Archive for the ‘Guesthouses B N Bs’ Category

The almost haunted Chiang Dao Inn @ Thb 500, old but the only deal in town

How can any traveller with or without a bicycle go wrong with this ?

Just Thb 500, all of  US$16.50, or in the better days, $12.50, and you should have the essentials of air conditioning, a newish bed, a TV, (LCD and cable in the better establishments) bathroom with a hot shower, a toilet with a seat, most times a small mini fridge, and hopefully peace and quiet. What is not assured are the midnight door slammers and 6 am engine revving buffoons. Better places will throw in a small breakfast and refreshments with a smile and security for your bicycle. 95% of places should have the all important wifi too.

Of course there will be variations of up to Thb 200 from the Thb 500 median, depending on location,  season, length of stay and how desperate the establishment is, or you, the guest are.  I’ve stayed at so many, I’ve lost count, but the nicer ones have my many repeat visits and a familiar face to welcome you.

Note : Most of these photos are from the North Thailand 2009 trip.

The Mae Malai ‘Mansion’ was more like a truck stop, but it was new and had an opening rate of just Thb 350, and a fan (and AC) to dry your cycling clothes !

What more could you want? Thb 450 @ Phayao same same something hotel with a nice view of Phayao Lake

One of my favourite northern Thai towns is Fang, and it has the Baan Fang Hotel @ Thb 450 plus breakfast

His and Hers urinals at the Akhamsri guest house in Lampang Thb 550, with matching sandals and walls

This is a small bungalow at 1200 meters asl in the mountains of Mae Salong, no AC needed and I got a ‘regular’ rate of Thb 300 (without asking) down from Thb 500. Amazing. Google Little Home Mae Salong GH

Little Home’s IT room

Baan Warabordee in Chiang Rai town Thb 450 down from Thb 500 as this room did not have a fridge. How thoughtful. Small breakfast and coffee/tea in the lobby all day and night.

The Royal Panerai is a nice hotel in a bad location in Chiang Mai, but with any bicycle, it sure beats walking around. Thb 500 less one baht, down from a steep Thb 1600 ! One night was marred by former cave dwelling guests from China who discovered ‘door slamming’

When you see a sign like this, hit the brakes, cycle in and make some enquiries

The Sawasdipong in new Sukhothai city Thb 550. It came with a surprisingly good western breakfast and there was a good massage joint across the street

A nice villa in the mountains of Pai, North Thailand. Low season Thb 600 after a 50% discount

This resort is one of the many dozens that has sprung up around the Pai valley, in the Mae Hong Son province of North Thailand. The once sleepy town became famous after a many a Thai rom-com (romantic comedy) movie was shot there. So in the high season room rates double or triple and still the hordes from the cities make the drive into the mountains, clogging the streets, shops, restaurants and guesthouses during the year’s end. Desperate tourists without reservations will have to make do with renting Thb 500 tents to camp by the Pai river, and sharing bathrooms and toilets with 100 other people.

If you need to experience Pai, try the mid year ‘green’ ie sometimes rainy low season when things are more sane and the room rates are not in the thousands of baht. Pai has lost it’s charms from say 10 years ago. Many locals have sold out and moved on. Who could blame them, when offers for your land/homes are 10 times their value ? That said there are many road and off road trails in the vast valley and the cool weather is enticing. Pai in the northern Shan Burmese lingo translates as ‘Go’ or ‘Migrate” I guess the tourists will still go, while the former locals with fat bank accounts will do the other. After 10 trips to Pai, it’s time to move on to other provinces.

The resort in a former rice field


In all my life, I’ve experienced many a crappy hotel, rather guest house rooms, whilst on the road with a bicycle.  What actually constitutes ‘crap’ depends really on one’s comfort levels, tolerance and expectations at the end of another day on the road or trail. Looking at many many photos over the years, I’d dare say that my ‘crap tolerance level’ or CTL is pretty high. I rate it 8.5 out of 10. 1 being total luxury and 10 being, ‘I can’t wait for sunrise to check out’. Thankfully my lovely wife, Coleen has not tolerated anything beyond a 6 or 7 and thus we are still married.

Now while some rooms and establishments approach a 8 to 10 crap rating, I must add that their locations on a mountain top or along a pristine lake or river might make up for a great stay or experience. Who knows, the person you’re tolerating all this with, might just make the stay more tolerable. I’m talking easy going good friends, with similar interests and a high CTL. (Conversely no amount of luxury and pampering will make a hotel stay bliss if your room mate is ‘intolerable’  Another plus for solo travel, as you can only blame yourself for stinging and getting a crappy room)

No doubt in time someone will build a nice resort with 5 star rooms/villas to elevate comfort levels, but then the crappy room wouldn’t cost $5 a night. This brings to mind the eternal question of,  ‘How much is too much?’ for a certain level of comfort. Another subjective subject to ponder over till the cows come home.

These rooms are definitely one nighters, but I’ve been known to deviate where necessary.

I’ve also seen $300 rooms close to 2 metres away from the resort fence where when you add another 2 metres, you get a dusty major highway linking 2 towns in Laos. I’m sure the spa, the infinity pool and restaurants and even the rooms are nice but……so here goes some photos, toilets not spared, and comments from staying in rooms from $3 to $800 plus 21% taxes. The CTL 1 rooms / villas / resorts deserve their own post, somewhere down this blog. 😉

$6 / Phay Boun GH, Nong Kiaw, North Laos

The minimalist Phay Boun really looks better than it is. My flash reveals a shiny linoleum floor, tight bed sheets and even a new waste basket, but my friend Paul and I didn’t stay here, we arrived late and got the back room with a cement floor, which makes this triple look like a suite. The bathroom was dark and infested with fruit flies, well better than real flies anyway. What the camera flash doesn’t show were the three noisy China men who just vacated this room, and the girl whom they ‘had company’ with that night. She then proceeded to ‘reset’ this room to it’s CTL level of hmmm, 7.  Same sheets, same blankets, same pillowcases, all fluffed up. I did not check the bathroom. I must say she did quite a good job, with a just a broom and bare hands.

$8 / Xieng Kok Resort, Xieng Kok Village, Laos

The balcony at XK resort was so nice I laid out my Thermarest and slept outside in 15 deg C temps. Paul was inside and snoring louder than the resort’s power generators.  The mighty Mekong River in the background leads to Yunnan in China, while the opposite bank is Burmese territory. Location, location, location, though the village at the end of a 70 km dirt road, is a few wooden shacks and not much else. We took a 3 hour speedboat ride back to Thailand from here.

$6 / Duangvichit GH, Kuikacham, Laos

This is even better CTL 9, as we had to deprive one of the staff here from ‘her’ bed ! Needless to say she was not happy and we had to do our own housekeeping ! Stuff like making the beds, checking for bugs and throwing someone else’s trash into the hall way. It was a long night in the mountains of Laos, but good company and my I Pod made up for it. Thanks Alvin

One of 2 bathrooms shared by you or 20 others, depending on occupancy and of course your luck

If you thought this was bad, this bathroom was pitch black and un tiled when they first opened. Not much water also in the holding tank till the village truck came and rubber hoses were forced the slots in the wall and fresh brown water flowed. At 1200 m, it was icy cold too, but the owners will get a kettle or two of boiling water and mix it with the cold, in a pail if you’re fussy.

RM$50 / US$15 @ the Princess Hotel, Pontian, West Malaysia

A typical 4 decade old hotel in a small Malaysian town in all it’s 4 decade splendour. Non LCD TV, ancient but cold AC and hot water. I wait patiently as everything is wiped down with wet wipes. It’s like a SWAT team checking every room in the perp’s house before shouting “Clear! Clear!”

Tadapani hovel, Nepal

Keen eyes will note that this room was once a balcony, so I had a nice view of the snow capped mountains beyond the green curtain and of some other hiker through the window panes. She was blonde.

Italian Nepalese tonight !

Views making up for the dismal room

An average Nepalese village on the Annapurna trail. It would not exist without tourism, so maybe 6 lodges with say 2 dozen rooms each, meaning 144 rooms, sleeping 288 or more tourists plus Nepalese guides and porters who might sleep in the warmer kitchens, will populate a hill slope such as this one. Toilets and bathrooms? 2 of each max, per lodge. I went au natural in the forest, just before sunrise.

Tourist tent at Bhoti Koshi, Nepal

I cannot remember the price for this one but, the tent was cosy at 16 deg C. Close to the Nepal Tibet border. The Bhoti Khoshi area is a prime spot for river rafting and hosts Nepal’s highest bungee jumping site. Looking at the trails and dirt roads in the hills, a moutain bike here will be loads and days of fun.

Tourist food at Bhoti Koshi, Nepal, always get hungry looking at this

Wonokitri Wisma, East Java, Indonesia. Sure the colors look pleasing. Wait till it fills up at night with a rowdy crowd and nicotine.

We made a quick mistake of checking into this colourful rat hole and paying Indonesia Rp 100,000 / $10 upfront. A dirty room and dirtier bathroom. Of course the caretaker said that this was the better place to stay here, of course he was lying or loyal to his boss, of course he did not give us a receipt, and no of course no refunds whatsoever, even half a refund, (after we found this place below while walking around the village) And he got angry after we left. It took no effort to repack everything and move here. Out came another Rp 100,000, which the owner said that we could pay when checking out. He had to attend to a patient as he was the village doctor.

This is more like it, new sheets, new bed and what a view. Can you see Paul’s joy ?

Early morning views from the balcony @ Wonokitri. East Java, Indonesia

One of 3 rooms at Subandi’s Homestay, Kerisik Tuo, Jambi Provinve, West Sumatra, Indonesia

In 1998 this room would be a 10+++ on the CTL, but as I age, I re rate it a 7 or 8 not because of it’s old but decently kept run down state, but as Indonesian homestays go, it’s sleep here or out in the open. A saving grace here is that behind that dark door the owners had just retiled the bathroom and squatting toilet, so that was in a better state than the room. Switch off the 25 watt light bulb and it’s so dark I can’t see my hand in front of me. Thankfully I had good company for 3 nights here, as the owners were so jovial and heartwarming, wondering why I did not want to go trekking, but ride my mountain bike all day in the endless tea plantations at the base of Mt Kerinchi, Sumatra’s highest volcano. This $3 per 24 hrs room takes the cake for the best views from the front porch of a crappy room / guesthouse.

Mt Kerinchi, 3805 m West Sumatra/Jambi Province

Sometimes the crappy room is a Godsent, especially when mountain biking in the mountains, all day without water or food, ie we were totally lost. Beggars can’t be choosers, so the Thai Border Patrol’s mountain resort will have to do. They were even kind enough to offer dinner and breakfast, and there was a late night party with the village girls, and I suspect some boys who were aspiring to be girls !

My friend Paul did not bring any bedding. I brought my trusty 15 year old blue Thermarest

Breakfast with the Border Patrol. True to form I slipped a Thb 500 note to the Captain in charge of the place

Crappy or not, after 90 kms of cycling in the mountains, the Piang Luang gulag guest house close to Burmese border with Thailand, seemed like paradise, at that time. The orange bulb lights up room and loo at the same time !