It’s inexpensive to travel around Thailand. You can stay very cheaply (read: $6/night) for a backpacking hostel in some areas. With the baby (& in all honesty, for our own comfort), we stayed in hotels, which cost us slightly more, about $30-45/night. Still, for this price, we felt it was worth the ‘splurge’.
We didn’t pre-book many hotels because we had heard you can get better walk-in rates, and we also didn’t want to be held to a particular schedule. Want to stay an extra few days in Chiang Mai? Great, just book it!
We did try to ‘walk-in’ and book a couple of times, but because we were travelling at the beginning of the busy season (Nov – Feb), most places were booked solid in the areas we were in. Plus, with baby, it wasn’t practical to be wandering around with our luggage and nowhere to stay. It also put us in a poor bargaining position, because we were evidently desperate. Anyway, we tended to research and book places online as we went. Here is a break down of the places we stayed in, some great, some not so great.
The Vismaya, Bangkok
$30/night in Oct
This was one of the places we booked ahead of time, as our first hotel upon arrival in Bangkok. This is a nice, modern hotel near the Suvarnabhumi airport. It’s fairly new, and I would recommend booking the airport shuttle offered through the hotel because it is cheaper, and we found that the taxi drivers didn’t know where it was.
We arrived at 7am, so we had booked our room for the previous night because we wanted to check right in and go to sleep. We later found out that the hotel guarantees early check-in, with an hourly rate surcharge (A really nice convenience if you get there way before check-in!).
The room was clean and modern. There was a shower and a tub, although the shower tended to have intermittent water pressure. I’ve heard it can be like this all over Thailand, but we didn’t encounter this anywhere else. Our only complaint with the room is that the air conditioning had to be kept at 22 degrees, which was downright freezing. So we wore sweaters in the room and turned off the air conditioning when possible.
The pool is kept very clean and the restaurant serves a variety of great food. The breakfast buffet includes both Thai and Western breakfast and is quite complete.
We enjoyed this place so much that we booked it again on our way out of the country.
The hotel itself is close to the airport but nothing else. People generally only stay a day or two before they head to their next location, it seemed. We stayed 2 nights in order to adjust to local time.
Oh, and room service is 24 hrs, which is great when you’re jet lagged!
Sugarpalm Grand Hillside, Kata
$40/ night in November
We stayed at this hotel for 3 nights. It is in a great location, walking distance to the beach and most Kata restaurants. The pools are beautiful (no. They’re gorgeous!) and every room is facing them. The staff are very friendly, and we had an effortless airport transfer. However, we would not stay here again because there was a dead cockroach on the porch upon arrival and the room had a musty/mildew smell that wouldn’t go away.
Based on other reviews, I’d say maybe other rooms don’t have this issue. Otherwise a nice hotel.
The Title, Rawai
$35/night in Nov
We stayed in Rawai to enjoy the scenery and food. We weren’t disappointed! The Title was a perfect location, right across from the beach. You can’t swim in the water here due to the mooring boats, but this didn’t bother us. It was great to walk out and see the long tail boats and speedboats lined up.
When we checked in, they couldn’t find our reservation, so we were finally upgraded to a room with a separate bedroom (ideal with baby!). Our room had a kitchenette, and I believe they all do in this condo-style hotel. Despite the kitchenette, we didn’t cook once, not even once, because food is so inexpensive all over Thailand!
The staff are helpful, the room is modern and clean (decorated in Ikea furniture, but new and clean). The pool is immaculate and so appreciated.
we booked 5 days and then extended our stay 5 more because we enjoyed relaxing here so much.
Roseate Hotel, Chiang Mai
$35/night in Nov
A little torn about how to review this room. We stayed for 5 days in November. At first, the room was clean, well maintained. However, we found the air conditioner quite bad at, well, cooling. It seemed to take hours to cool the room properly.
Then we noticed a horrible smell that just got worse as the days passed. We were very happy to leave by the last day due to this sewage-like smell. In the hotel’s defense, we never reported it.
Can’t complain about the staff, who were great, and the breakfast was excellent with both thai and western options. The location was walking distance to many great. Maybe you’d have more luck with a different room.
The Prince hotel, Chiang Mai
$30/night in Nov
This hotel is old, dated, in need of renovations, whatever you call it. It IS getting those renos, but the whole building is under construction and thus filthy. The hallways are disgusting, filthy and rotting. Our room was not much better. We had to ask for our room to be mopped and fresh linens. The replacement linens came back with just as many stains. The towels were no better.
The bathroom needs to be redone. It is ‘well used’ and not comfortable to get clean in.
I’m sure this will be a great hotel with character when the renos are completed. It’s just too bad we had to be here while in this condition. There seems to be no effort to keep the place clean while demolition is happening. The only redeeming qualities were the 2 lovely and clean pools with poolside bar, and kitchenette in every room. And the artwork. The artwork was pretty cool.
Galare Guesthouse, Chiang Mai
$30/night in Nov
This was probably the best value for our money of all the places we stayed in Chiang Mai. With its traditional Lanna style and homey charm, we felt quite comfortable here. We pre-booked this months in advance because we were staying during the Loy Kathong (lantern) festival, and hotels sell out. We got an excellent price considering this. It was an excellent spot to see the festival from a less hectic area. Walking distance to the Night Bazaar, and right along to Mai Ping River. We were able to set out a mat and watch the lanterns float in the river, as well as up in the sky next to fireworks. One should be warned, though, that Loy Kathong goes on for 2 – 3 nights, and can get pretty loud! We were missing our earplugs at 4 am when fireworks were still going off seemingly on top of our heads. This isn’t in the hotel’s control, evidently. It’s prime location also has downfalls. We would definitely stay at this hotel again.
Railay Princess, Railay
$60/night in December
This was the last week of our trip, and we wanted to spoil ourselves a little bit. We had wanted to see the iconic limestone mountains, and we certainly got that. This hotel is modern and well maintained, with a top notch restaurant and a pool with gorgeous limestone backdrop. We did have an issue when we got there that the room smelled musty/moldy. Since we were staying 6 nights, we decided to request a different room. The new room had a slight cigarette smell, like someone had smoked outside the window. Strangely, we still decided to stay and accepted their offer of a scented candle to freshen the room. The smell did go away, although now typing this I’m not sure why we didn’t complain again.
Anyway, the hotel was enjoyable and in a good location. We got what we expected and the staff were always very receptive. The room was well maintained by housekeeping, and the pool was always the perfect temperature.