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More and more visitors to Ko Samui are choosing villa rental over hotel stays. Should you? Each option has its pros and cons, and the right choice will depend on how important price (and hidden costs) are to you, as well as privacy, freedom, space and facilities.
For stays of less than a week, resorts are probably the better option, but for anything longer, choosing a villa may provide on balance more benefits, depending on your needs as well as the number in your party.
Villas (and bungalows) are available from 10,000 baht per month for a simple bungalow with air-con, to high-end properties going for more than $2,000 per day.
Advantages of renting a villa start with the freedom it offers regarding meals. If you hire a small bungalow, there’s usually a kitchenette of sorts and if you feel up to it, you can prepare some meals yourself. This is a great way to experience a little local culture, as a visit to a fresh market can be an eye-opener. Obviously, you can also eat at local restaurants, but you have that choice with a hotel stay too.
Mid-range to luxury villas often include a chef; sometimes villas that are relatively inexpensive considering the range available on Ko Samui (10,000 baht per day) will offer one. If the villa has three bedrooms, sleeping six, that’s 3,333 baht per couple per day, about the same as at a mid-range hotel. The villa may well work out cheaper in practice, however, as the villa staff will do grocery shopping for you, so for instance a Coke will now cost you 15 baht, while the hotel may be charging you closer to 80 baht. The same applies to meals. The staff do the shopping, cook the meal and only charge for the cost of the ingredients, plus 10% usually, as the chef is included in the rate, when a comparable meal at your hotel may be very pricey.
Families with young children may prefer the villa option as they don’t have to worry about keeping kids quiet for other guests, or other guests partying too loudly, keeping kids awake. And if you want to throw a party yourself, a villa is a better bet as you can make more noise, the drinks will be cheaper and you’ll have the place to yourself.
The advantages of hotels are that they can often be included in good value package deals, and sometimes work out cheaper with flights, transfers and accommodation all inclusive. Also, villas often ask for a refundable breakages deposit; although you get this back, should you not cause any damages, it still affects your holiday cash flow.
If you arrive on Samui and are after a cheapish bungalow, for say 10-12,000 baht per month, your best bet is to book a hotel room for your first night or two, then rent a scooter and drive around the areas you would like to stay in. You’ll see notices up all over with ‘house to rent’. Although they sometimes prefer long stays, many will rent out for a week at a time. For 10,000 baht per month, this works out to less than 350 baht per day, which is cheaper than most backpacker joints, but with a lot more space to hang your hammock. Remember to negotiate! Often little bungalow resorts will offer substantial discounts for longer stays of two weeks or more. Look out for hidden costs – does the rate include utilities? If not, what is the unit price for electricity, and is WiFi included?
There’s no shortage of accommodation on Samui, from frugal to fancy, so you can choose what’s right for you – and your budget.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 24th March, 2015.