Bangkok travel guide post-Covid-19: Cheap flights, best hotels, best buffets and food (2022)

A photo of Bangkok Thailand.
PHOTO: Unsplash

Going on your very first Bangkok trip… in two years? Here are some tips on what to do, the best hotels and places to stay (budget hotels from just $60/night!) and how to score cheap flights to Bangkok.

Plus, find out which are the top Bangkok markets and shopping malls to put those rusty haggling skills to the real-life test. (How to say 'expensive' in Thai?

In case you forgot, it's pêng.) More of a foodie chasing after the best street mookata and OG tom yum goong? Head to one of the best Bangkok restaurants and recommended weekend floating and night markets like Rod Fai 2 instead.

Cheap flights from Singapore to Bangkok – SIN to BKK

Vaccinated Singaporeans can now freely travel to Bangkok without PCR test and mandatory quarantine. However, you will need to take a voluntary ART, show proof of medical insurance, Covid-19 travel insurance and vaccination status.

Bangkok is by far the most popular nearby holiday destination among Singaporeans. How much it’ll cost you to fly from Singapore to Bangkok (and back) largely depends on what airline you choose when you fly and how early you book your tickets.

We listed the average prices for flights from Singapore to Bangkok in the table below. However, these prices are for budget airlines (with no baggage included):

Return trip from Singapore to Bangkok Price (budget airline)
Average airfare $230
Off-peak months (Jan, May, Jul, Sept) $180
Peak months (Jun, Nov, Dec) $330

How long is the flight from SIN to BKK?

Singapore to Bangkok is only 2.5 hours by flight, which is relatively short. So, if you’re a petite passenger (or are prepared to pretzel up your legs), you can save on airfares by choosing to fly with a budget airline. In the above table are estimates of how much you can expect to spend flying with airlines like Scoot, Jetstar Asia and the likes.

Generally, if you can get return flights for under $200, it’s a good deal. You can use third-party comparison aggregators like SkyScanner, Agoda, Expedia, and KAYAK to check the prices. They are like the MoneySmart for airfares and help you score affordable flights.

Because of most airlines’ dynamic pricing systems, deciding when to book your flights can be tricky. However, according to findings from KAYAK in 2018, it seems that the sweet spot is 1 month before your trip. Apparently, you can save up to 29 per cent on airfare – worth a shot, right?

Bangkok hotels – Best hotels in Bangkok

If you’re looking for the best five-star and four-star hotels in Bangkok, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Some of the most popular luxury hotels in Bangkok include Bangkok Palace Hotel ($42/night), Pullman Bangkok Hotel G ($121/night), Berkeley Hotel Bangkok ($65/night), Asia Hotel Bangkok ($48/night), The Continent Hotel Bangkok ($95/night), W Hotel Bangkok ($195/night), and Ascott Hotel Bangkok ($137/night).

After all, prices of five-star hotels in Bangkok are going to be cheaper (more value for money) than say… Singapore or Europe. Take, for example, W Hotel in Singapore is $600+ per night as compared to $195 per night in Bangkok.

Shopaholic Singaporeans gravitate towards the Pratunam shopping area when looking for a hotel. 

If you’re looking for cheap and good hotels near Pratunam in Bangkok, make sure that the hotel you choose is reasonably comfortable and affordable:

Accommodation options Cheapest price per pax
Hostels $17 to $40
Airbnb $19 to $134
Hotels $39 to $395

Good budget hotels in Bangkok (mostly $60 to $80/night)

Here are eight popular hotels and how much their cheapest rooms cost (for two pax). They’re mostly the standard double or twin rooms, and they cost between $60 to $80 /night. The better ones may be slightly more expensive at around $100/night.

Budget hotel Bangkok Price/ two pax (estimated)
Ambassador Hotel Bangkok $54 to $80
Asia Hotel Bangkok $37 to $60
Bangkok City Hotel not available for booking
Hotel De Bangkok $32 to $64
Ibis Hotel Bangkok $41 to $51
Arnoma Hotel Bangkok $37 to $61
Dream Hotel Bangkok $60 to $70

Bangkok Airbnb (from $19/night)

Airbnbs in Bangkok are actually around the same price if you look at rooms in the Pratunam/Siam area, which is the most popular. Prices average at around $75/night, but if you book early (or are just plain lucky), you may be able to find rooms ('rare finds') for $30 to $60.

You’ll be able to find several swanky and luxurious condominiums available for $60 per night in business districts like Sathorn.

Hostels in Bangkok (under $20/night)

For backpackers who don’t mind communal kitchens and washrooms, hostels are a great way to save money. Rooms are around $17 to $40+ a night.

Bangkok BTS map, Grab Bangkok, Airpot Taxis & more

Once you’ve settled on your flights and accommodation, you can finally start planning your adventure. There are several local travel routes that you need to plan for – first and foremost, you need to figure out how you’re going to get from the Bangkok airport to the city.

TLDR? It is safer to just use a mixture of the BTS Skytrain and Grab if you don’t want to go through the emotional hassle and haggling.

Airport to downtown Bangkok – Airport Rail Line ($1.40, under 30 minutes)

Getting from Suvarnabhumi airport to city Price
Public van 40 baht ($1.61)
Airport Rail Line (ARL) 35 baht ($1.41)
Taxi, Uber, etc   350 to 420 baht ($14.10 to $16.93)

The Bangkok MRT is called the Bangkok BTS Skytrain. BTS Skytrain fares usually range from 16 baht to 59 baht. From the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can board the Bangkok Airport Rail Link to the Makkasan rail station (which will link you to Phetchaburi BTS station) for 35 baht.

The ride is 30 minutes, which – thanks to Bangkok traffic – is usually faster than taking a car or taxi. The terminal is on the first floor of the airport. Do note, however, that you won’t be able to take the train if you had a red-eye flight. The city line operates from 6am to midnight only.

Aside from the Airport Rail Link, you may also take a (less comfortable) public van. However, the fare is 40 baht which isn’t cheaper so I don’t recommend it. If you’re carrying a lot of luggage and want to zip straight to your hotel, you’ll have to get an airport taxi or uber. The price should be around 350 to 420 baht, which although cheap by Singapore standards, is a lot more than the train fare.

Bangkok transport- MRT, BTS sky train, tuk tuk & more

The train network is by far the most convenient way for tourists to get around Bangkok. There is the regular subway (MRT), as well as the BTS sky train. BTS stands for “Bangkok by sky train”, and it is designed to cover the most popular districts in central Bangkok. There are two lines – the Silom line and Sukhumvit line – which meet at Siam Station. For both, fares begin at 15 baht. Check here for the BTS sky train and MRT map.

Avoid the Tuk Tuks in Bangkok.

Beware of tuk tuk scams in Bangkok. 
PHOTO: Unsplash

These are the ultimate tourist traps. Locals get dirt cheap prices at 12 baht or so, while foreigners get 70 to 150 baht for a relatively short Tuk Tuk ride. Sometimes, they whisk you off to dark alleys and corner you to buy Thai snacks or dine at dodgy restaurants as well.

There are many Tuk Tuk scams. I’ve personally been brought to a local’s restaurant where I refused to dine in. The Tuk Tuk driver left my friends and I in the Tuk Tuk for a whole hour as he smoked his cigarettes and dined in the restaurant.

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If you’re stuck in that situation, whip out your Grab app to check how much it actually costs for you to leave in that instant. Stay calm, and do not wander out alone.

If you’re considering one of those Tuk Tuk day tours in Bangkok which will usually bring you around the Wat Arun and night food markets, be prepared to shell out $70.

It is worth the experience if you don’t mind the price tag. Tuk Tuks can often access tourist attractions where tour buses and taxis can’t drive into.

Other than that, it’s the usual suspects – bus, taxi and Grab. Mini buses are not recommended for first-timers as it’s much easier to lose your way. If you’re with a local, go for it.

It’s quite an experience to join locals as they expertly negotiate distance and prices with the drivers before hopping on and off the moving minivans.

