The land of smiles, delicious food and idyllic beaches, Thailand is the best country in South East Asia for travelling on a budget. As a backpacker or budget traveller, Thailand a great country to travel through because it is so cheap to eat, drink and sleep there. Sure, there are luxury resorts to be found all over the country, but for every 5-star resort there are hundreds of budget-friendly beach huts and guesthouses where you can check in for as little as £5 per night. Here’s my guide to the best budget accommodation in Thailand.
Budget accommodation in Thailand usually means mosquito nets, cold(ish) showers, bucket-flush toilets, and very basic facilities. We have no problem staying in places like this but just so you know the places I’m recommending here are not for the high maintenance or luxury traveller! They’re for medium to long-term budget backpackers or travellers that want somewhere cheap, in a great location, that’s comfortable and at a really cheap price.
We’ve stayed at all of these places on at least one occasion and will happily return when we go back to Thailand, so if you’re looking for cheap-as-chips, no-frills places to stay then keep on reading.
*Just one thing to note, prices in all of these accommodations will vary depending on whether you’re booking in low, shoulder or high season; the prices I’ve given here are what we paid during our stays at varying points in the year. I’ve included links so that you can check prices.
Island hut, Koh Mak
From £5 per night
This is our go-to accommodation on our favourite Thai island, Koh Mak. Set on the most beautiful and idyllic beach on the island, Ao Kao, Island Hut is rustic, charming and cheap as chips. A world away from the full moon parties in Koh Phangan and the hordes of tourists in Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui, this is the place to go for an authentic Thai island experience.
There are around 30 huts at this resort, ranging from very basic £5-a-night tiny wooden huts with a thin mattress, mosquito net, a fan and shared bathroom, to newly added air conditioned rooms right on the beach which cost a little more. Rooms are basic and all have a small porch with chairs and sometimes a hammock. The bungalows are set apart from each other with tree lined paths between each, so it feels quite peaceful here – especially if you get a beachside hut where you wake up to the sound of the sea lapping outside your window.
There’s a shared restaurant on site which serves delicious Thai food for as little as £1 per meal, and a selection of western foods too. We spend most of our time on Koh Mak lounging around the restaurant area chatting to other visitors or chilling out on the beach out front. At Island Hut, everything is tallied up as you order and you pay at the end of your stay. It’s also within walking distance of other restaurants and you can rent a scooter or bicycle here to get around.
How To Book
My favourite thing about Island Hut is reserving a room – it feels like going back to pre-internet days! You can’t book online and they don’t have a website so you need to call them up and give them the dates you would like to stay and whether you want an air con or fan room. Their contact number is (087) 139 5537/(086) 835 3195. Alternatively you can just show up and they’ll find you something! For more information about Koh Mak, plus other accommodation options, read my travel guide for the island.
Ao Nang Lakeside, Ao Nang
From £12 per night
A small town around 30 minutes west of Krabi, Ao Nang is a popular place for backpackers to visit before making their way to the nearby Andaman islands. It’s also a really good base for exploring the natural beauty of the area. Most of the accommodation in Ao Nang is on the loud, touristy and hectic main strip, but Ao Nang Lakeside is tucked away in a quiet spot which makes it a really peaceful place to stay. The accommodation is close to a small beach and a scattering of restaurants and shops, and we often walked into the town in the evenings for drinks or dinner.
Ao Nang Lakeside offers a range of options depending on your budget, from back-to-basics fan cooled wooden huts to air conditioned apartments. We opted for the fan cooled room which set us back 699THB (£15) per night in high season, with breakfast included.
There’s a swimming pool onsite which was very clean and quiet while we were there, and a restaurant that cooks up basic Thai meals for a low price. The bungalows have hot showers, flush toilets and were mosquito-free, with a little balcony outside. There’s a boxing gym nearby where you can workout or watch matches in the evenings, and the roads in the area are quiet so we often went for early morning runs before it became too hot.
You can easily walk from here to Ao Nang town or if you ask the owners they will drive you there in their own little tuk tuk. You may want to rent a scooter if you want to get around, which you can organise through reception.
Mad Monkey Hostel – Bangkok
From £8 per night for a 4-bed dorm to £23 per night for a private room
Mad Monkey hostels can be found all around Southeast Asia and are a really popular choice for backpackers- they’re cheap, they’re comfortable, and they’re a great place to meet other backpackers! Our good friends Matt and Kelly who run the blog Done With Adulting made their way around every Mad Monkey hostel in SE Asia and introduced us to the chain in Bangkok.
The rooms in the Bangkok location are very basic, but are large and have air conditioning. The restaurant is pricey compared with local restaurants so I wouldn’t recommend eating here, but there are some great places to eat nearby (some of them made my ‘8 Places to Eat in Bangkok‘ list).
The outdoor, riverside swimming pool is one of the main draws of Mad Monkey Bangkok, along with nightly happy hours at the bar. Here you’ll meet a lot of other backpackers getting ready to head to the infamous Khaosan Road for a night out. This is a great place for solo or couple backpackers that want to have some fun and meet new people – just don’t stay here if you want an early night because you’ll quickly change your mind!
The Earth House & Khun Ying House, Koh Tao
Earth House from £9 and Khun Ying House from £14 per night
These are two great places to stay on Koh Tao, and I’m including both as they each have a different appeal! One is in a prime location, and the other is a rustic Thai-style retreat.
The Earth house offers Thai-style bamboo bungalows set on a coconut plantations, so this is a nature lover’s dream. If you’re looking for a peaceful, back to basics, relaxing stay on Koh Tao then this is the place to go. The rooms are fan cooled and you can choose between bamboo bungalows or cement bungalows if you prefer a little more comfort. There’s a bar and restaurant on site where you can meet other travellers, and it’s just a 10 minute walk from Mae Haad Beach. You can also walk to nearby bars and restaurants here, but you may need a scooter to get to the most popular bars on the island (you can rent this from reception).
Set in a prime location next to Sairee Beach on Koh Tao, Khun Ying guesthouse is the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to all of the action but are on a tight budget. Double rooms are very basic and western style, with fan rooms starting at just £14 per night and £16 per night for air con. Most rooms have a shared bathroom which is usually very clean, or you can pay £1-2 extra per night for an en suite.
Khun Ying is a great spot to stay location-wise, as it’s close to the main strip in Koh Tao with the most popular bars and restaurants, and it’s a few minutes walk to both the beach. If you want to keep fit while you travel, this resort is close to the local crossfit gym which is really popular. There’s also a regular gym here that I went to, which is set over two floors and is really well equipped – they even sell protein powder here so you can stock up!
Personally I prefer The Earth House simply because I love staying in those little Thai bungalows and getting back to nature, but we always rent a scooter so that makes it easier to stay a little out of town. Both are great options for the budget traveller though!
Those are our favourite budget places we have stayed in Thailand! If you have any places you’d like to recommend to other readers then let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,