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Shanti Lodge

Long-running stalwart

What we say: 4 stars

The longstanding Shanti Lodge was among the first Bangkok guesthouses to go “cool” with lattes, Vivaldi, vegetarian food and no smoking back in the ’80s. It remains popular with earthy-crunchy backpackers, even if some will find the “coolness” contrived. Shanti has enjoyed a long and successful run, but has it become a fading star?

A longstanding stalwart.

A longstanding stalwart.

Though Shanti has undergone a recent sprucing up, its decor is still straight out of the Kabul-Kathmandu-Khao San hippie-backpacker trail of yesteryear. The dark blue-green-gold-crimson scheme somehow reminds us of Nepal, while yoga-inspired art, countless Buddha statues and bamboo furniture would fit seamlessly into some of Ko Pha Ngan‘s trendier bungalow joints.

A large ground-floor restaurant features dimly lit red lanterns to go with stone-cement floors that help keep the place cool but also give it a cave-like feel despite large open-air entrances on two sides. Chunky tables are placed relatively far apart, making it more of a “keep-to-yourself” atmosphere. The food has received good reports over the years, and a couple of shared computers are available for guests.

We had to brighten this photo so that you can actually see what's inside.

We had to brighten this photo so that you can actually see what’s inside.

Accommodation is a real hotchpotch, ranging from ’80s Khao San-era hardboard walls and not enough room to swing a cockroach type rooms, to fairly plush superior editions, and some oddly decorated doubles in between. A few don’t have windows and can get musty, so you’ll probably want to take a peek before paying.

The cheapest “traditional” rooms are set on the first floor towards the rear of the property and rely on a few reasonably clean shared hot-water bathrooms. The rooms have one tiny window each, with air-con or fan available. Next in line are the “small doubles”, which come with decent beds squished between three walls punctuated by fake flowers and looming Buddhas. Bathrooms have swing-open “saloon-style” doors with openings at the top and bottom; hopefully you’re nice and comfortable with that roommate.

Not for the claustrophobic.

A “small double” — at least it’s accurately named.

“Large doubles” bag you a lot more space, several more windows and the brightly painted furnishings that don’t fit into small doubles. Outfitted with bunk beds in addition to regular double beds, the larger family rooms can sleep up to four people. The guesthouse occupies a large old house with lots of little nooks and crannies, so the exact size, decor and setup varies from room to room.

While the rooms are generally pleasant in an “exotic-Asian” sort of way, Shanti is milking those decades of guidebook praise by overpricing them. Value is questionable across the board. Neighbouring Sawatdee’s cheapest rooms are better and considerably cheaper than Shanti’s low-end digs, while Tavee boasts much bigger and more inviting doubles for less than Shanti’s small doubles.

On the plus side, Shanti’s decor is a lot more unique than any of the neighbours, and facilities include a private yoga area and relaxing Thai massage lounge. Many reviews have complained of surly, bored and unhelpful staff. We found them a tad apathetic, though no worse than at the majority of budget guesthouses in the Khao San area.

Far out man.

Far out man.

Shanti is the most noticeable of a cluster of budget guesthouses on a leafy and quiet side street near the National Library. Backpackers have been staying around here for about as long as backpacking has existed. Thewet market and the same-named express boat pier are a five-minute walk to the south, while Khao San Road will take around 15 minutes on foot. The immediate area’s low-key vibe is one of the main reasons to stay here, though party animals should look further south.

Shanti is part of an endangered club of old-style guesthouses that still rely mainly on the walk in trade. Those wanting to book online will need to inquire through the official website and then call a week in advance to confirm. Shanti Lodge’s long-running success is evidenced by its younger sister properties in Chumphon, Ranong, Phuket and Kanchanaburi, some of which offer yoga retreats and organic farming.

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Contact details:

37 Sri Ayutthaya Soi 16 (behind National Library), Bangkok.  T: (02) 281 2497 , (02) 628 7626 
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What we were quoted

Type of room Low season High season Notes
Dbl fan share b'room 500 baht 500 baht
Dbl air-con share b'room 600 baht 600 baht
Dbl air-con private b'room 850 baht 850 baht
Sgl fan share b'room 400 baht 400 baht
Sgl air-con share b'room 500 baht 500 baht
Dbl fan private b'room 750 baht 750 baht
Superior - Double 850 baht 850 baht Fan; air-con 950
Triple fan private b'room 1,000 baht 1,000 baht 1200 with air-con
Quad fan private b'room 1,200 baht 1,200 baht 1400 with air-con

Added to Travelfish on: 21st July, 2003
Last visited or updated on: 17th May, 2014

Last reviewed by:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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Shanti Lodge
37 Sri Ayutthaya Soi 16 (behind National Library), Bangkok. 
T: (02) 281 2497 , (02) 628 7626

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