In Bangkok, you can easily spot taxis on the roads thanks to their flashy pinks, yellows, and orange colours. Which “colour” taxi is the most reliable and tourist friendly? The safest taxis are the ones who charge you by meter.

How much is a taxi ride in Bangkok?

Generally from my own experience, the yellow top and pink taxis charge by meter and issue receipts instead of fixed fares. However, during peak hour and traffic jams, the drivers may haggle with you for a fixed fare instead. Sometimes, if the traffic jams are hours long, fixed fares may work to your favour when they’re cheaper than a metered ride.

Taxi metered fares should start from 35 baht or so. Ensure you constantly have a clear view of the meter, and do not allow the driver to crank up the meter to scam you. If the driver attempts to recommend you to see another place, reject firmly. Do note that Bangkok taxis do not accept credit card. You should always carry cash and pay by cash.

For example, Bangkok Airport taxi ride to your hotel in Siam Square costs around 240 baht upwards. A peak hour ride around Bangkok city centre will also cost you up to 200 baht. Otherwise, you can easily commute from mall to hotel for 70 baht to 100 baht or so.

If you’re thinking of cabbing, opt for Grab instead.

Is it safe to use Grab in Bangkok?

Yes. In fact, if you’re wary of the taxi scams and don’t want to deal with these things while you’re on a relaxing holiday, use Grab. You can charge your rides to your credit card, and the drop off points come with English names. It costs approximately 20 baht more for a Grab ride vs a normal taxi ride in Bangkok.

A word of caution: Do check your Grab car’s license plate before hopping on the Grab car! I travel to Bangkok frequently and commute around on Grab by myself. I’ve ever hopped on the wrong car, didn’t understand my driver’s language (he was confirming the location with me), and jetted off to a wrong location before. He kindly sent me back to my hotel and picked up his rightful passenger after. Thankfully it was just a short 10 minute trip! Phew!

Shopping in Bangkok – shopping malls & night markets in Bangkok

Bangkok shopping malls in Siam, Pratunam and Sukhumvit

If you’re headed to Bangkok, chances are, you’ve got an empty luggage waiting to be filled with new clothes. Shopping is one of the top 10 things to do in Bangkok, for sure. The most popular Bangkok shopping mall districts are Siam, Pratunam and Sukhumvit. Here are the top shopping centers and what they sell.

Where to shop in Bangkok Key features Price range
Palladium World Shopping Mall (Pratunam) Former Pratunam Center. Newly renovated with five floors of wholesale apparel and accessories. $
Platinum Fashion Mall (Pratunam) Cheap, trendy “blogshop” clothes. four floors of wholesale apparel and accessories. $
MBK Center (Siam) Shopping mall with affordable apparel, accessories, electronics and food. $$
Siam Center (Siam) Shopping mall for young and trendy international brands like Sephora, Forever21, Superdry and more. $$
Central World Bangkok (Siam)   Largest shopping mall in Bangkok with clothes, accessories, electronics and food for almost every budget. Mostly international brands. $$ to $$$
Emporium Shopping Mall  (Sukhumvit) Mid- to high-end shopping mall with clothes, accessories, electronics and food for almost every budget. Mostly international brands. $$ to $$$
Terminal 21 (Sukhumvit) Shopping mall with “zones” inspired by other iconic shopping districts around the world like Champs-Élysées in Paris & London’s Carnaby Street. $$ to $$$
EmQuartier Bangkok (Sukhumvit) High-end fashion and luxury mall with international designers like Gucci, Chanel and the likes. $$$
Siam Paragon (Siam) High-end fashion and luxury mall selling from Mango and Zara to Chanel and YSL. $$$

Weekend night markets in Bangkok

Rod Fai is one of Bangkok’s popular night markets. 
PHOTO: Unsplash

If you’re more into street food and vintage finds, make a beeline to the hip night markets. A few of the more popular ones were Rod Fai market (Kaset-Nawamin outlet closed in mid 2021), Ratchada night market, JJ Green night market, ARTBOX and Chatuchak night market. Needless to say, you’re more likely to get cheap, value buys here than at most shopping malls.

