2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
Updated on 25th January, 2013. First published 1st March, 2009
This story has been updated. Please check the Top Bangkok Hostels for 2014 story here, or read on! In February 2009, we spent just shy of a couple of weeks wandering the streets of Bangkok, knocking on doors and checking out rooms looking for the best guesthouses in town. The scene has changed a lot since our previous story on this and there's no shortage of fine places to stay, especially in the flashpacker bracket. While Khao San Road remains the epicentre of the backpacker scene, there is an increasing selection of places to stay elsewhere in the city that fit the backpacker and independent traveller mold. So read on to discover our pick for the 10 best guesthouses and hostels in Bangkok.
1) Sam Sen Sam Place
Set just a five to 10-minute wander from Khao San Road, Sam Sen Sam Boutique House takes the top spot from our long-running #1 recommendation Shambara Boutique Guesthouse. Set in a restored 100-year old house, Sam Sen Sam Place boasts pretty much everything you'd be looking for in a boutique guesthouse. It has a homely, family-run vibe and excellent rooms (we were only able to see a deluxe as everything else was full) with spotless bathrooms, and there's also a small garden area to relax in. Set a good way down a very quiet soi, you'll sleep well here. Family friendly, this is an allround outstanding option in the area. For the standard, the prices are an absolute steal. Highly recommended.
Sam Sen Sam Place: 48 Samsen Rd Soi 3, Banglamphu, Bangkok. T: (02) 628 7067 F: (02) 628 7887. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
2) Shambara Boutique Guesthouse
Shambara is now closed -- we're keeping it here just because we miss it so much!
3) Phra Nakorn Norn Len
We'd go as far as to say that once you've stayed here, you'll never stay anywhere else in Bangkok again. Set in a refurbished motel, Phra Nakorn Norn Len is priced firmly in the flashpacker price range but remains spectacular value. Each room has been decorated in its own unique style and comes with private hand-made bathrooms. (yes, you read that correctly), CD player and in-room WiFi. Grounds are lush and chilled out and the rooftop boasts views of nearby Wat Indravihaan (if you've ever taken a "free" tuk tuk chances are you've stood at the foot of this colossal standing Buddha). The rooftop area also includes the hostel's very own organic vegetable garden. The location is a good 20-minute stroll from Khao San Road, in a very "local" area simply overflowing with eateries. It is not easy to find -- bring a map! Exceedingly friendly and helpful staff round out what is a highly recommended splurge.
Phra Nakorn Norn Len: 46 Thawet Soi 1, Krungkasem Rd, Thawet, Bangkok. T: (02) 628 8188-90. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
4) SleepWithInn / Rikka Inn
Rikka Inn and SleepWithInn are so similar we're bunching them together. The former is a block off Khao San Road on Soi Rambuttri while the latter is smack bang in the centre of the action on Khao San Road. SleepWithInn is brand-spanking-new while Rikka has been around for a while now. They both fall into the bright and functional style of hostel category. Rooms are air-con with private bathroom and an occasional flourish, but the real selling point for both properties are the rooftop swimming pools -- that you can stay right on Khao San Road and have a swimming pool for 600B is a steal. Of the two, SleepWithInn is the better option, only because it is newer and hasn't begun to age yet. Both are very popular, backpacker factories almost, so don't expect a lot in friendly personalised service, but if you're after a clean room, central location and a swimming pool, these are excellent bets.
Rikka Inn: 259 Khao San Rd, Banglamphu, Bangkok. T: (02) 282 7511. F: (02) 629 5454. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
SleepWithInn: 76 Rambuttri Rd, Banglamphu, Bangkok. T: (02) 280 3070. F: (02) 280 3071. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
5) Chada Guesthouse
If the above all have you rolling your eyes at the cost, then look no further than Chada Guesthouse. A totally refurbished hostel, you can score a really clean air-con single room with shared facilities for just 200B here. There are cheaper beds on Khao San, but we thought this was worth the extra baht. Run by a squad of energetic young Thais, they're a friendly bunch, asking us if we wanted to share their lunch before they showed us the rooms. The place has a fun, backpacker vibe to it and while there's no restaurant, there are around 17 million places to eat on Khao San Road. The location, right at the corner of Trok Mayom and Tanao Roads, gets more than its fair share of traffic noise, so go for a room on a higher floor. If you're on a tight budget but don't want to go super grunge, then this is a fine option.
Chada Guesthouse: Trok Mayom, Banglamphu, Bangkok. T: (084) 343 7950.
View Larger Map
6) Villa Cha Cha
Firmly in the flashpacker market, Villa Cha Cha is hidden away between Rambuttri and Tani Roads, a five-minute walk from Khao San Road. The main attraction is the moderately-sized swimming pool, the garden setting that surrounds it, and some quite smart lodgings. The 79 rooms are a cut above the pack in this price range. They're well decorated and the bathrooms are absolutely immaculate, and in the room we saw, quite spacious. Facilities include in-room WiFi access, keycard security, minibar and cable TV. Both the hotel's grounds and rooms are surprisingly quiet, so if you're a light sleeper, this could be a good choice. Staff are amenable and helpful. Overall this is pretty good flashpacking value for the area and if you're looking for a compact, quiet option, you could do much worse than here.
