! The street has transformed the majority of buildings into either a bar, restaurant or massage parlour. It is lined from head to toe with souvenir stands or street food and you can be warmly hassled by the tuk tuk drivers every five meters as you stroll down tourist central. Personally, I wouldn’t buy anything on this street as it is usually way overpriced due to the tourists.
5. Visit The Park
Here is something too far and in-between in Bangkok….Parkland. Although the parks do not explode around every corner, when there is a park it is usually very pleasant. The millions of nature park workers keep these urban paradises extremely well maintained with stunning trees and they are, without a doubt, the best place in a big city for ‘sabai sabai’ (relaxing). In the evenings you will witness Thai people enjoying their daily run or cycle on the perfectly constructed paths. Entry is usually free but if you want to use the parks gym equipment then you usually will have to pay a small fee. There are three good parks we went to in the city which included the Lumphini Park where many people go to work out, the Benchakiti Park with a great lake located in it’s centre and the Chatuchak Park/ Wachirabenchatat Park located adjacent to the Chatuchak Markets.
If you aren’t lucky enough to be a cycle tourist and already own a bicycle to use for commuting, then you will need to use one of the many transport options that Bangkok has to offer. What is cheapest will depend on how many people you travel with or where you are situated in the city. Most people travel using either the sky train (called the BTS), the underground metro service, taxis, tuk tuks, motorbikes, buses or our favourite the water taxi’s/canal ferries. The water taxis/canal ferries are easily the quickest, funniest and cheapest option but unfortunately do not travel everywhere. The next cheapest option is usually the skytrain or metro. For short trips people tend to use tuk tuks, buses, motobikes or taxis. Plan your trip as it can be expensive paying for multiple forms of transport.
P.S. Most Things Aren’t Free!