Vagabonding pt6: आवास Aavaas: (Accommodation), जोखिम Jokhim: (Peril, dangers) & ऋतु Ritu: The Seasons
April 7, 2019
“Anick tried to settle down in one place, but she became depressed and realised that fitting into a regular lifestyle and having a long-term job didn’t fit her mentality. Anick speculated possible reasons for her desire for a nomadic life-style: was it her personality, inability to manage stress properly, her experiences, or the rhythm of society? The result remained the same. All these things together didn’t seem to keep her healthy.”
FREE AS A GLOBAL NOMAD, PAINI KANNISTO & SANTERI KANNISTO, DRIFTING SANDS PRESS
Many of us can relate to Anick’s story and it is precisely for those reasons that some of us decide to start the long journey; to travel the world, to go Vagabonding!
The last time I wrote about my preparations for vagabonding I discussed the need for planning, especially around visas, funds and transport.
So far I have fully researched all the visas I will need (see previous posts) how much money I will take with me and how I will be saving up for it. Last time I had just recovered from a long period of illness and had been unemployed for five months. That has now changed and I have started a job with the NHS. It means long hours but quite well paid and so now my saving up for leaving in 2020 has begun and that’s really exciting.
I have also changed the date of when I will be leaving because I have realised that the different seasons and weather patterns where I am travelling to would not be ideal for my original leaving date of late September. This is because Nepal and northern India would be getting quite cold and wintery by the time I reached them in December.
For example India:
According to the Hindu calendar, there are 6 seasons or ‘Ritu’ in a year. Since Vedic times, the various seasons in the Indian subcontinent was classified into these six categories. While North India mostly conforms to this marked change of seasons, it is less so in South India which is mostly marked by long summers and light winters.
The six classified in the Hindu scriptures are Vasant Ritu or Spring, Grishma Ritu or Summer, Varsha Ritu or Monsoon, Sharad Ritu or Autumn, Hemant Ritu or Pre-winter and Shishir / Shita Ritu or Winter.
Just as a reminder, below is the route I will be taking and the transport I will be using; of course you may choose a different route altogether. I should say that as it is a vagabonding adventure I am seeking, this route is not set in stone.
I will first be taking Eurostar (channel tunnel train) from London to Amsterdam. Then taking a train from Amsterdam to Warsaw in Poland. In Poland I will connect with the Trans-Siberian Express train to Moscow in Russia. From Moscow I will take the Trans-Mongolian Express to Beijing in China. The next leg is to take a final train from Beijing, through Mongolia to Hanoi in Vietnam.
Then the real vagabonding begins. From Hanoi I will begin my journey using trains, buses, boats and hitch-hiking, spending weeks in each country. I will travel down through Vietnam, across through Cambodia, up through Thailand where I will take the first of only two flights over the whole trip. Because of border issues with Myanmar I will fly from Thailand to Kathmandu in Nepal.
After spending some time exploring Nepal I will travel by bus and train into India, down through Rajasthan, Mumbai and finally down to Goa, where I will spend weeks on end in various parts of that beautiful state and it is from Goa that I will eventually fly home.
“Why do global nomads leave their countries of origin? For global nomads, travelling is natural and from their point of view the question should be rephrased: Why do people get stuck in one place? When so many people dream of travelling, why do only a few do it? Questions like: ‘Why travel?’ and “Why stay?’ reflect different approaches to life.”
It should be held in consideration that you will need to book your first nights accommodation in each country before applying for the visa to enter. Some of these visas can be booked from an embassy in the previous country but they will require an address in the country you are applying for.
So, lets talk about the different types of accommodation a backpacking vagabonder may consider on their tight budget.
Here are a couple of articles I found that may help in your planning (they use Dollars as currency examples but you should get the idea):
Find the Best Hostels in Southeast Asia!
“The hostels in Southeast Asia are incredible. A backpacker is really spoilt for choice! In most of the countries in SEA, for around $10 US Dollars you can find a hostel with a swimming pool, free breakfast, fast WIFI, plus nightly events to keep you entertained and help you to mix with fellow travellers…”
“It’s a tough life! The Hideout Hostel was voted one of the best backpacker hostels in Bali!
For solo travellers, the hostel scene in Southeast Asia is the best way to make friends and find travel buddies with whom to continue your onward journey. When lone travellers ask me what the best way to make friends is, I tell them – “book yourself into a night at a sociable hostel on the first night you land and you’ll be sorted for the rest of your trip!”
Mad Monkey Hostel – voted one of the best party hostels in Bangkok!
“For couples and those wanting something different than the backpacker party scene, don’t panic. You’ll find peaceful guesthouses set in stunning locations, relaxing beach bungalows, eco-friendly hostels, yoga hostels, arty hostels, digital nomad hostels and so much more…”
ALEXA Hostel – Voted one of the best hostels in Chiang Mai!
