Bed Station: My New Favorite Hostel in Bangkok

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One of the many things I loved about Bangkok is the huge selection of hostels – not the dingy, cheap ones, but those that are more upscale but still affordable. I have been here three times, and every time, I end up falling in love with a new hostel. I have stayed at Lub D Siam, Lub D Silom, and The Yard before. For this trip, I chose Bed Station. From the moment I checked in, I knew one thing – this will be a great place. As it turned out, I was right!

 

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Checking in was a breeze, though I have to wait for a couple of hours since I was there early! The staff at the reception was very welcoming. What a good way to start my day! Upon entering the huge wooden door,  you will be greeted with a two story foyer. The first level is where you can find the reception, cafe, and bar. There’s another common area on the second level. The industrial chic interior will give you a positive first impression!

 

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The reception. Spot the big stuffed toy! 

 

I stayed in a 6-bed mixed dorm for four days. The bed was one of the nicest from the hostels I’ve been. What I loved the most is that they do not give you a blanket, but a comforter! Yes, a fluffy comforter and not a thin sheet for a blanket! Each bed comes with a privacy curtain, reading light, and electrical sockets. There are also large lockers. Each room has electronic key card access.

 

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My bed just before I had a nap after checking in.

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This is how the 6-bed mixed dorm looks like. 

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If you are particular about the cleanliness of the bathroom, you will love Bed Station. There is a toilet in every floor. The shower rooms, meanwhile, are on the fourth floor. No worries, they have an elevator! No need to use the stairs!

 

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Even the bathroom looks stylish! 

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The common area looks pretty cool too! On the second floor, there are bean bags, desktop computers, flat screen TV, and PS4. On the ground floor, there is a long table. This is where stories are shared and fun begins. It starts with a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer, a simple hello or a quick question asking where are you from. Before you know it, you have already made friends and you start planning what to do, which, more often than not, will include partying in Khao San.

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A good spot to socialize or just be on your own 

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The kitchen as seen from the second floor. Free breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 10:00 am. 

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Grab a book or leave one 

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Khao San – the hostel’s resident cat and everyone’s favorite! 

The location of Bed Station is another thing I loved. It is near Siam, the main shopping district of Bangkok. It is also a few steps away from the Ratchattewi BTS Sky Train station. A few steps from the hostel, there is a nearby 7-11.

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Cafe just a few steps from Bed Station

More than the design and the cleanliness of Bed Station, it is the people that made my stay more memorable. Rose and Farook, to be specific, are the best! With a bunch of other guests at the hostel, we went to Khao San twice. From picking up a tuktuk to making sure you will have a good time, the two were very attentive.

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Khao San with my hostelmates 

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In a city that is overflowing with choices for accommodation, I am glad I chose Bed Station. If you are visiting Bangkok any time soon, I highly recommend this place. For sure, you will have a good time!

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Guess Who’s Back, Back Again!

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Myanmar and Bangkok 2016

 

Finally! After more than a year of hiatus, I am back! I’ve had my fair share of travel since my last post, and sadly, I have no time to write about each of them. As much as I would like to share and document those trips, I am too lazy to write about them! As a welcome back post, I am sharing some photos from my recent trip in Myanmar and Bangkok. By recent, I meant last June! These are just mostly pictures. Will be in Dumaguete soon, and I guess that is when I will start making more time to write about my adventures!

Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay, Myanmar

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Having just recently opened for tourism, Myamnar is a treasure waiting to be discovered, a diamond in the rough. It is slowly attracting more and more tourists, so I suggest that you visit it while the crowd isn’t as dense as what you can find in neighboring countries.

Yangon was our first stop. It’s chaotic! If you can book a flight direct to Mandalay and skip the capital, it would be better. But if you want to spend a day or two here, there are some beautiful pagodas that you can visit. If you are looking for the best hostel in Yangon, I suggest that you take a look at Scott @31st street.

 

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Inside our hostel in Yangon, Scott @ 31st Street

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Color and chaos

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Looking for the best restaurant in Yangon? Look for 999 Shan Noodle House. It’s just near Sule Pagoda

 

Bagan is my favorite part of our recent holiday in Myanmar. It is literally a city of thousand pagodas. Catch the sunrise and sunset. Rent an e-bike, it is the cheapest way to go around. There are no taxis and buses, so you either have to rent a bike or a car. Most hotels will have bike rentals.

 

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One of the many pagodas you will find in Bagan

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Shortly after sunrise

 

Mandalay is not to be missed as well. We only had two days here. We had the tri-city tour and my favorite was Inwa. You have to ride a boat to cross the river and a horse carriage to go around. It is definitely one of the highlights of our Myanmar trip.

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We traveled as a group fo four all over Myanmar. Three of them went to Kuala Lumpur after while I continued my holiday in Bangkok.

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 One of my favorite spots. Somewhere in the ancient city of Inwa.

