You can find all sorts of accommodation in Thailand. They vary from the absolute pits up to beautiful 5 star resorts. It all boils down to how long you’re going for and how long you need to stretch your money for. Obviously if money is no object then you can live like royalty. I usually break my money down into a daily budget and allow myself a certain amount per day. I divide it into money for accommodation and money for food and booze. Accommodation always wins, only because food and booze is so cheap.
For the traveller on a tight budget and doesn’t mind sharing a dormitory with complete strangers, then you can pay as little as £5 per night. For the person on a reasonable budget then you can find bungalows and hotels that sleep up to 3 or 4 people with prices that range from £15-£50. It is worth knowing that accommodation in Thailand is charged by the room and not per person, so room prices can be shared by as many as you are allowed to share with.
Bungalows are my favourite as they are usually detached and are more private then an average hotel room. They are usually situated around the resorts garden and some directly on the beach. Staying in a bungalow feels like you’re in a mini house, I love sitting out on my balcony chilling out and listening to music in the evenings. Obviously they vary in style, size and condition but you can find some really amazing ones if you are willing to walk around for a bit until you find a little gem.
Finding decent accommodation in Thailand can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare, I say this because a lot of hotels and resorts are quite old and are rarely updated. This isn’t the case with all but I’d say 50% of places out there could do with refurbishment. If you’re not the fussy type then you’ll have nothing to worry about but for those who are a bit precious about cleanliness and their surroundings be prepared for a bit of walking.
I would always recommend using TripAdvisor before booking any accommodation in Thailand. Make sure you read the reviews and look at traveller posted photos, this should give you a realistic idea of what the hotel is really like. All of the photos posted on agents sites like Agoda and Booking.com have been professionally taken and no doubt Photoshopped, they hardly ever resemble the actual hotel when you arrive.
Unless I have stayed at a hotel before then I never book accommodation for more than one night as I like to make sure that its OK once I get there. In the past I have arrived at some places to find that the room is next to a building site, in a really noisy part of town or just a really bad room. So staying for one night is usually bearable and you have the opportunity to look for something more to your liking or to simply change your room for another. Obviously, if you are happy with it then you can arrange with the staff to stay longer.
If you’re arriving at your destination after dark or late then I would always suggest booking a room online before you get there. The last thing that you want after a long flight is to be wandering around with your back pack looking for a decent hotel, so again I would book somewhere that looks decent for one night and if it turns out to be OK then you can stay longer, if not then you can find another.
This is the method that I use when booking accommodation.
I use Agoda most of the time, there are similar sites like Booking.com or Trivago but Agoda specializes in Asia so I have always used them. You can narrow down your search by area and use filters such as by price, must have a pool or close to the beach which is quite useful.
Once you have seen a few in the area that you like I would suggest that you search for them in TripAdvisor to read the reviews and to look at the traveller posted photos. Agoda also has hotel reviews but I find that TripAdvisors are more accurate. If you are happy with them then you can save them to your favourites or make a note of the name, so when you arrive you can physically go and check them out one by one before you decide. Always ask to see an actual room before making your final decision.
TIP: When using Agoda ignore the “Only 1 room left” notification that flashes next to the room, this is a ploy to get you to book in haste. they have loads of rooms.
Once you have decided on which resort or hotel you want to stay you then have to get down to paying, always have the price from Agoda at the ready because in most cases the hotel will be more expensive than the Agoda price. This is because of the agreement the hotels have with the likes of Agoda; they have to advertise at a more expensive rate than them to passing trade. Always try to negotiate with the hotel and ask to pay the same price as Agoda as some ignore this rule and will offer you the room for the same price as the advertised Agoda price. In instances when they don’t, simply use your smart phone or find an internet cafe (they are everywhere) to book it with Agoda which instantly books your room and send the hotel conformation straight away. Don’t feel like you might annoy the hotel staff, people do it all of the time and I don’t think they mind but at the same time don’t waltz back in all cocky as if you have got one up on them.
TIP: When booking with Agoda always make sure that the room you are booking is the same type of room that you had been shown, for example if you were shown a deluxe make sure that you book a deluxe room.