Where to Stay in Thailand?
First of all, thanks for planning a vacation to Thailand. It’s been my home for over 20 years, so I understand the appeal. :-)
It’s one of the most popular destinations worldwide for tourists. The main reason being the variety of possibilities on offer for visitors. Whether you want to enjoy the beaches; take in vibrant city life; explore ancient history; party like rock star or just soak in some awesome scenery, Thailand has something to for everyone.
At this stage of your planning you’ve probably made the decision to come here and will have some ideas about where you want to go. The good news is that traveling in Thailand is a piece of cake. Regardless of where you want to go you will find multiple travel options. You can get to the four corners of the kingdom by bus, plane, train or private car easily.
There’s no need to limit yourself to staying in just one area of Thailand. For example, it’s easy to split a 2 week holiday and spend half the time exploring temples and hill country and half the time chilling on a beach. I’ve included some of the main tourist destinations in this guide of the best places to stay in Thailand.
A lot of people make the mistake of over-planning their holiday, right down to exactly what day they will eat at which restaurant and go on which trip or tour.
And if you’re the type of person who’s out and about all day & only uses their room for sleeping at night, then keep costs down by booking a good budget option. There’s no point paying for facilities and amenities that you aren’t going to make use of.
That really isn’t necessary.
Where to eat and what to see and do can wait until you’re here. But you will need to find a place to stay. To help you make a shortlist of where to stay in Thailand, you can use this list of the best places to stay in the main tourist hot spots.
For each location I have added a few options for the best places to stay in locations around Thailand. These are in various categories to suit different styles of travelling. Including luxury resorts; hotels for families, boutique resorts and wallet-friendly budget hostels and bungalows.
In the course of running Thailand based travel websites for 15+ years, I’ve traveled to all corners of Thailand and stayed everywhere from backpacker dormitories to some of the best hotels in the country. And whilst I haven’t stayed at every place listed here, there are a few of my favorites in there.
Let’s take a look and start in the capital city . . .
The Best Places to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok can be overwhelming for first time visitors. In fact many people either love it and return yearly. Or hate it and just see the temples and main sights and swear never to return. As they prefer to spend their vacation away from the big city life.
Getting around the city is much easier nowadays thanks to the overhead railway (skytrain) and new subway system. Public riverboat services are also a great way to see some local life and there are of course taxis and tuk-tuks on hand wherever you go.
If temples, old town areas and the grand palace are high on your agenda then look at hotels in the Khao San Road, riverside or Chinatown areas. If you prefer shopping, nightlife and a huge choice of international and Thai food then Siam Square, Ploenchit or Sukhumvit would be better areas to stay.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (☆☆☆☆☆)
The old and the new. The Oriental is the oldest and most famous hotel in Bangkok. Stay for the quintessential luxury hotel experience. It’s a world renowned riverside refuge away from the hustle and bustle. No list of the best hotels in Bangkok would be complete without the Oriental which has seen off competition from newer, more hip rivals.
The fact that there is still a market for the refined elegance The Mandarin Oriental offers is testament to its winning formula. Everyone should try to stay here once during their trips to Thailand.
Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit (☆☆☆☆☆)
Across town, on the busy Sukhumvit Road, one of the city’s newest five star hotels has been racking up rave reviews. Go for the Carlton Sukhumvit for state of the art comfort and facilities a stones throw from the best shopping and nightlife areas. It’s a very modern hotel with classic touches of elegance. The downtonw location makes it a great choice as there’s something for everyone on the doorstep.
You’ll find hole in the wall noodle stalls and fine dining from around the world all within walking distance. plus plenty of nightlife and shopping.
Ibis Riverside (☆☆☆)
It’s not easy to find hotels with a bit of garden space in central Bangkok. Nor is it easy to find one away from traffic nice and pollution. The Ibis Riverside offers both of those. Compact, value for money Family rooms are from 3,000 Baht / night.
This three star hotel is just a few minutes walk to the riverboat pier and from there it’s easy to head into the city centre. Siam Icon, the newest mall in the city centre, is just 5 minutes drive by taxi or tuk-tuk.
Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 (☆☆☆☆)
In central Bangkok, on Sukhumvit road, Novotel Sukhumvit 20 has spacious Family rooms smack in the city centre. All the facilities you need including a kids club and large pool. Only 5 minutes walk to malls and the skytrain station. Plus a huge choice of restaurants on your doorstep. It’s a good location for families who want to be able to get around the city easily during the day by skytrain and also stretch their legs and walk to shops and restaurants in the evening.
The Best Boutique Hotels in Bangkok
1905 Heritage Corner (☆☆☆)
1905 Heritage Corner comprises two converted shophouses and has just three rooms. It’s located in the historic old town area. But not far temples, markets and The Grand Palace. This lovingly restored boutique hotel is a treasure trove of handmade arts and crafts sourced from villages across Thailand.
The design and interior décor and furnishings are based on blending its original purpose, a teahouse for the merchant-class gentry, with the comfort and facilities sought by international tourists.
Chakrabongse Villa (☆☆☆☆☆)
Chakrabongse Villas is located on the bank of the Chaophraya river in the center of old Bangkok. It is within walking distance of The Grand Palace and Wat Po. Accommodation comprises of just four individual suites, set in a lush tropical garden with a spacious swimming pool.
However it is the history of the house that sets it apart. It was built in 1908 by HRH Prince Chakrabongse and was originally used when he attended royal ceremonies at the Grand Palace. The house is today owned by his Grand-daughter.
You aren’t going to find anywhere else where you can stay in an old palace and be waited on hand and foot, literally like royalty. Chakrabongse Villa is worthy of a place in this rundown of the best hotels in Thailand.
The Best Budget Hotels in Bangkok
Thanabhumi doesn’t appear on most lists of the best inexpensive places to stay. The only reason I can think of is because it’s not a cool, funky, stylish place. But it’s friendly, modern, clean, and has all the amenities you need. Plus the rooms are larger than most budget hotels offer.
The location is also good, off the main road and by a small canal a few minutes walk north of Khao San Road. It’s also a steal at well under 1,000 Baht/night. That includes a free all day breakfast in the top floor communal lounge which has views over the neighbourhood.
Yim Bangkok Hostel (☆☆)
However, if you’re looking for a hostel that you can use as a backdrop for your Instagram photos then Yim Hostel, just north of the city centre fits the bill. The interiors are decorated for young and energetic travelers.
There are photo and art galleries and two large common areas for guests to hangout. The hostel is located close to Huay Kwang subway station. This is away from the main tourist areas but the subway line loops around the city centre making it easy to take the train to Chatuchak weekend market in the north or down to Chinatown and the riverside area to the southwest.
The Best Hotels for a Night near Bangkok Airport
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel (☆☆☆☆)
By far the most convenient place to stay if you’re arriving at night or catching an early flight is the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel. It’s connected to the airport terminal by an underground tunnel. So guests can either take the free hotel shuttle bus or stretch their legs with a 5 minute walk between the terminal and the hotel lobby.
Stay here and avoid the stress and hassle of taxi rides and traffic jams when either arriving in Bangkok or departing.
At Residence Suvarnabhumi (☆☆)
If you don’t need the 4 star comforts the Novotel offers, you’ll find a myriad of inexpensive hotels within 15 minutes drive of the airport. Most are just bland, box-like hotel rooms. But At Residence Suvarnabhumi offers something a little more stylish and unique.
They have made the rooms feel very cosy, bright and welcoming. And for around 1,200 Baht/night you get everything you need – a swimming pool, free WIFI, cable TV, air-con, toiletries etc. The homey villas, which cost just a little more, are also a nice touch.
Not many people will imagine spending their first or last night in Bangkok in a wooden cabin. Two shopping malls, Robinsons and Paseo Mall are within walking distance of At Residence, these have a huge variety of shops and restaurants. At Residence is overwhelmingly popular with guests. There are over 5,500 reviews on booking.com with an average score of 9/10.
The Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the largest city in the north of Thailand. It’s a busy, bustling city but at it’s heart is the old walled town area which is home to over 30 temples. Visitors will find a good mix of the traditional and the contemporary. Chiang Mai offers excellent value for money accommodation plus amazing Thai food and local specialties.
In addition to exploring the old town, most visitors will also use it as a base to explore the surrounding mountains and countryside. There are some excellent drives in this area of Thailand and paved roads up into the mountain areas where you will come across hill tribe villages. I’d recommend anyone who enjoys culture, food and adventure tourism to spend a few days in Chiang Mai.
However, far more visitors are choosing to stay in the city long term. it is Thailand’s digital nomad hub. So has a lot of co-working spaces, laid back coffee shops and bars and inexpensive longterm accommodation.
To experience the Chiang Mai’s more modern side, stay in the Nimmanhaemin Road area. This is where you’ll find hip boutiques, art galleries and funky coffee shops.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort (☆☆☆☆☆)
The Anantara Chiang Mai is located in spacious grounds on the banks of the Ping river, which lends it to have a resort feel. However it is also just a 20 minute stroll from the old town area, giving it the convenience of a city centre hotel.
The hotel’s accommodation is built around a wooden building which used to be the British Consulate. This meticulously restored building is now home to the resorts bars and restaurants. Guests wishing to relive the colonial days can also enjoy afternoon tea on the veranda of old consulate building.
I was fortunate enough to stay here a few years ago and the riverside pool is the ideal place to cool off after a long day sightseeing. The buffet breakfast is also something else. The only downside I could think of back then was the lack of electrical sockets in the bedroom. (If you’re travelling with phones, laptop, ipad, cameras etc, then getting everything charged overnight can be a hassle.)
Chala Number 6 (☆☆☆☆☆)
For anyone wanting to stay in the heart of the old town itself, Chala Number 6 is a stunning hotel. It is located across the road from the historic Wat Chedi Luang temple. The hotel was designed to be in keeping with the traditional Lanna style.
Like living compounds in days past, Chala Number 6’s buildings are built around a central courtyard / communal area. At the centre is a swimming pool and a traditional wooden rice barn which has been re-purposed for use as a restaurant and bar. Cultural activities and arts and crafts are also held here each day. All this and a huge choice of local shops, cosy cafes and historic sights within easy walking or cycling distance.
The Best Hotels for Families in Chiang Mai
POR Thapae Gate (☆☆☆)
The only thing many families have in common is that they are looking for a Family room whilst on holiday. With just two picks I can’t cover all the bases, so here are two totally different hotels where the only things they have in common are the great reviews and their Family rooms.
POR Thapae Gate is a small modern hotel with just 31 rooms. Four of which are spacious family rooms that can sleep 4 people. These are great value for money at around 2,500 Baht/night. It’s in a great location just 2 minutes walk from the famous Thapae Gate in Chiang Mai centre.
All the main attractions are within easy walking distance plus a multitude of shops and restaurants. The hotel also features a large common area which also includes a kitchen for guests to use.
Baan Boo Loo Village (☆☆)
And as a total contrast, why not stay in an old wooden house?
Baan Boo Loo village is a green oasis tucked away down a side-street near Wat Pra Singh temple, in the heart of the old town area. Guests are mostly couples and families who are looking for somewhere totally different to a regular hotel stay. It’s not a sport for anyone who wants to party. Accommodation is in a choice of old teak wood houses. The larger ones have two bedrooms and are ideal for families.
It’s a place where guests can talk to the owners and learn about the history of the area and Thai culture.
The Best Boutique Hotels in Chiang Mai
137 Pillars House (☆☆☆☆☆)
137 Pillars House is a stunning 30 room hotel situated on the eastern bank of the Ping river, around 15 minutes walk from the old town area. It’s a faithful recreation of early 20th century elegance and sophistication. The owners employed historians and conservation specialists to ensure that the design was faithful to the time.
This is a 5 star boutique hotel with the emphasis on personal service. Guests all have their own butler who will make any arrangements they require and generally do their utmost to ensure the perfect say. It’s pretty expensive, but if you aren’t on a tight budget and want to indulge yourself, then definitely worth considering.
Pastell Old Town (☆☆)
In the centre of the old town area is Pastell Old Town Chiangmai, which is a bit more friendly on your wallet. This is a recently opened modern boutique hotel featuring 35 cozy rooms in pastel themed colors and locally made hardwood furnishings. The lobby features traditional Lanna-style woven fabrics and brass ornaments.
From here, you can walk to many places of interest, such as popular weekend night markets and famous temples such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. It’s a value for money boutique hotel in an ideal location to explore the city centre on foot or by bicycle.
The Best Budget Hotels in Chiang Mai
The Entaneer Poshtel (☆)
The Entaneer Poshtel is a beautifully designed, family run hostel. It’s a very stark design with lots of bare concrete, red brick and glass. Accommodation is mostly in large dormitory rooms. Some of these have pod style double beds with privacy curtains which are idea for couples on a budget – no more bunk beds.
There’s a large communal bar and restaurant and garden area which is home to regular BBQ and dinner parties and live music events. Breakfast is basic – the usual hostel style toast and coffee is included in the price. But as you’re so close to a wide range of local restaurants and coffeeshops, that’s not a deal breaker. Dorm beds from around 500 Baht/night.
Sleep Guesthouse (☆)
If you prefer more of a guesthouse vibe than communal hostel, check out Sleep Guesthouse just south of the old town area. The owners have renovated a couple of shophouses and made an excellent value for money ensuite rooms.
These go for under 1,000 Baht/night during high season. They are sparsely, but tastefully furnished, and are spotlessly clean. Guests love the breakfasts here and the helpful Western & Thai owners.
The Best Places to Stay in Phuket
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and has been welcoming tourists since the 1970s. As such, the island has a huge arrange of accommodation scattered around numerous beaches and also in inland areas and Phuket town itself. You’ll find something to suit you whether you’re a backpacker on a budget, a flashpacker looking to party, a couple looking for a romantic hideaway or a family in need of an activity filled vacations.
Phuket town is a cool place to stay and explore the old town area with it’s myriad of narrow streets lined with colonial style buildings, many of which have been tastefully renovated. Patong is the busiest beach and the main place to party on the island.
Kata beach is a quieter version of Patong. With all the conveniences you need including good nightlife, within walking distance but with fewer visitors and large package tour resorts than Patong.
Karon beach is a superb beach but without the crowds of Patong and Kata. It’s a much more laid back with just a couple of villages at the northern and southern ends of the beach. A good choice if you just want to chill out.
Kamala beach is a good choice for families. For many pears it was a popular Scandinavian hangout but has now been discovered by other visitors too. The beach isn’t as attractive as Kata or Karon but it has a less touristy, more Thai feel to it.
Finally, Bangtao beach where most accommodation is in the Laguna Phuket Complex which is home to five large luxury resorts. Guests at these resorts have access to facilities at the other resorts. So there’s no danger of getting bored with the same view each day. Don’t like the pool or gym at the Dusit Thani? Try the one at the Banyan Tree, Outrigger or Angsana resort instead. There’s also a very good choice of restaurants inside and outside the resorts and all the activities you could wish for are on offer if you get bored of sunbathing and swimming.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Phuket
Sri Panwa Phuket Luxury Pool Villa Hotel (☆☆☆☆☆)
Sri Panwa occupies a prime hillside spot on a peninsula in the south of Phuket island. It’s a sprawling resort with accommodation is suites and huge pool villas which are dotted across the jungle-covered peninsula.
Sri Panwa has long been a favourite hangout of celebrities looking to avoid attention on vacation. If it’s good enough for George Clooney, Snoop Dogg and Leonardo Dicaprio, then it’s probably good enough for you.
Having said all that, beach access is limited so it’s more a resort to get away from it all than one where you take long walks on the sand. On the plus side the resort has a fleet of private yachts that can take you to any beach or island in the vicinity.
As far as dining goes, the highlight is the Baba Nest rooftop pool bar, which is rated as one of the best in Asia. You won’t find a more stunning setting for a sunset cocktail.
Banyan Tree (☆☆☆☆☆)
Still in the five star category, but for a more sensible price, Banyan Tree Resort is a longstanding favorite. Located in the huge Laguna Phuket Complex, it’s a good choice for couples and families who want lots of open space and a wide range of facilities and activities. Accommodation is in private pool villas and free bicycles are provided for guests to explore the area. This includes the neighbouring resorts whose facilities guests can also use.
There beach is around 5 minutes walk form the rooms and is always pretty quiet. A world away from the craziness of Patong beach. Outside the resort you’ll find a wide range of shops and restaurants.
The Best Hotels for Families in Phuket
Rosewood Phuket (☆☆☆☆)
Rosewood is ideally located just a few minutes drive from Patong beach. Far enough away to be out of earshot of the crowds, bard and parties. But close enough so that a night out or an afternoon shopping trip with the family is very easy to do.
At first glance Rosewood appears to be one of those luxurious adults only resorts, but it is surprisingly child (and pet) friendly. Dogs get better treatment here than many humans do at some resorts – with a bed, bowl, water, toy and a homemade treat provided. Plus a dog-walking service, puppy menu, pet beds and in-room doggie dining menu available.
As far as kids go, under 12’s stay free in their parent’s room. And there’s the Rosewood Explorers Club with indoor clubhouse. This offers a huge range of activities. Everything from arts and crafts to cooking classes to an indoor climbing wall and Muay Thai. All in all a great place for parents to chill out and be sure that their kids are safe and being kept occupied.
My Beach Resort (☆☆☆☆)
Down in the south of Phuket, My Beach Resort is tucked away in a quiet spot with a private beach. The modern minimalist rooms all have floor to ceiling windows with awesome sea views. They can all accommodated up to 4 people, making it an ideal spot for a laid back family holiday.
If you’re the type of family who likes to rent a car on holiday and explore the area, then this would be a great base. Better value for money than larger beach resorts but with similar facilities and also highly rated restaurants and bar.
The Best Boutique Hotels in Phuket
Iniala Beach House (☆☆☆☆☆)
Iniala Beach House is one of the most stunning designer boutique resorts in the world. Ten international designers were given carte blanche to create the different spaces within the property. This is in addition to Iniala being home to a large private collection of the best sculptures and ceramics from Southeast Asia’s top artists.
Just the bed in the photo above cost over $120,000. Needless to say, if you have to ask the room rates then you probably can’t afford it. It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Thailand and south-east Asia. Even if you won’t stay here, it’s worth Googling just for the wow factor. Iniala is also where the Kardashians stay when they visit Phuket.
Despite only having three villas, two suites and a penthouse the resort also has two restaurants. They host regular pop-up dining experiences hosted by world class chefs.
A slightly more affordable but equally cool option are the weird and wonderful villas at Keemala, located in the hills overlooking Kamala beach. This is a stunning resort set in an enchanting evergreen wonderland with the smallest room ( pool villa) being 126sqm in size.
Keemala is focused on wellness and quality of life. Allowing guests to enjoy the sounds of the jungle, indulge in a plethora of holistic activities but still be only 10 minutes drive from the beach, restaurants and nightlife.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual concrete block villas or rooms, Keemala might be for you.
The Best Budget Hotels in Phuket
Lub d Phuket Patong (☆☆)
Back to reality now with a couple of cheap hotels that have everything you need to enjoy a vacation but without having to mortgage your house to get it. Lub d Hostel in Patong. It’s located off the main drag but within 5 minutes walk of the beach, bars and clubs. A dorm bed is just 500 Baht/night and a private double room around 2,000 Baht/night.
Facilities include communal areas where guests can hang out and a large pool bar area. There are also regular activities and trips organised for guests. Overall, a good place for younger couples or backpackers who enjoy socialising.
Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel (☆☆☆)
Over in Phuket town, away from the mass tourism and nightlife, Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel occupies a row of renovated shophouses. This is a simple hotel that has spotlessly clean air-conditioned rooms in the heart of the old town area. All rooms feature artwork by local artists and are tastefully decorated.
Whilst most visitors head to the beach, Phuket town has a lot of history and it’s definitely worth taking time out from lazing on the sand to come and explore. With rooms from under 1,500 Baht/night, it’s definitely value for money.
The Best Places to Stay in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is located 3 hours drive south of Bangkok. Originally a fishing village, Hua Hin became a seaside resort after it was popularized by King Rama IX who spent a lot of time at Klai Kangwon Palace just north of the town. This led to a lot of Thai visitors which in tune led to foreign tourists visiting. Nowadays it’s a popular spot for Bangkokians to escape the pollution for a weekend away of fresh air, as well as a tourist resort for foreign visitors.
The town itself has a 7km long beach but the coastline to the north and south is lined with beaches and dotted with luxury resorts and condominiums. The beach itself is very wide. Horse riding and kite-boarding are two of the most popular activities here.
Most of the large resorts are located outside the town center. But the central area is where you’ll find a wide choice of shopping malls, restaurants and bars. Plus the famous night markets. Most of the places I have listed below are in the central area. As this makes sense for foreign visitors who don’t have their own transport and are staying for more than just a couple of nights.
The area around Hua Hin also boasts the largest concentration of golf courses in Thailand, so is an ideal spot for a golf vacation. And there are several great water parks where families can cool off.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Hua Hin
Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort (☆☆☆☆☆)
Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort is st in an ideal location a few minutes walk north of the town center. This resort comprises 67 classy and serene rooms, suites and pool villas and is renowned for the standard of personal service and attention to details.
Rooms are spacious, clean and set in lush green gardens. It’s a tranquil haven by the beach. Recommended as it’s what people expect a 5 star resort to be and room rates are very reasonable considering the high standards and ideal location.
Cape Nidhra (☆☆☆☆☆)
Cape Nidhra is a smaller resort and is also centrally located, just 5 minutes walk south of the town centre and night market. All suites have private pools. The suites feature floor to ceiling doors that open the full width of the room. These lead out onto the private pool area with ocean or garden views.
As this is a relatively small resort, it just has one communal pool, which is for adults only. So not recommended for families. It’s ideally suited to couples who want a luxury escape.
The Best Hotels for Families in Hua Hin
I’ve chosen a couple of my favourite hotels in Hua Hin in this category. The Holiday Inn Vana Nava is located inland, away from the beach at the southern end of Hua Hin beach. The first real selling point for families is the adjacent water-park.
We often stay here with my niece & nephew when they visit Thailand and they love the place. There’s a good choice of rides and slides for all ages of kids and adults. Best of all entrance is free if you are staying at the Holiday Inn.
The second big attraction is the rooftop bar which has a great sunset happy hour and amazing views across the city and out to sea. There’s also a free shuttle service to Le Colonial Beach Club in Hua Hin, where guests can chill out and swim by the beach.
Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa (☆☆☆☆)
The Marriott Hua Hin is located by the beach and features very spacious gardens and pools. There are four swimming pools, including one for adults only. Plus a loop pool that skirts around the entire perimeter of the gardens. So there are lots of options for kids who love splashing around. There’s a large kids club near the beach with plenty of activities to keep younger children occupied.
The hotel is located within walking distance of Blueport Mall but getting to the nightmarkets means taking a tuk tuk or taxi.
The Best Boutique Hotels in Hua Hin
V Villas Hua Hin MGallery (☆☆☆☆☆)
V Villas Hua Hin is a private haven where guests can enjoy a life of secluded luxury in a serene natural setting. The 28 exclusive pool villas have been created to tailor to every stay, whether a couple who appreciates intimate privacy or a family get together. The villas are linked by a pathway to the large communal beachfront pool .
It’s the kind of place where you check into your villa and forget that you’re even in a resort and not just some lavish beachside pad. The spacious villas all include a sundeck and private pool and gardens. The Hermes amenities are also a very nice touch for guests.
Devasom Hua Hin Resort (☆☆☆☆☆)
Devasom is located 10 minutes north of Hua Hin town. Not ideal if you want to walk to the night market or shops but great if you’re looking for a place to get away from it all and unwind. But there is a free shuttle service to the town centre.
Guest rooms are in the main Victorian-style building or Thai-inspired villas. The interiors have an elegant, vintage feel to them which was inspired by the 1930s style houses that wealthy Bangkokians built in this area as holiday homes.
The owner is often on site and she prides herself on the standards of service and quality on offer. She oversees every aspect of the resort to ensure standards are maintained and guests are enjoying their stay.
The Best Budget Hotels in Hua Hin
The Moon Hostel (☆)
Time for something a bit more basic but fine for people who just need a place to base themselves whilst they explore the town and the area. The Moon Hostel is located on the main road in the town centre in a couple of renovated shophouses. It has everything a budget traveler needs. Beautiful modern interior, very friendly and helpful staff, big rooms and excellent facilities. Dorm beds are under 400 Baht/night and en-suite double room is under 1,500 Baht/night.
There’s a large communal kitchen, with free tea / coffee / bread / jam etc, and dining area guests can use and a roof terrace which has views across the town centre. The beach is under 5 minutes walk and the night market is just over the road.
Bonne Nuit Hotel (☆☆)
Bonne Nuit Hotel is another roadside budget hotel but this time located just south of the town centre, near Cicada night market. The rooms all have soft tomes with white brickwalls, light wood fittings and pastel coloured decor.
It’s a very cutesy place that might not be to everyone’s liking, but is spotlessly clean and very well run. There are even USB charging outlets in the rooms, something many larger resorts don’t offer. No dormitories here, only ensuite air-con rooms.
These are priced from around 1,200 Baht/night. That also includes free drinking water and cookies.
The Best Places to Stay on Koh Samui
Koh Samui has long been a popular spot for island lovers. Quieter than Phuket but with a huge variety of accommodation. There are several main beaches on the island, the busiest being on the east coast.
Chaweng is the busiest beach on Samui. It’s got the best facilities and the beach itself is also very picturesque. However, it;s also quite brash and noisy with a lot of traffic on the narrow road behind the beach. So it’s a good option for a family holiday or anyone who wants to be have plenty of nightlife within easy reach.
Lamai is the second most developed beach but is a big contrast to Chaweng. It’s much more laid back and has plenty of inexpensive accommodation. It doesn’t have the variety of shops and restaurants but there’s more local life, with a large fresh market in the nearby village and a good shopping at the night plaza.
Bophut is a north facing beach with views towards Koh Pa Ngan. It offers a good range of resorts within easy reach of the fishing village and has everything from celebrity chef owned bistros to sidestreet noodle shops and streetfood. There’s a large expat population living in the villas on the hillsides overlooking the bay.
A little further to the east of Bophut lies Maenam beach. A good option for visitors who want to avoid mass market tourism and prefer a more sedate vacation. The beach is usually quiet and there’s a village near the port for boats to Koh pa Ngan which has a popular walking street and local markets. Maenam is a good option if you want to see some of the ‘real Samui’ during your stay.
There is also accommodation over on the west coast, where the piers for boats to the mainland are located. But depsite this side of the island having great views, the beaches aren’t so good and so it’s more of a local area. On the plus side it’s a popular place for expats ans land and house prices are relatively cheap.
It’s a similar situation on the south coast where visitors can still find rugged stretches of undeveloped beaches. This area is more remote, being 30- 40 minutes drive from the airport.
Finally, one aspect of Samui that often gets overlooked is the mountainous inland area that is criss-crossed by narrow roads and tracks. Relatively few tourists get out and explore the inland areas but there are some superb views and some great hillside cafes and restaurants with stunning views. Parts of the drive direct south, on steep, winding roads, from Maenam beach on the north coast to the south of the island reminded me of being in the north of Thailand.
The Best Luxury Hotels on Koh Samui
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui (☆☆☆☆☆)
The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui occupies a picturesque hillside location in the northwest corner of Koh Samui. A 40 minute drive from the airport and well away from the busy east coast beaches. For many guests this is the place to stay when celebrating a special occasion eg a honeymoon or anniversary. As this standard of luxury doesn’t come cheap. ( Figure on $1,000 / night. But if you want to stay at one of the best luxury hotels in Thailand, it’s not going to be cheap.) Even the cheapest villas have private pools and personal butlers on hand to tend to guests requirements.
