I’ve been waiting a while to share this list with you guys, and I can’t wait to tell you about my favourite hostels. I’ve now finished my Asian adventure, at least for now, and during my six months I stayed in all kinds of accommodation from huge hostels to bungalows on the beach, to family-run guest houses and hotels. I’ve scored well on getting luxury for a serious bargain and sometimes had to suck it up and stay somewhere nasty for a night, but it’s all been part of the journey. I know so many of my readers are planning their own backpacking experience or short break over in South East Asia, so I thought it would be good to share my favourite hostels for various different types of break scattered across Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. All of them were fantastic value and were places that hold logs if memories for me, and I hope they will for you as well. So which ones made the cut?
BEST BANGKOK BASE: Suneta Hostel Khaosan, Bangkok
This quickly became one of my favourite hostels in the whole of Asia – a little known gem that I only discovered after finding NapPark was fully booked and spotting it on TripAdvisor’s list for the city. The hostel is amazing, one of the cleanest and most welcoming I have seen, with great facilities and even a free breakfast. But what really sets it apart from the rest is the cabin dorms, sharing a dorm with 15 others can be a bit much but at Suneta you get your own space in a cabin of your own, a big bunk with your own door to close on the rest of the dorm. You have your own light, air conditioning fan, plugs and even a TV to watch a huge range of movies on. Despite you being able to close a door on the rest of the dorm, it was still one of the friendliest and most sociable hostels I stayed in the whole time travelling, and being just a few minutes walk from Khao San Road makes it so convenient. I actually chose to stay there twice over a hotel and would stay there every time I return to Bangkok in future. £12 a night roughly, but worth every penny.
BEST HALF MOON FUN: Baan Tai Backpacker, Koh Phanang, Southern Thailand
I was glad I booked ahead for this one, a great find by some of my friends for our Half Moon Party reunion, because it meant not only did we get a great dorm up but also had a cheeky upgrade to an even nicer dorm. This was a fantastic hostel but purely for those who really want to party and have fun – we were there for just that and had an amazing five days of partying with the hostel owners and everyone who was staying there. We all partied together as a gang and our pre-party for the Half Moon was actually more fun than the festival itself! The dorms had comfy beds and slept about six per dorm with an ensuite bathroom, perfect as no one was ever waiting. Most importantly of all, I left that hostel with a little family and some incredible memories and I would really recommend that any Half Moon ravers stay here for the time of their lives. You’re so close to the festival and get free drop off to the party, plus the after parties are just a short walk from the hostel, and the beach is just metres away. Around £6 a night.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY: Pak-Up Hostel, Krabi, Southern Thailand
I’ll be honest, there’s not much in Krabi itself but you can do day trips to Railey Beach and Koh Phi Phi from there – when I arrived I had already done these so I was just passing through on my way to Phuket. I had only planned a night there but stayed for three because I just couldn’t tear myself away – it was the most amazing and welcoming hostel you can imagine. I’m talking the sort of place that is welcoming new guests on a daily basis, but the staff all remember your name and want to k ow how your day is going. I’m talking about a p,ace where you have an instantaneous family to eat, drink, sightsee and just hang out with every night and all day long. Also one of the cleanest hostels with the best facilities – definitely comparable with Suneta – and a real treat to stay at for just £6 a night.
BEST FOR INDULGING YOUR INNER CHILD: Pai Circus School, Northern Thailand
The dorms and bungalows are pretty basic and the bathrooms are nothing to write home about, but the fun is endless here in northern Thailand. You soon form close-knit families with those who just can’t seem to bring themselves to leave and before you know it you’ve been there a week longer than planned – I don’t know anyone who stuck to their plans and actually left when they were supposed to. The days are filled with attempting to master circus tricks like fire dancing, slackline, unicycling, juggling and more on the sunkissed lawns, or lounging by the pool overlooking the stunning mountains. The evenings are filled with family meals, drinks by the pool and a late night saunter down to town for those in the party mood. In short, the simple life was a good one and tearing yourself away is a hard job. £4 for a 12-bed dorm, £5 for a 5-bed dorm, or bungalows from £6 a night.
BEST GUEST HOUSE: Matata Garden Guest House, Luang Prabang, Laos
One of the smallest places I stayed in Asia but one of the most homely, with just three small dorms of four the staff all knew our names and welcomed us with open arms. We were constantly offered cups of tea and coffee, played with their dog, Hakuna, who loved the attention, and hung out with the staff. It was a lovely and clean dorm and the perfect size for me and my two friends, we ended up having a dorm to ourselves. The beds were ridiculously comfy and it was the perfect distance from everything in Luang Prabang, just around the corner from the bars which made our walk home a short one. I was unsure what to expect of accommodation in Laos after Thailand, but was really pleasantly surprised and even when we had to stay one night at another guest house around the corner found the standard of guest house far higher than I expected. We were really sad to leave at the end of the few days. Around £7 a night.
BEST BEACH WAKE UP CALL: Blue Wave Beach Bar, Koh Lanta, Southern Thailand
My favourite non-hostel accommodation in the whole of Asia – this was a reggae bar I stumbled across on the beach in just my first few days of travelling. After staying somewhere not so great, I moved to Blue Wave where I found a little slice of paradise and a lovely new home. The perfect start to travelling, I had a little bungalow right on the beach for £12 a night, expensive for Thailand but worth it to wake up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and reggae music. The guys who ran the bar made my life the happiest it could be, in the day I’d have the beach to myself and cocktails on tap from the boys. In the evenings, we’d listen to jazz, reggae and other amazing music, then dance and sing the night away with any newfound friends who wandered past. I miss it every day.
BEST FOR COMFORT AND EFFICIENCY: Dalat Central Hostel, Vietnam
After staying in a whole mix of places and seeing all kinds of standards of accommodation in Laos and Vietnam, I was so excited to reach Dalat Central Hostel. We were lucky that our bus stopped right outside and after a quick look we were more than impressed by the home comforts on offer. The comfiest beds, each with their own light, sockets and even curtains around the beds for privacy and to block out the lights. The showers were the best I have found and were a welcome relief after canyoning in the freezing rain. It was a warm and cosy hostel which was perfectly positioned in the town – thank goodness considering how unpredictable the weather was there. The people who ran the hostel helped book us on to trips and offered lots of advice about the area, had tea on offer all the time and made us feel so welcome. Also, the wifi was amazing – the best I have found in Asia and that was really helpful for those of us who had blogging/work to catch up on. Around £3-4 a night for a 12-bed dorm.
Can you recommend any of your favourite hostels from South East Asia? Which ones ho,d the best memories for you, and which ones were the best value for money?