Bangkok restaurants, coffee & street food – where to eat in Bangkok

Those feet need fuel to shop, so make sure you eat your way around Bangkok too!

Aside from everyone’s favourite tom yum goong and mookata, you should try the gai tod (deep-fried chicken), moo ping (skewered pork) and even fried bugs (!!!!). I’ve never had the balls to brave crunching crickets, but my good friend of mine shares that most store owners are happy to let you sample one before you decide whether to buy a bag of it. (gulps)

If your inner food snob is twitching, don’t worry. There’s more than street food in Bangkok – the city is a actually heaven for hip coffee and dessert shops with Instagram-able walls. Some of the best Bangkok coffee joints include After You Cafe, The Commons, Roast Coffee and the newly opened May’s Garden House Restaurant by Studio Ghibli.

What’s a trip to Bangkok without stuffing your face? Some of the best buffets in Bangkok include the international seafood buffet at Lord Jim’s (2,805 to 3,740 baht) in Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Goji Kitchen + Bar (1,999 to 2,589 baht) near EmQuartier, Nud Pob Seafood Suki & BBQ (329 baht), and the famous Bar-BQ Resort (399 baht) chain of massive international seafood and Thai BBQ restaurants.

So for the most authentic experience, I recommend you snack on all the local Thai delights that you find by the roadside and at the Bangkok bazaars. Most street food should cost you no more than a few dollars.

Don’t forget to dapao some delicious Thai snacks home for your colleagues and family. The best place to do Thai snack shopping is at Big C Supercenter near CentralWorld.

Bangkok attractions and things to do in Bangkok

Believe it or not, there are other things to do in Bangkok besides shopping and eating. For one, Thailand is famous for its cheap massages (happy-ending or good ol’ Thai massage, you decide). You’re likely to find massage parlours at almost every turn, but one of the most reliable chains is Healthland Spa. A 120-minute full body Thai massage is 700 baht ($28), 400 baht ($16) for foot massage.

If you’re more of a culture buff, here are 5 interesting places to visit in Bangkok.

Bangkok attractions Entrance fees
Wat Arun/ Wat Pho 100 baht 
Jim Thompson House 200 baht
Damoen Saduak Floating Market 400 baht for a boat ride
Grand Palace 500 baht 
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) 500 baht 

Changing money – what’s the SGD to THB exchange rate?

The first order of business (after booking your flights, of course) is heading to the money changer to convert your Singapore dollars (SGD) to Thai Baht (THB). The exchange rate is usually around 1SGD = 24THB.

There are many online money changer directories that feature live exchange rates – you can sort by exchange rate to get the most bang for your buck, but I usually just sort by area and go to the best one near me. Unless you’re changing thousands, the difference is usually not that much.

Some popular money changers include:

  • Fiat Money Changer at Income@Raffles (Raffles Place)
  • JL Union Garments Enterprises (Bedok)
  • Firman $hah International Exchange (Bedok)
  • Al-Aman Exchange (Bedok)
  • Peoples Corner Money Changer (Raffles Place)

Data roaming vs Thailand SIM card vs WiFi router rental

Next, if you need mobile data on-the-go, you’ll have to decide between 1) data roaming with your existing local telco, 2) overseas SIM cards and 3) overseas WiFi routers.

In general, paying for data roaming and getting SIM cards are convenient for those travelling alone or in small groups where it’s enough for one person to have connectivity.

If you have bigger groups, a mobile router (with unlimited data usage) may be more cost-effective.

Option Product How it works
Data roaming with current telco StarHub DataTravel Add on overseas data from $5/GB
M1 Data Passport Add on $12/month to use your local data overseas
Singtel ReadyRoam Add on $5 for Malaysia, $12, $20, or $40 for other destinations
Buy a Thailand SIM card DTAC Happy Tourist $8.05 for eight days, 15GB data
AIS Traveller SIM $12 for eight days, 15GB data
Overseas Wifi routers Thai SIMS 4G Mobile Router $5/day for unlimited usage
Roaming Man $12.99/day for 5GB usage, five devices
Yogofi $2.90/day for unlimited usage (promo

This article was first published in MoneySmart.