Bangkok is extremely cheap. Arrive with a couple of thousand bucks and you can live here for half a year without much trouble. Meals are usually less than a dollar (roughly 40 baht), clothing is mostly cheap knockoffs and a place to sleep is usually only a few dollars. If you can hold your beer limit down you can hang for as long as you like. The extremely cheap Sang Sum Liquor helps out on the budget front.
What can be expensive in a city this large are taxi rides. Take the cheap river system for most city travel and never catch a cab next to a popular tourist area if the taxi is metered. Otherwise a 2 kilometre journey turns into 20.
If you’re looking to stay for the long haul or you just ran out of money, like many places, the easiest way to make money is by teaching English. It doesn’t require any teaching experience or even the ability to speak Thai. Really one doesn’t have to master grammatical English either.
There are three ways people tend to make money teaching in Bangkok. The first is to go to one of the many English school institutions (often not more than a few tucked away rooms) and offer your services. These are after school services and not part of the regular Thai educational system. The money isn’t great but it’s more than enough to survive on.
The next best thing to do is freelance your English teaching skill by making post card flyers and posting them around college and high school campuses. Students usually have a solid background in English but need someone to have constant conversational practice. The best means of teaching is by getting hired by a legitimate Thai school. This is obviously the hardest, but doable if you have teaching background or can speak Thai. It is possible to get forged credentials on Khao San Road that can pass for the real thing. Just remember that you are going to be standing in front of a class of students in a real school.
Other options include prostituting yourself as a movie extra – this pays about 1000 baht for a long day of milling around with ther down and out travelers and expats, waiting fo the director to tell you to walk about, stand up and cheer or any other number of tedious activities. It’s a good way to meet other people living in Bangok though. There are also more lucrative acting jobs in commericals when they have a need for farangs – speak Thai and you can make a living as a model in Bangkok.
If you’re a journalistic type then there’s often work copy editing for the english newspapers in Bangkok. This basically entails taking the garbled nonsense that the Thai reporters turn in, giving it some kind of coherence and then giving it back to the Thai writer who takes all the credit. Good hours though, good pay and all you need is a diploma. Khao San Road sells them for $40.
Some travelers think it’s an easy way to make quick cash by selling drugs. Just don’t do it in Thailand. Besides the death penalty for smuggling drugs, police and dealers are often in conjunction with a host of setups and scams. Jail in Thailand is your worst nightmare.