“Ever wanted to spend the night in a capsule hostel? Some of Southeast Asia’s hostels are so modern you’ll feel like you are sleeping in a spaceship! Capsule hostels are becoming popular across cities in Southeast Asia…”
Cool capsule beds at ioHotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Basically, when it comes to Southeast Asia hostels – there is something to suit everyone!
Should you book hostels in Southeast Asia in advance?
If you are going to be travelling during the high season then it’s a good idea to book in advance. (High season in most of Southeast Asia is November – February, but this differs from place to place so be sure to do your research!) Other peak times when you should consider booking accommodation are during holidays and festivals, most definitely Christmas, New Year (that includes Buddhist and Chinese New Year also) and any local events e.g. The Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. From our experience, the best place to check availability and find cheap deals is on Booking.com. Plus, they allow you the option to cancel, free of charge, if you change your travel plans.
Hostels in Thailand – What to Expect?
- Cheapest Dorm: $3 US | Average Dorm: $11 US | Average Private Room:$20 US.
What to expect? A huge variety of hostels, from party hostels to boutique guesthouses and beach bungalows. Hostels in Thailand have a high level of cleanliness and are extremely good value for money, especially in the north. (Hostels in the South islands can be more expensive.) All over Thailand, expect fast WIFI, trendy design, free breakfast and a lively social scene!”
Hostels in Vietnam – What to Expect?
- Cheapest Dorm: $3 US | Average Dorm: $7 US | Average Private Room:$15 US.
“What to expect? Vietnam is a close second to Thailand when it comes to good quality backpacker hostels. Dorms here are even cheaper than in Thailand at around $6-7 US per night on average. Expect a lively social scene, especially if you stay at any of the Vietnam Backpackers’ Hostelschain. Swimming pools, cheap beer, cheap tours and free breakfasts are all thrown in. A backpacker will be in their element in Vietnam’s variety of hostels. Don’t miss a trip to the legendary Ninhvana.”
Hostels in Cambodia – What to Expect?
- Cheapest Dorm: $2 US | Average Dorm: $4 US | Average Private Room:$10 US.
“What to expect? Cambodia’s hostels are super cheap, starting as low as $2 US in the main tourist cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. So what do you get for your two dollars? Well, the dorms and dorm beds are clean and you might even get a free breakfast thrown in! If you can stretch to $3 or $4 US you’re looking at a hostel with a swimming pool, bar and other facilities. All hostels will have WIFI and will usually have an attached restaurant. In the beachy areas and islands prices are still very low, starting at around $5 US for a dorm bed. If you’re travelling in high season, it’s a good idea to book in advance.”
BEST BACKPACKER HOSTELS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA (RECOMMENDED BY TRAVEL BLOGGERS!)
The Best Backpacker Hostels in Southeast Asia
(As Recommended by Travel Bloggers!)
“Southeast Asia is one of the most popular, fun and cheap places in the world to go backpacking. All over the region are many great backpacker hostels which are cheap, sociable and fun places to sleep, hang out and most importantly meet other travellers. Not all backpacker hostels are great though so I asked some fellow travel bloggers to share with me their recommendations for the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia.
The Best Backpacker Hostels in Southeast Asia
Having traveled in and out of Bangkok over the past few years, I have stayed in several different hostels and have experienced the best (and worst!) of what Bangkok has to offer. When it comes to location, staff, cleanliness, and overall awesome atmosphere, Adventure Hostel is by far my favorite spot and one of the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia
On the inside, Adventure Hostel is uniquely decorated and spotlessly clean. Each bed has its own power outlet and reading light, and every dorm room is equipped with ice cold air conditioning. The staff are all welcoming, friendly, and genuinely helpful in assisting to plan your stay. Adventure Hostel is conveniently situated just north of the city center, directly next to the Saphan Kwai BTS stop, making it easy to connect to the rest of Bangkok.
It’s also easily accessible to several of Bangkok’s highways and major roads, making it simple for taxis to bypass heavy traffic and get you to the hotspots around the city much quicker. If you are staying during the weekend, Adventure Hostel is also within short walking distance to Bangkok’s famously known outdoor shopping mecca called Chatuchak Market, home to hundreds of shops and stalls carrying everything under the sun. If you are planning to pass through Bangkok, there simply isn’t a better spot than Adventure Hostel! Click here to book!
Recommended by Craig O’Brien from www.VagabondDisposition.com.
I don’t think I’ve stopped raving about Stamps Backpackers in Chiang Mai, Thailand since I stayed last year. I think it must be one the best backpacker hostel in Southeast Asia Anytime someone asks me for advice regarding where to stay in that city, I’ll always recommend Stamps without hesitation. The hostel staff is seriously lovely and helpful; the guests fun and eager to socialize. While I was traveling with my partner, we were able to connect with others just as easily as solo travelers would be. It’s one of the most social hostels I’ve been too without an extreme party vibe.
There are two options for accommodation at Stamps. The cheaper option is the bunk bed and fan room. Given that it was so hot during our visit, we opted for the air conditioned room which included personal pods which I LOVED. The location is more than ideal as there are markets, fresh juice shops and plenty of bars within walking distance. The hostel organizes activities each day and in the evenings. I can’t recommend it enough! Click here to book!
Recommended by Laura Nalin from willfulandwildhearted.com
I loved my stay in Tamada Hostel, Chiang Mai so much that I ended up extending from two nights to ten nights! For me, it’s the best backpacker hostel in Southeast Asia because the rooms were basic with shared bathrooms but the hostel is just a minute walk from the night market. What was really special was how much thought the owners put into providing little added extras. When you’re travelling in South East Asia, having things like robes and slippers makes all the difference! They also provide a delicious breakfast and a free snack bar including noodles, toast, tea and coffee. The owners are super friendly, always up for a chat, and they even kindly offered to make a fruit plate for me at times when I was around during the day. I’d highly recommend going there for a cheap yet homely stay in Chiang Mai. Click here to book!
Recommended by Laura Gois from wanderwithlaura.com
Read More: The Best Backpacker Hostels in Thailand
I think Eighty8 Backpackers is one of the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia. After arriving in Phnom Penh after a grueling boat ride down the Mekong, pushy touts were the last thing we wanted. Escaping the hoards at the dock, one enthusiastic tuk-tuk driver chased us down and convinced us of the wonders of Eighty8 Backpackers. 8 is a lucky number in Asia and before long we certainly felt lucky that he was the one that chased us.
Reaching the resort on 88 street, we found huge double-beds in an immaculate, spacious air-conditioned dorm, plus friendly, informative staff and an excellent swimming pool, bar and chill-out area which combined to make this place an absolute steal at just $8 per night. (There’s that number again!). It was the perfect remedy to a hard day on the road….or river!
The breakfast the next morning was fantastic and our friendly tuk-tuk driver returned to give us an action-packed full-day tour of the city for an unbelievable rate. If you’re in Phnom Penh, Eighty8 Backpackers will not disappoint, so long as you pay attention to the warning about the monkeys! Click here to book!
Recommended by Chris Haughley from www.thedigitalcrusader.com
Oasis Capsules Hostel is a great place for city travelers and busting backpackers quickly making their way through beautiful Cambodia.
Oasis Capsules gets its name from the private ‘capsule’ sleep style that is becoming popular all over Asia. There are many things to like about Oasis Capsules including the friendly staff who are willing to help you book tours and find your way around the city; a good view from above at the Skylounge work & social space (with a bar!); and the comfortable beds that will allow you to have a good nights’ sleep.
But the number one thing people will love most about Oasis is: location, location, location. Oasis Capsules is literally a hop, skip and a jump away from the hustle and bustle of Pub Street – the popular area known for its array of restaurants, bars, and shops.
Oh, I should mention that this ain’t your average party hostel! You’d think that being so close to Pub Street, Oasis Capsules would attract more of a party crowd. Surprisingly, that’s not the case! Even if you stay in the room closest to the front lobby, you’ll barely hear much because you’re nestled in a capsule-style bunk. I think this is one of the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia! Click here to book!
Recommended by Samantha from www.expatandthecityblog.com
The Mad Monkey in Siem Reap is the perfect place for a backpacker to party their way through Siem Reap. Most visitors only stay in Siem Reap a few days which means you’re sure to find a fellow traveler who will join you on a trip to world famous Angkor Wat. Head there at sunrise to beat the crowds and get the best views!
The hostel itself has a gorgeous pool to cool off in the afternoon sun and a rooftop with a sandy beach bar. Yes, you read that correctly. The Mad Monkey rooftop bar has a sand floor so you get a great beach vibe while enjoying a few drinks. Thats why I think this is one of the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia.Head to pub street with the rest of the hostel late at night or head to bed to get up early for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Either way you’re sure to love the Mad Monkey in Siem Reap! Click here to book!
Recommended by Mike Still from www.LiveTravelTeach.com “
“With a young hip vibe Chien Hostel makes for the perfect stay in the busy city of Hanoi. Located in the heart of the chaos it makes for the perfect retreat. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a delicious welcome drink whether that’s a beer, Vietnamese coffee or something a little stronger.
You can choose to sleep in an eight, twelve or twenty bed dorm room, all which have amazing views of the beautiful church next door. Each bed has its own light, power socket and small locker for personal valuables. Down the corridors and throughout the building are large lockers which can fit a whole suitcase, perfect for out of town trips to Ha Long Bay or Sapa. Also, ideal for traveling couples is the double dorm beds on offer, just email in advance to request one.