The location on Leam Yai Bay, is ideal for guests seeking privacy. The secluded location and private beach make it an ideal romantic hideaway. The downside is that it’s a bit remote if you want to go shopping or find some nightlife.
Checking in goes from being a dull experience to one that won’t be forgotten as the resort lobby features an unforgettable panorama with jungle, beach and ocean views in all directions. Villas are built onto the hillside leading down to the beach. Along the way are open sided salas where guests can chill out and enjoy the views.
Each of the 60 pool villas has its own private terrace with sensational sea views. Villas also all feature dark wood furnishings and high vaulted ceilings.
In addition to the usual facilities there are complimentary activities such as yoga, tai-chi, tennis lessons, basic Thai language classes, massage courses, kayaking and snorkelling.
W Koh Samui (☆☆☆☆☆)
A little cheaper and aimed at a younger market is the fun loving W Koh Samui. This resort covers a large area of hillside on Maenam beach. Accommodation is in pool villas, but unlike the Four Seasons, most don’t have sea views. Only jungle. All the 74 villas are decorated in bold brash colours. There’s nothing subtle or subdued here. It’s bright and fun all the way. W Koh Samui is definitely far more hip and lively than most 5 star resorts.
This in your face attitude it also evident from the half indoor / half outdoor lobby that features floor to ceiling eclectic pop art murals. There’s none of the ‘traditional Thai’ decor here, it’s all modern and funky.
The hilltop Woobar, shown in the photo below, is another standout and one of Samui’s best bars. But you’ll need to get there early to grab a seat one of the sunken sofas in the pool.
W Koh Samui is one of Samui’s top hotels and ideally suited to younger couples who like to mingle and party.
The Best Hotels for Families on Koh Samui
Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort (☆☆☆☆☆)
Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort is a luxurious beachfront resort which is ideal for couples and families. It is located within easy walking distance of Bophut fishing village, where there’s good choice of laid back restaurants and bars. With everything from trendy bistros to dirt cheap seafood. For more more nightlife and shopping, Bophut is just 10 minutes by taxi from Chawang beach, which is the busiest on the island.
Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort provides a chilled, vacation ambiance with a distinctly Thai touch. The rooms and suites are set in a lovely tropical garden by the beach. In the centre of the garden is a large free form pool and is ringed by sun-loungers. There’s a large Kid’s Club plus, the resort has a wide range of free activities, including paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing. In addition there are free introductory classes in yoga, meditation and Muay Thai. Making this a good choice for a luxury loving family with active older kids.
Amari Koh Samui (☆☆☆☆)
Amari resorts are always a safe choice in Thailand for anyone looking for a good all round resort. And the Amari Koh Samui makes this list as it’s in an ideal location for families plus has all the usual child friendly facilities that a good 4 star standard resort offers.
It is situated on the beachfront at the northern end of Chaweng Beach. This is the busiest on the island and so there’s a wide choice of shops and restaurants within easy reach. The resort also has a free shuttle service to it’s sister hotel – OZO – at the south end of the beach.
The resort is split in two by the busy main road, but there are staff stationed to help guests cross safely. Both sections of the resort have their own pools. The beachfront pool is always the busiest but is much larger than the inland pool.
The inland rooms, in the ‘Thai Village’ area are spacious, quiet and better value than those nearer the beach. There’s no need to splash out on the beachfront rooms unless you really need a sea view all the time.
The Best Boutique Hotels on Koh Samui
Rocky’s Boutique Resort (☆☆☆☆)
Rocky’s Boutique Resort has been around since before there was such a thing as a ’boutique resort’. It’s a Samui landmark and a place that attracts many repeat visitors. It’s not the most luxurious resort but it is one that does everything to a very high standard.
The location, just south of Lamai beach. is also ideal for guests who wish to chill out during the day and head out to a tourist strip for some nightlife or an evening meal. Having said that the resort restaurant, The Dining Room, has received many culinary awards on account of its outstanding Mediterranean cuisine. Rocky’s has its own small private beach and there’s a coral reef just offshore which is home a couple of turtles.
Rocky’ Boutique Resort offers spacious bungalows and villas. These are set in a landscaped garden which slopes down to the beach. Rooms and suites aren’t as spacious as at some resorts but are all kept spotlessly clean. They feature northern Thai Lanna decor, deep red tones and dark wood furniture. Outside, each room has a private balcony with pool or garden views. Just a few rooms have an actual sea view.
An ideal spot for couples who appreciate good service, excellent food but prefer a family run establishment rather than a larger impersonal luxury resort.
The Library (☆☆☆☆☆)
If Rocky’s Resort is a bit old school for you, then The Library might be what you are looking for. This is a chic hotel for couples. This book themed resort stands out thanks to its simple design and eccentric ideas.
From the blood red pool to the lifesize ceramic figurines in the pools to the numbered ‘pages’ on the lawns. Modern, minimalist design is offset by quirky but fun furnishings and decor. You’re sure to spot some aspect that will bring a smile to your face or make you gaze in wonder wherever you turn.
Most accommodation is in studios and suites. But there are a handful of villas. The most exclusive being ‘The Writer’. This super luxury beachfront villa features a custom-made 3.5 metre wide bed, private library, outdoor cinema, saltwater swimming pool, a courtyard with private gym and an upper floor terrace with spectacular sunset views. (And if you have to ask how much that will cost, well, for most people a short stay will mean maxxing out a credit card or two. )
Fortunately the regular suites, which are still a minimum of 67Sqm, are far more affordable. Room rates from around $350 / night during high season.
