Bangkok, capital of Thailand, has a population of over 8 million residents. It has a rapidly growing population of city loving expats as well as a thriving digital nomad community due to its comparatively low cost of living and bustling cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Bangkok may have a reputation for intense heat, heavy traffic, and naughty nightlife— but don't let that mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities. Compared to other major Asian cities, it’s very affordable too.
Bangkok is one of the main financial hubs of South East Asia. This makes it an attractive location for independent entrepreneurs to network and launch their online business. Many expats from large, western cities make their way here to enjoy Bangkok’s metropolitan amenities while saving money.
It’s also popular because it’s an exotic destination that’s relatively safe both day and night despite its chaotic vibe.
Bangkok, Thailand - Overview
Covering over 270 square miles and growing, the city offers a dramatically contrasting array of lifestyles from the ultra-modern skyscrapers and climate-controlled malls to ancient architecture and golden towered-temples. It’s a vibrant city, full of life, culture, modern amenities and ancient history. It’s an exotic city where the modern world and the ancient mix.
Bangkok has a diverse cityscape, rich in cultural heritage, with attractions such as The Grand Palace, China Town and many temples and museums. It’s also dotted with art galleries and green spaces where you can escape the bustle of the big city.
In Central Bangkok, most shop owners, employees and even street vendors speak enough English for you to accomplish your daily tasks.
So how much does it cost to live in Bangkok?
$600 per month is possible, but not comfortable.
$1,000- $2,000 per month is comfortable. Most nomads and expats I know live within this range.
$2,000+ per month and you can live large.
Accommodations in Bangkok
Cost of living in Bangkok can vary considerably depending on your own level of comfort and convenience. Your accommodation will be your largest expense. My advice is to pay extra for a great location that’s close to the Skytrain (BTS) or subway (MRT) and save time and money on transportation.
Nine hundred dollars US per month can get you a nice apartment in a trendy area near the Skytrain or subway line. Out a few stops, you can find similar accommodations for around $550 per month, and $300 per month will get you a simple studio.
Here’s a breakdown of what you might find:
Basic Studio: $150 – $300 USD
You can rent a small, very basic apartment in Bangkok for as low as $150. It will have its own bathroom with a shower and toilet. It should have a fridge, a fan and a kitchen sink, but will not necessarily have a kitchen. The bed will likely be hard. And you will probably need a taxi to get to the nearest Skytrain or MRT stop.
Simple Apartment: $300 – $450. USD
Starting around $300 you can find a good quality studio apartment in central Bangkok within walking distance of the Skytrain or MRT. At this price you can often find air conditioning, included Wi-Fi and English-speaking staff who work in the administrative section of the apartments.
Nice Apartment: $450 - $750 USD
Between $450 and $750 you can find quality one- and two-bedroom apartments that may have a gym, swimming pool, maid service and other amenities.
Luxury Apartment $1000+ USD
Above $1000 you can live extremely well. Amenities may include 24/7 security and an amazing city view.
Basic utilities for two people in a small apartment using the air-conditioner much of the time may run about $80. Shared internet may be included with your rent but will likely be slow and decent internet may be another $15 per month. Smartphone service will be another $15.
Luxuries are affordable in Bangkok. Hiring a cook or cleaning service are surprisingly affordable and common. Two to Three hours of cleaning will cost you about $15.
Food in Bangkok
For adventurous foodies that don’t mind the ambience of a busy city street, there’s probably no better dining destination in the world than Bangkok. It’s one of the best-value dining destinations in the world.
Much of Bangkok’s daily life is conducted on the street where food carts sit at the foot of skyscrapers with rooftop restaurants. Great international restaurants are found all over the city with a meal often costing less than $10. Thai food can easily be found at food courts and even restaurants for less than $3.
There are many Western style supermarkets with imported goods from around the world, and If you’re happy to eat at street stalls and night markets, you can get by on less than $2 per meal.
Here are some typical costs:
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant including drink $2.50
Domestic Beer $2.45
Cappuccino (medium) $2.54
Basic Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) $84.
Internet (60 Mbps or More) $24.
Shopping in Bangkok
An endless variety of shopping experiences are all over the city and cater to all sorts of budgets.
There’s a multitude of Mega-Malls with brands from around the world and prices for every budget. And if you get tired of the malls, there are day markets, night markets and weekend markets where you can practice your bargaining skills.
You can get just about anything in Bangkok however you will be paying a premium for anything imported, around 20-30% more. Locally made items will likely be much cheaper than in your home country.
Getting Around Bangkok
The Skytrain and underground subway are fast and easy to use. Along the river and canals, taxi boats are a fast and unique way to get around. Taxis are cheap, but they can be a nightmare in the city due to the traffic. Motorbike taxis can zip through rush hour traffic with most trips being under a dollar.
You’ll probably spend $30 a month using the Skytrain and MRT if you are going to and from work, and maybe another $35 on taxis if you are out in the evenings. Taxis are cheap, and plentiful but, you may get stuck in traffic. You can get a 50-trip pass for the Skytrain for around $30.
Travel from Bangkok
Bangkok is a popular city to base out of for many long-term travelers. It has two major airports with cheap flights throughout Asia. Thailand has been a long-time tourist destination for Australians and Europeans so the tourism infrastructure is well established, easy to navigate, and affordable.
Flights are very cheap. I’ve booked flights around Thailand for under $40 round trip and booked flights to other Asian cities for under $80 round trip. Overnight sleeper trains can be an enjoyable experience and are reasonably priced as well.
In Bangkok I roughly spent $1,800 for a single month. I had a simple room in a great location and ate out every meal at a wide range of restaurants while exploring the sights of the city.
Bangkok is more expensive than most of Thailand but for a major city, it’s a great value.
Thai people are generally very welcoming to foreigners visiting and living in their country. And residents from around the world gives it a cosmopolitan flare to mix with its rich history.
So, it is easy to see you can get a lot of quality living for a small amount of money in the city of Bangkok.