If you’re travelling through South East Asia for a month or two, then you probably don’t need a base. You simply can carry your things and stay at places along the way. For longer trips of six months or so though, you might find that you would prefer to have a base—a place that you can call your temporary home to live and work from.
Thailand is one of the best countries in South East Asia for this purpose, and although it is a city that may not be loved by the quiet seekers, Bangkok is an excellent city in terms of the cost of living and travel connections. There’s also Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, but the airport there doesn’t offer the same choice of international flights. Here’s why choosing Bangkok—or somewhere close by—will make an ideal base.
Relatively Low Cost of Living
Thailand has a relatively low-cost of living when compared to countries like Singapore or Malaysia. Although Bangkok is actually one of the more expensive cities in the region, the overall cost of rent and eating out is low. Finding rented apartments in Thailand (serviced or unserviced) is no problem, whereas other countries that are relatively inexpensive in other departments can cost a fortune when it comes to finding a decent place to stay. If you want to stay in hostels and hotels, then you can find a bed for as little as R200-R250 a night; although for long-term stays, apartments do offer the best value.
High Quality of Life
Cambodia and Laos might actually be less expensive overall, but for long-term travellers and digital nomads, Thailand offers a kind of security and comfort that is hard to beat. You can live well for less here. That’s not to say that the country is without poverty, but if you have the money, you can find the luxuries that you might want from a travel base. Bangkok is a modern city with all of the amenities necessary for good rest, work and activities.
There are places in Thailand that are more relaxed than Bangkok. There are beautiful nature spots, idyllic beaches and islands, and some excellent mountain reserves. If you think you may prefer to be in those places, the good news is that you can get pretty much get anywhere in Thailand from Bangkok, whether by domestic flights, ferries and boats, or overground transport.
Bangkok is a very well-connected city with two major airports: Suwannaphum and Don Mueang International. And there are plenty of low-budget airlines with flights to cities all over the world. For example, you can fly from Bangkok to Bali for less than R1500, Singapore for around the same, Hong Kong for a little over R1500, and domestically to Chaing Mai for under R300.
Experience South East Asia
With a great location within South East Asia, and excellent flight options to surrounding countries that are waiting to be explored, Thailand/Bangkok makes the perfect base. You can visit nearby Cambodia and Laos for a more untouched Eastern culture or Vietnam for its rich and complex history. Now known as Asia’s premier gaming destination, you could check out Macau if you want to get involved in huge poker tournaments like the Macau Millions.
You can take a flight to Singapore and live the high life for a while, then return back to Thailand to chill out and catch up on work life. From Thailand, you can experience everything else that South East Asia has to offer. When you do return back to ‘base’ in Bangkok, there’s plenty to do and see there, too. From impressive historical structures and grand palaces to the floating markets and bustling food stalls, Bangkok really does have something for everyone.
The food is excellent, and modern and ancient cultures merge so that any stroll through Bangkok is likely to create a sensory experience that brings surprises and splendour to the uninitiated. Get used to Bangkok as a home, and you will start to appreciate its hidden gems, whether they be your favourite eateries or the Muay Thai boxing matches.
Get used to Bangkok as a home, and you will start to appreciate its hidden gems, whether they be your favourite eateries or the Muay Thai boxing matches.
There are Alternatives
Bangkok, or indeed Thailand as a country, is just one of the many places that you could use as your travel base. Singapore is an excellent choice because of its connectivity and quality of life. You can fly pretty much anywhere from the airport, and the city is super-modern. You will have to dig a little deeper here, though, as Singapore has one of the highest costs for travel.
Expect to spend as much as 10x more for accommodations and other living costs. Kuala Lumpur is another awesome choice for both connectivity and value for your money, and it might actually have lower living costs than Bangkok. The international airport is served by Air Asia, and flights go out to both East Asia and South Asia, as well as to Oceania and the Middle East. Of course, every traveller should do their research and then test out the location where they want to live. Find your home away from home.
Wherever you choose to base yourself, South East Asia deserves time for exploration.
While there check out my post on The Best Airbnb Experiences in Bangkok.