Bangkok revealed among 2023’s top three destinations for backpackers

Bangkok’s top accolades lie with the city’s choice of hostels, average hostel costs and choice of free attractions.

The Nation

The Nation



April 11, 2023

BANGKOK – ● YerevanBaku and Bangkok have been revealed as the overall top three destinations for backpackers in 2023, and Hanoi and Seoul complete the top five.

● Bangkok has the best choice of hostels (992), which will cost visitors an average of $17 per night

● Thailand’s capital is also home to a wealth of free attractions (460+)

● Bangkok ranks more mid-range for its public transport and basic grocery shop costs and its choice of couch-surfing hosts

The top cities for backpackers

Bangkok’s top accolades lie with the city’s choice of hostels, average hostel costs and choice of free attractions – one night in one of Bangkok’s 992 hostels will cost an average of $17 per night, whilst visitors have 463 attractions to visit free of charge. A basic grocery shop (inc. essentials like fruit, rice, eggs, bread, and milk) will cost an average of $16.50.

Regarding public transport, a trip across Bangkok will cost an average of $0.82 but it appears the city has a lack of couch-surfing hosts, registering only 14. Bangkok ranks worst of all for its crime rates and mobile internet speeds – the city ranks as the 42nd safest city and mobile internet speeds average around the 57Mbps mark.

In comparison, Armenia’s capital Yerevan ranks first thanks to its cheaper hostel prices ($14 p/ night) and public transport costs ($0.25 per trip). The city is also the 5th safest capital city and home to a wealth of hostels (278) to choose from. Basic groceries come at a reasonable cost of $13 and looking at the choice of free attractions, the city ranks more mid-range offering 105 in total. Lastly, Yerevan ranks lowest for its mobile internet speeds, which hover around the 35mbps mark and its choice of couch-surfing hosts, of which the city only has 2.

The top ten destinations list also features Baku (Azerbaijan), Hanoi (Vietnam), Seoul (South Korea), Madrid (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), joint eighth ranking Sofia (Bulgaria) and Beijing (China), Zagreb (Croatia) and Vienna (Austria).

Hostel or couch surfing

If you’re looking to stay somewhere more affordable with the bonus of meeting other travellers, hostels are the best alternative to hotels. Bangkok, Thailand has the most choice of hostels (992), Seoul offers 578 and Budapest has 397. The most affordable hostels are found in KathmanduNepal and IslamabadPakistan, where the average one-night stay costs $7. If you’re looking to stay in a more premium rate hostel, then Reykjavik, Bern and Dublin are the most costly, all having an average hostel stay cost of $54 per night.

If you prefer couch surfing, you’re likely to get the perk of locals as your tour guides and a more homely stay, and Berlin is the best city to head to as it is home to 335 couch surf hosts. Paris and Brussels follow as second and third best for the couch surfers out there, with 292 and 121 couch surf hosts available.

Getting around and seeing the sights

When visiting a new city, the best and most inexpensive method of exploring is by making use of public transport. The countries that offer the cheapest average public transport trips are ColomboSri Lanka ($0.12) and TashkentUzbekistan ($0.14). The study goes on to reveal that Rome, Paris and Tokyo offer the most tourist attractions for no fee, with each of the destinations housing over 500 free attractions.

As for keeping safe, whether you’re in a new city or your own, nowhere is perfect, so one should always have their wits about them. For some, such as nervous first-time backpackers who may prefer to dip their feet by starting somewhere slightly higher on the ‘safety scale’, the cities with the lowest crime rates are Abu DhabiDoha and Bern.

Staying connected

Seoul, Oslo and Doha have the fastest mobile internet speeds available. With mobile networks in all three cities providing an average Mbps above 170, this enables visitors to check in with loved ones or document and share their amazing travels, minus the buffering. As for the cities where you might struggle most to keep your Instagram and TikTok accounts up to date; AccraDhaka and Kathmandu rank as having the slowest mobile internet speeds (below 15mbps on average).

Saving a penny by ‘eating in’

Eating at a new restaurant every day would be a dream but if you want to make your money stretch further whilst backpacking, the cheaper alternative is to buy your basic groceries from local markets and supermarkets. Based on an essentials list, the study reveals that Islamabad offers the most affordable prices, with the average basic grocery shop setting you back $5.75. Following the Pakistani capital, Cairo is the second cheapest ($6.66) and New Delhi follows in third ($8.56).

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