One of the best things about Chien Hostel is the social atmosphere. Each night they have free drinks down in the common area, providing a great opportunity to meet people and make drunken friendships, this must be one of the best backpacker hostels in Southeast Asia, especially for those travelling solo. They also put on free walking tours with the staff who will show you around the city and all their favourite spots. Click here to book!
Recommended by Tasha Amy from backpackerswanderlust.com
The Quynh Trang Hotel on the main strip on Cat Ba island in Vietnam is our top pick. The hotel location is next to all of the shops and restaurants and unlike other places on Cat Ba, they don’t charge extra for AC. The biggest factor that makes this place our top pick is they have their own junk boat you can charter to sail around Ha Long Bay for the super low price of $75 and that is for 2 people for 3 days! Click here to book!
Recommended by Dan Conerd from www.globalgiraffe.com
Among the incredibly welcoming hostels of South East Asia, this was one of the best I stayed in throughout my four-month travels there. Golden Bee Homestay is located a ten-minute walk from Hoi An Old Town but the brilliant, very clean facilities there make it worth the journey. Don’t want to walk? Grab one of the free bicycle rentals available. The family owning the hostel also run an English-teaching school in the evenings where they encourage guests to mingle with the students – an incredible experience for any traveller! Click here to book!”
There also seems to be a bit of a debate about whether hostels or guest houses are best:
Hostels V’s Guest Houses
“Ready to backpack Southeast Asia? With a few months on the road here and a few more to go, we keep wanting to share all of the places to stay that we’ve found on our (rather tight) backpacker budget here in Southeast Asia, because by now we’ve gotten pretty good at uncovering the gems- and avoiding the land mines. Some of these hostels or guesthouses have their own posts, but with a new bed every few days, a one-liner is often enough to cover most of them. Here’s the ever-growing list of all of the places we’ve stayed in Southeast Asia, or in other words, a list of the cheapest hostels we found in all of Southeast Asia so you don’t have to go door-to-door with your backpacks comparing prices and rooms like we did.
(To be clear, we consider these this best hostels and guesthouses given our backpacker budget. The ones with an asterisk* are amazing regardless of price, and you’ll notice there are a few that we acknowledge are only great because of their price. But since most other backpackers are simply searching for the cheapest spot in town (and few online resources show the true lowest price you can find in any given destination), these are the backpacker-to-backpacker tips on the best places to sleep in Southeast Asia for very cheap. This is not a round-up of the first results on Hostelworld or Booking.com, but the result of us knowing there were better deals to be had than we read about online and seeking them out over 6 months. Thank you to the few travel bloggers who did write about truly cheap backpacker haunts, and to the many people on the road who passed us their best tips!)
So, here you go! Our list of the best and/or cheapest places to lay your head in Southeast Asia.
$8/double room with fan, the absolute cheapest hostel we found near Khao San Road (just a block away). Wifi is horrible and there aren’t many showers, but it’s clean, fine for sleeping, and the cheapest you’ll find so we recommend it on that basis alone. Don’t expect any free services though- they’ll charge you for toilet paper, faster internet upgrades, breathing…It’s the cheapest for a reason!
You can’t book Sitdhi online, so just show up with your backpack or call ahead!
Thrive the Hostel
$8/person for a room in a really cool industrial-style dorm (usually with only 4 people), this hostel is a great place to be social and experience Bangkok off of skid row. Rooms are new and clean with A/C, and it’s right next to the Silom Station so you can easily get to Hua Lamphong Train Station or either airport.
You can book Thrive the Hostel on Agoda.
Boutique hostel, about $15USD/night for a “Japanese capsule bed” where you will sleep amazingly well, this was a splurge that we needed on a layover. Downtown, close to Hua Lamphong Train station. Breakfast included. (This was a pretty cool one so it has its own post with photos here).
Indie House @ Ku Muang*
Our favorite place to stay in Asia, you can read all about it here. An amazing deal for those staying in Chiang Mai long-term… Heads up: They have several locations, we only stayed at Ku Muang in the Old City.
You can’t book Indie House @ Ku Muang online (only the Nimman location), but message us and we’ll put you in touch with the landlord!
Bunchun Arts Hostel
Love/hate, but a little more of the latter (it’s the only place Megan has ever written a bad review on TripAdvisor for, Henry still thinks it’s an unbeatable deal). $3 for a bed in a huge dorm without doors, very social, fun, quirky, loud, only 3 bathrooms, there are about 6 cats and dogs living there, owner is eccentric (fun if things go well, a nightmare if you have a problem). We loved it until Megan and several other people got bed bugs, and then no refunds, no help from staff. Could definitely say more on it but we’ll choose not to. This was one of the worst hostel experiences in Southeast Asia, so this is not a recommendation (but we said we’d mention everywhere we stayed!).
About $15 for a private double with bathroom inside, it’s not the cheapest but has incredibly kind and helpful family running it. Stayed here a couple of years ago, but checked it out this trip and it’s still great. Relaxed vibe, good for meeting people but not a party spot.
300 baht for a two-person bungalow ($9.50), 200 baht for a one-person ($5.60). Highly recommend!! Great deal for Pai. They have a huge grassy area on the riverside with private bamboo bungalows, kitchen to use, unlimited free water, tea and coffee, bar. Bathrooms are outhouses, showers cold, wifi not great, perfect very-hippie escape.
You can’t book the Giant Pai Bungalows online, but just show up with your backpack and see what they’ve got!
Mae Sariang Guesthouse
For those doing the Mae Hong Son loop on motorbike, this is a great place to rest your head (the cheapest we found in Mae Sariang). 200 baht for a double private, 150 baht for a single private room (bathrooms inside). Very basic, old building creaks at night, no hot water, but great deal and plenty of motorbike parking in their lot. Staff don’t speak much English, but were helpful as they could be. Easy.
You can’t book Mae Sariang Guesthouse online, but they pretty much always have availability.
Mae Hong Son
Bamboo house with private rooms, best deal around that we found (with a rooftop that has a lake view). 200 baht for a double private, 150 for a single private, bathrooms outside, no hot water. Also a good cheap place for those who just need somewhere to sleep mid-motorbike loop.
You can book The Like View on Booking.
Cat Ba Dream Hotel
$3 per person for a 4-person private room, basic, clean, hot water, on waterfront, good Wifi. Great deal for budget travelers!
The Noble House*
$5 for a private double (she’ll say $10, say your friend told you $5, she’ll agree), on top of a fun restaurant and bar, room decor is pimp-my-guesthouse fab. On waterfront, very clean, hot water, okay Wifi, balcony with ocean view.
You can’t book The Noble House online, but all the better for bargaining!
Cat Ba Central Hostel
$5 for a bed in a dorm, the others were better deals but this comes with breakfast and is the best for meeting people. (Friend’s recommendation).
Cat Ba Central Hotel
Allegedly even more fun than the “hostel” of same name. Same price, can book online. (Friend’s recommendation).
Hanoi Youth Hostel*
$5 for a bed in a dorm, very clean, good beds, shared bathroom, hot water, in classic building in Old Quarter. Very, very, very kind and helpful staff, breakfast included. Has a bar and rooftop.
Olive Hanoi Hotel
Owned by Hanoi Youth, we stayed when the other had no space. $5 for bed in dorm, not as clean as other, lockers are useless because not all sides are enclosed. Kind staff, hot water, great location in Old Quarter, breakfast included.
Hanoi Backpackers (New)*
The party hostel in Hanoi, stayed here a few years ago… From $7-10 for a dorm bed, you pay for the party. Clean, good facilities, very social, they run the infamous Halong Bay booze cruise. You probably won’t sleep, but you’ll make a million friends and have an incredible time.
You can book Hanoi Backpackers on Hostelworld.
Tam Coc (8km from Ninh Binh)
Tam Coc Backpacker Hostel
$5 per person for a dorm bed, comes with amazing free breakfast (make sure to confirm when you check in), staff are a bit rough around the edges. Very clean and quite nice facilities, Wifi isn’t great.
The Long Hotel
$10 for a private double, connected to Tam Coc, amazing breakfast (make sure to confirm when you check in), staff are nicer on this side of the street.
Nam Long Hotel
$5 per person for a dorm, really clean, free hot water for tea or ramen, bikes for rent & in-house travel agency. Perfect for getting to Vinh Moc tunnels. Best deal in Dong Hoi.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang
Phong Nha Backpacker Hostel
If you book a bus ticket from Cat Be Central Hostel (Cat Ba to Phong Nha), you get a free night’s stay here. If it’s free, stay. They’ll let you check in when you get in at 5am, so it’s almost like 2 free nights. If it’s not free…Look around a bit more. The staff were very kind but people come in every day at 5am from the buses and wake you up, there are only 2 bathrooms for everyone, and there are no lockers…Anywhere.
Thai Binh 2
$13/night for a four person room (~$3/person) Cheap hotel, basic, clean, good if you want some peace and quiet. High point is the incredible owner, perfect for those wanting to spend time with a local rather than other backpackers. Hang out in the lobby, have afternoon tea with him, or go out for pho and beer. Barely speaks English but it doesn’t even matter. Three and four-person rooms barely cost more than single and doubles (paid 300,000 dong for 4 people; 150,000 for single). Right across from the train station.
Thanh Nga Guesthouse
$4/night, this is right in the midst of all the cheap hostels in Hue. Very basic but great price and location, few blocks from the bus station.
Vinh Huy Hotel
$5/person for a double, cheapest spot we found in Hoi An and still a great place to stay. Swimming pool, A/C, right in front of the bus station, helpful staff, awesome deal in an expensive town.
Brand new and very clean, it was pretty freakin’ chic for $9/night (only $2 more than dorm beds we found, Hoi An isn’t cheap). Has a pool, breakfast included, staff are amazing (spent an afternoon with the receptionist and she did my nails while telling us about Vietnamese culture).
Cloudy Homestay and Hostel
$8/night, was full so we were sent to Iris Villa, but we heard amazing things! Book online before, they have activities like going to the market with the families and evening cooking together. Go with a friend, cost for a dorm bed and private double are basically the same.(Friend’s Recommendation).
Thuy Duong Hotel
$10 for a double room, owner is really kind (helped mend clothes, gave us food, the works), location is just 2 blocks from the beach, clean room with a mini fridge, great place to stay.
Ho Chi Minh
(Go to Pham Ngu Lao Alley where all of the cheap guesthouses are. All of these are on or branching off of it.)
$13/double room, it’s not cheap but it’s about the same as other hostels in this city (most are $5-7 per person, for reference). Rooms have fans and A/C, clean, perfect location, and the staff are really nice. Just off of Pham Ngu Lao, go there and ask for Mimi Backpacker’s. Also, Mimi says smoking is allowed, and she’s happy to give you the stuff to smoke with.
You can book Mimi Backpacker’s on Agoda.
$3.50/person in a dorm, really basic but the very cheapest in all of Saigon. Stay here if budget is your main priority. The bunks are triple-decker, and the top is the cheapest (this is the price for the top). They’ll try to make money in other ways (have to pay to check-in before 3pm, etc.). No A/C, good location on the main backpacker’s alley.
Green Cycle Inn Hostel
$4/person in a 6-person dorm, brand new, very clean, good internet, they rent bikes for $1 or $3 (old vs. new), central location to everything in Siem Reap. You can also book all your tours here.
You can book Green Cycle on Agoda and Booking.
$10 for a double room (that could easily be a triple, the bed is massive), this was the absolute cheapest we found on Koh Rong (besides camping) and we totally recommend it for backpackers.
The rooms are beachy and basic, but a great deal in a spot where you can pay the same price (or much more) for one dorm bed. Upstairs has a great little hangout spot on the patio with hammocks and egg chairs, and the beds have mosquito nets. You’re only a few steps off the main beach with the bars, but can’t hear any of the music at night (which is very rare on Koh Rong). They have no internet, but Dreamcatcher’s reaches. Keep in mind that check-out is 9am.
You can’t book Neng’s Guesthouse online, so go to Three Brother’s Guesthouse (go left off the ferry dock and it’s right there) and ask them for Neng’s. Or keep going and turn right at Dreamcatcher Cafe and it’s the first place on the right, but the sign is sometimes covered.
Camping on 4km Beach
$10 for an already pitched tent right on the water, you can fit anywhere between 2-4 people depending on how well you know each other and how much stuff you have. The tents are pitched, and they have separate bathrooms. It’s amazing, but it’s a bit too far if you want to go out at the bars at night. There’s one local restaurant nearby and that’s it. Perfect for those who just want to camp on a beach away from everyone. (Friend’s recommendation: We checked it out but didn’t stay).
You can’t book these tents online, so just show up! Walk (about 30 minutes) or take a taxi boat directly to 4km beach (tell them “camping”).
Camping on Long Beach (DIY)
Bring your own tent from Sihanoukville and camp on this pristine white sand, blue water beach. When you arrive, take a taxi boat to the beach (or hike, 1 hour from main beach), you can camp anywhere and there’s nobody around. Swim with the bioluminescent plankton at night!
Phousi 2 Guesthouse
Just opened, quite basic but such a good deal and staff are so kind. 30,000 kip ($3.60 USD) per night, everywhere around is double or more, feels like you’re in the family’s home. On riverfront, hot water, Wifi isn’t amazing, if you get a dorm you’ll probably have it to yourself, if not it’s very close quarters.
EasyGo Backpacker Hostel
28,000 kip per person for a 3-person private, 26,000 for a dorm bed (less than $3.50 USD). Two buildings, newer is colder (literally and in vibe), older is like a bungalow but loud. Overall, great deal, awesome communal areas, owner is nice, didn’t worry about staff stealing our things like we’d heard of in other hostels in Vang Vieng.
You can book EasyGo Backpacker on Hostelworld.
$5 for a dorm bed. Most guesthouses here are the same, this has much better facilities for same price as “party hostels” (still very social). Good location like all hostels here, breakfast included. Hot water, okay wifi.
You can book Lucky Backpackers on Agoda and Booking.”
“$6 per person for private rooms (same price/person for single, double, triple), has to be the cheapest in all of Yangon. Old, run-down, bad Wifi, local staff, great location. You really get what you pay for, but it’s all part of the experience (and Myanmar hostels can break your budget otherwise).
You can’t book Mahabandoola Guesthouse online, so just show up or call ahead! (Take a taxi to Sule Pagoda and you’ll find it.)
On the street with all of the cheap hotels, this was the absolute cheapest (and quality not very different). Old but not bad, breakfast included, hot water, great value for budget travelers. $12 for a double, $8 for a bed in dorm.
$10/person for a private room with bathroom inside ($20 for double, $30 for triple). We heard Pann Cherry is the cheapest at only $6 but it was full and they don’t do reservations. Great location in Nyuang U, can walk to sunrise/sunset temple, amazing breakfast included, hot water, weak wifi like most of Myanmar.
You can’t book Winner Guesthouse online, so just show up or call ahead!”
Teduh Hostel @ Kota Tua*
“$7.50/person in a dorm if you book online, $10/person if you book in person (def book ahead, but if you forget just sit in the lobby, use wifi and book it there like we did!). It was the cheapest we could find online, never walked around to see if we could find cheaper in person. So cool, it was actually a lot like The Cube in Bangkok with it’s cool capsule bed design. Amazing staff, free breakfast, free water, coffee and tea at all times, clean bathrooms, new facilities, we loved the capsule rooms. Great downtown location, highly recommend.
Wisma Firman Pensione
$6 for a double room downstairs, $7.50 for a double upstairs. Every room has a slightly different price, some go up to $9. It’s very basic, but the absolute cheapest in Bogor. Kind, helpful family staff, walking distance from Botanical Gardens, everyone knows it in town so you’ll never get lost. Near cheap local food, 15 minute walk from train and bus station. Stay upstairs, the downstairs rooms are a drastic downgrade for small savings.
You can’t book Wisma Firman Pensione online, but just show up- they always have availability!
$5/person usually, they have all different rooms (2, 3, 4 people, different bed sizes) at slightly different prices but that’s what we paid. AMAZING staff with so many local secrets to share, central location, walking distance to train station, clean rooms and bathrooms, breakfast included, nice communal area.
You can book Gado Gadu on Agoda and Booking.
EDU Hostel Jogja
$6/person in a dorm, this one was repeatedly recommended to us. Breakfast is included, and it’s supposed to be a great value for the money. If we hadn’t stayed with Sutardi, we would have booked here.
$3.75/person for both a double or quadruple room, this was the very cheapest we found in Jepara (the connecting point for ferries to the beautiful and underrated Karimunjawa island). The shower is a bucket shower (common in these parts), and they don’t have Wifi, but it’s the cheapest in town. Really kind staff but don’t speak much English.
You can’t book Hotel Asia online, but you can just show up or call ahead!
Our absolute favorite, Pacha is the place to stay in Amed. $22 for a cottage that has 3 queen-sized beds (so you can fit 6 people if you’re sharing). It’s a family-run reggae bar with live music most nights, and amazing cottages in the back that are such a great deal you’ll feel like you’ve robbed someone. They have in-room bathrooms, patios with bean bags, and a loft inside the room. Breakfast is included, and you can use the kitchen whenever you want. The family is so wonderful, sit and chat with them to have an amazing afternoon or night. Highlight of Bali for us. (They are currently building a dorm, so check for that soon!).
You can’t book Pacha Homestay online (yet!), so just show up or call ahead.
Want to scuba dive in Bali? Accommodation is free for divers if you dive at Fab Dive, wooo! Just a bit outside of the middle of Amed, this is the most peaceful place to unwind after an amazing day diving. Owner Fabian was a wonderful accent to our trip, giving up the best Bali tips and constantly entertaining us, and the facilities were great. Tell him we sent you!
You can book Fab Dive on Booking or AirBnb.
$5.50 per night for a bed in a dorm or bamboo beehive thing (you have to see it to understand how cool it is), Balibbu is the best value we found in Ubud and one of our favorite hostels in all of Southeast Asia (and everyone else seems to agree). It’s one of the cheapest you’ll find, but as good as much more expensive ones. Nice swimming pool, big patio, breakfast included, free tea and coffee all day, and really kind staff. Not right in the center, but walking distance from everything (including the Monkey Forest and Pizza Bagus, our favorite things in Ubud!). Definitely book online in advance, even just a day, it often fills up.
Finally today lets look at perils, dangers and annoyances. None of us want to end up like these two above, begging for money to fly home. This is why planning, research and preparation are so important so that your vagabonding travels are wonderful and life changing, not terrifying, desperate and a fight for survival:
Staying Safe in Southeast Asia
Safety Tips and Resources for Staying Healthy on your Trip
“Southeast Asia mostly makes the news when something terrible happens. After all, natural disasters and political turmoil grab more eyeballs than happy travelers enjoying good food and generally having the times of their lives.
Unfortunately, this gives the impression that traveling in Southeast Asia is a dangerous, foolhardy proposition, when it’s not. Staying safe in Southeast Asia is a no-brainer; use these safety tips to come home happy and healthy.
Scams and Ripoffs
With poverty a major issue throughout much of Southeast Asia, Westerners are often viewed as walking cash machines. Travelers are often clueless about local prices and customs, making them an easy target for scammers. Try not to let a few unscrupulous hustlers jade you with an unfair bias against normally genuine people.
