Living in Bangkok
January 1, 1970
by Laura Lucas
Bangkok is a city you either love or hate – there’s no in-between. It’s known for it’s crazy nightlife, stunning lady-boy’s, ping-pong shows and constant bumper to bumper traffic. Yet thousands of foreigners flock to Bangkok each year to work and live a more luxurious life. In order to fulfil that sort of lifestyle there are many elements to consider when moving to Bangkok.
Working in Bangkok
If you haven’t already been offered a position in Bangkok before coming here there are a few places you can look for vacant positions – one is on a Facebook group called Bangkok Expats and another is on http://th.jobsdb.com/th
If you are successful in getting a job you should take into consideration the cost of your Visa and Work permit and your wage.
I would personally recommend trying to earn 45,000 THB or more per month to live comfortably.
Transportation in Bangkok
Bangkok’s BTS and MRT System
Aside from walking, I find that using the BTS (skytrain) and MRT (underground) is one of the easiest and cheapest modes of transportation within Bangkok. Both trains systems operate daily between 5am and midnight and come frequently (between every 5-10 minutes).
The BTS is made up of two separate lines; the Sukhumvit line and the Silom line which interchange at Siam station. During peak hours changing trains can be quite hectic, however the Thais make it easier as they line up on either side of where the doors will open.
If you will be in Bangkok for more than 1 month then purchasing a “rabbit card” is the best option. You are able to purchase a rabbit card at any of the customer service windows located on the BTS platforms. They cost 150 baht, of this 150 baht 50 is refundable. Each card lasts 5 years and you are able to top up as you go. Each journey will range between 15 -55 THB (roughly 8 baht or less per stop).
The MRT system works almost the same – just underground (go figure). The only difference is that is is just the one line opposed to two. The MRT and BTS interchange in two places Silom/Sala Daeng and at Sukhimvit/Asok.
Bangkok’s Taxi’s, Tuktuks and Motorbikes
I occasionally use Bangkok’s taxis and motorbikes but try and stay away from the tuktuk’s. When it comes to the taxi’s I only ever go by the meter (which starts out at 35 THB) unless I am 150% sure that I am getting a better deal by bartering with them. When it comes to getting these taxis there are a few basics words in Thai I have learnt which have made my life a whole lot easier.
God Meter na ka – means please turn the meter on
trong pie – go straight
leo sai – turn left
leo kwa – turn right
In terms of bikes there are two ways I get them, which neither involves negotiating on a price. On main roads or streets that have lots of apartment buildings you will find that bike drivers sit in clusters at the end of the road, they will have set prices to nearby destinations such as BTS stations, shopping malls and piers, which have set prices ranging between 10-40 THB. If you are needing to travel further then I recommend booking a bike through an app called Grab bike. Grab bike is an app where you can type in where you are and where you want to go, then you can choose the mode of transportation – whether it be by taxi, bike, a premium economy car or van. For all of these vehicles except for the taxi’s it will give you a set price, which then once you click book a drive will accept. It will display where the driver is within Bangkok and also how long it will take for the driver to reach you. You can also book these in advance.
Finding Accommodation in Bangkok
Since Bangkok is such a big city with so many sub-districts it can be incredibly hard deciding what area to stay in. My main recommendation is to live somewhere that is in close proximity to an MRT or BTS station (that is relatively close to where you will be working).
In terms of actually finding places that are available there are multiple different avenues you can choose.
1. Look on social media outlets – If you are staying less than 6 months then it may be hard to find a landlord that will accept such a short contract. Nonetheless people come and go from Bangkok all the time and are always seeking people to take over their lease. A popular forum where people advertise available apartments is on a Facebook page called Bangkok Expats.
2. Use agency websites – although this seems logical and would normally be easy most of the websites are trying to charge double the price or lack the information you require. The best one I have found is Hip Flat.
3. Go to the apartment buildings yourself – this is how I personally found my apartment. I worked my way along the BTS stops and would go into an apartment building. In most of the buildings there would be a real estate agent sitting at a desk in the foyer, which I would ask them what is available and how much. From there the agent will walk you through each available apartment and then negotiate a price.
Accommodation ranges in price immensely throughout Bangkok. If you are happy travelling about 45 minutes into the city every day you can generally find some nice apartments around On Nut for 10,000ish THB. If you are wanting an apartment of condo more central to everything you will generally pay about 19,000 THB upwards for a 1 bedroom apartment. Some of the brand new or bigger condos can cost up to 35,000 THB for 1 person, which the majority of apartments will already come furnished. Popular central areas that many expats choose to live in are Silom and Sathorn, Ari and Ekamai or Thonglor.
Food in Bangkok
One of my favorite things about Bangkok is the food! Whether it be amazing street food, all you can eat Sunday brunches or delicious westernized meals there is always something for everyone.
