Accommodation in Thailand

I’m sure that everyone will find any accommodation in Thailand that will suit his own taste. You won’t find here any difference in traditions and the look as it goes f.e. with Morocco. Note that star-ratings are not applicable in Thailand, all stars that we see in catalogues of tour operators are based on their own experience (taste?).

This article is devoted to differences and potentially unexpected things in Thai accommodation – from climate to traditions.

Contents

A bungalow
Bungalow at Koh Phangan

Beach hotels

Note: in some hotels the entrance from the beach can be closed for the night (from 6 p.m). Even in Pattaya, where one can swim in the sea around the clock, due to numerous lights on beaches.

If you plan a lazy vacation on a beach, avoid any accommodation that is more than 500 meters away from beach. Thai climate is too tough for everyday walks. While among numerous guesthouses you will definitely find the one that is close to a beach.

Ship-like bungalows
Ship-like beach hotel at Koh Phangan.

Is your “beach hotel” really on a beach?

And not on a piece of shore covered with rocks (that means that you have no direct access to the sea)? Every beach usually ends up with natural rocks, if your hotel happens to be located there, you will have to walk up and down to reach the beach. And you’ll be lucky, if the way takes less than 1o minutes.

Satellite view at Google Maps won’t help you to make it clear – most of beaches (and rocks) in Thailand are covered with trees.

Also check the information about reefs (around islands like Ko Tao or Ko Phangan for example), as sometimes they block your efforts to swim in the sea. Such information can be found in reviews.

Insects, geckos and bungalows

Due to tropical climate insects in Thailand are everywhere. There’s a nature’s rule: if the place is inhabited with ants, there are no cockroaches. I’m choosing ants, though they can damage a laptop or eat the food. Ants are attracted by the smell of food. That’s why in some hotels (mostly in hostels) it is prohibited to bring food, especially fruits, in your room. It is presumed that one eats any food in a garden or in a lobby – usually there are tables.

If you travel on your own and the insects (ants or cockroaches) do disturb you – honestly, it’s easier to change a hotel. If you want to get rid of ants from a certain place in room (f.e. they try to crawl in your bed, which happens very rare) – I can recommend buying pink mosquito repellent spray in 7-Eleven and spray it on ants and their ways.

Mosquito (ants) repellent
It works with ants too

Of course there’s a bigger chance to meet more insects in a bungalow, than in a guesthouse (living higher than the first floor). Besides insects you will meet nice little lizzards – geckos. You will definitely see them in streets hunting for insects in the evening and night. Geckos won’t harm you, but they can frighten one occasionally falling from the ceiling.

If you have noticed even 1 mosquito in your room – head for 7-11 to buy repellent. Dengue fever is hardly met in famous Thai destinations, but it doesn’t mean that you are safe. Bites of ordinary mosquitoes can bring troubles too – f.e. acute dermatitis. I highly recommend buying a repellent that was produced in Thailand: Thais know better how to deal with Thai mosquitoes. F.e. Russian repellent doesn’t work with Thai mosquitoes, the concentration is too weak.

Electric mosquito repellent

Services of reception desk

Most of receptionists across Thailand will help you to settle down all kinds of transport questions (call a taxi, hire a driver for a tour etc) and provide you with information about surroundings (where the closest smth is, where to buy smth etc).

Never try to yell at staff, if you experience any difficulties (f.e. insects in your room or broken shower). It doesn’t work in Thailand – Thai mindset is totally different:

  • If you have bought a tour from operator – contact its staff. They speak your language and they will explain what you/they can do in this situation (terms of an agreement between tour operator and hotel can vary).
  • If you’ve booked a room by yourself – keep calm and share your problem with the staff. If the staff can’t deal with the problem – move to another hotel.
  • If you’ve booked a room using services of any mediators (like booking.com, airbnb), you can ask them for assistance when your problem concerns breach of obligations by hotel. At least mediator can help you in returning your money.

Reception desk

Catering services

While in many countries you will find offers with all inclusive catering service, in Thailand it doesn’t exist. You may have noticed it, when you were checking prices by tour agencies – most of hotels that work with tour operators offer just breakfast (BB). Rarely there can be met HB (breakfast + dinner). The reason is simple: you don’t need it in Thailand. There are so many places with delicious, healthy and cheap food that you won’t use all these catering in hotel that you’ve paid for.

The same thing concerns guesthouses and other accommodation – breakfast is the maximum option that you will meet by booking.com. And most of hotels offer room only. Even if the additional price for breakfast seems cheap (like 100 THB), for this price you can find a better breakfast in Thailand.

Breakfast

Hotels that deal with tour operators usually offer “Swedish” buffet with variety of dishes. While in guesthouses and other hotels breakfast is usually a very simple thing.

A breakfast for farang includes toasts + jam/honey or/and 1 fried egg or/and some fruit. The “bigger” version includes a sausage, ham and sometimes a croissant and some salad (made of cabbage). Drinks include tea, coffee or chocolate malt beverage – usually it’s a powder, kind of 3 in 1.