This scam mindset seems most rife in Saigon, Vietnam, particularly in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao. Most of these scams fall into a rough pattern, though: to find out how to avoid being fleeced by “enterprising” locals in Vietnam, read this summary of scams in Vietnam, or take a broader view and read more about avoiding popular scams in Southeast Asia.
To save money in general, you have to learn how to negotiate prices throughout the region. This skill will come in handy whether you’re dickering down with a cyclo driver or getting the best price for a knick-knack in one of Southeast Asia’s markets.
Alcohol and Drugs
Unsurprisingly, drugs or excessive alcohol usually play a part in many trips gone wrong. Despite being readily available in seemingly lawless places such as Vang Vieng, Laos and the Gili Islands, drugs are illegal throughout Southeast Asia. Getting caught carrying drugs is actually punishable by death!
This article about drug laws in Southeast Asia ought to paint a clearer picture. In not so many words, drug laws in Singapore are harsh and mercilessly applied to locals and tourists alike; drug laws in Bali and the rest of Indonesia are almost as strict, but spottily enforced; and the drug scene in Cambodia turns a blind eye to marijuana (in practice) but cracks down on harder drugs.
Alcohol is mostly legal throughout Southeast Asia, with a few exceptions: the tiny country of Brunei, along with conservative parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, completely ban booze. Indonesia and Singapore have recently clamped down on tippling with stricter new laws. To find out where a tipple is encouraged and where it’s not, read our short guide to getting drunk in Southeast Asia.”
Advice for Female Travelers
“Cultural differences mean female travelers get an unfair share of attention from local men while traveling throughout Southeast Asia. It can’t be helped: local men superimpose their own culture’s expectations of women onto female outsiders as well, and most local cultural expectations of women tend to lean conservative. Exposed shoulders, short shorts, and a forward attitude – stuff we take for granted in the West – are thus often misinterpreted in the worst way.
To make matters worse, in places where dark skin is the norm, fair skin is viewed as exotic and sexy – increasing the likelihood of unwanted advances.
It doesn’t seem fair or right to have rules that apply only to women, but it wouldn’t be realistic to leave them out:
- Cover Up:Cover yourself when coming off the beach. Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu cultures found in the islands are generally conservative. Topless sunbathing is looked down upon by both local men and women.
- Watch for Miscommunication:Seemingly harmless gestures such as putting an arm around someone of the opposite sex can be interpreted differently across cultural divides.
- Watch your Drink:Putting drugs into untended drinks is still commonplace on many of the islands. Do not accept drinks from strangers.
Political turmoil can pop up unexpectedly even in the most well-trafficked tourist places. While these feuds usually do not target foreigners, it’s possible to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even peaceful protests have sometimes turned violent without warning.
Register your trip with the US State Department in case the situation deteriorates to the point of evacuation. After registering your itinerary, travel warnings for your destinations will be sent via email. More info here: US State Department travel registration (offsite).
Due to the political goings-on in parts of Southeast Asia, your insurance might not cover your visits to certain spots. Before embarking on your trip, check your travel insurance for exclusions that might void your coverage.
While tsunamis and earthquakes dominate the news, less-obvious threats such as fevers, bad stomachs and severe sunburn often ruin more trips to Southeast Asia.
An abundance of exotic — and often spicy — food can be a shock to unsuspecting Western stomachs. While not a show-stopper, no one wants to spend unnecessary time in squat toilets.
- Learn how to control your stomach and avoid traveler’s diarrhea.
With much of Southeast Asia situated near the equator, the sun is much less forgiving than at home.
- Read about avoiding sunburnin Southeast Asia.
Avoiding Things that Bite
Unfortunately, beautiful scenery and tropical weather come with a price: More things want to bite you in Southeast Asia! From surprise monkey attacks while hiking to bedbugs silently making you into dinner, use these tips to avoid becoming food for the local wildlife.
Dengue fever is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia; no vaccination exists. The best way to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses such as Japanese encephalitis and malaria is not to be bitten in the first place!
- Read about how to avoid mosquito bites.
Bedbugs were once only a nightmare for budget travelers; now, they can be found even in luxury hotels.
- Read about avoiding bedbugs in Southeast Asia.
Mischievous macaque monkeys make great subjects for photographs, but a single bite or scratch could send you to the local clinic for injections.
- Read about avoiding monkey attacks.
Hiking and Trekking Safety
No trip to Southeast Asia is complete without spending some time in the beautiful rainforests or jungle. National parks and trails abound; outdoorsy travelers with a serious appetite for adventure may even choose to climb some active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Surprise weather, loose volcanic shale, and other threats have sometimes turned fun adventures into survival situations.”
In my next posts I will continue my preparations for the journey of a lifetime; see you soon.