Bangkok’s street food
The food made on the streets of Bangkok can range from basic bread with sugar to delicious soup and no matter what night of the week there will always be something available. The pricing of street-food willl generally be between 20 and 70 THB depending on what you’re ordering. Each street food vendor will generally reside in the same spot most nights of the week so you can become quite accustom to them.
The things I order off the street the most are –
Pad Kra Pow
Mango and Sticky Rice
Banana and Condensed milk Crepes
Although it’s called street food, there is a lot of really good cheap thai food in many of the local shopping centers food courts.
I know what your thinking, why is 711 coming under the area of food in Bangkok… But when you live in Bangkok you will completely understand. 711 is almost everywhere is Thailand and it sells almost everything. One of my favorite things is going into 711 and finding something that I haven’t tried before.
Whats even better about 711 is that if you buy a microwavable meal they will also heat it up for you then and there.
Eating out in Bangkok.
After moving to Bangkok you will quickly realize that you don’t really need to cook at home. Bangkok has hundreds of delicious restaurants which makes it so hard deciding what to eat. A website that I get to help me choose is called eatigo.
With eatigo you can select the date you are looking at eating out (generally the same day), the time you are roughly going to go to the restaurants,cafe or bar and you can also choose the location or cuisine (if you wish to). It will then come up with the eligible discounts you can get and on what restaurants if you make a reservation.
Since there is such good thai food on the streets I am a try not to ever order Thai when I’m at a restaurant. Therefor here are a few of my favorite westernized restaurants in Bangkok –
Saravanaa Bhavan – is possibly one of my favorite Indian restaurants in the world. It is only vegetarian food but their Rava Masala Dosa is amazing and only 145 THB. Dean and Deluca (near Chong Nonsi BTS) – isn’t the cheapest restaurant but it always has good food! I am a huge fan of their wagyu beef burger and lasagne.
Tokyo Teppanyaki – This one is in MBK’s food court. I know , eating in a food court doesn’t sound all that enticing but trust me you have to try this at least once! For the amount of food you get and the quality of it, it is pretty good! I always order the chicken steak and gyoza’s with mayonnaise and it always comes to under 250 THB.
Shoshana – Is an Israeli restaurant around the corner from Khao San road. They do amazing schnitzels and falafels in pita and almost every meal is under 200 THB.
Bon Chon Chicken – This chain is almost in every major shopping complex. They have a pretty basic menu but you have to go there to try their chicken. My recommendation is trying half the soy garlic and half the spicy chicken thighs!
Revolucion – is a Latin restaurant on Sathorn soi 10. It has a real grungy sort of vibe to it and plays a lot of RNB music. From Wednesday to Friday between 6pm-9pm they have 50% off cocktails and tapas.
Eating in in Bangkok
Although you don’t need to cook much there are a few different ways you can get food delivered to your door.
Food Panda or Ginja – These two companies have both apps and websites where you can sign up and search through the hundreds of restaurants that deliver to your area. Each restaurant will have a delivery free – generally ranging between 30 – 150 THB. You can then go through and choose what items you want from the restaurants and they will deliver it within an hour.
If you are after fast food you can also call many restaurants directly – such as KFC and Mcdonalds.
Getting groceries delivered in Bangkok
Within Bangkok there are several different websites you can get groceries to your door – to name a few tops, happyfresh, delishop and passiondelivery. The majority of these offer free delivery if you spend over a certain amount – generally being 1000 THB, so best to do your orders in bulk.
Costs of living in Bangkok
Although I have gone through the various different elements to consider when moving to Bangkok I can’t emphasize how much someones lifestyle can vary to anothers. I believe I live a relatively westerized lifestyle in the sense I live in a nice 1 bedroom apartment in the middle of Sathorn (5 minutes walk to Chong Nonsi BTS), I eat out everynight – which only half my meals are thai food off the street and I am constantly busy at night time experiencing things Bangkok has to offer. To give you a realistic idea on someones cost of living I will break down all of my monthly expenses.
Monthly wage – 60,000 THB. After Tax I get paid about 52,000 THB
- Monthly Rent – 19,000 THB
- Monthly Gas & Electricity – 2000 THB – this cost could be reduced by half if you don’t sleep with an aircon on.
- Monthly Water Bill – 400 THB
- Monthly Internet – 850 THB for unlimited wifi (through True)
- Monthly phone costs – 450 THB for 4.5 gb of data (through DTAC)
- Average Daily cost of food and drinks – 300 THB
- Average Daily cost of transportation – 130 THB
- Average extra activities per day (eg massages, going out, gym) – 350 THB
Therefor I pretty much break even living a fun, busy, full on lifestyle.
Bangkok’s the sort of place that if you are on a wage like mine, you can easily save money if you try or you can do something different every night of the week and experience all that Bangkok has to offer.