2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok

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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.

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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
Siam Square
Silom Road
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!

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Read 5 comment(s)

  • I know its not a guesthouse, but I have to suggest that you check out the JL Hotel out on Ramkamhaeng. It is a great deal for a small, independent hotel.

    Posted by kevwc on 4th May, 2009

  • I was recommended Sam Sen Sam Place by a friend and am joyful for it. Close enough to Khso San Raod, yet far away to have a tranquility that is much to be appreciated. the Staff are more like family, who have an attention to detail that has been unrivalled in my thailand travels. the rooms and common areas are clean, the beds comfortable. There is food available for the times you couldn't be bothered to go out. I couldn't be happier to find such a lovely place... a haven in bangkok.

    5 stars

    Posted by Kerry on 28th May, 2009

  • my favourite guest house in bangkok is the sri ayuttaya hostel in thewses, clean, friendly and cheap! the right choice for backpackers and travelers.

    Posted by thailand on 3rd July, 2009

  • hi, don't we have any top guesthouses or hotels in and around Pratunam area? It's also good if this site can present list of top guesthouses/hostels per area (ie. Pratunam, Khao San, Sukhumvit, Silom, etc)

    Posted by Ivy Frances on 1st September, 2012

  • This is a bit out of date now, but just to note Shambara has been open again for a while now, just under the new name Tai Derm Hostel. The rooms are exactly as before - which is great, if a tad small - and the food is awesome. Hugely recommended, a real oasis on Khaosan like it always was.

    Posted by Chris Wotton on 7th May, 2013

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