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Still in Inwa

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Super comfortable bus ride from Mandalay to Yangon, even if it took ten hours

Bangkok, Thailand

I spent a week on my own in Bangkok. My first visit was two years ao, and it was love at first sight. Its cosmopolitan vibe is a complete contrast from the rustic charm of Myanmar. During this trip, I did not visit any temple, museum, or any of the usual tourist attractions. Instead, I decided to take it slow – eat, drink, sleep, repeat! Haha. I was at the hostel most of the time, either sleeping or hanging out in the common area. For sunset, I would normally be in a rooftop bar. At night, I was drinking some more, mostly at Khao San or discovering new places.

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The Yard Hostel. This is where I stayed during my first three days in Bangkok. So much to love about this place!

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On my last three days in Bangkok, I stayed at Lub d Siam. I stayed here two years ago. It is just right next to  train station and walking distance to some of the best shopping malls in the city.

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Bangkok is never complete without visiting its rooftop bars. This one’s at Above 11 in Fraser Suites.

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Awesome toilet! Pee while enjoying a spectacular city view!

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Happy hour at Octave, Marriott

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Another awesome rooftop bar. This is at Vertigo, Banyan Tree 20160612_125741-01

At Sofitel, they have unlimited BBQ and beer on Sundays, inclusive of pool use.

 

That’s it friends! I know it wasn’t informative! Sorry! Will be back on track after my Dumaguete trip. Will try to make a better post! Cheers!

 

 

Bangkok, Thailand: Exploring the City of Angels On My Own

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Bangkok, Thailand: Exploring the City of Angels On My Own 

It was past 8 in the morning of January 4th when my flight from Phuket arrived in Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. My original plan was to travel from Phuket to Bangkok via the train-bus combo, which will eat up a lot of my time. Fortunately, two weeks before my flight, I was able to find good deal from Orient Thai Airlines. I booked a ticket for only 1,350 baht (1,700 pesos). From the airport, I took the bus going to Mochit then the Skytrain to the hostel where I stayed, Lub D’ Bangkok – Siam Square.

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Don Mueang Airport

When I arrived at the hostel, it was only around 10am. Their standard check-in time is 2pm. My bed was not available by then. After having settled the remaining amount I owed the hostel, I just left my baggage and went out. I have written a separate article about Lub D’ here.

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Lub d Bangkok – Siam Square

The hostel where I stayed is located in Siam, which puts me at the proximity of Bangkok’s shopping district. I went to Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, MBK, Centralworld, and other malls withing the surrounding areas. Looking for a place to have lunch, I ended up at Sizzler, located at Siam Center. I first found this restaurant in Phuket but have not had the chance to try it there. Sizzler is a huge American restaurant that offers buffet of salads and appetizers for every order of their entrees. I ordered their Spicy Grilled Chicken and iced tea. They also give you free bread. I highly recommend this place if you love American food. The salad bar itself would already suffice to choose this place above others when you need your stomach filled. The meal I had costs 399 baht (500 pesos). After lunch, I went around the malls again and walked on my way to the hostel. At 2pm, they already had my bed ready. Having little or no sleep from the past few days, it did not take long before I passed out.

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Salad Bar

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Lunch from Sizzler

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MBK

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Centralworld

It was already 6 pm when I woke up. I took a shower and went down the hostel to have a few drinks. While drinking, I took advantage of their free Wi-Fi and research about what to do at night. Bangkok is a city that is replete in terms of options for night-outs, which make it harder to choose where to head. I took the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin. I was supposed to ride a boat that will lead me closer to Khao San Road. It was already 10pm that time and turned out boat station was already close. I rode a motorbike instead and paid 150 baht (190 pesos). Khao San is known as Bangkok’s backpacker district and famous for its nightlife. I spent just about 30 minutes walking along its stretch and had another motorbike ride going to Silom. I had a couple of drinks in some bars along the area. At around 1am, I was hailing a cab to take me to Royal City Avenue (RCA), which serves as another nightlife center, believed to be home to some of the best clubs in the city. It took me almost 10 attempts before finally finding someone who could understand where I am going. A lot of the taxi drivers have a hard time understanding English, which makes it a challenge to go from one place to another via a cab.

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Khao San Road

While in RCA, I went to Route 66. I learned about this place from my roommates at the hostel who were there the night before. They told me that it has a crazy party scene, which prompted me to give it a shot. Indeed, they were right. The place was huge and people were dancing, drinking, and having fun from anywhere you look. I had to pay 300 baht (375 pesos) pesos, which qualifies you for drink coupons of the same amount. Route 66 is a huge place that caters to almost every taste. There were different rooms playing different music. In one room, there is a live band. In the other room, you can dance to hip hop and RnB music. The best part to stay was outside. It is packed with more people but you will have generous space to move. Expect a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, mostly the younger ones. This is definitely a place that will give you a glimpse of how crazy Bangkok nightlife can prove to be. There are other clubs around RCA, such as Slim. Feeling tired and exhausted, I did not check any other place after Route 66 and decided to call it a night at around 4am. Because RCA is packed, there will be no problem getting a taxi as most of them can be seen lined up along the main road. Expect, however, that you will not be charged based on meter reading.

