Where to stay

There are numerous budget options in Southeast Asia and I generally paid $5 or less for a room. Not all rooms include a bathroom – this means that the bathroom is shared with others in the house. Also not all rooms have windows – so if you’re like me and likely to suffocate in such a room, don’t neglect to ask before committing! Some places ask to see your passport during check-in, some demand to hold on to your passport while you stay, others don’t ask to see it at all. Some places require payment upfront or day by day, others are content to accept payment at the end of your stay. Don’t forget that bargaining is acceptable. Guest houses (especially the cheapest ones) are great places to meet other travelers!

Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club are other options. These are hospitality networking sites that allow members to find hosts all over the world. Although the prospect of inviting strangers into your home (or coming to them) may worry you – relax! – most profiles contain references from people who’ve met the stranger. Through these you can ascertain who you’d like to meet. These are not dating sites and people who use them as such are usually negatively criticized in their references. I’ve hosted travelers in NY and I’ve been hosted in Europe and Asia always with very positive experiences… so I highly recommend hosting & surfing! Couchsurfing.com also has groups and forums, providing opportunities to ask questions and seek travel partners.

Generally, I prefer to be hosted in big cities where I don’t know anyone and stay in guest houses in smaller places or when I’m traveling in a group. I avoid booking accomodation in advance; instead I ask around or check the guide book for the general area where the guest houses are located and go there. But if you prefer to book in advance, I recommend hostels.com andhostelworld.com.

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