Still going strong
Set in the somewhat seedy Soi Ngam Dupli area, the Malaysia Hotel is one of those “if these walls could talk” places that hasn’t changed much since first opening its doors in the 1960s. It remains a reasonable and notably gay-friendly choice for those who like their accommodation to come with a few stories attached.
The original owner’s name included the Thai word for “horse” (ma), which he extended to “Ma-laysia” despite having no connection to Thailand’s southern neighbour. The odd name has stood the test of time; the Malaysia is a member of a dwindling club of 1960s-era Bangkok hotels that have survived to this day without undergoing major renovations, name changes or other modernisations.
Indeed, the Malaysia’s six-storey concrete structure has toughed it out through many changes in Bangkok’s tourism scene. In the ’60s and ’70s it mainly catered to US servicemen on R&R from the war in Vietnam, switching to the budget backpacker trade when Lonely Planet guidebooks mentioned it in the ’80s. When the backpacker scene relocated from Soi Ngam Dupli to Khao San Road in the early ’90s, the Malaysia became particularly known for a clientele of gay men.
Today the Malaysia remains a favourite of gay travellers and anyone attempting to relive their 1980s backpacking glory days. Unlike at another of Bangkok’s old-school hotels, The Atlanta, anyone and everyone is welcome at the Malaysia. While the Soi Ngam Dupli area does have a few bars with a seedy feel, it’s far from an all-out sex tourism ghetto. We feel that the Malaysia shouldn’t be considered off limits for most travellers, though we still wouldn’t quite recommend it to families.
We received a very smiley welcome from one of the older women at reception. She was quick to hand us off to a weathered-looking, English-speaking security guard who led us over to the single slow and grumbling lift. The first superior room that we checked out had about as much style as a 1960s hospital room, but it was spacious and clean, with two soft beds, a very large window, small TV, mini-fridge, desk and medium-size hot-water bathroom with a tub.
Our commendably patient host also let us peek into one of the “new rooms” that bag you hardwood floors, newer appliances, LCD TVs and some swirly Thai-style art for an extra 100 baht. All of the rooms come with air-con and aren’t terrible value, though we cringed to see that the Malaysia still charges 100 baht for a day of WiFi, and reports have suggested that the WiFi doesn’t work well beyond the ground floor. On the bright side, you do get a complimentary postcard.
The decent-size swimming pool occupies a secluded corner of the property and is a welcome bonus in this price range. You’ll also find a tour desk and a spacious 24-hour restaurant/bar serving a good selection of breakfast items in the morning and beer towers after dark — not a bad place to hang with friends or write in a journal into the wee hours.
If you like the Soi Ngam Dupli area but would prefer more of a long-stay guesthouse-type place, check out the Penguin House. If a modern hostel setup with private rooms is more your style, head a few doors further up the street to S1 Hostel. If you like the idea of staying in an old-school hotel with a pool and rooms in the 800 to 1,000 baht range, but you don’t like Soi Ngam Dupli, consider the aforementioned Atlanta, the Opera Hotel or the King Royal Garden Inn.
Address: 54 Soi Ngam Dupli, Bangkok
T: (02) 679 7127-36 ; F: (02) 287 1457
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º32'46.84" E, 13º43'19.13" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 600B to 1,500B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Standard single room|
|748 baht||748 baht|
|Standard double room|
|828 baht||828 baht|
|Superior single room|
Plus 100 baht for
|868 baht||868 baht|
|Superior double room|
Plus 100 baht for
|948 baht||948 baht|
|Deluxe single room|
Plus 100 for
|988 baht||988 baht|
|Deluxe double room|
Plus 100 for
|1,068 baht||1,068 baht|
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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