The hostels in Southeast Asia I stayed at (typically mid-range, I usually chose one with a clear social atmosphere, but typically did not choose “party” hostels) were just as entertaining as the ones I had stayed at in Europe (read: lots of personalities, hookup cultures and international encounters).
While no matter where you go in the world people are the same (same same, but different?), the hostels differ in their facilities. Before I went to Southeast Asia, I wouldn’t have thought to ask how they would be different from the typical hostels of Europe. Here are 8 ways in which Southeast Asian hostels were different. In sharing this I hope to inform and help you plan accordingly.
1- No Kitchen
This was an alarming difference that affected the way we traveled. While we did stay in one that had a kitchen, they were very infrequent. Because of this, it is more difficult to go to a grocery store and cook for yourself. We ended up eating out a lot – but with the availability and inexpensiveness of street food, it didn’t hurt our budget. Health? Maybe.
2- Bunk Beds
The bunk beds were extremely high. So high that if you sat on the bottom bunk you could practically stand up. If you’re afraid of heights or are uncomfortable on the top bunk, this will be challenging.
Even when hostels advertised WiFi and gave their password, the Wifi rarely worked, if at all.
Southeast Asian hostels gave more information than hostels in Europe and South America I have stayed at, which led me to believe Southeast Asia is an “easy place to backpack.”
Showers were often in the same space as the toilets. Typically right above it. Because of this, the entire bathroom space would get wet. It’s not an issue, but when everything gets wet -that means the trash can, the floor, the walls, the toilet seat, and worst of all, usually the toilet paper- things get limp (toilet paper) and slippery.
6- TV Rooms
I can’t tell you how many times in Europe all I wanted to do was lounge in a shared space and watch a movie. In Southeast Asia my dreams came true, and many hostels had designated “movie rooms” with flat screens and DVD players. The best one? Siamaze Hostel in Bangkok.
7- Air Conditioning
Unlike our European friends (just as my sister. She almost died in Florence in 100 degree heat), every hostel I stayed at in Southeast Asia had air conditioning. Sometimes, it was too cold. One of my bunk mates made a scene wanting it colder in Thailand, and when the employee finally came up to fix it, she put it down to 60 degrees. Then, it was too cold. Yet the girl was too proud to admit she wanted it changed again, and we all suffered.
With the exception of a few hostels, almost all had breakfast included. Some of them were elaborate and generous (love you, Vietnam) others were frugal (Laos).
Do you agree with this list? Can you think of any more?
Featured photo: My sister looks out over our balcony at our hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam.