One cannot deny that travelling does come with a price; but it doesn't have to be expensive if managed wisely. Like many other budget travellers, I always have my travel finance under control. During my last trip to Bangkok, which was for 4 days 3 nights, I travelled with a budget of just $400, and still returned to Singapore happily, simply because I didn't spend more than I had. Want to know how I did it? Here are my secrets.
Secret #1: I found cheap flights online
I recently heard about Traveloka, an app that enables travellers to book cheap flight tickets. It was my first encounter with the brand and honestly I thought Skyscanner was the best platform to book flight tickets. But when I saw cheaper flight tickets on Traveloka, I fell in love with the platform right away! Why wouldn't I? I'd do anything to save more money because that's what smart travellers do. Okay, enough with the talking already. Here's the deal.
So I planned to fly from Singapore to Bangkok on May 9, 2016 and return on May 12, 2016. Skyscanner's cheapest prices were as above. My return ticket would have cost me S$164 in total if I booked with Skyscanner.
Then I compared Skyscanner's prices to Traveloka's and found them to be cheaper by S$20.64. On Traveloka, my return ticket was just S$143.36!
Note that both of these prices were not inclusive of luggage fee and travel coverage. Although I chose not to pay for travel insurance in this trip, do consider taking it every time you go abroad. There's a reason why it is offered by airlines. Then again, it's optional. As for luggage fee, I always travel light and have a carry-on luggage instead.
Secret #2: My hotel price was pretty good
Like seriously. I only spent S$27.71 for a night's stay in Nasa Vegas Hotel, a 3-star hotel, close to public facilities, and for shopaholics especially, this hotel is just right for them as it offers easy access to numerous shopping centres nearby.
I must say that it's a decent hotel. It has got good customer service, a restaurant (in case I want supper in my room), Wi-Fi, a bathtub (so I can have 'me' time after a hectic day of shopping), air-conditioner, in- room safe, and almost everything I needed.
Overall, I only paid S$83.13 for 3 nights. Hey, that's cheap! In Singapore, a 3-star hotel would cost me as low as S$65 per night; that's S$195 for 3 nights, which is way more expensive than what I paid for my accommodation in Bangkok! Some of you might think that the quality wouldn't be as good as Singapore's, but honestly speaking, Nasa Vegas Hotel did make me a happy customer. This cheap hotel can also be found on TripAdvisor. They've got good feedback from previous guests. You might even find a positive review from me too! If you wonder where I booked my hotel, I did it on Traveloka, yup, the one I mentioned earlier in cheap flights! It didn't just help me book my return flight ticket but also my hotel. To book hotels with Traveloka, you can also download their mobile app for easier access and better rates.
Secret #3: I travelled by trains and buses only
Another great way to save money when travelling is to make full use of local public transportation - and when I said public transportation, I meant taking trains and buses only. No tuk-tuks or taxis! Thanks to Google navigation, I was able to find my way around the city and learnt the bus routes. I even knew what time the buses were supposed to arrive! How cool is that? SUPER CONVENIENT.
Also, because I was staying in Nasa Vegas Hotel, accessing public transportation was rather easy. It's literally connected to a train line! So why take tuk-tuks and taxis if trains and buses are cheaper alternatives? Okay, so perhaps tuks-tuks and taxis are more comfortable as I won't have to share space with other passengers, but I will still have to share roads with others, and I hate traffic jams. Bangkok MRT is almost as reliable as Singapore's by the way!
Secret #4: Food is cheap everywhere
Well there are expensive food anywhere around Thailand. It really depends where you dine. Thailand food is generally cheap and delicious - and street food is always the best if you ask any locals. Foreigners like me also share the same opinion. In Singapore, a local will always recommend street food too.
I had Pad Thai while I was in Bangkok and the best one in my opinion is the one at Khao San Road. I had it for 30 Baht and the portion was big! The Pad Thai stall opposite McDonald's is said to be one of the best. My Italian friend and I were crazy about Pad Thai, so we ate it most of the time. For the portions we got and for the price we paid, Pad Thai is definitely recommended especially for those travelling with tight budget. But please, don't eat just that. Widen your options!
Tips: Avoid touristy places. Khao San Road is super-touristy. If you're not planning to have a couple of beers with friends, you best eat elsewhere. Likewise, when in Thailand, go for local dishes. They're not just cheap but are also one of the reasons why you're in Thailand! Eat Tom Yam!
Secret #5: Bargain, bargain, bargain
I bargain even when I'm in Singapore. I believe most of us do that in our home country too. So why not do the same when in other countries too? Goods in Thailand are already pretty cheap for me and I like it when they get even cheaper! I love shopping and my bargaining skills paid off. I came home with a lot of cheap souvenirs for my friends and family!
I saved a lot from my flight and hotel bookings. Because I didn't spend very much on these two things, I was able to enjoy shopping and food hunting to the maximum. Oh, because bargaining is common in the streets of Bangkok, I managed to enjoy my holiday with just S$400!
P.S. I've got a few dollars more in my pocket ;)