Nice Southeast Asia Budget Hotels Are $50 or Less per Night

If you plan to stay in Southeast Asia budget hotels and are planning on averaging out at $50 per night, are you going to be happy with where you’re staying? I was able to answer this with a hearty yes back when we launched Hotel Scoop in 2012 and I had just been through there. Now that I’ve been back recently, the lodging value picture is still a bright one in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

budget thailand hotels

The first time I traveled around Southeast Asia I was a broke backpacker staying at places near the bottom of the scale. On our meager budget, we couldn’t be too picky because we were traveling around the world for a year. We were definitely not rolling up to the Hyatt Phuket or Angsana Laguna to spend even one night.

If you’re at that level now, you can still find places to crash for $10 to $20 for two. You can pull a few hundred bucks out of the ATM after arrival and be set for your first week after your flight. Or take a credit card with a $2,000 limit and it’ll take you two or three months to max it out.

But I’m older with higher earnings now, so when I returned in 2012 with my wife and daughter for three weeks, we had a budget of $50 per night. When I went back to Thailand a few months ago, we set out to keep the nightly hotel budget the same and succeeded—with really nice places too. This was 2022, so rates haven’t changed all that much.

You probably already know what $50 a night will usually get you in Western Europe (a hostel) or the U.S. (a roadside Motel 6 that’s far from the center). But at that price point, the budget Southeast Asia hotels don’t feel like budget hotels at all. Here’s what the one we stayed at for a week by the beach in Ko Lanta looked like:

Thailand resorts $50 or less

That was Coco Lanta Resort, which I’d highly recommend. We had a good included breakfast in that rate and the restaurant had reasonable prices the rest of the time. At happy hour, cocktails were less than $3 each!

Budget Thailand Hotels

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand you can find bargain hotels everywhere, even in the capital of Bangkok, where $50 gets you a hotel like the one pictured at the top, where we stayed the first time: Villa Cha Cha. Yes, that’s the pool pictured there, with a nice restaurant next to it, a bar open late (but not by the rooms), and interesting sculptures giving it a strong sense of place. Our nice and quiet room had cranking air-con, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, TV, a sofa, and comfy beds.

Villa Cha Cha is near the infamous Khao San Road, but two blocks from the street itself, so you’re near the Grand Palace and the river taxis without being in the crush of the crowds. You can usually book this hotel for around $50 or less at Booking or Agoda. Prices do go up in peak periods, but because of currency fluctuations, it’s only sometimes more expensive than it was 11 years ago.

On this most recent trip, we were meeting up with some friends in Bangkok and they had already booked a hotel on the other side of the river, also at around $50 a night—including a full breakfast. So we just joined them at Hansa Bangkok House and kicked back in their inviting spaces. We weren’t going anywhere except the weekend market and the domestic airport, so although it wasn’t all that conveniently located, it worked well enough.

Bangkok bargain hotel

You’re not confined to just a few choices at this price level though: Bangkok is one of the cheapest cities in the world for hotels. When I pulled up the city on Booking.com and sorted by price for hotel rooms with their own bathroom, I had to get 200 listings in before the prices even topped $25. After more than 250 more, I got to $50. So at any given time, you’ve got hundreds of places to choose from, in nearly any neighborhood, for under 50 bucks.

If you want to splurge a little, Bangkok has some of the cheapest hotels in the world at all levels, so it’s a good place to find 5-star hotels for cheap, often $100 to $200 until you get up to the best 10 or so.

When I was on that trip with my family, we took one of the best day trips from Bangkok but spent the night instead. We rode the train up to Ayutthaya for one night to check out the ruins and stayed at the large Hotel Ayothaya for one night. It was $40 for the three of us, including breakfast, and had a big swimming pool that was a welcome site at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

When I searched Ayutthaya this week on Agoda, there were 18 hotels for under $50 per night for a private room with its own bathroom. Some of them were hotels with a swimming pool, some include breakfast. (You can also easily find apartments at this level too.)

Southeast Asia Budget Hotels in Cambodia

Budget Cambodia hotel in Southeast Asia

When I visited with my family, we absolutely loved our hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the base for touring Angkor Wat. We spent five nights at Wooden Angkor Hotel and were sad to leave.

