Flash bunks in the business district
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One of Bangkok’s best all-round hostels, the well-equipped Saphai Pae has a great reputation and convenient location in the Sathorn business district. The Thai name translates as “backpacker,” and indeed this is a fine choice for budget travellers or flashpackers seeking plentiful common spaces.
The nine-storey cement building on Surasak Road housed a number of gemstone dealers until it was transformed into a hostel in 2010. Found on upper floors with locally inspired themes like “Siam” and “Yaowarat,” life-size displays include the front half of a tuk tuk, a mini muay Thai ring and murals depicting famous Bangkok landmarks. The design is sort of all over the place — more gap-year explosion than sleek flashpacker — and the building lacks the intimacy of many other Bangkok hostels.
On the other hand, Saphai Pae possibly boasts the best common facilities of any Bangkok hostel, including a bar, restaurant, lounge, tour desk, billiards table, plenty of free communal computers, several TV rooms, outdoor garden patios with loungers and tables, free WiFi, “plus size” lockers and coin-op laundry. Cleanliness always appears to be well looked after and a lift takes you up to the different floors, including some that are for women only.
With its comfy couches, private corners and funky atmosphere, the ground-floor lobby/lounge/restaurant makes for a great place to kick back and read, chat or surf the net. You should definitely have opportunities to meet people, but those seeking a lively social scene would be better served by Lub d Silom. On a few different visits, we’ve found Saphai Pae’s staff to be either smiley and helpful or straight-faced and standoffish.
A total of 64 bunks are spread out in spacious dorm rooms, with each bed featuring a soft mattress with fresh linens, reading light and electrical outlet, but no privacy curtains. Shared bathrooms (male and female) are simple but large, clean and modern — you certainly won’t need to wait around for a sink. Many different dorm rooms are available in mixed or women-only. A bunk in a 10-bed room comes in at 400 baht while a three-bed edition tops out at 470.
A couple of private rooms with shared bath and no TVs or fridges that sleep up to four are also available for 1,700 baht. These are spacious, simple and clean with large windows, making them solid options for small groups wanting some privacy.
On the higher floors you’ll find similarly sized but better appointed deluxe and superior rooms (the deluxe is a little bigger) with comfy queen beds, TVs, fridges, in-room safes and attached polished concrete bathrooms with enough space to swing a cat. In the 1,400 to 1,600 baht range, Saphai Pae’s privates constitute competitive flashpacker value. If you don’t need the fridge, the privates at Silom Art Hostel are similar and cost a few hundred baht less.
Saphai Pae’s location is solid, putting you within a 10-minute walk of historic Sri Mariamman temple, a clutch of good Indian restaurants and street food, and the vibrant atmosphere of Silom Road. Nearby Surasak BTS station can whisk you to the central Chao Phraya express boat pier after just one stop, or an interchange with the MRT after two stops. Saphai Pae is (for good reason) one of Bangkok’s top-rated hostels, so it’s wise to book ahead, especially if wanting a private room.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 12th February, 2016.