Oct 02 2012

Is it cheaper to book hotels and guesthouses in Thailand with Agoda?

Published by at 1:09 am under Money & costs


Over the past couple of weeks I stayed at eight hotels and guesthouses on Phuket in Thailand — at Nai Yang and Surin beaches in the north and Phuket Town to the south. For seven of the eight, I booked at least one night through Agoda with an average night costing 838 baht net. Did I save money? Yes. A lot of money? No.

Agoda takes you to Bali and a bunch of other spots in Asia.

Agoda takes you to Bali and a bunch of other spots in Asia.

We here at Travelfish.org are an affiliate of Agoda, meaning we make a commission if hotels are booked through us. So I thought a good experiment would be to see if Agoda’s “best price guarantee” really stands up when compared to what I could get the room at by dealing direct with the guesthouse or hotel.

Of the seven hotels I booked, five were cheaper with Agoda, one was identically priced and one was more expensive. The savings ranged from 35 baht to 300 baht on a single night’s stay; the single case where dealing with the guesthouse was cheaper saved me just 100 baht.

While I’m not going to name the specific guesthouses, here are the price differences.

The numbers add up.

The numbers add up.

As you can see, the average saving was 112 baht. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider the average room cost was only 838 baht. (Prices above are all net).

On top of the cash savings, Agoda has a points system where you get points for each reservation and for any review of a property that you submit to their site. You can accumulate the points and use them as a substitute for cash. The points have a staggered value system, but for most mere mortals who don’t live in hotels permanently, 500 points is worth about 1 dollar.

The above seven nights of stay earned me 4,324 points and, when I get around to writing them, 3,500 points for reviews — for a total of 8,824 points — worth around $16 or 515 baht.

Are the discounts real?
Are the discounts on Agoda real? That’s impossible for me to know for sure, but I assume they’re generally deducted off the hotel rack rates — which nobody in their right mind pays anyway.

I generally ignored the discounts and just shopped by price — I knew I didn’t want to spend more than 1,000 baht a night, so it didn’t matter to me if the room was discounted 50% or not at all.

I have heard a number of stories of hotels jacking up rates then heavily discounting them (not only on Agoda), so unless you know better, I would take some of the advertised discounts with a pinch of salt.

That saved $100 gave us an extra two days on the beach. :)

That saved $100 gave me an extra two days on the beach.

What are the downsides?
The number one downside is that you can’t see the room before you agree to book it. On one occasion the guesthouse was a dump and I wouldn’t have stayed there — and most certainly would not have paid their asking price — but generally I fared okay.

A second problem is that if you’re using a foreign credit card for all these bookings you may be accumulating a bunch of foreign transaction charges that you wouldn’t be if you were just paying in cash upon check-in. Obviously this will depend on your credit card.

Lastly, the goods are not always delivered. I needed WiFi and one place advertised in-room WiFi, but when I showed up and asked after the password they explained that the WiFi didn’t actually work in the rooms and that I needed to use it in the restaurant area. This wasn’t a big deal, but was annoying — and would have probably stopped me from staying there should I have just been a walk-in.

But doesn’t Agoda only do hotels?
No. Their coverage continues to improve in Southeast Asia across all budgets and destinations. Yes, they concentrate on midrange and up properties, and you’ll struggle to book rooms in remote areas, but there is a growing number of budget hotels and guesthouses covered. The most recent change has been the addition of places that offer dorm beds — another move that should assist with budget travellers.

Is it worth using?
If you take my example and stretch it out for a month of travel in Thailand then you could easily be looking at at least $100 in savings (before points for booking and writing reviews). That’s not going to buy you a beach house, but $100 is $100!

Do we use it?
Yes — we use Agoda. Not always of course — in some cases the places we want to stay are not listed there, but when they are, Agoda is how we book.

Further reading
UK travel writer David Whitley has just a few days ago published a similar piece comparing more upmarket hotel prices and asking which hotel booking site has the best deals?

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9 Responses to “Is it cheaper to book hotels and guesthouses in Thailand with Agoda?” ...

  1. Johnon 02 Oct 2012 at 1:59 am

    I’ve started using Agoda also, and so far I’m quite pleased. One place I wanted showed no space for the date I wanted, so I went to Booking.com instead, and the space was available. I also looked up Booking.com on Wiki, and to my surprise, Agoda and Booking.com are owned by the same travel group!

    With Agoda you pay when you book, but you pay nothing when you book on Booking.com for a guaranteed reservation.

  2. Clabbeon 02 Oct 2012 at 11:44 am

    There is always a surcharge at Agoda of 10 or 20 per cent. Did you take this in consideration?

  3. Stuart McDonaldon 02 Oct 2012 at 11:58 am

    Not sure what you mean by a surcharge — the chart above reflects the final amount I paid for the room through Agoda.

  4. CCon 19 Oct 2012 at 2:27 pm

    A lot of hotels on agoda are cheaper. Some are not. but it can be helpful in instances of booking a hotel where language may be an issue. For instance, they have love hotels listed in Seoul. A lot of them are quite nice but to book off the street can be difficult if you don’t speak Korean. In those cases, Agoda is charging you more than going rate but I like to think of it as the translator fee. :)

  5. fondoon 23 Oct 2012 at 5:12 am

    I’ve always liked AsiaRooms in Thailand. The total fee is upfront, so there’s no addition of taxes as you work through the booking. They take your CC number for confirmation but you pay in baht at the hotel.

    Discounts vary – or don’t exist – depending on the hotel so buyer beware, but I’ve always found them pretty good for mid-range hotels and especially for stays of 3 nights.

    Points for me are, well, pointless really.

  6. Eugeneon 13 Nov 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I used Agoda to book some of our accommodation in advance of our trip to Thailand this April with some modest savings. Our biggest saving was on Koh Phangan when I had to find some less rustic accommodation in a hurry as a means of self preservation because my wife wasn’t too happy with where we were staying. We booked a pretty fancy place on the beach for the following day and they were having a sale to try and fill their rooms. We paid about 50% of their direct rate. The closer you are to the date you’re booking for the more likely they are to be having a fire sale to fill the rooms. Not a good strategy though during peak season.

  7. [...] Se sei curioso e mastichi un pò di inglese, puoi leggere questo simpatico articolo proprio sulla convenienza di prenotare una guesthouse in Thailandia con agoda per farti un’ulteriore idea sui lati positivi di questo portale per hotel, basta cliccare qui. [...]

  8. Oslen Jameson 25 Feb 2013 at 11:26 am

    You can’t trust agoda. If you would enjoy best price, try to book via others is much better. Agoda won’t take any responsible for both Hotels and guests. It just made out the money from both. It’d show no room available in any hotel offering it lower commission and offer you other hotels , guesthouses where offer it the best commission. If you’d try to get the hotel directly website, you’d get cheaper price but this works for small hotels, guesthouses. Believe me, my Thai friends said Thai people often do this. They check out from Agoda or other sites and try to book directly and if they can’t , they go to another such as Thaitour or booking but the first one’s better.

  9. Nattyon 27 Aug 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Doesn’t get cheaper from agoda. Because every hotels when I call and ask price straight from the hotel. The answer is same or cheaper than in agoda. Whatever discount % are lie. And we have to pay for service, vat or bahbahbah for agoda. So for me is more expensive. Better to contact the hotel by e-mail. But true that easier to book from agoda. Sorry if my english not good. But I just want to share my experience . :)

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