Unfortunately, it changed owners and names and I’m not sure what it is called now. But it was $44 a night for two connecting rooms (so we could shut the door on our daughter) and the biggest a la carte hotel breakfast I’ve ever seen. (One of the choices was porridge, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, potatoes, coffee, and toast. Not “or” – and.) The entrance crossed a small pond, where the staff on the other side would greet us with a cool moist towel and a cold glass of water each time we returned from an excursion.

The top-floor restaurant was breezy and spacious and the food was terrific. When we ordered cocktails at happy hour, we got a free t-shirt!

The staff here was phenomenal, even by Asian standards, quickly responding to any request and going out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our stay. They set up a tuk-tuk driver for touring the ruins at $14 a day, the whole day. When my daughter told them it was my wife’s birthday, they went into overdrive. They dressed up the beds, put flower petals in the bathtub, and lit candles on a cake for her. Did I mention we were paying $44 a night for two nice rooms?

That’s not unusual though: when I pulled up Booking.com and searched for Siem Reap, I found 48 hotels that were under $50, including this Angkor Tiger one with a great swimming pool and a gym that’s pictured at the top.

Search other hotel deals in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap has the best selection of value hotels since it gets so many visitors, but you can also find bargains in the beach areas and in the capital city of Cambodia. Search budget hotels in Phnom Penh.

Under-$50 Budget Hotels in Vietnam

Hanoi hotel under $50 Splendid Star

When I traveled through the country with my family, we stayed at three different hotels in Vietnam: Song Thu in Danang, Hong Thien 2 in Hue, and Splendid Star Grand Hotel in Hanoi.

The $50 Denang one was not really special, but the room was really large and both the A/C and Wi-Fi cranked. The restaurant was a welcome sight that night as it was pouring down rain and a breakfast buffet was included in the rates.

In Hue, if it had just been my wife and I we could have gotten into a big resort with a pool, right on the river for our $50 budget, but we needed something that would work for a family and those rooms were all booked. They were too at our second choice, where we showed up without a reservation and found them full. No worries: they led us a block away to their sister hotel where we got a triple room for $20.

That’s not a typo. For $20 a night we had a room that slept three, with a balcony, that had a fridge, A/C, hot water, and breakfast included.

The best place was in Hanoi though, where overwhelmingly positive TripAdvisor reviews led us to a family room at  Splendid Star Grand Hotel. We paid a tad more here, at $57 a night, but it was well worth it since three of us could fill up at breakfast (see more on that below). It’s still going for around the same price now, with regular rooms under $50 much of the time. Check rates for your dates here.

This was the kind of hotel room you’d be happy with if you paid $200 in Japan or Korea, with a big flat-screen TV, minibar, desk with wired or wireless internet included, nice toiletries, hardwood floors, plus thick mattresses and duvets. There was even a whirlpool tub in the bathroom. The location was quiet and the staff was terrific. One of the guys met us at the train station at no cost, let us check in at the crack of dawn, and threw in an extra breakfast. The breakfast here was unique too: a full menu of western and Vietnamese dishes, with the request to “Order whatever you want. If you’re still hungry after, ask for something else.”

Hotel Splendid Star Grand is not an anomaly in Hanoi: the reason we turned to TripAdvisor is that you can find 100 great deals in this price range. This one’s in a quiet location by the cathedral though, shielded from the relentless motorbike traffic.

Search other hotel deals in Hanoi.

What about other parts of Vietnam? Well some other cities are actually cheaper. In general, when you move south in Vietnam and shake the communist mindset completely, competition gets better and prices go down. In Denang you can find plenty of choices under that $50 mark and in Ho Chi Minh City there’s a whole buffet of them that are quite nice.

Search budget hotels in Saigon.

In general, you’ll find the best selection of budget hotel in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam on Agoda, which is owned by the same company as Booking and Priceline but is based in Thailand.

Reviews and photos by editor Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. He paid for all of the hotels covered in this article.

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One Response

  1. blank Jamie Rhein May 23, 2024

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