Thais consume for the breakfast rice soup (with some meat or fish) that is as thick as porridge.

Breakfast for Europeans in Thailand
Breakfast for Europeans in Thailand – full version that is definitely worth 100 THB

Bathroom

Most of hotels that deal (or dealt somewhen long ago) with tour operators will offer you a bathroom with a bathtub. But don’t await a bathtub in any other means of accommodation. Also you won’t find separate bathroom and toilet. Typical for Thailand bathroom is a wet room with a floor that has an incline towards a drain hole – generally without any curtain. It means that this room becomes really wet, and toilet too. That’s why there’s usually a small towel or carpet before the entrance to a bathroom.

The ventilation in Thai bathroom is considered by connection to the air from the street – in many rooms you will see special “holes” with no windows. It means that if you want to cool the air in your room down, you can do it in your room only. The bathroom will stay hot and humid. Yes, it takes many hours for the floor of bathroom to become dry again.

Hot water is heated with an individual electrical water heater (tankless). It is installed next to a shower. While a tap on a basin provides cold water only. Actually cold water in Thailand is not really cold due to climate.

Next to the toilet usually there is a little shower. Well, with cold water, but it’s very convenient option to wash some parts of your body and the toilet as well.

Typical bathroom in Thai hotel
Typical Thai bathroom: little shower between toilet and basin; water heater (usually big shower is not static); this hotel has non-typical for Thailand curtain (to the right)

Wi-Fi

Most of Thai guesthouses & hotels offer Wi-Fi. And in most places it is included in room rate. Though there are still some hotels that offer Wi-Fi for additional price. If you need Wi-Fi, pay attention if it exists in the hotel you are about to book.

In most of hotels and guesthouses routers are on every floor. While in some bungalows that are located far from reception the signal may be too weak. The only way to get this information is to check, if there are reviews, where guests complain at weak signal.

Path to a bungalow

Room without a window

Rooms with no windows are more an exception than a tradition in Thailand. F.e. in Malaysia you will see much more offers of such rooms. Actually it’s ok for tropical countries, especially when a guesthouse is neat and tidy.

First of all there’s no need to open a window in Thailand – it won’t help you much in getting rid of any bad smell, and constantly working air-conditioner requires keeping a window closed.

A window doesn’t mean fresh air.

In my experience the best ventilation in Thailand appeared to be in a guesthouse, where I’ve rented a room with no window: the floor in bathroom was getting dry very quickly and the air in my room was good.

Secondly, there’s no reason to stay in room in day-time, when you’re on vacation in Thailand. I’m Russian and I’ve got used to cold weather, but even I need 3-4 weeks of Thai heat to start getting tired of it. Thailand has so much to offer! One shouldn’t stay in room all the time there.

An advantage of windowless room – you don’t need black-out curtains. It’s always dark in the room and you can easily fall asleep in any time. Don’t expect sun-blocking curtains in any hotel of Thailand (while bright sun is up since 6 a.m).

Lighting in the room is necessary, as at 6 p.m. it’s already dark in Thailand. The worst situation with lighting I ever had – a room with only 1 energy saving lamp (dim and subtly flickering that is bad for eyes) and 1 electrical socket – no chance to switch on your own lamp and charge laptop. It was in inexpensive hotel far from tourist places, but I want to warn you that such a problem does exist, maybe you need good lighting for working or reading.

Staircases

If you are about to book a guesthouse or a small hotel, check how many floors the building has. Many of them are not equipped with elevator, so if you get a room in 5th-6th floor, you will have to climb up and down these numerous steps. Note: staircases and corridors in Thai hotels generally are not air-conditioned.

Corridor
Corridor without air-conditioning

Sound isolation

I would say that sound isolation in Thai hotels doesn’t exist. Concrete walls are thin (one doesn’t need to protect from frost) and bricks are much smaller than those that are used in Russia/Europe.

Rain in the evening, hotel with pool

Tips

In guesthouses (especially in provincial ones) the staff may not understand, why you have left money on a bed and put it to a bedside table. In hotels that deal with tour operators and many foreign guests – it’s your own choice. The most awaited tips are for services like help with bringing your bag to your room.

Koh Chang
Koh Chang

Safes and safety

Safes are not very common in Thailand. Generally they can be found in hotels that deal with tour operators and in cities with focus on tourists (like Pattaya). Most of safes have an electronic lock and they are quite small – even small laptops and big cameras don’t fit it.

A safe
Most of safes in Thai hotels look like this one

Many guesthouses have doors with knobs. I highly recommend checking if they can be locked. Even if you make a mistake, the staff will teach you how to lock the door – valuable skill, right?

Typical Thai door knob

Blankets

In Russia and Europe we use cotton cases to cover blanket, but in some Thai hotels you may find blankets without these cases. Don’t worry, it means that the staff washes the blanket itself after every guest.

