Hostels and Budget Accommodation in Southeast Asia

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Types of Accommodation

For the purposes of this article, we'll include Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar in this article. Other Asian countries can be found in other regional summaries including Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Central Asia.

Southeast Asia covers a large area of land (and sea), with some of the most popular countries for travelers being Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In these more popular countries, you'll find no shortage of backpackers and budget travelers. Hostels are a popular option with budget travelers, young backpackers, and students, all who are looking for the most affordable places to stay in order to maximize their budget and extend their trips. Long-term travel is quite popular in the region, after all. Hostels usually offer social and fun environments at an affordable price.

If staying hostel isn't your style, then you'll also find plenty of budget hotels and guesthouses throughout Southeast Asia. If you're traveling as a couple and plan to stay in a private room, prices in hostels and budget hotels are often about the same as they are for singles or for hostel beds. The main difference between these two options is that many hostels offer kitchens and common areas where you can hang out and meet other guests. Hostels are known for their social setting, so if you want a more quiet and private environment, then a budget hotel may be more your style. But if you're on a particularly tight budget, having access to a kitchen can significantly cut down on costs as you'll be able to cook many of your own meals.

Major Hostel Chains

Mad Monkey

The Mad Monkey hostels are in various countries in Southeast Asia. They tend to cater towards younger travelers and students who are looking for a typical "party" atmosphere. The environment is usually nice and clean, but festive, social, and lively.

Vietnam Backpackers' Hostels

Another popular chain in the region, specifically in Vietnam, is the somewhat generically named Vietnam Backpackers' Hostels. At these establishments you'll find comfortable hostel amenities in a fun and social environment.

Traveling Alone

Independent travel and solo backpackers are a very common sight in Southeast Asia. This is a popular region of the world for budget travelers, and a huge infrastructure is available for those that wish to navigate on their own. It's also not hard to meet other travelers with similar interests. If you're traveling by yourself, the most affordable accommodation option is usually a dorm in a hostel. The size of the rooms can range from just a couple of beds to dozens of bunks. The price of a bed is often lower in the larger rooms, but the noise is predictably louder. If you're hoping to meet other travelers, look for a hostel that organizes activities and tours for guests, offers plenty of common space, and has a kitchen. Meal times can be a great time to meet fellow guests, especially if the hostel provides free meals such as breakfast.

Looking for a Party

Some travelers head to Southeast Asia specifically for the party atmosphere of many locations. Destinations such as Bangkok, Koh Phangan, Bali, and Boracay are known for their party scenes, which attract young travelers from around the world. It is not hard to find hostels that cater to these crowds. These "party hostels" often have nightly bar crawls, on-site bars, and music. If you're looking for a good night's sleep, then these hostels might be best avoided, but if your goal is to hit all of the best bars and clubs, then these hostels are for you.

Dorms vs Private Rooms

Most hostels in Southeast Asia offer both dorms and private rooms. Dorms usually have bunk beds for multiple guests and a shared bathroom. In general, dorm beds are the cheapest option for solo travelers. It's also not uncommon for small groups of friends to fill a whole dorm room. Private rooms appeal more to travelers who have companions with them or those who desire a private bathroom. Some rooms have twin beds while others have double beds. Both shared and private bathrooms may be available, but private bathrooms are typically more expensive. Do note that just because you're in a private room, it doesn't always mean you'll escape the noise of a social hostel. If a quiet place is a priority for you, you might do better in a private hotel room.
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