Accommodation Guide – Thailand

Aranyaprathet

Thap Thong Kam Hotel (or Thupthongkum Hotel)
364 Moo 2 Tanavitee Road
Banmainongsai District
Aranyaprathet
Sakaeo Province
Phone: 037 – 231679
Email: tk_traveltour@yahoo.com
Rates: We paid 400B for a twin with air-con
Stayed there: 14th July 2008
More expensive than the web page I found it listed on (though that was a year or two out of date) and a fair drive out of town, this gave good impressions. Again, towels and soap were provided; shower was hot; beds were comfy; rooms were clean. We had TV with a few channels on and the staff were nice enough – they even brought their second cat out when Leah was entranced by their first!
It’s not a in a great location, but in honesty there’s little to see in Aranyaprathet. It’s just favourable to crossing the border and spending the night in Poipet. There are a few restaurants nearby which will do you a good local meal for a very reasonable price. Watch out, though, as most have karaoke on!
Reminded me more of the guesthouses in India, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Bangkok

Big John’s Backpacker Hostel
Thonglor Soi 9
Bangkok
WWW: www.bigjohnsworld.com
Phone: 02 712 9712
Rates: from 120Baht for a bed in a 12-person dorm. 6-bed dorms, single, double and triples also available.
Stayed there: On and off between 27 Mar and 25 Apr 2006
In Brief: Once a great place to stay, a recent stop by and very bad things I’ve heard from people who stayed there recently (July 2008) mean I simply can’t recommend it any more.

Original review 2006:There is another Big Johns on Sukhumvit Soi 1, but I’ve not been there so can’t say much about it. The one in Thonglor, though, is fine and dandy.
I stayed in a 6-bed dorm a few times and a 12-bed the last time I was there. The 6-beds are basically mattresses on raised plinths, 3 on each side of the room. Simple and it works. Each bed has a locker (you need to supply your own padlock) which is big enough for your expensive stuff. I could get my laptop rucksack (full), camera bag and some shopping in there easily. The 12-beds have insecure under-bed storage, though each bunk has its own light and power socket which is useful.
The rooms were kept tidy – most mess was down to the inhabitants and was just stuff kicking about rather than litter or filth. Showers are good and water warm most of the time. Towels are provided free of charge.
The food served downstairs is very nice, though quite pricey compared to nearby streetfood. However, it’s available 24 hours, as is beer though note that prices rise at 1am.
20 mins a day internet is included with your room, though this rule isn’t policed strictly. They also have free wireless if you happen to find that useful. I did!
Also see HI Sukhumvit below for an alternative hostel in the area.

UPDATE JULY 2008 – Big John’s has finished moving into the building next door. We checked out a private room at the start of the month and it was filthy. Mould on the walls, ceiling and curtains; dirty sheets on the beds; unwashed windows. I can’t comment on the dorms, but I would heartily recommend having a look there before throwing down your cash and perhaps starting (or ending) your Asian trip in a crappy pit.

Frankly it’s a crying shame as Big John’s was the first hostel I ever stayed in and I have good memories of my time there back in 2006. That’s why I went back. I’m just glad we scoped the room out rather than making a booking online.

The Davis Hotel
88 Sukhumvit 24
Klongteoy
Bangkok 10110
Phone: 66 2 260-8000
WWW: www.davisbangkok.net
Rates: We paid full whack for a room for one night when we extended our booking – £80-ish for a “superior” room. By booking through AsiaRooms we’d originally gotten them for less than £50 per night.
Stayed there: 15th to 20th March 2006

Probably the “swishest” place I’ve stayed on my trip. No – definitely the swishest. This is a rather posh hotel, nicely located for shops and capable of arranging all your tours and stuff.
The “superior” room we were alloted was huge. The bathroom gleamed as if it had just been fitted. The bed would have held three Thai families. The TV had live football. The staff brought Lou up a birthday cake on the happy day even though nobody asked them (I can only guess they noted the date from her passport on checkin).
Splendid. Utterly splendid. And for the cost of a crappy Travel Inn back in the UK. Great stuff if you’re not on a strict budget.

HI Sukhumvit
23, Soi Sukhumvit 38
Phra Khanong
Khlong Toei
Bangkok 10110
WWW: www.hisukhumvit.com
Phone: +66 (0) 2391 9338 / 9
Rates: from 300 Baht for a bed in a 6-person dorm to 1200 Baht for a large family room
Stayed there: May 16th 2007

Part of the YHA / HI chain and with quality to match. The hostel was clean, well-run and in a very good location. Less then 3 minutes’ walk would have you on the nearest BTS platform.
I’m going to compare this place to Big John’s as it’s also nearby and the comparisons are fair. BJ’s is cheaper and looks it. The beds aren’t quite as nice as the HI, it’s a few minutes’ further away from Sukhumvit (and transport), the showers are nowhere near as good… but as I said, it’s cheaper.
All the staff at the HI I found to be polite and helpful. The TV in the front room is guest-controlled and has loads of channels. There’s a small kitchen where you can prepare your own food (Big John’s is lacking this) and a rooftop verandah which I didn’t get a chance to look at.
The main issue I had was cost. The HI is certainly nicer but everything costs money. Breakfast is the only real freebie, though it’s nice (cereal, toast etc) until 10am. Everything else incurs a charge – internet (50 Baht an hour), wi-fi (100 Baht for the duration of your stay), locker hire and so on. Big John’s has all these for free and as many towels as you need to wash yourself or confuse a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast with.
It’s horses for courses though. I’d happily recommend either of these two hostels. On a budget? Big John’s. Little more money to spend and want more convenience and comfort? HI Sukhumvit.
Update 2008 Please see the updated Big John’s piece above before making your judgement. It’s not as good as it was when I wrote this review.

Indra Regent Hotel
120/126 Rajaprarop Road
Bangkok 10400
Telephone: (66 2) 208-0022-33
WWW: www.indrahotel.com
E-mail: sales@indrahotel.com
Rates: Vary hugely – we booked through Asiarooms.com and paid around £30 per night for a very nice, basic room
Stayed there: July 3rd to 5th 2008

A very nice hotel, pretty posh and – booked at the right time and through the right agencies – pretty cheap. The room was clean and sizeable, though the bathroom was smaller than I’d have hoped and expected. The bath itself was rather pokey.
The room was cleaned and toiletries replaced each day. I managed to nab a free Bangkok Post from the cleaner’s area each morning, too. Staff at the front desk were helpful, but a little bit out of touch on tuk-tuk prices and so on.
We had breakfast included in our package and it was well worth it. A fine choice of foods and all very good quality. Starting your day on an “all you can eat” basis is certainly a bonus.
My major quibble would be the lack of free internet. I still can’t figure out how a cheap-ass hostel like Big John’s can give free access when a five-star joint charges premium rates for the use of a business centre.
Also, the location wasn’t perfect as it was a bit of a walk to the nearest BTS. This meant a lot of tuk-tuk or taxi usage. Fine for the average holidaymaker, but it does put a dent in the budget.

YHA Silom
395/4 Silom Road
Bangrak
Silom
Bangkok 10500
WWW:www.hihostels.com/dba/hostel057039.en.htm
Phone: +66 (0) 2 6368685 or +66 (0) 81 4868685
Email: hostelthailand@yahoo.com
Rates: 180 to 1300 Baht, depending on room type. Discounts available all the time, and vary depending on whether you book online or just walk in!
Stayed there: July 6th-11th and 13th 2008; August 2nd & 3rd 2008; October 6th 2008

We ended up here as Big John’s private rooms were, frankly, disgusting. The staff here advertise “smallest rooms, biggest smiles” and I’d say they’re pretty accurate on both. Rooms are large enough to crash out in, but don’t expect to be holding parties. However, you should only need them for sleeping/storing your stuff anyway. There’s enough to do in Bangkok that you should be spending most of your time out in the city.
Staff were wonderful – all very helpful and pro-active. The place was pretty clean, though it would have been nice if they’d emptied our dinky bin each day. I guess they would have done so if we’d asked.
Our loo clogged as well, but that was partly our fault. There wasn’t a sign in our toilet saying not to chuck loo roll down it. I noticed afterwards that almost every other toilet in the building did have such a sign. Still, we should have known. Also, the hot water for our shower stopped working just as we came to leaving. I assume by now they’ve had a plumber out to look at it.
Internet is available at terminals for a price, while WiFi relies on nearby “leakage” of insecure networks. Works fine up in the common room area, but can be hit and miss in the rooms.
Towels are extra, but cheap to “hire” and luggage storage is available. The laundry service is cheap and convenient. Tours etc can be organised at the front desk and the staff are a mine of information on the city and surrounding areas.
For the price, not bad at all. The bouncy staff certainly make the place and it’s in a good location, being only 2 minutes’ walk from Chong Non Si BTS station in one direction and around 10 minutes to Sala Daeng BTS / Silom MRT in the other.
Oh, the address we were given when we booked was “Silom Soi 7″. This isn’t actually correct – Soi 7 is the alleyway around the back of the hostel. The front door is on the much larger main road about 10m away and they’re close to the junction. Nice and easy to find.

Chiang Mai

3Sis Bed and Breakfast
1 Soi 8 Phrapokklao Rd
T. Prasing
A. Muang
Chiang Mai 50200
Phone: 053-273 243
Email: 3sis.bnb@gmail.com
WWW: www.3sisbedandbreakfast.com
Stayed there: 10 Apr to 15 Apr 2006
Rates:

It wasn’t easy to get here when I first arrived as it was newly opened and none of the taxi drivers from the airport had a clue where it was. Hopefully this has changed by now.
I would definitely recommend staying here if you want a nice almost-British B&B experience. Rooms are spacious, airconned and the beds amazingly comfortable. All rooms have TV and wireless internet – there is also a PC downstairs for free use.
Breakfast is included in the room rate and varies slightly each day, though the staff will take requests. Generally, it’s tea/coffee, cereal or yoghurt and a cooked course. Very generous and very well made. The staff were constantly after feedback on the meals and suggestions for improvement.
The other guests and myself were made to feel very welcome with the younger staff sitting with us in the day and evening to improve their English. I was there during Songkran and they used us as an excuse to borrow a flatbed from their grandfather, load it with water and take us out for a few hours (no charge)!
Definitely recommended.

Kanchanaburi

Sam’s River Rafthouse
48/1 Rong Heeb Oil Road
Kanchanaburi 71000
Tel: (034) 624 231
Email: sams_guesthouse@hotmail.com
WWW: www.samsguesthouse.com
Stayed there: 12th July 2008
Rates: 80 – 350 Baht/night depending on room size/aircon
The rafthouse is one of three properties run by Sam, a friendly Thai guy with some good business nouse. He also has a guesthouse and a “jungle” house in the immediate area. The rafthouse is a very pleasant place to stay, especially when the weather is good as you’re (quite literally) “on” the river, so swimming is very much an option.
The room we had was incredibly spacious and except when a large boat went past, you’d never guess you were actually afloat. It’s very steady indeed. A proper western toilet, hot shower, aircon, fan, spare electric sockets and comfy beds (towels and toiletries supplied) gave a very professional impression. Staff were full of smiles and very helpful, and the menu is varied enough for all tastes. The breakfast and lunch I had were also of generous proportions for the price charged.
Definitely recommended if they can keep these standards up.