The Best Budget Hotels on Koh Samui
Coco Palm Beach Resort (☆☆☆)
Coco Palm Beach Resort is proof that you don’t have to spend your life savings to stay in a resort on a prime beachfront location on Samui. This is an older resort but is well maintained and has a good choice of bungalows and villas available. These are set back from the beach in a garden behind the beachfront restaurant and pool.
The cheapest bungalows are fully air-conditioned and are often listed at around $30 (1,000 Baht) per night during high season. But it;s better to pay a little extra and go for the Deluxe bungalows which are more spacious and more modern. The resort also features some value for money pool villas. An 80sqm pool villa with four poster bed and a sofa bed can be had for under $100 / 3,000 Baht a night. There are also even larger two bedroom pool villas on offer.
There’s a good choice of local restaurants on the main road and on the beach nearby. But this isn’t a party area. So aside from a few low key roadside bars, you will have to take a taxi to Maenam for a big night out.
Assuming you don’t need the latest technology in your room and to have your resort designed by award winning architects, then this is a nice spot for an inexpensive beach holiday on Samui.
Samui Us Hostel (☆☆)
And for any backpackers who are reading this and can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend $1,000 / night on a room even if they could, here’s a great little hostel. Dorm beds at Samui Us Hostel can be had for under 300 Baht( $10) night during high season. And better still, this isn’t some old ramshackle place in the middle of nowhere.
The hostel is in the Bophut area, under 10 minutes walk to the fisherman’s village and the beach. And it’s one of the best value hostels you’ll come across on your travels. It also features a swimming pool and awesome open courtyard communal areas where dorm guests can hang out. There’s an inexpensive bar and restaurant by the pool.
Private en-suite double rooms are also available from around 1,200 Baht/night and there’s even a Family room with double bed and bunk beds for 1,700 / night.
It’s modern, clean, friendly and recommended for budget travellers whether you are a single, couple of even a family who are getting their kids into the backpacking lifestyle.
The Best Places to Stay in Pattaya
Pattaya is unfortunately well known as a destination for sex tourism. But that is gradually changing and nowadays the number of families and couples visiting easily outnumber the number of single western guys looking for a temporary girlfriend. Sure, the beer bars and go-gos are still there. But they are slowly dying out or adapting to cater for new markets.
If you read the online forums you’ll see expat bar owners and budget guesthouse owners complaining how quiet the city is nowadays. But if they went out and looked at the luxury hotels during low season, they’d find them packed with families and couples from around the world. But these aren’t their target market.
Pattaya has a great deal to offer normal tourists. A huge variety of accommodation, plenty of activities and sports, numerous shopping malls, excellent restaurants with cuisine from all around the world and it’s only 90 minutes drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
One of the best reasons to visit Pattaya is still to enjoy its nightlife. There are a plethora of nightclubs which cater to just as many Thai party goers as international visitors. But Pattaya is also a great place for families. That may seem like an odd statement but plenty of families love going to Pattaya. There are value for money resorts which offer a lot of activities and facilities for kids, I’ve mentioned a couple below which even have their own waterparks. And then there are hotels such as the hard Rock Hotel, Holiday Inn and Amari which all place a strong emphasis on being family friendly.
As far as activities go, Pattaya has everything you could wish for from a choice of 20 golf courses to world class water parks to malls, movie theaters, markets, excellent open zoos, bungee jumping, go-kart track, a sheep farm, petting zoo etc.
It’s also a value for money destination. As the sheer number of places to stay mean that many resorts are cheaper here, for the standard of rooms, than elsewhere in Thailand. There are always deals to be had even on the best resorts. There’s a huge variety of food on offer, from some of the best Western food in Thailand to the usual Thai street food. And getting around is dirt cheap too. Pick up truck taxis run on numbered routes around the town, just flag one down and hop on. Pay a flat rate 10 Baht when you get off.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Pattaya
Hilton Pattaya (☆☆☆☆☆)
Hilton hotels have long been synonymous with luxury and the Hilton Pattaya is no exception. This high rise hotel is located smack in the centre of beach road at the heart of Pattaya city.
it is built above the Central Festival shopping mall. When guests arrive they take the lift up to the 16th floor lobby which opens into the Drift bar and lounge with views over the bay.
All rooms at the Hilton Pattaya have uninterrupted sea views, courtesy of the building’s height and location. The upper floors are home to the Executive Suites and Club rooms. Then the 33 Floor has the Club lounge and a level above is the hotel’s stunning rooftop bar. There’s also a daily sunset Happy hour with 2 for 1 deals. So even if you aren’t a guest, you can head up here and enjoy the best sunset views in town without breaking the bank.
Breakfast is served in the Edge restaurant which occupies a floor of the building and has both indoor and outdoor seating high above the beach.
An added bonus is the shopping mall below the hotel has a huge variety of shops and restaurants plus a cinema. And if you want to hit the bars then Walking Street is a 5 minute, 10 Baht pick-up truck taxi ride away.
InterContinental Pattaya Resort (☆☆☆☆☆)
Not everyone wants to stay in the heart of a city, regardless of how nice the hotel may be. So here’s a good alternative to the Hilton. The InterContinental Pattaya is an older resort, previously the Sheraton, which is set in landscaped gardens by the sea but only 5 minutes by taxi from Walking Street and Beach Road.
We stay here a couple of times a year, usually on the way from our home in Koh Chang to Bangkok. And always go for the Club rooms for a treat. The rooms are huge and the lounge is one of the best we’ve found anywhere. The staff are excellent and the quality of the cocktails and canapes second to none. The Club lounge is the glass-fronted building in the photo below. And the Club rooms are those in small blocks with sea views and by the pool.
There are a few swimming pools dotted around the garden and a small artificial beach near the sea shore. But this isn’t a real beach resort, it;s more a place to wind down in comfort for a few days. It is possible to walk north to Bali Hai pier and then Walking Street but most guests will take a taxi. It’s under 15 minutes drive to most destinations in central Pattaya.
The Best Hotels for Families in Pattaya
Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya (☆☆☆☆)
If you’re visiting Thailand with young kids and want to have a few days by the sea within easy reach of Bangkok, then book yourself into Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort.
This is the ideal hotel for a family. It’s a very large resort located in Naklua which is the area just north of Pattaya beach. This resort is very popular with weekending Thai families as well as tourists from around the world.
The highlight is the free waterpark. This features a lazy river. Just hop on a large inflatable ring and the current takes you gently around the resort. Past little gazebos where you can stop and chill out in the shade and waterslides. In addition there’s a huge ‘normal’ pool for swimming laps.
I also enjoyed the breakfast buffet which is laid out in several rooms. It takes a few minutes to walk around and check everything that’s on offer. There are entire rooms full of pastries and cakes or Indian dishes or Asian favorites.
Grande Centre Point Pattaya (☆☆☆☆)
Not far away, just off the beach, Grande Centre Point Pattaya is another high rise hotel built above a shopping mall. Very similar to the Hilton. The main difference with the Hilton is that the rooms here are a similar standard but newer and cheaper, as guests aren’t paying for the brand name hotel. And the roof of the mall is home to a large garden, pool and waterpark area that’s designed specifically for kids. There are even daily child friendly foam parties with DJs.
The mall below has a huge variety of restaurants and shops. Plus a large supermarket. So it;s easy to feed even the fussiest of kids. The hotel itself also has a rooftop restaurant with great views. But take note that Centre Point hotels don’t sell alcohol. Which is a bit strange. But true. What this means is that guests are allowed to bring their own booze to the hotel restaurants. And there’s no corkage fee if you do.
So, a tip even if you aren’t staying here. Book a table on the rooftop for sunset. Go to the supermarket in the mall, buy your favourite tipple – craft beer / gin and tonic / wine . Head up here. Order some snacks from the menu. The staff will bring you glasses, ice, wine cooler etc. Enjoy your inexpensive rooftop bar sunset experience :-)
The Best Boutique Hotels in Pattaya
Wave Hotel (☆☆☆☆)
It’s a bit of a surprise for most visitors to Pattaya when they walk along beach road and see a 1930s art deco style hotel on the roadside.
The Wave Hotel is where classic Miami style meets Thai hospitality. This 18 room boutique hotel offers edgy décor and great service plus a prime location service. It’s not a subtle hotel. If the striking design doesn’t get you when you walk past then the red custom 1940s Cadillac just begs to be photographed. And if you’re passing at night, the exterior is lit up in vibrant neon lights.
If you’re bored with the usual mundane hotel rooms and soulless ambiance then Wave Hotel is the place to be if you want a unique stay in Pattaya.
Hotel Baraquda by MGallery (☆☆☆☆)
Hotel Baraquda is a mid-size hotel on Second Road, Pattaya, a few minutes walk from the beach. This is in a busy area surrounded by restaurants and bars. It’s a hotel for younger couples or singles who enjoy some luxury but also a good night out. The nautical themed rooms all feature an open bathroom. As shown in the photo above. So this isn’t a place to stay if you’re shy. :-)
There’s a swimming pool tucked away out of sight at the rear of the building. The hotel has weekly pool parties here during High Season. In addition there’s a rooftop bar. A nice spot for an evening drink but as this is a low rise building, it doesn’t afford the same views as other high rise blocks do.
Recommended for a stylish four star stay in the heart of the nightlife and shopping area.
The Best Budget Hotels in Pattaya
Nonze Hostel (☆)
Nonze Hostel is something you don’t expect to find in Pattaya. And a sign that the demographic of visitors coming to the city is changing. This is an eclectic hostel which mixes industrial design with bright colours and natural wood decor.
Accommodation is in capsules rather than rooms. Which means that it offers more privacy than a dormitory but for a similar price. With beds from 500 Baht/night. There are spacious communal areas and a restaurant with a sea view. There are 110 capsules in total, split into several zones.
This is one of the cleanest and most well decorated hostels you will find on your travels. Each floor has something new to look at. The staff are very friendly and the free breakfast is great value considering the room rate. The capsules are very large and have plenty of space for storing luggage. Security is taken seriously with CCTV cameras in all corridors and a very strict ‘no guests’ policy in force.
A great spot for younger visitors to Pattaya to stay and hangout cheaply and safely.
Villa Oranje (☆☆)
Villa Oranje, as the name suggests, is a 16 room Dutch owned hotel which has long been popular with European visitors. It is located about 10 minutes walk from Pattaya beach in a quiet location, away from noisy bars. This caters to a different type of visitor than the Nonze Hostel. The clientele here being older couples and singles. Who don’t need hip decor and modern design.
The main reasons to stay here are the value for money rooms and homely welcoming ‘guest-become-friends’ feeling. It has all the amenities guests require to have a comfortable stay including a swimming pool and small bar and restaurant. Rooms are from under 1,200 Baht/night during High Season.
It’s a good base for mingling with fellow visitors from around the world and as a base for exploring the city and its surroundings. Many guests forgo motorized transport and spend their time exploring on foot. All this adds up to Villa Oranje is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing, inexpensive break in Pattaya.