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Accommodation in Asia is as variable as the countries themselves. You can find some of the most luxurious hotels in the world that cater to the rich or famous, but you can also find budget hotels that cost a mere buck or two. You can definitely stretch your money a lot farther in some countries, such as India or Nepal, which are well known for their affordability. Alternatively, you can find some of the most luxurious and technologically modern hotels in the world in countries like Japan. Depending on your style of travel and the country you're in you may want to consider making reservations ahead of time. In a country like Japan, language can be a challenge so it can be beneficial and cost effective to make reservations over the internet. In major cities in China or India you're likely to find people who speak English, which makes the negotiation process a little smoother. It is possible to arrange accommodation on arrival in some of these places, if you're comfortable showing up without set plans.
Negotiating the Best Price
In most countries in Asia it is considered acceptable, and in some cases it's even expected that you negotiate. This is a more common expectation in budget accommodation and hostels than it is in higher end hotels, but in countries like India you can expect the price to fall at least somewhat if you negotiate. In countries like Japan, and in some larger cities in China, you'll save money by booking in advance over the internet. This will eliminate any language challenges and you can easily compare prices across hotels before you arrive. In more rural cities in countries like India or Nepal you will likely save money by arriving without reservations. This way you can negotiate your price on arrival and will likely get a better deal.
If you decide to negotiate your price, there are a few ways to handle this. First, you should consider the current occupancy level of the hotel. If there are a lot of vacant rooms you will have a lot of leeway for negotiation. Also think of how long you'll be at the hotel. If you're going to be in town more than a few nights, you can use this to your advantage. Begin by negotiating on the price of the room for one night. Then start throwing in the extra nights. See if they'll drop off a few more bucks for each additional night.
There are a few countries in Asia where it is almost always better to arrive without reservations. Vietnam is one such country. There are so many hotels in Vietnam that you will almost always be able to find a place on arrival. You'll also be able to negotiate directly with the owner. This will get you a fairest price. If you make arrangements ahead of time you will be paying a markup to every person involved in the process and sometimes this markup can be quite high.
A Diversity of Choices
There are many different types of accommodation in Asia. You can find anything luxury to budget accommodation. There are also some very unique types of hotels that allow you to experience a little more of the culture within the country. In Japan, ryokan inns are considered a unique experience that is not to be missed. They are often more expensive than hotels, and are found in scenic getaways such as the mountains. They come with tatmi-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where you can socialize with fellow guests. Capsule hotels in Japan are also famous. They offer small, compartment like rooms where a guest can do little more than sleep. In Mongolia you will likely to spend at least a few nights in a ger, or yurt, which is a large, tent-like structure that provides a home for the nomadic Mongolians. These gers dot the countryside and are a quintessential part of the experience in Mongolia. Elsewhere in Asia you will find the typical hostel or guesthouse style accommodation. Quality and cost are variable, with some being quite impressive while others leave much to be desired. Do shop around if you're not happy with your first option.
Sleeping Bags and Tents
Many travelers who are planning a long term trip often wonder if they should bring a tent and sleeping bag. Keep in mind that both tents and sleeping bags add a lot of weight to your luggage. Seriously consider how much you will be using these items. In Asia, you are not very likely to spend a lot of time camping, but this does vary from country to country and activity to activity. If you're planning to do a lot of trekking, a sleeping bag is a good option, and tent may be as well. Look at the route you're taking. Trails like the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal are dotted with guesthouses and very few hikers along this trail actually camp in tents. In Mongolia you are likely to spend at least a few nights in a personal tent, but rental equipment is often provided free of charge if you arrange a tour. If you're planning to do any trekking in China there are guesthouses along many paths including the popular Tiger Leaping Gorge. If you're spending a significant amount of time in Southeast Asia, it is unlikely that you will need a tent at all. If you do decide to camp for a night or two there are places where you can rent the equipment for a very reasonable rate. The same can be said for India, where guesthouses are very cheap and camping facilities are limited or nonexistent. Again, if you are trekking in India, depending on your chosen route, you may benefit from having your own tent and sleeping bag.
If you choose to rent equipment on the road, make sure the quality is up to par. Check the equipment before you leave and make sure all of the pieces are there and there are no obvious problems with it. If possible, assemble the tent once before you agree to a price.
What to Expect
Luxury accommodation throughout Asia is generally comparable to western hotels in both Europe and the United States. The bathrooms are clean and modern with a nice shower and sink. The beds can be very comfortable, but on occasion are a little harder than you might like. The rooms can be very extravagant with wonderful views looking out on the city. If you're in a large city then the staff will likely speak a reasonable amount of English. There is often a high end restaurant attached to the hotel and some hotels have luxurious spas and pools available as well. In some larger cities like Singapore or Hong Kong you'll find a rooftop pool available to guests. These are great places to relax in the evening while you watch the city's skyline light up. It is reasonable to have high expectations of luxury accommodation in this part of the world because you won't likely be disappointed.
More moderately priced hotels may be a little smaller, a little older, and a little less comfortable. Depending on what country you're in, or even what city you're in, the standards may be different, but generally you can expect a comfortable place to stay that has a nice, clean bathroom and a reasonable bed for a moderate price. Some may have restaurants attached. In larger cities like Shanghai or Tokyo, you'll find that the moderate hotels often cater to business travelers. For this reason you might find the prices slightly cheaper on weekends when they are less in demand. They are also often located by public transportation, which is important in almost every major city in Asia. Navigating the city is part of the experience in this part of the world.
Budget hotels tend to be the most variable options. In some countries like India or China do not be surprised to find a hotel that only offers a squat toilet. If you're staying in a hotel that caters to westerners they are likely to also have a seat toilet as well. The shower is often in the same room as the toilet and there is rarely a shower curtain or separate space for the water flow. This can make for a challenging experience. Some rooms are furnished with two twin beds, which can be a little off putting to couples traveling together. If you ask, they may also have a room available with a larger double bed. These rooms may cost slightly more however. Many hotels throughout Asia also have wireless internet access. While some may make you pay an additional fee, others do not. Other amenities you might expect from a budget hotel include a full breakfast, travel arrangements including bus and train ticket purchases, common areas where you can meet other guests, and televisions that receive English speaking stations. If you're negotiating the price make sure you check out the room in advance. Also do not hesitate to check the quality of the hot water.