Blanket without case
Kind of a blanket without a cotton case

Visitors

If you want to invite your friends (foreigners) in your room, it’s usually ok. The only warning – they are not allowed to stay overnight. If we speak of Thai friends – it depends. In hotels that deal with tour operators, one has to pay a fee from 500 to 2000 THB (depends on greed of management) and it won’t matter if Thai national makes only a 5-minute visit. While guesthouses tend to have the same rules both for foreigners and for Thai.

Room in hotel, Hua Hin

Hostels

The most important thing that you need to know about hostels in Thailand is that they cost the same price as cheap guesthouses/hotels. If you are into hostels, making friends and snoring to each others ear with unknown people – that will go. But I’ll never understand people, who pay the same money for this severe experience, instead of renting room with a private bathroom, personal air-conditioner, everyday housekeeping, a fridge and even an on foot access to a subway. F.e. I had lived in such one nice clean & tidy double room for only 600 THB in Bangkok (= 300 THB per person per day). Yes, one needs to search for it, if you want it that cheap, but it’s 1000% worth it.

The only good thing about Thai hostels is that some of them offer rooms with private bathroom (like hotels) too. But be careful with ratings: hostels are invaded with unpretentious guests and as a result they have high ratings. My advice is to check if the general rate by Booking.com is 8,5 and higher (note: it works only if there are at least 40 reviews).

Room in cheap Thai hotel
A double room for 600 THB in Bangkok can look like this, do you still want to stay in a hostel?

Rent an apartment in Thailand

If you want to rent a flat in Thailand, you’d rather head for AirBnB. As such offers (even for Bangkok and Pattaya) are very rare at Booking.com, Agoda and other aggregators that provide bookings mostly at hotels.

Note: the price of an apartment and of a room in guesthouse is the same. F.e. in Pattaya a guesthouse of the same price will be much closer to the sea and/or to the city centre. While a plenty of cheap and tasty food in Thailand makes cooking unnecessary.

As for me, I’m not into cleaning room (waiting days for repair or repairing smth on my own), when I’m on vacation, that’s why I’m choosing guesthouses and hotels in Thailand.

How to read reviews about Thai hotels effectively

I’m sure you know that emotions blind people – people write a review – a reader gets fooled. The same thing happens unintentionally, when it concerns expectations and personal experience. That’s why I try to focus on facts while reading reviews.

If you see the only review about cockroaches in room, it doesn’t mean that they are there. First of all, huge cockroaches that frighten people are not cockroaches, these are bugs and they are very rare visitors. Thai cockroaches look like Russian cockroaches – they are 1-3 cm. long. If you see 3 reviews from different people about cockroaches – then you should rather avoid visiting this hotel.

Some guesthouses (hotels, hostels) do not allow bringing food with you, even if there’s a fridge in your room. I mean not just durians, I mean all kinds of food. Such guesthouses are usually equipped with a place (tables, chairs etc), where you can eat your food without bringing it to your room. I consider it as a disadvantage. This information you’ll never find in hotel’s description, only in reviews.

Picturesque pool at Koh Phangan
Why not to visit a neighborhood hotel with beautiful territory, if it is open for visitors? @ Koh Phangan

Information about infrastructure: if there’s a 7-Eleven next to a guesthouse, it’s perfect. You should check the distance (f.e. between potential accommodation and subway/skytrain in Bangkok) on the map – how many meters (miles) are there. Because time of walking is too subjective. While information about terrain (up the hill etc) and if there are any sidewalks you may find in reviews only.

Also trust information about reefs in the sea in front of hotel’s beach (can one get over them or they make swimming complicated). And the information about beach location – some hotels seem to be located in the end of a beach, when you look at the map, while in fact they are located on the rocks that makes one go up and down in order to reach the beach.

Amount of electrical sockets in a room. My personal experience: a room with the only socket. And the signal of Wi-Fi – does it reach every bungalow?

Picturesque Frangipani next to bungalow
Picturesque Frangipani tree with fragrant flowers next to a bungalow

Trust information about Thai staircases – sometimes they are so steep that they remind of climbing on a mountain.

Pay attention at information about constant noise – I mean loud music from a next door bar or disco, transport etc. Of course loud/quiet guests are only a matter of your luck and it has nothing to do with the hotel. Also I wouldn’t trust any information about nationalities of guests – people are too different and nationality never plays role in anything.

Strong smell of sewage in Thailand happens extremely rare (Thais hate bad smells), but as my experience shows, it can be so strong that it would be hard to fall asleep. In my trips around the world I’ve felt sewage smell in several hotels, when I was traveling in Morocco (it’s a kind of a mistake during construction of the building). But it was not that strong and it could be stopped by covering drain hole with smth for a night. While in Thailand I had to flee from that nice, tidy but stinky hotel.

Modern hotel in Bangkok

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