Ko Tao

Sunshine Dive Resort
Chalok Bann Cao
Koh Tao
Suratthani 84280
Tel: +66.7745.6597
Email: reservation@sunshine-diveresort.com
WWW: www.sunshine-diveresort.com
Stayed there: 1st-3rd July 2009
Rates: 300+ Baht/night depending on room size, type and whether you’re diving or not
There are a lot of bungalows here and I only saw one type – the cheapest, of course. It was fine for the money, being spacious and with an en-suite bathroom. The shower was “cold” (which was perfect in late afternoon) and the toilet a bucket-flush seated effort.
The bed was comfy and clean sheets and a towel are provided when you check in, along with a fresh toilet roll. Also, it’s a fan room so those wanting aircon should consider an upgrade.
It’s a 20 minute walk to the nearest main town (or 50B/100B motorcycle/taxi) but there are two decent convenience stores, many restaurants and a handful of other shops and ATM points within a very short stroll. The attached restaurant itself is fine – the menu’s pretty varied and I had three meals there (two Thai and a chicken burger), none of which I can complain about. Prices are very reasonable as well.
If I have fault, it’s that the main light in the bedroom wasn’t very bright and that there wasn’t a single power socket in the room! I had to charge my stuff up in the dive shop during the day.

Tiger Temple
WWW: www.tiger-temple.org
Not actually a hostel or hotel as such… Check out the web page and if you fancy volunteering then get in touch with them. Accomodation is sparce, especially if you live within the temple grounds. A reed mat and a concrete block are your bed, and male accomodation has no electricity or flush toilets. Still, you get to play with tigers!

Phuket

Phuket Backpacker Hostel
167 Ranong Road
T. Taladnaue A. Muang
Phuket 83000
Tel: 66 0 7625 6680
Email: info@phuketbackpacker.com
WWW: www.phuketbackpacker.com
Stayed there: 18 Apr to 23 Apr 2006
Rates: 250 Baht/night for the dorm with fan

Possibly the cleanest hostel I’ve been in, though it had only been open a couple of weeks when I was there. I stayed in a dorm with fan cooling – aircon is also available, as are private rooms. The beds were comfy, bathrooms spotless and showers fantastic.
Downstairs houses a huge TV and a large video and DVD collection for patrons to chill out in front of. This makes a great communal area, and also houses two internet PCs. The TV can get to a tremendous volume, but the noise cannot disturb people sleeping upstairs due to double glazing and spring-closing doors on the balcony.
You can expect to see the occasional cockroach downstairs, however. Due to the hostel’s situation, right next to the night market, this cannot be helped. However, they only appear one at a time and don’t swarm or anything mad like that! I never saw one upstairs.
Buses to all the beaches can be caught within yards of the front door and Phuket Town itself can be easily explored. Staff can help book trips – I went on two while I was there and can recommend the company they use.

Trat

Jame’s Guest House
Luk Muang Road
Trat
Stayed there: 18 Apr to 23 Apr 2006
Rates: 100-150 Baht/night for double-bed private room (shared bathroom)

The guest house is “advertised” by a tiny sign pointing towards an open doorway between two other buildings. Hard to spot, but do keep an eye out as it’s a nice place. Basically, if you find what I think are the only traffic lights in town off Sukhumvit Road, you’re at Luk Muang. Jame’s is on the left as you walk away from the main road, about 15m along immediately past the book/coffee shop and opposite the internet cafe.
As far as I can tell, it’s run by a lovely little old lady who I decided to call “Mama Jame”. Oh, and that’s not a mis-print. “Jane’s” Guest House is a few doors up. This is definitely “Jame’s”.
Four rooms are available, all with double beds and fans. Mine was 100 baht as it’s a little smaller than the rest at 150 baht apiece. Or maybe it’s just because I grumbled a little at the price. Either way, it was fine by me.
The rooms all have hasps on the door so you can use your own padlock to lock it, or Mama Jame will provide you with one. You also get a towel and use of the single shared toilet (western style, paper provided) and separate shower (electric, toasty warm).
I was quite happy with my fairly firm mattress and didn’t need to use the fan past around 10pm as the weather cooled down by then. Everything seemed pretty clean and all the windows have mosquito protection.
Everything is within walking distance in Trat, so that’s not worth worrying about! Mama Jame made the place for me. Sweet, friendly and very helpful although her English isn’t perfect so be patient with her. Or learn Thai :)

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