Cheapest rooms right on Khao San
125-127 Khao San Rd, Bangkok T: (02) 281 8441
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Cheap and clean says Lek Guesthouse‘s card, and it’s not far from the truth. If they added noisy and basic as can be, it’d be right on the money. This is definitely not a luxury joint, but backpackers hunting for a dirt-cheap room smack in the middle of the Khao San craziness should look no further. Light sleepers, early risers and, strange as it sounds, Thai travellers, should look elsewhere.
Sporting a massive Singha Beer billboard and situated beside some of Khao San’s rowdiest bars, Lek’s faded concrete block has served cheap beds to backpackers for many years. Two narrow flights of stairs take you up to a cluttered reception area that doubles as the elderly owner’s living room. A Chinese shrine sits next to an old TV in the corner; faded portraits of Thai monks adorn the walls; a two-year-old naps on the floor, surrounded by stuffed animals and blankets.
One of the first things you notice is a warning scribed on the wall in black marker: “Thai people are not allowed in this place (FINE 2,000 baht).”
Is this discrimination? On the surface, yes, but the Thai owner says that the only Thais she’s ever seen here are bar girls/sex workers who accompany men back to their rooms. Walls are thin, and guests have fled due to raunchy sounds from the room next door. Does this warrant a blanket ban on Thais? We think not.
Low-budget backpackers, on the other hand, fill up Lek’s basic but notably clean rooms covering the upper floors. All are cooled by ceiling fans and come only with hard beds, worn linens, fake wood-panel walls, small tables and a single window. While every room gets its share of the nightlife noise, those in front are practically on top of the usually-thumping Khao San Centre Bar across the street.
Rooms do not have electrical outlets, though gadgets can be charged in reception. Shared bath facilities on each floor are among the most basic we’ve seen; toilets have no seat covers and only some bathrooms have showerheads dangling from the walls. Others have only a water spout and bucket. It’s also a small number of bathrooms for quite a few rooms — expect to wait in line at times.
So what makes Lek any better or different from the multitude of cheap guesthouses on Khao San? In a word: it’s cheaper. In fact, it’s the cheapest option right on Khao San Road itself. The location is also ideal for anyone wanting an easy stumble back to their room, and the owner is a lot friendlier than the jaded staffs that are typical of Khao San. Unless you’re Thai, that is.
If you’re after a dirt-cheap private room that doesn’t vibrate along with neighbouring bars until 02:00, New Central, RM and Apple are worth considering. Otherwise you might opt for a cheap hostel, like Born Free or Skyline.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 22nd November, 2015.