How to keep it comfy on the flashpacker trail

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

South-east Asia specialises in cheap yet chic lodgings. Andrew Spooner picks his favourites

Despite the recession, one of the long-haul destinations that can still guarantee British visitors good value is South-east Asia. Thailand, for example, offers some of the best-value accommodation on the planet. It certainly lives up to its tourist office's marketing slogan "Amazing Thailand, Amazing Value".

But don't confine your travels to this one country. Visit the hills of Laos, the beautifully preserved towns of Malaysia, the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the emerging beach destinations of Vietnam.

Wherever you travel in this vibrant and engaging part of the globe, you won't need to break the bank to stay in comfortable accommodation. Here are some of the best budget-luxury options in the region – from colonial villas in Malaysia to serene riverside bungalows in Laos. All these recommendations will cost you no more than £20 per person – and sometimes you'll get even cheaper deals.

Soria Moria, Cambodia

This Norwegian-run boutique hotel in Siem Reap – the small town located right next to the spectacular ruins of Angkor Wat – offers neat, comfortable and stylishly simple accommodation. There's a pleasant, breezy rooftop bar, a great restaurant, and the location is perfect for wandering the riverside eateries and bars in central Siem Reap. What's more, the owners are involved in various non-aid-based NGO-style programmes designed to train and invest in local people, including the excellent White Bicycle and Love Card projects (see the Soria Moria's website for more details).

How much: Doubles from £18 to £40 per night (00 855 63 964768; thesoriamoria.com).

Nong Kiau Riverside, Laos

While the former Laos royal town of Luang Prabang attracts all the plaudits, it is also a magnet for crowds of tourists. Savvy travellers now head north instead, about 45 miles up the Nam Ou river from Luang Prabang (boats still provide regular transport), to the misty riverside town of Nong Khiaw. The best place to stay here is at the stunning modern bungalows at the Nong Kiau Riverside. The beautifully decorated wooden chalets are furnished with four-poster beds dressed with mosquito nets. They have hot-water bathrooms and views over the river and the dramatic limestone pinnacles and mountains here. The restaurant has a good selection of fine wines and serves great French and Laotian food, which, given the remote location, is something of a triumph. The only downside is that Nong Kiau Riverside is often full, so make a reservation well in advance.

How much: Doubles from £20-£25 (00 856 20 570 5000; nongkiau.com).

Vang Vieng Eco-Lodge, Laos

About five miles north of the infamously raucous Laos backpacker town of Vang Vieng, Vang Vieng Eco-Lodge offers a quiet place to retreat. Set in a serene and exceptionally beautiful location, its 10 simple wooden chalet-style bungalows, each with their own large balcony, have been built on the banks of a river surrounded by luxuriant greenery and precipitous limestone formations. The friendly local management also cook up some awesome Lao curries and fantastic French-inspired breakfasts. At weekends, and during the high season, this place can fill up well in advance, so be sure to book ahead.

How much: Doubles from £20 to £25 (00 856 21 41 3370; villalao.com).

Old Penang Guesthouse, Malaysia

The atmospheric backstreets of Georgetown on Penang Island, Malaysia, complete with rows of shophouses and covered walkways, offer some of the best-preserved colonial-style architecture in the whole of South-east Asia. One of the most atmospheric places to stay here is the Old Penang Guesthouse, a gorgeously restored property that has been turned into a simple guesthouse. Each room is reasonably basic – bathrooms and toilets are shared – but the location and stylish touches still make it a great base for a couple of days while exploring the city.

How much: Doubles from £10-£14 (00 60 4 2638805; oldpenang.com).

Orchid Hibiscus, Thailand

Run by its engaging Italian host, Paolo, Orchid Hibiscus is set just outside the ancient ruins of Sukhothai in central Thailand. There are about a dozen, cute, wooden, air-conditioned bungalows here, decorated Thai style, within gardens filled with pretty orchids and home to colourful tropical birds. It even has a pleasant swimming pool – a god-send after a hot day spent cycling around the nearby ruins – with plenty of space to soak up the sun. And a satisfying breakfast, often served with wild honeycombs, is included in the price.

How much: Doubles from £18-£20 (00 66 55 633284; orchid_hibiscus _guest_house@hotmail.com).

Pai River Corner, Thailand

Until recently, the small town of Pai, buried deep in the hills of northern Thailand, was known as something of a backpacker party town. But with a small airport now open, Pai is changing, and has a more upmarket, bohemian vibe with some great boutique properties opening up. One of the best of these is the Pai River Corner, a collection of brightly decorated, comfortable, Thai-style bungalows set beside a pretty river. Each has a balcony overlooking a private garden and there's a small pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and bar. The jovial Thai/Australian management serve up regular barbecues and excellent Thai food.

How much: Doubles from £28-£60 (00 66 53 699049; pairivercorner.com).

An Huy Hotel, Vietnam

Slowly emerging as a destination, Vietnam is home to many relatively undiscovered treasures, including the beautifully preserved French colonial town of Hoi An. Just a couple of minutes' walk from Hoi An's old town is the charming An Huy Hotel. Contemporary-Asian styled rooms are attractive, upbeat and comfy. There's a pleasant courtyard, a restaurant, free WiFi, and breakfast is included in the price. As in many places in South-east Asia, you might be woken early by the local cockerel population – pack earplugs.

How much: Doubles from £18-£25 (00 84 510 3862116; anhuyhotel.com).

Andrew Spooner is co-author of Footprint Books' Southeast Asia Handbook 2010, due out this month, price £16.99 (footprintbooks.com).

Compact Facts

How to get there

Andrew Spooner travelled to Southeast Asia with Etihad Airways (0800 731 9384; etihadairways.com), which offers return flights from Manchester and London to Bangkok in Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, both via Abu Dhabi, from £428.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering