I didn’t sleep in the same bed for more than a week for the last three months, including some luxury hotels, some guesthouses and my fair share of boats and trains. Most were to my liking and we soon learned that for $20 USD per night, we could get comfortable rooms, free breakfast and free WiFi nearly anywhere. So here is where I slept in Southeast Asia.
Aoi Garden Home, Chiang Mai, Thailand– After a brutal marathon of taxis, layovers and flights from Darwin to Singapore to Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we arrived at 10 pm to our room at Aoi Garden Home. It didn’t look like much, a deadbolted room with two mattresses on the floor without sheets, but we were glad to have a flat surface. This was one of our cheaper stays at only $3 per night and had great breakfasts that cost extra. It was also well located near the north moat during Songkran.
The North Hotel, Chiang Rai, Thailand– We decided to head to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and settled on cheap dorms near the bus station. North Hotel was well located near the center of town, but the dorms were at the top floor of the hotel, which didn’t have an elevator. There also was only one key for the door, which was kept at the desk, so we were told to keep it unlocked at all times. I didn’t love this prospect, but neither did I like the hard beds and only one fan. It was a restless night’s sleep, but good enough for the price.
Hakka Guesthouse, Pai, Thailand– After going from Chiang Rai back to Chiang Mai and then hopping on a minibus to Pai, known for its winding roads, we arrived at Hakka Guesthouse. I found it on sale on Agoda and was glad to see it was right outside of town. We were given the key, but otherwise never saw the staff again. The rooms were the most comfortable of the whole trip and the mattresses the softest. I highly recommend, especially in comparison with some of the basic bungalows you’ll find in Pai.
Buaraya Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand– We needed somewhere to stay for the night before and after our visits to the Elephant Nature Park and this standard business hotel on the north side of the moat fit the bill. It was basic, to be certain, and quiet, but had reliable WiFi, television and comfortable beds.
Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand– There’s no place like home and our rooms at the Elephant Nature Park were as close as we came to it on this trip. We were given beds with thick blankets, which we didn’t need, mosquito nets, which we did need, and a fan. While the power may have gone out every night, after a long day of harvesting corn and scooping dung, it was good to have a place to collapse.
G9 Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand– Offering both dorms and private rooms, G9 is well situated near the bus station. We were only in town for a few nights to do laundry and refuel before catching the bus to Cambodia. While the beds were of standard firmness, I was glad to have WiFi and laundry facilities. If you’re doing anything less than a stopover, however, I recommend staying further into town.
Yellow Hostel, Siem Reap, Cambodia– The bus to Siem Reap took all day, so we spent two nights in the city without seeing any of the sights on our way to Phnom Penh. The hostel wasn’t much, but was cheap, had free WiFi and extensive breakfast. It was a bit further from Pub Street and we were constantly haggled for tuk tuks, but if you’re looking to spend little money, this hostel will do.
One Up Banana Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia– We arrived by minibus and took a tuk tuk, but our driver still couldn’t find it. After walking around and asking in a travel agency, we finally found it set in an alley. But we were greeted by the friendly staff and offered welcome drinks. The staff helped us arrange trips to the Killing Fields and were very apologetic about power outages, which we had become used to.
Angkor Orchid Central Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia– We chose this hotel over the bridge on the side of the craft bazaar because it was quieter than the other Pub Street hotels. The staff were nothing but lovely for our 6 day stay, arranging our Angkor tour and serving us breakfast every morning. Rooms were nice enough and they even have a rooftop for views of Siem Reap. Breakfasts were included.
Wendy House, Bangkok, Thailand– We arrived after what seemed like an eternity on the bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok, plagued with late departure and a passenger snafu at the border. When we arrived at 9 pm, the receptionist couldn’t find our Hotels.com booking, despite the fact that I had it pulled up on my phone. It was rather awkward, but eventually she gave us a key. The room was fine, but a bit old school motel style. Beds weren’t all that comfortable, but the guesthouse is well located and has good breakfast.
Siam@Siam Design Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand– I stayed at this wacky design hotel on my second trip through Bangkok when I was in town for my friend’s hen night. It was one of the nicest places we stayed on the trip, located right across from the BTS and all of the malls. It had a delicious breakfast buffet, not to mention three in-house restaurants and a rooftop bar. Beds were comfy and bathrobes were included.
Overnight train, Bangkok to Suratthani, Chumphon to Bangkok– On our very first overnight train in Asia, we were in a second class air conditioned carriage, which ended up being one long hallway with beds on top and bottom. It was comfortable enough, if not a bit loud. On the way back up the coast, our fans were broken and vendors were allowed on board, so it wasn’t quite as nice.
Samui Verticolor, Koh Samui, Thailand– Upon arriving in Koh Samui, we ended up at this cheap hotel behind a main street in Chaweng. It was located near my friend’s hotel and a short walk from the beach. It was also surrounded by plenty of bars and restaurants. It featured a nice pool, restaurant and decent WiFi.
Iyara Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand– Our second stay in Koh Samui was further up Chaweng Beach at a quiet resort on the beach. It had the most beautiful pool and great breakfasts. It also was located in a shopping center, surrounded by outlets. Internet was also strong, meaning I could work while I was there.
Maryoo Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand– Our final Samui hotel was on the opposite site of the island, but was within walking distance of the wedding venue. The hotel itself is very nice, with free breakfast and a nice pool, but isn’t close to anything else. We were also the only ones staying there. We took a songthaew to town once for dinner, but afterwards stayed close by.
Big Blue Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand– I signed up for an advanced diving course on Koh Tao, which allowed me free nights in the dorms during my time there. They were basic, but I’ve stayed in much worse. Fan and AC worked fine and there were bathrooms cleaned daily. The dive company is great, but I suspect I got food poisoning from the restaurant, so dine with caution.
Jim’s Lodge, Bangkok, Thailand– I may have forgotten to take a picture of the motel-style rooms, but it was a fine stay. Beds were comfortable enough and WiFi was strong. The hotel was well located near the American Embassy, where we were applying for our visas for Vietnam. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and the BTS is a short walk away.
Nova Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam– We lucked out with this hotel in Hanoi, which had great reviews, as they upgraded us for free to a bigger room with a view. The staff were very friendly and constantly gave us great recommendations for restaurants. WiFi and breakfast were great and it was easy to book tours to Halong Bay and overnight trains. It’s also within walking distance to the sights.
Dugong Sails, Halong Bay, Vietnam– Our Halong Bay boat was one of the more basic ones, but the beds were comfortable enough. It had an ensuite bathroom with a shower, air conditioning and a window.
Cat Ba Palace Hotel, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam– Our second night of the three day Halong Bay adventure brought us to Cat Ba, where we stayed at a basic but nice hotel in Cat Ba Town with views of the city and a fully functioning air conditioning and fan.
Overnight train, Hanoi to Hue– In comparison with the overnight trains in Thailand, those in Vietnam were downright luxurious. They had full cabins, which we shared with 2 girls from Long Island, with plugs and comforters. The room was much more comfortable, but the ride was not.
Vina Hotel, Hue, Vietnam– We spent two nights at in Hue to see the Imperial Citadel. The hotel had a nice breakfast and welcome plate of fruit, but wasn’t very close to the sights. It was nice and the staff were helpful in booking our bus to Hoi An.
Prince Hotel, Hoi An, Vietnam– We spent four nights at this hotel that had plenty of breakfast options. It had a small pool and we were upgraded for free. We rented bikes for free to visit the Herb Village, provided by the hotel. It’s a 15 minute walk into the Old Town, but is quieter.
Iris Hotel, Danang, Vietnam– We only spent one night here before hopping on an all day train to Nha Trang. Breakfast was included and it was located a short walk from the train station and plenty of restaurants.
Phu Quy 2 Hotel, Nha Trang, Vietnam– I forgot to take a picture here, but it looked very similar to our room in Danang. The hotel was right across the street from the beach, but was very loud. The rooftop pool only had 2 chairs, so we ended up paying to use a nicer pool nearby. Breakfast was plentiful.
Surf 4 You Residence, Mui Ne, Vietnam– We spent a few days at the quiet end of Mui Ne at this windsurfing school turned resort. Their pool is the best feature, as there’s not much to the beach. It’s not very close to other restaurants, but the breakfast is among the best we’ve had.
Halo Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam– I had two nights before checking into my final hotel. We picked this hotel for its low cost and free breakfast, which wasn’t much to speak of. It was a short walk from the bus office and within steps from Ben Thanh Market. The room was very small, loud and had an ant infestation, but was fine for a few nights.
Majestic Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam– There may be no hotel as beautiful as this Saigon legend. Located on the river, the hotel was built in the 1920s and has been a landmark ever since. The beds were the most comfortable of the whole trip and the property included a spa, gym, pool and many restaurants. The breakfast buffet was also the best spread I’d seen so far.