The best hostels and guesthouses in 6 months of travel
Green View – Munnar, Kerala, India
This place is OK – but the selling point has to be the manager. This is Deepak, who doesn’t appear to sleep, knows everything about both Munnar and it’s connections to the outside world, and gives it to you straight, in terms you can understand. Go to Munnar with no idea what to do and see, stay here, and be looked after.
Backpacker Panda – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Prices may have risen in line with the Panda property in Goa, but when we stayed, it was about 200 INR/person. For that we got good dorm beds, hot shower, air conditioning, free laundry, a water filter, a rooftop, free internet, a kitchen and a lounge. It was of the standard of the best hostels in Vietnam and Thailand and the staff were friendly. They barely even tried to sell me an overpriced rickshaw tour!
India Guesthouse – Mumbai, India
This is run by some amiable Nepali guys and is essentially a cardboard doss house. Rooms start at 650 INR and the walls don’t go all the way to the ceilings. However this is Mumbai and they run such a flexible and helpful place that the walls shouldn’t bug you too much. Neither should the (clean) shared bathrooms or the multiple flights of stairs. This is an excellent location, you can walk to most of the stuff you want to see, and the atmosphere around check-in/check-out time is pretty social for a guesthouse with no dorms and no real common area.
The General Store, Anjuna, Goa, India
It’s all relative – they have simple rooms at average price, fan cooled and no hassle. Other places serve food, and probably would like to arrange a tour or something for you. Here they leave you alone. It’s on the ‘road’ by the church, back from the main strip – no constant offers of drugs or carpets, just a room to stay in. The only downside is no internet.
Gunu Paradise, Palolem, Goa, India
Gunu’s place is right on the beach, with prices to match some of the concrete cells in town. The quality of the establishment is somewhere in between, but at this price, you can focus on the genial management, the veranda just above the sand, and the easygoing atmosphere. Gunu will keep your beer cold his fridge, sort out trips (waterfalls, fishing, kayaks) on request, and plied us with prawns when we arrived. If you come to Palolem and want the location, but not the price tag, this is it.
Upcountry Guesthouse, Ella, Sri Lanka
Be warned, this place has limited rooms, and a shared, squat toilet. It may have hot water. The internet works though. ‘Welcome tea’ was the best I’ve ever drank, and fruit appeared in our hands from time to time too. It’s really a homestay with restaurant, and the family there are incredibly friendly. They actually seem to be pleased to see you!
The Travel Hub, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We’ve stayed here twice now, and bedbugs aside (KL has direct flights from Sydney), it’s a great hostel. The faces change, but the attitude stays the same – friendly and accommodating, reasonable beds, free breakfast, cheap bar, good internet, and all the help you need finding your way around KL and onwards.
Beds Guesthouse, Kuching, Malaysia
Malaysia sets a high standard with its hostels, and this one lives upto it. One neat feature is that the rooms cost double the price of the dorms, so if you’re a couple it’s an easy decision. They’re doing OK on the facilities and comfort side of things, but it’s another great staff that makes it – helpful and knowledgeable and straightforward. The location is pretty good too.
Kinabalu Backpackers Lodge, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
This guesthouse has a good location on Australia Place, and a friendly management. You can rent on of their lockers while you’re away in the mountains and jungles, and their ridiculously cheap, airconditioned rooms will be perfect when you get back. They even have a kitchen and free breakfast – and seem pleased to provide it all.
Pink Manila Hostel, Manila, Philippines
To be honest, this is a bit of a dump – the roof on the top floor dorm appears to be fabric, and the plumbing is hit-and-miss. But they have a good location in Malate, close to shops, an ATM and places to eat, as well as the LRT and a major jeepney route. It’s a 150 PHP taxi ride from the airport and they run a friendly bar with ridiculously cheap cocktails. It’s all about the character of the place and the attitude of the staff. This is the kind of place you can leave your luggage and come back in six months to find it still there. Who cares if the shower is a bucket?
Ronor’s Homestay, Apo Island, Philippines
Best, cheapest food on Apo Island and it must be some of the cheapest beds too. Ronor should consider increasing her prices as despite the basic conditions, it’d still be a bargain. From when you arrive, probably hungry, until she helps you arrange your passage back to Dumaguette, Ronor will look after you, and smile doing it. All the good stuff you’ve heard about the Philippines – it happens right here on Apo Island.
Born Free Hostel – Vista, Bangkok, Thailand
Probably not so special in a city of so many hostels, but since my preferred hostel in Bangkok got famous and raised its prices, and one of the best rated on HostelWorld has a string of bad, recent reviews (indicating a change of management), we tried out their neighbour. We weren’t disappointed. Friendly staff (from Burma, to add a touch of variety), fast internet, OK beds, aircon dorms, a nice lounge and warm showers (warm enough in Bangkok, anyway) and a Khao San adjacent location. It’s not too expensive and it’s pretty quiet anyway. Every negative point about my stay concerned the particular clientele at the time, hardly the hostels fault!
Context: The world of hostels being what it is, most of these places have probably closed, gone down hill, or otherwise become less than awesome. However, onto give my recommendations some context, perhaps you once stayed at one of these, once upon a time, they were great hostels too, perhaps they still are:
Backpackers Miyajima, Miyajimaguchi, Japan
Mozjo Inn – Nha Trang, Vietnam
Nomads, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Smile Society, Silom, Bangkok, Thailand – this one got featured in the AirAsia inflight magazine and has now raised its prices. Anyone know if its as good as it was 4 years ago?
Tree In Lodge, Singapore – not so long ago featured on http://www.bemytravelmuse.com
Alice Lodge Backpackers, Alice Springs, Australia
The Coastal Cow, Mangawhai Heads, New Zealand – they have an ‘honesty cow’!
Bamboo Hostel, Nadi, Fiji