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Route 66

On my 2nd day in Bangkok, I woke up at around 10am. From outside the hostel, there is a stand selling street foods and I grabbed something to eat for breakfast. I had Thai Pork Barbecue and sticky rice for just 20 baht (25 pesos). After about an hour of researching, I decided that I would spend the day visiting some of the temples nearest the hostel. I bought the Skytrain Day Pass for 130 baht (170 pesos) and one day pass for the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat for 150 baht (190 pesos). These day passes will provide you with a cheap option to stroll around the city.

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Skytrain

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Chao Phraya River

I visited Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn. To enter, I had to pay an entrance fee. I forgot how much it was. From its name, it is pretty obvious that the best time to visit this temple is during sunrise, although it is also a sight to be reveled during sunset. I spent about half an hour going around the temple.

The Temples of Bangkok

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After Wat Arun, I took a very short boat ride going to Wat Pho, which is just directly opposite the former. Wat Pho is more popularly known amongst tourists as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. You have to pay an entrance fee to enter. I was most probably mistaken as being Thai, which is why they let me enter without paying anything. I tried going to the Grand Palace after, but it turned out that their already closed by that time. The Grand Palace is open only until 3:30pm, so you have to be early if you want to see it.

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After a boat ride from Wat Pho, I was at Chinatown where I originally planned to have lunch. I did a lot of walking trying to find a Chinese restaurant to eat but I ended up eating Thai street foods again, which I found to be better because it was very cheap and food was good. There is nothing much to see around the area, which is pretty much just like other Chinatowns.

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Chinatown

Wanting to make the most out of the day pass that I got, I rode the boat again and went to River City, a shopping mall that offers a good view of the river and the buildings around the city. After strolling for just about 15 minutes, I found myself inside the tourist boat again on my way to Central Pier, where I took a short walk going to Lebua at State Tower. This is actually one of the things I was most excited about my trip. I went to the Sky Bar, which is located at the 63rd floor, considered as one of the highest club in the world. If you have seen The Hangover 2, you are most probably aware of the place. You can go to the Sky Bar just to take pictures, but you will have a limited view as the waiters will not allow you to take pictures of certain areas unless you order a drink. I ordered one bottle of Heineken from the bar, which costs me 400 baht (500 pesos). In turn, I was able to take better pictures of the city. Pretty much good deal!

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The view from River City

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Sky Bar at Lebua

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From the 63rd floor of Lebua

At around 7pm, I left Lebua and took a long walk going to the United Center building, which houses another famous rooftop bar in Bangkok. As against Sky Bar, Cloud 47 is a lot cheaper, especially when it comes to food. I got one pint of Asahi for only 230 baht (290 pesos). Cloud 47 is huge and not as posh as the other clubs. Still, it is very promising in terms of being able to rival the other rooftop bars in the city. The place was almost empty when I got there. The huge dance floor and DJ booth suggests that it could have been a venue to some of the city’s best nights of partying.

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From the 47th floor of United Center Building

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After Cloud 47, I took a short walk going to the train station and went back to the hostel. Here, I found my roommates drinking and I joined them. They were enjoying the popular Thai bucket while I opted to have Heinekens. Juan and Nora, my roommates, were from Columbia and they are going to travel Southeast Asia for 6 months, including the Philippines. They have a life we can all be envious about, to think that they are just 22. After a couple of drinks, I took the train going to Sukhumvit and walked all the way to Levels Club, which was located at the 6th floor Aloft Hotel. They do not have door charge but drinks inside were expensive. I only had a bottle of Heineken for 250 baht (310 pesos).

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Levels

After a drink at Levels, I took the cab going to Patpong. This is one of the most recommended areas in Bangkok basically because of its naughty nightlife. Here, along different alleys, you will see different types of go-go bars. You will be approached by touts offering a one-of-a-kind show that has made Bangkok nightlife popular. I was supposed to try their ping-pong shows. However, from an earlier conversation with my roommates, they told me to just skip it as it is no good. There were really girls doing weird things, but they seem to be drugged and have minimal or no energy at all, apart from the fact that most of them are losing the youth of their body. I just grabbed beer from the street, ate at Carl’s Jr. and headed back to the hostel at around 4am.

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Patpong

I woke up before lunch the next day and went around the malls again to do a bit of shopping. The malls were huge and filled with people, offering everything that you will need. I decided to just shop at Platinum Fashion Mall and skip the others. I had lunch at KFC inside the mall’s food court. After around three hours of going around, I went back to the hostel to rest for about an hour and head to Asiatique. From the Central Pier, I took one of the free boats going to Asiatique. This is another huge shopping destination with an abundant list of restaurants offering a good view of the river.

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Platinum Fashion Mall

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Asiatique

After Asiatique, I went to Baiyoke Sky Hotel, which serves as the venue to another place that has made Bangkok famous – The Rooftop Bar. I had to pay an entrance fee of 400 baht (500 pesos), which qualifies me for one free drink. The bar is located at the hotel’s 83rd floor. It offers another good view of the city but I do not find anything promising about the bar itself.

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From the 83rd floor of Baiyoke Sky Hotel

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The Roof Top Bar at Baiyoke

From Baiyoke, I walked all the way to Centralworld, another shopping complex and home to some of the newest nightlife destinations in Bangkok. I went to Horizons, which is located at the 19th floor and offers a good panoramic view of the city. I ordered a bottle of beer for 200 baht (250 baht).

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From the 19th floor of Centralworld

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Horizons

I visited Khao San on my first night in Bangkok and did not enjoy it that time. My roommates, however, had an entirely different story. They told me that I was most probably there too early. Convinced by the fun they had, I checked it again on my last night. I was surprised to see how different it was. This time, it was livelier and louder. I grabbed bottles of Singha from the stalls around the street for a 100 baht (125 pesos). I also went inside Hippie de Bar and The Club for some drinks. It was more expensive than the price from the street. I also had a lot of street foods paired with my beer. At around 2am, you can see vendors selling balloons and hiding when they see cops around the area. The balloons turn out to be what they call laughing gas, sold at 100 baht each (125 pesos). I tried one at first and talked to some other tourists and saw how much fun they were having. This convinced me to have another laughing gas, but I still did not match the level of fun they had. The balloons were filled with nitrous oxide gas, which was used as anesthetics, and you are supposed to have it inhaled to have a good time. It is illegal to be sold in Bangkok, which explains why vendors are in a rush to hide every time they see cops.

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Laughing Gas

On my last day, I woke up at around 10 am and headed to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, which was just a few steps away from the hostel where I stayed. I had my bags packed the night before so that I can have free time before heading out of Bangkok. I left the hostel at around 11 am and took the train going to Suvarnabhumi Airport. I arrived at the airport around 12nn. I boarded a 2pm flight from Philippine Airlines going to Manila, which I got for 3,745 baht (4,700 pesos).

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Bangkok Art and Culture Center

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Suvarnabhumi Airport

The next time I am in Bangkok, I will sleep all day and drink all night. I heard a lot of stories about people falling in love with Bangkok for a number of reasons. There are people who loved it for shopping. There are foodies who raved about Thai cuisine. There are some who liked the cultural experience they had. In my case, it is most probably the nightlife that made Bangkok now one of my favorite cities.

Lub d Bangkok Siam Square: Best Value for Money

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Lub d Bangkok Siam Square: Best Value for Money 

What makes a hostel the best choice of accommodation for a solo traveler? Obviously price is its biggest selling point. If you do not have the luxury of cash or ownership of a credit card with an attractive limit, sleeping in a hostel would be the best way to explore a new place without extravagantly spending. It also offers an environment that is appealing to anyone traveling alone because you will have the opportunity to mingle with the other guests. It is common in hostels to have a common area where you can drink with other people, play games, watch a movie, and engage in conversations. It also offers cultural diversity and the opportunity to learn more not only about the country that you are visiting, but also the countries where the other guests are from. It also somehow forces you to go out and explore your destination, unlike in hotels where you might be tempted to just lounge by the pool for hours or be pampered by room service. Lastly, they are generally staffed with people who are hospitable and who will treat you like you are in a friend’s house and not in some place with an uptight environment.

Staying in a hostel forms a part of your travel experience. The people you meet and the conversations you had will always make you reminiscent of the good time you had during your last trip.

Given the many things that make a hostel inviting, I was convinced that it was the best choice for my accommodation in my recent trip to Bangkok. With the help of Google, I found Lub D Bangkok Siam Square. Siam is considered to be a shopaholic’s haven. While I do not really like shopping, I still opted to stay at Lub D because I loved the place the first time I read about it. When I visited their website, I was already decided that it is where I am going to stay. Try visiting their website and you will see what I am talking about.

I booked my accommodation at Lub D through Hostel World. For a 4-day, 3-night stay (Jan 4 to 7), I paid a total of 1,800 baht (2,250 pesos) for a Basic 4-bed Mixed Dorm. I booked it about a month before my trip and had to pay 10% deposit. I had the remaining amount settled upon check-in.

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Lub D offers 5 different room types. For more discerning travelers who seek privacy, there are Econo Twin, Econo Double, and Double Deluxe Rooms that are available. If you do not mind staying in a room with strangers, you can choose from Ladies’ Deluxe Dorm and Mixed Dorm, both of which have 4 beds in one room.

The check-in time at Lub D is 2pm. I flew out of Phuket at 8am and was already at the hostel around 10:30. I was advised that no room is available yet so I had to leave my things and head out. I came back at 2pm and was given my electronic keycard and room number. I stayed at the third floor of the hostel, Room 305. Upon entering the room, there were two bunk beds. The first guest to arrive gets the opportunity to choose the preferred bed. I chose the bottom bunk from the bed facing the door. There are personal lockers in each room. You have to bring your own lock for security purposes. In my case, I just put my bag inside the locker and did not bother getting a lock at all. There are also individual reading lights, sockets, and a card holder that will activate the room’s AC. The mattress and blankets were thick, clean, and comfortable. The room has minimal and captivating design.

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The Room

The hostel’s building has four floors. The Econo Twin and Econo Double Rooms are located on the fourth floor. The Deluxe Dorm, the room where I stayed, is on the third floor. On the second floor are the double deluxe rooms. The theater is also found on the second floor. Meanwhile, the ladies’ deluxe dorm is located at the ground floor. The gender-separate shared bathrooms are located on the first, third, and fourth floors.  The bathrooms were clean and spacious, with complete toiletries.  The laundry area is also on the ground floor. There are coin-operated washing machines that can prove to be useful for people who are traveling for an extended period of time. Here, you can also see vending machines, including one that sells condoms. To enter the main area, you need to tap your access card on the glass door located near the baggage storage and reception area. The hostel can keep your luggage for as long as two months for free. In front of the reception, there is a waiting area of generous size, 8 desktop computers, and a desk for booking various tours and other inquiries. They have free Wi-Fi throughout the hostel. Your password will be based on your bed and room number.

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The Bathroom

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The first thing that you will see upon entering the hostel is their bar. This is the place frequented by guests who would like to have a drink while getting to know other people. At most nights, I will also drink here before going out. It has a relaxing ambiance and a wide selection of drinks that can prove to be perfect for warming up before experiencing the infamous Bangkok nightlife. The bar also serves light breakfast.

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The Bar

Another thing that makes this hostel ideal is its location. It is near MBK, Central World, Siam Paragon, and Siam Discovery, among others. It is a few steps away from BTS Skytrain, National Stadium Station. Getting around Bangkok will never be a problem because the train station is just a stone’s throw away.

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Terrace at the 3rd floor. You can see the escalator going to BTS Skytrain

The hostel has very accommodating employees who will be more than willing to extend a helping hand in whatever way they could. Because taking the taxi around the city can prove to be a disaster, considering how barely the drivers could understand English, you can ask for help from the front desk. If you are heading to a specific club, give the name of the club and the employee will write it in Thai. Give this to the driver and you will have lesser of a problem commuting.

My stay at Lub D made my Bangkok trip worth sharing. I was inspired to travel more, especially with the experiences of my roommates. Nora and Juan, two students from Columbia, are traveling Southeast Asia for 6 months, including Philippines. Zooey, who is from Turkey, traveled Thailand with for 6 months. Most of the other people in the hostel are traveling throughout Asia for an extended period of time. I felt quite a loser as I was on vacation only for a week. The hostel, the guests, the employees, and the experience in general made me keen on planning my return to Bangkok. Lub D Bangkok Siam Square is indeed a place worth recommending.

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Phuket, Thailand: Welcoming 2014 in Beach Paradise

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Phuket, Thailand: Welcoming 2014 in Beach Paradise 

While many people have their bucket lists, I opted to not have one to be spared from having regrets years from now that I have not done some things when I could have had. Nonetheless, if I will be ever required to identify the things that I want to do before I die, one thing is for sure: traveling alone in a foreign country will be included in that list. When I planned for a Thailand trip, I never thought that I will end up doing it alone. When I was left with no other choice but to head there on my own, I just embraced the idea that what I will be doing is going to be one for the books. Indeed, it turned out to be one of my most memorable trips. It was the 4th of November when I booked for Dec. 31 flight from Manila to Phuket via Tigerair. They had a seat sale at that time, selling tickets in selected destinations for 0 base fare. With insurance, taxes, and other charges, I got a ticket for 3,505 pesos. I was psyched by the idea that I will be spending New Year’s Eve in Phuket. The scene of watching fireworks by the beach and partying with people I do not know made me more excited. However, around the first week of December, I received an email from Tigerair informing me that their Phuket flights from Dec 17 onwards were cancelled. Upon researching, I found out that such route turned out to be unprofitable, with less than 50% passenger load per aircraft most of the time. Depressed, annoyed, angered, and feeling whatever words would describe the same emotions, my only choice was to accept the full refund that they offered. With about three weeks before my flight, airfare is proving to be more expensive. With that, I had to book for a Jan 1 flight from Cebu Pacific and had to miss the NYE celebration in Phuket. I got the ticket for 3,805.86 pesos. I left Manila at 7:20 pm and arrived in Phuket at 10:20 pm. The flight was three hours and they had an hour difference from Philippine time. At Phuket International Airport, I was greeted with a long queue at the immigration counter where I had to wait for more than an hour. After my passport got stamped, I picked my baggage and head out of the airport. I bought a ticket for a mini-bus bound to Patong Beach for 180 baht (225 pesos). You can opt to ride a taxi but you will have to pay 800 baht (1,000 pesos), at the very least. The ride took about an hour from the airport to Patong. The driver dropped me off at Jungceylon Mall where I had to find my way through the hostel where I booked.

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Soi Bangla, Patong Beach

For this trip, I booked my accommodation from Capsule Hotel and Sauna via Agoda. The hostel offers two kinds of accommodations: Korean-style dormitory beds and deluxe capsules. I opted for the latter and paid only 963.90 pesos for my Jan 1 – 3 booking. On my second night, I decided to extend my stay for one more night and had to pay 350 baht (roughly 450 pesos). I wrote a separate review of the hostel here.

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Capsule Hotel and Sauna

After checking in, I immediately headed out to eat and ended up at KFC, which is located just at the ground floor of the mall where my hostel is located. Capsule is at the basement of the Bangla Mall and at the middle of Bangla Road, making it strategically-located. I had KFC Bitez (their version of Hotshots) and Pepsi for dinner, which cost 100 baht (125 pesos). I walked along Bangla and the surrounding sois for almost two hours, trying to discover what they have to offer. I eventually got tired and headed back at the hostel where I had two bottles of Heineken from 7-11, 44 baht each (55 pesos). They also sell San Mig Light for 46 baht. Drinking in Phuket can prove to be expensive. That is the case if you choose to drink in the wrong places. While Heineken in 7-11 will cost 44 baht (55 pesos), the same beer would cost 80 baht (100 pesos) in stalls along the beach, 120 baht (150 pesos) in pubs, and as much as 220 baht (275 pesos) in some bars. What I usually do is that I first drink a few bottles at the hostel before heading out. I would normally order just one bottle inside the clubs, buy another bottle from 7-11 where it is cheaper, walk, and head back to the club. This will make your nights significantly cheaper while enjoying the most of Patong since you do not get confined in a single place. I also grabbed some beers by the beach and just stayed there for quite some time. At around 5am, I headed back to the hostel and called it a night.

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Dinner from KFC

I woke up around 12 noon. I was supposed to do the Koh Phi Phi whole day tour but I was late since most of the tours start at 8am. I headed to the beach and just reveled in the sight of hundreds of tourists enjoying the heat of the sun. Patong Beach was crowded and more of better for sun bathing than swimming. Trying to find a place where I can have lunch, I ended up at Chabadang Bar and Restaurant where I had chicken satay and rice for 240 baht (300 pesos). They serve free fruit slices at the end of your meal and offers a good view of the beach. I again walked after my meal, try to inquire for some possible tours, went to Jungceylon Mall, headed back at the hostel and had beer. While staying at the hostel’s common area, I also researched about some things that I can possibly do around the area. I could not do any tour since it was already quite late.

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Chicken Satay from Chabandang

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Patong Beach

I rented a motorcycle from Patong and asked the driver to take me to Kata Beach. The motorcycle ride costs me 300 baht (375 pesos) and took more or less 30 minutes. You can also take the taxi, but it is almost double the price of a motorcycle ride. I checked out Bella Vista Restaurant where I had mojito for 220 baht (275 pesos). The restaurant has an open air ambiance and perhaps one of the best places where you can have a good view of Kata Beach. I used one of the sunbeds near the restaurant. After 30 minutes of being there, a local approached me and asked me to pay 200 baht (250 pesos) for the sunbed. I refused to pay and just headed back at the restaurant’s terrace.

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Kata Beach

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Bella Vista Restaurant

After about an hour at Kata, I walked going to Karon Beach. I initially had the idea of walking going to Karon to save money. I ended up walking from Kata Beach to Karon Beach to Patong Beach. The walk took me more than 10 kilometers and 2 hours. I would stop from time to time to grab beer and just enjoy the view. The walk was tiring but all worth it, especially because of the views that can be seen along the way. With still about two kilometers before the hostel, I gave up and rented a tuktuk. I was initially told by the driver that the tuktuk ride is 300 baht (375 pesos). I managed to haggle and ended up paying only 200 baht (250 pesos). It was raining when I arrived near the hostel. I rewarded myself with Banana Nutella Pancake and a bottle of beer again to feel better after that long walk. After an hour, I tried the hostel’s sauna. They have Finnish-style sauna, Korean-style Sauna, steam room, and ice room, which can be used for free by their guests. I slept for three hours and went out for dinner at around 11pm.

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Karon Beach

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On my way back to Patong Beach

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Banana Nutella Pancake

It took me a lot of walking, again, before I finally found a place to eat. I had dinner at The Pizza Company, an Italian-American restaurant that is similar to Pizza Hut/Shakey’s. I ordered carbonara, chicken wings, and Pepsi, all for only 300 baht (375 pesos). After dinner I walked around to find a place where I can book a Koh Phi Phi tour for the next day. I tried it from the hostel but they do not have an available schedule. I went through several places but they were all fully-booked. It was peak season, which explains why it is almost impossible to find slot for the tour. Just when I was about to lose hope and already considering going to the James Bond Island instead, I found an agency where one of their customers just backed out from the tour. I had booked it immediately and paid 1,200 baht (1,500 pesos) for the tour. I went through several drinking places, one after the other and had some beer. At around 3am, I went inside Tiger Disco. The door charge was 250 baht (310 pesos), which qualifies you for one free drink. I chose Heineken.

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Dinner from The Pizza Company

Tiger Disco is huge, covering three floors in its own building. It is impossible to not notice this place along Bangla. Your attention will be first directed to the huge concrete tigers that overlook the street. On the first floor, you can see a lot of bar counters, each with different and funny, not to mention naughty, names. People certainly go here for the girls as you can see them dancing just right at the top of the table. On the second floor, there are more bars and pool tables. This is also where you can find the entrance to the club. Upon paying the door charge, you enter the discotheque, which has two huge floors. The place was full and loud, with people dancing anywhere. If you hate to squeeze yourself in the dance floor, you can head to the upper floor where you can have a good view of the club.

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Tiger Disco

There are several other places around Bangla that are comparable to the first floor of Tiger. You can check out Soi Seadragon and Soi Easy. If you are feeling naughty, you can check out their go-go bars, with some of the most famous located along Soi Seadragon, such as Devil’s Playground and Suzy Wong’s. If you fancy seeing Russian girls, check out Moulin Rouge. It is hard to miss this place as you can see skimpily-dressed Russian girls just outside the bar inviting you to check the place. Just walking along Soi Bangla, you can see more girls and lady boys trying to command attention with either minimal or exaggerated outfit (including oversized headgear, angel wings, etc). Of course, you can see a lot of them with foreigners. Skip the touts offering you to try their infamous ping-pong shows. I heard a lot of stories about scams, which discouraged me from trying it.

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Along Soi Bangla

I was supposed to wake up at 7am the next day for my Koh Phi Phi tour. I slept just before 5am, which explains why I did not wake up from my alarm. Fortunately, the attendant from the front desk woke me up at around 8 am informing me that the driver was already outside and waiting for me. Feeling panicky, I just grabbed what I found in my bed and immediately headed to the van waiting outside. From the reaction of the other passengers who will be the same group I will be going with for the tour, I can easily tell that they also had a good night and very little sleep. It took the van ride about an hour before we finally reached the pier. There was a 10-minute orientation about the tour, including what to expect. We were warned about sea urchins, which made me rent fins for 100 baht (125 pesos). It would have been a lot better if they had aqua shoes, or if I had my own. At around 10 am, we finally boarded the speedboat. For the Koh Phi Phi tours, you can opt for a speed boat tour, which has about 50 people, or a big boat tour, which has more than a hundred. I chose the speedboat tour.

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Tour map. We did it the other way around.

The first destination for our tour was Maya Bay, which was made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach. This was actually the main reason why I booked the Koh Phi Phi tour. I felt a bit disappointed when we arrived at Maya Bay because it was exaggeratedly crowded. There were hundreds of people (or even thousands) and it was even made crowded by the speedboats and long-tailed boats. At the further end of the beach, you can see a very small area for swimming. We stayed there for half an hour and most people were just taking pictures, mostly disappointed with congested the place was.

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Crowded Maya Bay

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After Maya Bay, we had a sightseeing tour of the Pileh Lagoon and Viking Cave. We also went to see the Monkey Beach. Unfortunately, it was high tide during that time. We only went near the trees and got as close as possible to the monkeys being fed by tourists. We also went snorkeling for about 30 minutes in Loh Samah Bay.

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Loh Samah Bay

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Viking Cave

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Monkey Beach

The speedboat arrived at Phi Pho Don Island and we had our lunch. The tour comes with free buffet lunch, as well as free soft drinks and water on board.

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Phi Phi Don

There was nothing special with the lunch we had. The food does not look appetizing at all. I did not even finish my plate. Instead, I went at the nearby bar, grabbed a bottle of beer, and walked around since we had 90 minutes to kill. In 2004, this island was hit by the tsunami, and we were told that more than 70% of the buildings have been wiped off.

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What I got from the buffet lunch. Food was bad.

Our last stop for the tour was Khai Nok Island. Here, you can go snorkeling, swimming, or simply relax in one of the sunbeds, which can be rented for 150 baht (190 pesos). I spent the first few minutes just relaxing under the heat of the sun with a cold bottle of beer. I went snorkeling for a while. While at the beach, you will be served fresh fruit slices courtesy of the tour agency. It was around 4 pm when we left Khai Nok and headed back to the pier where we were picked up by the van going back to Patong Beach.

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Khai Nok Island

At around 5pm, I was back at the hostel. I took a shower and grabbed a bottle of beer. I stayed at the hostel’s common area and talked to some of their guests. I went to McDonald’s and got myself McSpicy, fries, and soda, all for 200 baht (250 pesos). I went to the beach to eat my sandwich and walked around for more than hour. Did some more walking and found an Indian restaurant called Madras Café. I order chicken curry and rice for 280 baht (350 pesos). After dinner, I went back to the hostel to pack my things. It was already raining and there was no electricity in some areas so I just opted to drink again at the hostel. Good thing they have generator.

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Chicken Curry from Madras Cafe

At around 2 am, I went out to check out some clubs. It was still raining but electricity was back. There were long lines in almost every club, which made me decide to head out to the beach first and have a beer. After about an hour, I checked The Club. They do not have door charge at that time, or possibly because I was mistaken as a Thai that is why I was allowed to enter for free. The place was new, having opened just in December. I had one bottle of Heineken for 220 baht (275 pesos). Just next to The Club, you will see Hollywood Discotheque. I got in after paying 300 baht (375 pesos), which qualifies for one free drink. After around 30 minutes inside Hollywood, music stopped and most of the lights faded. Most of us inside thought that there was some technical glitch so we waited. It took quite a while and music was still not back. I decided to just leave. Outside, it was crowded as people tried to leave the place. It turned out that there was no electricity again, since it was still raining, most people were not moving.

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Hollywood Discotheque

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Brownout!

I returned to the hostel around 5am, grabbed a beer and something to eat from 7-11. I checked out and left the hostel just before 6 am. There were still no mini buses that early, which left me with no choice but to spend 800 baht (1,000 pesos) for a tuktuk ride going to the airport. I was at the airport at 7am and boarded an 8 am flight to Bangkok.

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Tuktuk ride to Phuket International Airport

 

Capsule Hotel and Sauna, Phuket: Be at the Heart of Bangla

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Capsule Hotel and Sauna, Phuket: Be at the Heart of Bangla

Traveling alone and on a budget, one thing that I found hard to plan on my recent trip to Phuket was my accommodation. There is an abundance of choices, depending on the area where you would like to stay. I chose Patong because of its proximity to the nightlife center. I searched through Google for several weeks to see some hostels and found Capsule Hotel and Sauna. I first stayed in a hostel in Singapore and I knew that this was the perfect type of accommodation if you are traveling on your own and if you do not want to punch holes in your wallet. It’s also a good way to meet new people, if you are the friendly type.

If there is one thing that makes Capsule a good choice, it would be its location. It is situated at the center of Bangla Road, which is the liveliest soi in Patong. The hostel is located at the basement of the Bangla Mall. Just a few steps from its entrance, there’s 7-11. On the first floor of the mall, there are some places to eat like KFC and Burger King, among others. In less than a minute from the hostel, you can see all the bars and clubs lined up along Soi Bangla. Bangla is loud and alive almost until the early hours of the morning. When you are inside the hostel, however, you can no longer hear any noise from Phuket’s liveliest party zone.

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Capsule is located at the basement of this mall

Capsule offers two kinds of accommodations. You can opt to choose Korean-style dormitory beds at 250 baht (roughly 325 pesos) per night. If you want a bit more privacy, they have deluxe capsule units that are available at 350 baht (about 450 pesos) per night. I chose the latter and stayed in a room with at least 10 units. The hostel is new, which explains why their rooms are very clean. Staying inside the capsule is not recommended for those who are claustrophobic as it is small. In my case, I did not have any problem with its size and liked my capsule a lot. There are individual reading lights in each capsule, mirror, and socket. There is also a rolling blind, which gives you a bit of privacy.

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The capsules inside the room

Upon check-in, I was given sauna uniform, towel, and blanket. From the reception, there are two separate entrances, one for men, and the other for women. Upon entry, you will see their shower room and the line of lockers. They have almost everything that you will need in this area – shampoo, soap, lotion, toothpaste, hair dryers, and clothes steamer, among others. As per the hostel’s FB page, it says that they have 300 lockers and 27 shower rooms.

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From the shower rooms

As you exit the shower rooms, you will be led to the common area. This is where the Korean-style dormitory beds are. This is also where they have their computers (they have free Wi-Fi within the hostel). They have two huge TV screens as well. If you have nothing to do, you can just stay here and mingle with other guests. They also have massage chairs.

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Dormitory Beds. The place suddenly got full on my second night

On both sides of the common area are the rooms with the capsules. They have at least 140 deluxe capsules, around 10 in each room, or at least in the room where I stayed. The only problem I had in the room was that it is common to be awakened by the alarms from other people’s phones, especially those checking-out or going out early for a tour.

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How the capsules look like. Taken from Capsule’s FB page.

At the end of the common area, on the right, you can see the toilet. On the left, you can see the four different types of sauna systems – Finnish-style Sauna, Korean-style Sauna, Steam Sauna, and Ice Room. If I am not mistaken, the saunas are open until 10 in the evening.

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Sauna rooms

At most nights, before heading out, I would first grab a few beers from 7-11 and stay in the common area. This is the place where you can get to hang out with other guests. As usual, conversations would often start by asking where is the other person from. You can also see people playing games – a good way to break the ice and know each other better. After a night of drinking, this place is still often packed with guests trying to sober up.

I had my room booked through Agoda a few weeks before the trip. The booking was supposed to be from January 1 to 3 only, but I decided to have it extended for one more night, which shows how much I liked the place.

If you want to book for tours, you do not need to go far as you can do so in the reception. Just book ahead of time as their schedule and availability varies. In my case, I had to book my Koh Phi Phi day tour outside since they do not have an available slot that fits my schedule.

Capsule Hotel and Sauna is the perfect choice if you want to be as close as possible to all the pubs, night clubs, and go-go bars. If you like hitting the beach, this is also an option that you will not regret. It will take you about two minutes of walk to Patong Beach.

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From Capsule’s FB page