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
Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

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

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone