Huy Hoang Hotel
35 Ngo Duc Ke
Stayed there: 20th July 2008
Rates: Lonely Planet says 80,000 to 120,000 for fan/aircon.
We had it as part of a pre-booked tour so I can’t say what we were charged exactly though we paid 80,000 extra for aircon we didn’t really need
Lonely Planet does say that some rooms are lacking in ventilation and we got one of these “interior” rooms with no windows or anything. It did mean it smelled a little of someone’s fag smoke when we went in, but it also meant it was naturally cool so we didn’t actually need the aircon which it offered.
Location is good, only a short walk to the main front street, and the staff seemed fine and in good humour. Beds were clean and the shower warm. Other than that, little to say about it. It does the job.
Vinh Phuoc Hotel
12-14 Quang Trung
TX. Chau Doc
Tel: 076 563 013 or 866 242
Rates: $6 to $20 according to their business card
Stayed there: July 19th 2008
Also booked as part of a package trip, this was quite a nice place. On a par with the usual in the are for rooms and so forth (clean, functional etc), but with helpful friendly staff who made that little difference. They’re also the unofficial tourist info spot in Chau Doc so good for bookings.
As far as small Chau Doc goes, this is as good a location as any.
China Beach / Danang
215/14 Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street
Ngu Hanh Son
Phone: (+84) 0511 969216
Stayed there: Aug 17 to Aug 20 2006
Rates: $5 to $10 as far as I can ascertain. $5 for a single person in a non-aircon room. Higher prices for aircon.
Located 12km south of Danang, 20km north of Hoi An, opposite the Marble Mountains and about 30m from a beautiful stretch of beach, Hoa’s Place isn’t so much a guesthouse as a small business encompassing several locals.
Hoa has a handful of rooms at his “place”, and overspill rooms are found at other houses and shops up the street. As such, the accommodation varies massively, so I can only comment on my own. I was in room 101, ground floor, next door to Hoa’s Cafe.
My room was small, but functional – it pretty much just met the “standards” listed in the intro. Two beds, two wall-mounted fans (that were either “off” or “turbo”) and a bathroom/toilet/shower unit. I was provided with a towel, but no bedsheets other than the one covering the mattress that I think was changed each day. Pillows were more like cushions and I had to use the one off the “spare” bed as well as my own, but that’s just me.
The bathroom had a sink, wall-mounted tap/shower and a “flush” toilet. The water was never warmer than lukewarm, and if the shower head was raised much more than a couple of feet above the tap, the pressure gave out and it slowed to a trickle.
However, it was flipping hot while I was there and a fairly cool shower was just what I wanted. Besides – it was the cheapest place I’d stayed and it was a stonesthrow from the beach. Also, the food was both delicious and reasonably priced.
Breakfasts and lunches varied from 10,000d to 30,000d, beer and soft drinks around 8,000d. Dinner was 50,000d, but more was served until you were roundly stuffed.
Mr Hoa himself speaks very good English and is a very welcoming and graceful host. He knows all the locals and has even been known to get stolen goods recovered. Essentially, he acts as a go-between between tourists and the Vietnamese-speaking locals. You may end up paying slightly more for the taxi he sorts for you, or whatever, but for that small amount extra you have peace of mind that they come with the Hoa seal of approval!
Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel
48 Ngo Huyen Street
Stayed there: Apr 25 to 13 May 2006 (on and off), Jul 7 to Aug 16 2006, Apr 22 to 29 2007, Jul 28 to 31 2008 and Aug 22 to 24 2009 (yes, I like this place)
Rates: $US7.50 for a dorm bed, cheaper price for YHA members. Two double rooms also available at a higher price, and these can be made into “triples” on request.
I simply cannot recommend this place highly enough. I know for a fact you can get cheaper accommodation, but for atmosphere and friendliness it can’t be beaten. It is utterly ideal for the novice traveller as the two Aussies who run the place wil bend over backwards to make you feel welcome.
The Vietnamese staff all speak at least passable English, most very good to excellent. They are also as helpful as you could wish for – booking breaks, going to the police, sorting tickets, finding your way around… Superb.
The rooms are spotless and the showers good and hot. Dorms have 10 or 12 beds in each and all beds have their own locker with key, either under the bunk or separate. Each dorm has an en suite bathroom and additional showers are located on the top floor. Also on the top is a balcony bar, run mainly on a “trust” system whereby you note down what you’ve been drinking on a pad with your room number. This is added to your bill when you leave.
The week before I left in 2007, the guys decided to try and “up” their atmosphere rating on some of the hostel websites. As of the time of writing, all evenings from 5-6pm are “2 for 1″ happy hour in the balcony bar. In addition, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a barbecue is held on the roof with pretty reasonable prices for burgers, sausages and the like. This is from 6-8pm and seems to be gathering a good crowd each time.
This is a wonderful place to meet people. Other than the balcony bar, the main “chill out” area is in reception (which is open 24 hours), right as you come in. This means that as soon as you enter, you see other people loafing about and you can always expect a warm greeting.
Prices include a simple breakfast of bread and spread, other food also being available at a cost. You can bring your own grub in and cook it in the kitchen, and wash it down with as much free tea and coffee as you like.
Internet is also available on two PCs permanently, and two reception PCs which can be made available if demand is high enough. Wireless has also recently been installed, but due to the solid construction will only really work on the ground floor.
If you do go, please tell Max and Mike that Iain sent you. I will most definitely pop in and see them next time I’m in Hanoi, whenever that may be – even if I’m staying at the Hilton!
Brief update: I stayed here a third time and it was just as good, though there is no longer a fridge on the balcony run under a trust system – obviously too many light-fingered backpackers. The BBQs are still ongoing and popular, though. Also, from what I gather on their web page, the hostel has expanded somewhat – taking over the building next door. Super news!
July 2008 update: My fourth stay despite it being cheaper to have a shared room with Leah. Simple reason – I love this hostel. I also believe I’m the only person to come back a fourth time! The hostel now covers three buildings on the same street (main hostel, “The Other Side” and “The Annex”). The main building now has a downstairs bar in addition to the Buffalo Bar on the balcony. Two PCs still reside here, now with shiny flat screens, as well as another handful in The Other Side. I’ve not seen the rooms outside of the main building, but I would be astounded if they’re not up to the same standard. Mike and Max were, as ever, the bestest hosts and the staff has increased to make up for the larger number of beds (179… and full to the brim when I arrived, despite it being quiet season).
And I’m not just saying this as I’m on my fourth free beer after working behind the bar for an hour. For a second opinion, ask Leah. She’s done the whole Oz/NZ thing and a fair bit of the US and Asia. Briefly earlier, she agreed with me that this is the best hostel she’s ever stayed in.
Update 2009: Just booked three nights at the end of August – can’t keep me away!
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Tan Thanh Mini Hotel
195A De Tham
Stayed there: Aug 20 to Aug 24 2006
Rates: $5 for a single person in a large room. Speaking to other guests, around $7 for 2 people.
First of all note that this is not the Tan Thanh Thanh Hotel listed in Lonely Planet – that’s around the corner and I know nothing about it. I found this one by walking past laden with rucksacks and had a woman dash out at me yelling “You want room? Five dollar!” which seemed reasonable. I was actually looking for somewhere just up the road at $3 for a dorm and a room of my own for only a couple of bucks more seemed better.
Good choice. I spoke to a couple of girls in another room on the way up and they were happy. My room was number 301 – top floor and on the front facing the main road. Two beds (one double, one single), two fans (aircon broken), hot shower and a fridge. Being used to the temperatures, especially after 3 days at China Beach, the lack of aircon didn’t bother me so I opted to stay.
The single bed was un-sleep-onable, so I used the double. The single was literally three bits (head, footer and main bit) supported by gravity. The pegs on the mattress part that should have been securely fixed into holes on the legs were all sheared off.
Other than that, the room was fine. The shower was, indeed, nicely warm. The fridge kept my drinks cold. The noise from outside was easily muffled with the earplugs I’d bought in Auckland.
Locality-wise, it’s superb for food. The “333″ cafe two doors away has a varied and reasonably-priced menu and you can walk to the main museums and sights in about 15-20 minutes.
They also offer laundry at 10,000d per kilo, and bike/taxi to the airport ($2 and $5 respectively). As luck would have it, I even got free broadband as I could just pick up a couple of “loose” wireless transmissions while sat on the balcony.
To find this place, look for number 195 – it’s a Silk Shop. The “hotel” is a series of rooms immediately above it, so you have to walk through the shop to get to the rooms, making them nice and secure. The shutters are pulled over late at night, but the staff will answer the bell to let you in and out at odd hours if necessary.
Hotel Phi Long
38 Bui Vien St
Tel: (84.8) 8364397 or 8373191
Rates: We paid $15 for a very nice double
Stayed there: 21st and 22nd July 2008
I’m assuming it was Bobbi La Filong, who’s name is on the business card I have, who welcomed us to his hotel. He’s a real character who just exudes friendliness and helpfulness and we’re really glad we chose to stay here.
The location’s excellent, just around the corner from the bottom of Min-Hotel Alley (the end furthest from Pham Ngu Lao Street), placing it in a great position with a lot of the other accommodation.
Yes, they have a lift – although it’s quite small so you may find that if you have a fair bit of luggage then you’re going up one by one!
The room itself was spacious enough and we had cable TV, a fridge, fan, aircon and a very newly (it seemed) refurbished bathtub with a corner bath that could be sat in. We paid a teeny bit extra for a room with a window. I think it was $2 less for one without.
The bed was made every day for us, and new toiletries put in place. The wi-fi is reliable and free once you ask for the key, and works on all floors – they have repeaters on each landing so the signal’s strong.
They offer all the other usual services such as laundry and so on. We had ours done there and it was clean, smelled fresh and didn’t cost much.
Definitely a nice little place, though you can get more luxurious accommodation (for more money) around the corner. Check it out, though.
Thien Nga Hotel
52 Ba Trieu St
Tel: 0510.916 330
Rates: $20-30 depending on room. We haggled a $30 twin with a balcony view down to $25
Stayed there: 23rd to 25th July 2008
A rule about Hoi An is that if you stay a very short walk away from the city centre, you’ll get better accommodation with more spacious rooms (and possibly a swimming pool) for the same money. We picked this one more or less at random from the Lonely Planet and it turned out to be a good choice.
Staff were friendly, and just wanted to fill the place hence the $5 a night discount. We had to move rooms while we were there, but that was no hassle. The swimming pool was very chilly and quite small, but good to plunge into as a way of getting out of the heat. They could do with a couple more sunloungers round it, but there’s not much space.
The view from our room balcony was lovely, out over rice fields with a couple of people working in them seemingly during every daylight hour. The room itself (well, both of them were similar) was large with comfy beds and good showers. Cable telly had all the good English channels and the fridge was well stocked with the cans and bottles being very reasonably priced. I’m not one to use mini-bars normally, but they were only slightly more expensive than buying from the shops in town so we made good use of it. Aircon worked a treat.
The internet was free on any of a handful of decent PCs downstairs. As far as I could tell, the hard drives were restored on a reboot which vastly reduces any possible virus issues. Wifi was also available. On the first floor you can just about get a signal in the rooms, but forget it further up. Works fine in the dining room, though.
I’m sure there are better deals to be had in Hoi An, but for somewhere that ticks all the boxes and gives that little extra touch of luxury I’d definitely recommend the Thien Nga. The staff also recommended we hire mopeds from some girls next door who charged a good rate and didn’t even ask for ID or deposits!
Dong Phuong Hotel
60 Nguyen Tri Phuong
Rates: $20 per night for a twin with aircon, TV, fridge and hot shower
Stayed there: July 26th-27th 2008
We got the usual hordes surrounding us as we got off the bus from Hoi An, and the owner of this joint was the first to suggest a hotel. It’s right where the bus drops you off (the Sinh Cafe one anyway) so no walking was needed and on checking the room out we were sold.
One double and a single bed in the room, both of which were comfy. The shower was very hot, although the label was the wrong way round – Leah had two cold showers before I pointed that out to her… The TV had all the usual cable channels although the signal was sometimes a little ropey.
Wi-fi was available, but I often had to go downstairs and ask them to switch it on or reboot the router which could be annoying if I was in the middle of something when it died. The aircon also wasn’t the best in the world. It definitely went on, but didn’t seem to throw out much cold air.
The only other complaint was that the street outside could be a little noisy, but that’s always easily solved with earplugs and the price you pay for a room facing it. There are plenty of rooms further inside the building that won’t have this problem.
Friendly staff at the front desk are always happy to have a little chat and it’s next door to a tourist office so information on any excursions is always available.
As ever, I’m sure Hue has better hotels in the same price range, but for convenience (i.e. not having to cart our luggage anywhere on arrival) this was a pretty good deal.
ATI Sapa Resort
Village No. 1
Muong Hoa Road
Sa Pa town
Stayed there: May 2nd 2006
Rates: $125 a night from what I can find out, though I stayed there as part of a package trip from Hanoi which cost $110 for 2 nights including food and travel!
The resort is just outside of the main town area – maybe a 5 minute walk downhill. The rooms are huge affairs with a separate lounge, bedroom and bathroom. Certainly top-notch accomodation.
Others in my tour group weren’t so pleased. One couple found a member of staff using their shower! However, the staff were very polite, the breakfast we had was perfectly adequate and the beds comfy. They even provide electric blankies for the cold mountain nights.