There is something about Thailand that keeps calling me back. The infectious energy of Bangkok. The dramatic hills and rivers of Northern Thailand. The hipster vegan cafes and hole-in-the-wall Thai joints of Chiang Mai. The ever-growing bucket list of where to stay in Thailand. The abundant peace in Buddhist temples accessible only by hiking. An easy Thailand visa on arrival with the Indian passport. The surprises that lurk in its many corners, far from the beaten path. The warmth of locals. The acceptance, no matter who you are.
I’ve lost count of how many months I’ve spent in Thailand over the years. My heart still skips a beat every time I think of going back. And this partly has to do with all the incredible, affordable, eco-friendly places I’ve found on booking.com over the years!
Ever since I began travelling independently, I’ve been using booking.com – both within India and abroad – to find accommodations with a unique character, that offer experiences off the beaten path. By now, I’m a “genius” user (the loyalty program), eligible for discounts and travel rewards. So when they reached out to me for a collaboration, I was excited to dig into my treasure trove of finds and put together this post on where to stay in Thailand.
Whether you’re new to booking.com or an existing user, use my referral link to get INR 2000 (28$) off your next booking (minimum spend INR 8000 / 112$)! The offer expires on 30th November 2019, but bookings made before that for a later travel period will still be eligible.
Behold, the best places to stay in Thailand (boutique hotels, lodges, B&Bs, hostels and homestays) for your next trip:
Lisu Lodge: Northern Thailand
Lisu Lodge and its cousin Lanjia Lodge are shining examples of community-based tourism, where travellers are hosted by the indigenous hill tribes of Thailand. Away from the vibrant Thai cities, this is a chance to recuperate in the lap of nature, literally. Think gentle hills, lush paddies, roaring rivers and sparkling night skies. The huts are built on stilts, in traditional architectural style, suited to urban taste yet with natural air flow, and pretty much all food is sourced locally.
- Location: Mae Taeng (north of Chiang Mai)
- 181$ for two, including breakfast
The Yard Hostel: Bangkok
In the hip Bangkok neighborhood of Ari sits a little secret. A green oasis in the heart of the city, made from recycled shipping containers and insulated with recycled paper! I’m usually not a fan of hostel life, but The Yard Hostel is more like visiting family (literally too; yard is the Thai word for relatives), with a mix of trendy private and shared rooms with large glass windows overlooking the greenery. Right at your doorstep are the independent stores, cool cafes and art galleries of Ari, the new kid on Bangkok’s hipster block.
- Location: Ari, Bangkok
- Dorms: 15$ per bed; Private room: 44$ for two, including breakfast
The Hideout: Koh Yao Noi
Plastic-free, wifi-free, electricity-free. If that doesn’t convince you to move The Hideout – Koh Yao Noi to the top of your “where to stay in Thailand” bucket list, maybe this will: tree-top living with no walls! Far from the overrun beaches of Thailand, lose yourself amid the sun, sea and stars at Koh Yao Ni, as you feast on gorgeous food handcrafted mostly with local organic produce. The Hideout has an admirable zero waste policy; you can even swap your trash from a beach/forest cleanup for an artisan cocktail. If that’s not your thing, cool off in the solar-filtered saltwater infinity pool instead or soak up some vitamin Sea at the secret beaches on your doorstep. Just don’t Instagram them 😉
- Location: Koh Yao, Koh Yao Noi
- 343$ for two, breakfast included
Green Tiger House: Chiang Mai
Reform Kafe is one of my favorite vegan cafes in Chiang Mai, endorsed even by my non-vegan friends. So I have no doubt that Green Tiger House, to which the cafe belongs, is a delightful abode too. Close enough to the old city yet far enough from its chaotic streets, the homely rooms offer a minimal wooden vibe, solar-powered showers, green lounging spaces and delicious plant-based breakfasts whipped up mostly with locally sourced organic ingredients.
- Location: Old City, Chiang Mai
- 65$ for two, including breakfast
Aster 9 House: Bangkok
Tucked away in a quiet by-lane, yet a stone’s throw from the more happening area of Sukhumvit, Aster 9 House is a townhouse B&B, run with the warmth of a family-run homestay. Walking through the little gate, I fell in love with the green outdoor lounging area and the minimalist white theme, plucked right out of a French villa. The rooms are stylish and super comfy. Kanta, a Bangkok local, and his sweet mother, personally host all travellers for breakfast with a delightful Thai feast (or an English breakfast if you’re so inclined).
- Location: Sukhumvit, Bangkok
- 63$ for two, including breakfast
Ban Lom Jen Homestay: Chiang Rai
Now that I look back on my travels, I think staying at Ban Lom Jen Homestay – a homestay run by Son and Jan, a Thai-Dutch couple in a little village off Chiang Rai – is what sealed my love affair with Thailand! My partner and I went back 3 years in a row, to savor their warm hospitality and humor, indulge in incredible Thai food and homemade breads, work on a balcony overlooking lush rice paddies (the once long open balcony is split by rooms now) and explore northern Thailand on a bicycle.
- Location: Muang, Chiang Rai
- 28$ for two, including breakfast
Also read: Going Back to the Places We Love
The spectacular Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand is often in the news for the wrong reasons. Due to overtourism and its ill-impact on the ecology, Maya Bay has been shut indefinitely and Koh Phi Phi island itself went through a water crisis. That makes responsible tourism in the area of utmost importance. Enter Zeavola Resort, a boutique hotel nestled amid ten acres of tropical rainforest in Phi Phi Don, serenaded by the waves of the turquoise blue Andaman Sea on the pristine Laem Tong Beach. Go beyond the charming rustic luxury of its teakwood suites to discover the underwater world with Zeavola’s “Coral Freedom” initiative – which aims to club leisure diving with its quest to fight coral bleaching and enable coral reef regeneration.
- Location: Phi Phi Don, Krabi
- 294$ for two, including breakfast
Phor Liang Meun Terracotta Arts Hotel: Chiang Mai
Phor Liang is over a hundred year old clan in Chiang Mai, who’s founder is known to be an elephant whisperer (he used indigenous herbs to treat sick or hurt elephants). His great grandson became a famous terracotta artist, carving sculptures that represent both Buddhist and Lana Art – and this art is what sets Phor Liang Meun Terracotta Arts Hotel apart. Borrowing design concepts from across Southeast Asia, with a focus on local terracotta artisans, this trendy art hotel is for anyone with a creative flair.
- Location: Old City, Chiang Mai
- 119$ for two, including breakfast
Plant Life Hotel (coming soon)
Even though it’s yet to open, I can’t contain my excitement at the idea of Thailand’s (the world’s?) first and only 100% vegan and sustainable luxury resort – Plant Life! After a successful crowdfunding campaign, plans are underway to use renewable energy, source locally, install a self-sufficient water system and instill a zero waste policy to create a space that is ultra luxurious yet kind to the planet and the animals who share it with us. The dream is that one day, such spaces will be the norm, not the exception!
Have you used booking.com on your travels yet?
*Note: I wrote this post in collaboration with booking.com; as you know, I’ve been using it for years and opinions on this blog are always mine. This post contains affiliate links. Any bookings made through these links will earn me a little commission at no extra cost to you.
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Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.