Sunday, 1 February 2009

Accomodation, Visas, Exchange Rates.

The name says it all.

We have realized that one of the constants among backpackers like ourselves is trying to find decent accommodation at a price that leaves some beer money for the evenings, so here goes. Country by Country and the good, the bad and the bed bugs. Thanks to Nipun for keeping this so well updated! The prices reflected are the prices that we paid, this may have been after some haggling negotiating. We had the good fortune of catching a lot places outside of high season too so again variations may occur. I have included exchange rates at time of visiting and visa details. These change so look before you leap, especially with the visa information!


Exchange Rate at time of Travel: GBP1 = 70 Rupees

Hotel Palms
Ashok Marg, C-Scheme, Jaipur - 302 001
Tel: 0141-4047786
Rs 1600 per night

One of the nicest places that we stayed in India. Clean rooms, AC and a swimming pool. The restaurant was great too. There will be cheaper places, this was a little expensive but definitely good value.

Hotel Excellency
P.B. No. 1748, Nettipadom Road
Off: M.G. Road, Jos Junction, Kotchi - 682 016
Tel: 0484-2378251
Fax: 91-0484-2378259
Rs 920 non-AC

Nipun’s Mum and Dad found this one and it is brilliant. The staff were supremely friendly and helpful, you can choose between AC and non AC rooms. The ferry to Cochin is only five rupees each (yes, that is not a typo!) and the train station is a fifteen minute walk away.

Gauri Residence
Rs 600 per night

Gauri is pretty well known and is run by a guy called Afsail. The Allepy train station has a tourist information centre on the platform and they were happy to call Gauri for us. From there Afsail drove down and picked us up for free. He’s a nice guy and the accommodation is good for the price. They will also arrange a backwater trip on the canal boats for you. We liked it here.

Brindavan Hotel
108 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bangalore - 560 001
Tel: 25584000
Rs 600 - 700

Bangalore rooms were expensive, very expensive! And then you have this place which was dirt cheap. The emphasis is on the dirt though, the walls were grey and generally it was not what you could call bright, clean accommodation. But then it was a couple of thousand rupees cheaper than everywhere else and for a couple of nights who cares?

Pallelem (Goa)

We stayed at a place called Dream Catcher which is on the Lagoon. It was not especially cheap though it was comfortable enough. I think that we could maybe have done a little better (ie should have listened to my wife).


Roxy Hotel.
Sorry, cannot remember how much we got a room for but to be fair we were not that ken on the room. It felt dirty and was not particularly comfortable. The Willow Hotel next door looked lovely, but was a LOT more expensive. If you are after comfort then I think that Shimla may be one of those places that you may be better off taking the extra costs on the chin as the budget accommodation we saw was much of a muchness.


Exchange Rate at time of Travel: GBP1.00 = 50 Baht

Your Place (your Guesthouse)
336/17 Soi Chalongkrung
Rama 4 Road
Near China Town and Hualapong

Your Place is in a brilliant location and fairly cheap. With China town twenty minutes away you need not worry about finding a decent meal either.

Chiang Mai

Lai Thai Guest House: Lai Thai is pretty comfortable and they have a website with room charges etc, memory fails me for now, though I think it was about 800 Baht. We spent six days here over Songkran and it was nice, there is a swimming pool and the rooms have AC. Comfotable and reasonable accommodation.

Kristie Guest House

We moved to Kristie on account of it being so cheap ~ 200 Baht for a large room with a fan! It is an en suite cold water shower (but in Asia in the hot season does this matter?) and the rooms will be cleaned whenever you request it. The other beauty of this place was that it is right next to Thae Pae Gate where the Sunday market takes place. The location is hard to beat.


Border Crossing:

We crossed into Laos from Chiang Khong in North Thailand and took the slowboat down to Luang Prabang, a two day journey that was seriously good value. We arranged this trip from Chiang Mai though cannot for the life of me remember how much this came to. Part of this trip will involve an overnight stop in Pak Beng - unlucky.

Visa: We got ours on arrival. Cost was US$30.00

Pak Beng: If you catch the slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang then you will need to stop here. You will be recommended a place called Bounmee Guest House. It is awful, the staff are aggressive (they wanted to get physical at one stage - we had a disagreement) and in spite of what people say in Hua Xai (the border post you leave from) there are many other guest houses in Town.

Exchange Rate: 1GBP = 12 000 LAK (Kipp)

Bounmee is the worst place we have been so far after four months on the road.

Luang Prabang

Seng Phet Guest House
Hoxieng Road
Tel: (856071) 253534
Paid 60 000 Kip per night
Friendly place that has free tea, free bananas and a water cooler that you can use to fill up your water bottles. Just around the corner from the Night Market, good value. Go for the ground floor rooms if you can as the top floor can be sweltering.

Vang Vieng
Mountain Riverview Guesthouse
On the Mekong river banks
Vang Vieng Village
Phone: (856-30) 5200898
Mobile: (856-20) 5666513

One of the nicest guesthouses we’ve stayed in and at a great price of 70,000 Kipp with wooden floors and a furnished balcony. Balcony has great views (if you ignore the construction sites) of the Mekong. Away from (some) of the noise from the island also.

Haysoke Guest House
083/1-2 Hengboon Street
Tel: 007 (856 21) 219711

Not great. Paid 100 000 Kipp for an AC room with a shared bathroom. The reality was that the AC did not work and as such we were paying 100 000 Kipp for a fan and shared bathroom. The room itself was nice enough though, just too hot and stuffy. In general though accommodation seemed very expensive and the quality of the rooms we saw was not great. Cheapest we saw was about 60 000 Kipp and it was grim.


Saisouk Guest House
Th Phetsalat.

Paid: 70 000 kipp for a large room with Air Conditioning.

I searched Savannakhet for accommodation and it was all pretty much the same. Saisouk was brilliant though, dilapidated and crumbling like Savannakhet in general! The owners are very helpful and very friendly and the room had loads of charm. I really liked this one, and it is close to the river for an evening beer and skewered chicken!

Pakse: Sabaiady 2 Guest House
No 24 Road, Thaluang District
Paid 60 000 Kipp per night (I think!)

Very friendly and lively place. Larn is one of the managers I think and very helpful, and has a daughter called tuk tak. No points to Nipun for asking him he didn’t just call her tuk tuk, whereupon a silence as heavy as a plague descended upon the table. Rooms were ok, but the general atmosphere made up for any shortcomings.

Si Phan Don: Don Dhet Island

There are hundreds of guest houses on Don Dhet, in fact too many. They are all very similar in price and standard. Highlights of the Islands are King Khongs Pizza, run by a garrulous Liverpudlian who talks - a lot. Also well worth a visit is the German Guest House where they show movies every night and sell massive portions of food for very reasonable prices. Mike is the owner and he is great fun, very German and very welcoming. He’s a smooth bloke. Also well worth visiting for a coffee and a donught is the bakery, run by Darryn from Australia. He is also very cool and the bakery has a beautiful setting with really, really good food.

Accommodation: Circa 20 000 kipp per night (we were there in low season)

We stayed at a couple of places here but the one that won our heart was the Holiday Inn which is quite far down on the sunrise side of the island. The family do not speak English but are very welcoming and the children come to play in the river and greet you countless times a day. It was very personal. The scorpions on the bathroom walls may discourage some, but to be fair leave them alone and they’ll do the same. After all, it the mosquitoes they are after.

Mr Man’s Bungalows: This is the first place we stayed at and it was good. The restaurant was great too, for breakfast the garlic bread, tomatoes and fried eggs rocks! Closer to the main strip of the Island this can get quite noisy but it is convenient.


Crossed from Si Phan Don into Stung Tren. This was arranged from Si Phan Don as part of a group crossing and we got our visas on arrival.
Exchage rate: In Cambodia you pay for pretty much everything is USD which it makes it really easy converting. Especially if you are coming from America!

Border Crossing: Visa on arrival. Cost was US$20 each with an attempt at three different lots of "Admin Charges." They are not official and Nipun refused to pay them whilst I cowered behind her skirt waiting to get arrested. If you are feeling supremely confident then refuse, claim you have no money. If you cannot be bothered with the arguments then you'll need to pay the man with the brief case stuffed with one dollar bills.


You Song Guest House
Tel (855) 11 674 088
Paid US$4.00 per night.

Very close to the market and the river / bus station pick up point. I really liked this place, there is a lively restaurant down stairs and the staff are mega friendly. The room was pretty good and there are balconies overlooking the aforementioned market place, two thumbs up.

Kamphong Cham:

Leap Viraksar Hotel
Tel 042 941 239

Paid US$13.00 per night.

There are not that many guest houses in Kamphong Cham which means they charge more and you get less. The staple place that most people stay is the Mekong Hotel, but they were almost full and at US$12.00 the newer and plusher Leap Viraksar (at $13.00) seemed better value for money. The Mekong Hotel does have a better location though so weigh that up too!

Additionally there are guest houses for five to six dollars but the ones that I saw were quite grim, which is not to say that all of them are!

Siem Reap:

Yellow Guest House
Price US$4.00 (no AC, AC rooms at US8.00)

This was a recommendation to us and although a little bit outside town and away from the delights of Pub Street and the Night Market, it is cheap as chips. It is also clean and the rooms are a decent size too. Other recommendations closer to town are the Native Khmer Guest House which is apparently brilliant, coming complete with Bob Marley murals and an excellent restaurant. It is apparently US$15.00 but will seek this out to confirm.


If you are travelling from Siem Reap to Battambang then the boat ride is the way to go. It is more expensive (considerably so) but the trip is well worth the asking price, taking you through floating villages, protected wetlands and backwater canals. From memory this trip cost us about $15.00 each.
The Royal Hotel: In the middle of town and close to the market this hotel had a wide range of rooms to choose from. For a fan room that was pretty big, had a fridge and a telly we paid

Phnom Penn:


Kampot: Pepper Guest House


Ha Tien: $12.00 per night.
Pretty sure that this place doubled up as a brothel, it was not great but then we looked long and hard and the options were not great. That is not to say there are not nice places out there, merely that we did not find them. It might be one of those towns where the extra few dollars is money well spent.


Crossed over from the new border with Cambodian border into Ha Tien. Visa’s required prior to arrival, you will not get one on the border.
Visa cost $35.00 (Got ours in Phnom Penh, same day service).
Exchange Rate at time of Travel: US$1.00 = 18 000 VND (Dhong)

Transport: Arranged a tuk-tuk from Kep, the driver then got his friends to meet us en route and we changed into motorbikes for the section from the border to Ha Tien. We were apprehensive about this bit but it went smooth as can be. We paid US$15.00 to get from Kep to Ha Tien.

Can Tho:

Ho Chi Minh City: We stayed in Backpackerville in Distric 1. There are hundreds of guest houses scattered down the narrow alleyways. We stayed at Miss Hai’s for US£12.00 per night for a large room with a fan. Miss Hai did not speak much English but had a smile that could cheer up any misanthrope, she was lovely. Having said this there are so many places to choose from and from the rooms we looked at they are all much of a muchness.

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