Villa Cha Cha: 36 Tani Rd, Banglamphu, Bangkok. T: (02) 280 1025. F: (02) 280 1024. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
7) Refill Now
If you're looking for somewhere out near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, then look no further than Refill Now, which sits about a 20-minute cab ride from the airport. This trendy spot has dorms along with private rooms, all with shared facilities. Both options -- rooms and dorms -- are absolutely immaculate. There's also a funky restaurant and cafe area, small pool and top-floor massage centre -- what more could you need? Set way out towards the end of Sukhumvit Road, it's easy to make the mistake of thinking you're off in a backwater, when in fact you're within easy distance of both the BTS Skytrain and khlong boat systems, which together bring all the city within easy reach.
Refill Now: 191 Soi Pridi Bhanomyong 42 Yak 5, Sukhumvit Soi 71, Bangkok. T: (02) 713 2044 Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
8) Lub d Bangkok and HQ Hostel
Yes, another double listing -- but hey Bangkok has a lot to offer in the way of great places to stay. Both Lub d and HQ Hostel, located in the Silom Road area of Bangkok, fall into the distinct trendy flashpacker bracket -- with the prices to match. Of the two HQ Hostel has the slighly better location, but overall we'd say Lub d has the better facilities. Both are chasing that bare metal and concrete industrial feel, so don't expect the painted daises and soft colours of Phra Nakorn Norn Len. Both have lots of open common areas and are totally fitted out for wired-in travellers. They also both offer decidely flash double rooms with private bathrooms -- again Lub d has the better offering -- but at the prices both are asking for the doubles, a hotel is better value. That said, if you're chasing that hostel vibe, you'll be very comfortable in either. They're fun and social, and when we visited, full of young travellers getting ready to explore.
HQ Hostel: 5/3-4 Silom Soi 3, Bangrak, Bangkok. T: (02) 233 1598. F: (02) 233 9657. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
Lub d: 4 Decho Rd, Bangrak, Bangkok. T: (02) 634 7999. F: (02) 634 7510. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
9) New Road Guest House
Also in the Silom Road area, New Road Guest House is on a small soi running off Charoen Krung Road by the Chao Phraya River. While it lacks the polish of Lub d and HQ Hostel, it more than makes up for it in the backpacker vibe department -- this is one social joint. There are two bars (one rooftop), a large common area, some outdoor seating, oodles of travel and tour information (the guesthouse is associated with a European tour company) and the prices are rock bottom. If you're a lone traveller looking to meet up with others, but don't want to head to Khao San, this might be what the doctor ordered. While they boast of having the cheapest dorms in Bangkok, we'd qualify that by saying they've got the cheapest habitable dorms in Bangkok. Location is excellent, a short walk from Silom and the river, and a 10-minute walk to the closest BTS skytrain station.
New Road Guest House: 1216/1 Charoen Krung Rd, Bangrak, Bangkok. T: (02) 630 6994-8. F: (02) 237 1102. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
10) Wendy House
Set in another district altogether, long-running Wendy House is spitting distance to the heart of Bangkok's shopping scene around MBK and Siam Square. Located on the blip of a soi, Soi Kasem San 1, a block away from Jim Thompson's House, Wendy House has friendly, helpful staff who offered some very straight advice when we asked after some activities in the area. The common area has a small library -- including travel guides, postcards for sale, newspapers to peruse, Nancy Chandler maps on the walls and phone cards for sale. All around it's the most full-service, best for chilling out in the lobby, guesthouse on the soi. Rooms are all air-con, well sized, clean and functional and while they'll not win any design awards, they're more than adequate. All rooms include free in-room WiFi access, but on the downside the mattresses are super soft. If you're looking for a reasonably priced hostel, close to Bangkok's main shopping district and within easy walking distance of the BTS Skytrain, Wendy House should be on your shortlist.
Wendy House: 36/2 Soi Kasem San 1, Rama 1 Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok. T: (02) 214 1149-50. F: (02) 612 3487. Check discounted rates at Agoda.com
So that's our top 9 Bangkok hostels for 2009 (Shambara sniff sniff, ok, top 11, we admit it). But don't be shy -- there are stacks of other places to choose from so be sure to peruse our detailed accommodation listings for the various districts of Bangkok:
Khao San Road & surrounds
Sukhumvit Road (low sois)
Sukhumvit Road (high sois)
If there's somewhere you reckon belongs on this list, use the comment box below to tell us all about it!
Related reading2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
Read 5 comment(s)
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (12)
- All stories
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma (8)
- Cambodia (22)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- A honeymoon in Cambodia
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking in Virachey National Park
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Which Cambodian island is right for you?
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (14)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- Pasola, Sumba
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (16)
- All stories
- A breeze through Luang Prabang
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- Temples in Luang Prabang
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- Malaysia (7)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (73)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 31 Thai islands
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Five days in Khao Lak, Thailand
- Floating markets around Bangkok
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Learning Muay Thai in Bangkok
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay at Railay Bay, Thailand
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (31)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Sapa or Bac Ha?
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (21)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The best hostels in Bangkok 2014
- The best places to stay on Ko Chang, Thailand
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (15)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Christmas and New Years in Southeast Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (16)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.