Which hostel? A review of my top hostels in South East Asia

Everywhere you go there’s an abundance of hostels; just go on booking.com, agoda, or hostelworld and prepare to be overwhelmed by choices. But you never really know what a hostel is like until you get there, right?

Well I´m here to help. And by help I mean I´m going to give a list of each place I stayed and tell you which was my favourite hostel and why. If I stayed in a hotel (which hasn´t been often) I´ll give the lowdown on that too.

Indonesia:

Ubud
Dormy Inn Rumah Pakir
Very cute hostel, felt very bali with the garden and pool. Really cheap, but that’s not reflected in the service. Comfy, clean beds and helpful staff (who are constantly cleaning!) although the hostel is a little far from the centre.

Seminyak
Dash Hotel
Perfectly located across the road from the ‘Potato Head Beach Club’, so it’s pretty much in the centre. The hotel itself is more of an assortment of apartments, decorated in graffiti, much like the steeets of Melbourne’s Hosier Lane. Very clean, attentive service, a great bathroom and seriously comfortable beds; an absolute God-send after sleeping on bunk beds!

Gili Trawangan
Oceano Jambuluwuk Hotel & Resort
For an upmarket resort I wasn’t hugely impressed with this place, but that’s not enough for me to tell you to stay away. It was in a great location, on the quieter side of the island, right next to the snorkelling area. The free breakfast was great, but the service at their restaurant was very slow – although you could just call that ‘island time’.

Singapore:

Coziee Lodge Hostel
This hostel sounded really promising on hostelworld, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations. It was in a great location, which was their plus point, right next to the train station so you can get wherever you need to go very easily. However, our dorm room had no windows, the bathrooms weren’t very clean, and the only thing you could wash your dishes with was shower creme! I’ll be staying somewhere else next time.

Malaysia:

Kuala Lumpur
Reggae Mansion
Probably one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in, facilities wise. It’s impressive from the moment you turn up. The place is huge, and seems more like a hotel! There are various chill-out areas, good wifi, free dinner, plenty of bathrooms, and great bed cubbys! The clincher however, is their rooftop bar: 25 ringitt (about £4) for a bucket and a pretty nice view of KL while you’re at it.

Penang – Georgetown
Dream Catcher Travellers Refuge
This was probably the cutest hostel I’ve stayed in, with the friendliest hosts. It felt like you were chilling in a house, it was so comfortable. The rooms were small but clean, and the owners would just sit and have a chat with me, genuinely interested in my travels (or atleast pretending to be). The only downside was that it was pretty quiet, but that’s my own fault for turning up in the low season.

Thailand:

Koh Samui
Baan Smile Place
This is in a good location if you want to party (in Chaweng Beach area) but also located far enough away from the noise so you can get a decent nights sleep. The hostel itself was clean, with good beds and a really big en-suite bathroom. The only downside to it was that there was no chill-out area, but you spend most of your time outdoors exploring anyway. The staff were really friendly and helped sort out our ferry and taxi to the pier too.

Koh Tao
Baan Chalok Hostel
Located in a really nice but quiet area of Koh Tao, which is great if that´s what you´re looking for, and it´s only a 10 minute scooter/pick-up taxi drive to the Sairee Beach area. The hostel itself was pretty basic, relatively clean, but the en-suite and communal toilets and showers weren´t maintained very well. If I was to go to Koh Tao again I probably wouldn´t stay here.

Bangkok
Born Free Hostel – Vista
This hostel was good for the social aspect as there´s a big communal lounge area where everyone chills out because the wifi doesn´t really reach the rooms. What I didn´t enjoy was that at mid-day the staff would open all of the windows and doors to the rooms to air them out, but this would let in all of the mosquitos and bugs so when I slept I was bitten a lot. The guy who runs the hostel, Mario, is also really friendly, welcoming and helpful.

Chiang Mai
At Baan Khun
Really good hostel for the price! It cost me 120 baht/£2.80 for two nights, and the hostel was actually pretty nice. It was kept clean, and there´s two communal lounge areas, which makes it easy to meet other travelers. The wifi wasn´t as good as some places, but I was just really impressed, considering how cheap it was. Plus, they are connected to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, so I booked my day trip through them, and it was amazing.

Pai
Spicy Pai Backpackers
My favourite hostel in Thailand by an absolute landslide! I went there after staying in Circus for three nights: it´s perfect if you want to party a lot, and also want a pool with some incredible views. But 3 nights was enough for me and I wanted some sleep. Spicy Pai was still full of young travelers who were there for a good time but it just had a more chilled atmosphere: hammocks in the social hut overlooking the mountains and rice fields, large rooms that could be kept relatively cool, clean showers and free breakfast. Plus I´d been recommended this hostel from practically every backpacker I´d met who had been to Pai.

Krabi
Hogwarts hostel
Great idea for a hostel and I was so excited to turn up (geek alert) but I was kind of disappointed. Not with the hostel itself, it was really nice, very clean and gave the impression of staying in an English cottage … but I wanted to feel like I was in Hogwarts!

Koh Phi Phi
Freedom Hostels @ Phi Phi
I´d picked this hostel because it was one of the cheapest and I was running out of money, but I wouldn´t stay here again. The room was fine, clean, big and had good AC. But the staff didn´t seem very welcoming, the place was designed like a prison (grey cement walls and floors) no chill out area (so the hostel wasn´t sociable at all), and the walk to the hostel is along a long dark path that isn´t very well lit so it didn´t feel particularly safe if you were walking down it alone at night.

Myanmar:

Yangon
Four Rivers Hostel
Very cute hostel. To be honest, I didn´t have high expectations for hostels in Myanmar but I was pleasantly surprised. We had a really nice room, very comfortable beds (the first comfortable bed I´d stayed in for a while, and it was sorely needed after our long journey!) and clean bathrooms. The hostel itself had friendly staff who helped sort out your transport to your next destination, free breakfast and a reasonably good lounge area. The only downside was the terrible wifi – but this was pretty common in Myanmar so I just ended up buying a sim and some data for 8,000 kyat/£5.

Kalaw
Nature Land Hotel 2
I wouldn´t have booked this hotel if the hostels hadn´t been full as it was the equivalent of £25 (which is expensive for Asia), but it was nice to have my own mini apartment for the night. The staff were incredibly attentive, always bringing me tea if I was sitting outside looking at the beautiful view, and bringing an array of breakfast food in the morning (included in the price).

Inle Lake
Song of Travel
A really nice hostel, again, a little on the pricey side at 38,800 kyat/£24 a night (but I found this to be the case in Myanmar in general) but it was definitely value for money. The place is huge with various lounging areas for people! There´s a social calendar with the free breakfast options and activities throughout the week, and the hostel can book your tours and transport to your next destination. The staff were really friendly and helpful, the breakfast was good, there was free bicycle hire, and the rooms were huge with comfortable beds in their own cubby hole. There´s no wifi here, but that was fine for me as I was practically a local with my new sim card!

Bagan
Ostello Bello
Another great hostel that I would recommend. It´s as sociable as it can be considering the 10pm curfew across Bagan, as there are activities every night including sunset tours, bingo, movie nights etc. There´s a nice bar selling food and drink, albeit a little expensive. You get a good free breakfast (people in Myanmar are great hosts!), free towel hire, laptop and tablet use, plus a book exchange, which I didn´t find at the other hostels. The bedrooms themselves were spacious, comfortable beds, and the best en-suite I´ve probably had in any hostel I´ve stayed in. Plus there´s a cheap place renting e-bikes next door for 3000 kyat/£2 for 24 hours and you can get your laundry done there if you´ve been their customer for anything (can book your onward bus trip there too).

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