Backpacking through Asia is more popular than ever before. The reasons? It’s far less expensive than Europe, and it’s a different type of adventure all unto itself. Some say they have traveled this region as inexpensively as spending $15 – $20 a day. Food, especially when purchased from street vendors, is incredibly cheap. Going hungry should never be an issue for anyone.
Hostels are the way to go for backpackers on a budget and you may be surprised to find there are some very nice ones which offer not only a safe refuge but some fairly decent amenities for mere pocket change. The most important thing is to not just roam around like a floating lotus. Chances are you’ll have a pretty bad time if you do. At least know where you are going to sleep each night and make plans to be there before nightfall.
Here are a few of the better and more well-known ones to consider for your travel plans.
The Smile Society is rated exceptional and goes for around nine bucks a night. It’s clean and located in the center of town near all of the activity. It’s only a five-minute walk to the train and subway station and the area has a Western-Union, hordes of food vendors, and most of the embassies are located nearby. It is the perfect location to either explore Bangkok from or to take day trips to other areas of interest. The staff is friendly and the A/C pumps cold for those steamy tropical nights.
C40Winks is another very nice hostel. Previous travelers have rated the accommodations as superb. A bunk bed with a shared shower and a private locker will run you around $9 bucks a night and a few more dollars will land you a private room with a refrigerator and its own bathroom. There is a 50” television which pumps in cable in English, a DVD player with a collection of movies, book rentals, a refrigerator and microwave in the common area, movies on demand, and free drinking water.
A night at Gowhere Hanoi Hostel will have you fishing $6 dollars out of your pocket for sparkling clean accommodations. It’s located in the center of town near the embassies and is the perfect location for exploring the area. The Old Quarter, West Lake, Sword Lake, Museums, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are all close enough to explore by day and be back by evening. Transportation to anywhere in the city is readily available, or you can rent a bike and pedal your way around. There is even an on-site bar to wind down, play some darts, and swap tales with other backpackers. The front desk is open 24/7.
Suki Hostel Hanoi is $7 dollars a night. There is a shared kitchen with all the utensils and this hostel throws in free internet from anywhere in the building. It’s on the smaller side with only three bedrooms. One bedroom is for groups traveling together or for families who are doing the trek together. Another bedroom is just for female travelers and the last one is co-ed where the beds are divided by a privacy curtain. Toiletries and a hairdryer are provided. There is laundry service and even an on-duty tour guide is at the guest’s beckon call.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
If there is such a thing as a luxury hostel, Onederz Hostel Siem Reap is the closest thing to it. Here, backpackers can rest their weary bones in a lounge chair next to a crystal clear swimming pool for the low price tag of $8 per night. It’s located right next to the famed Angkor Night Market and is only a couple of minutes walk to Pub Street. There is a TV room and wi-fi is free. This same company owns other hostels in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, so it’s easy to make a future reservation if your travels are taking you to either of those cities.
Siem Reap Hostel is an award-winning location with nothing but fantastic reviews. Travelers have a choice between a dorm style room or a private one. This hostel is owned and managed by Cambodian and Australian Nationals, and it was built from scratch to be a place where travelers can relax in comfort and style. The service is exceptional and many of the employees are poorer kids from rural villages who the hostel gives the chance to work their way through school. There is a pool with its own bar and multiple common areas. Backpack sized secure lockers are provided, the A/C blows cold, and there are free computers for use in the lobby. Shoot a game of pool, play some foosball, use the giant Connect 4 game, or play one of the heaps of board games. It’s all free once you pay the $8 dollars a night.
You’ll have to dig a little deeper to stay at a hostel in Tokyo. Backpackers Hostel K’s House will run you $17.25 a night, but with the cost of living in Tokyo, this is still a phenomenal deal. Located very close to all transportation hubs, it is the ideal place for exploring Tokyo from. With 11 branches throughout Japan, K’s House can easily accommodate travelers as they sojourn around the entire country, simplifying the reservation process. All of them are very clean and offer an array of amenities from TV’s, to computers, to private and dorm-style rooms.
RetroMetro Backpackers is a popular location for around $18 dollars a night. This is one of the smallest hostels in Tokyo, but if you can get in, by all means, stay here. The hostel has been renovated in traditional old Japanese style for an authentic stay. There is a small comfortable living room where free tea and coffee are served and like-minded backpackers spend time chatting and getting to know one another. There is no curfew and guests are issued a lock code for coming and going when they please.
Backpacking across Asia or even a single country is a great way to steep yourself in a truly different culture. And it’s much more affordable than the standard European trek. A deeper search will uncover many other hostels in almost every area of Southeast Asia your travels may take you, but these are the best places to start your Asian adventure.