Taipei Hostel: Ximen Wow Hostel

Being centrally located in the up and coming travel destination that is Taipei is a must when exploring the city. Fortunately, the Ximen district  -Taipei’s heart – houses more than a handful of hostels and hotels that can fit most of your accommodation needs. Being my group of friend’s defacto organizer I began searching for a good hostel that would fit everyone’s wants while working on a budget. After adjusting my filters on my search in Booking.com I was so happy to find a property that met all of what I was looking for; Ximen Wow Hostel.

 

Location

Ximen Wow Hostel sits on the 8th floor of the building along the main street of the Ximen Walking Street. Not only it is centrally located in the Ximen district, it is also strategically situated just less than a hundred meters away from the Ximen MRT station.

 

 

Amenities

As you step out of the elevator, you will be greeted by a futuristic industrial looking door that opens as you stand in front of it. The Ximen Wow Hostel staff is always there to welcome you as you enter. From there the hostel features a wide open space where people can come together and socialize. The common area is highlighted with a huge communal table, where you can just sit with other guests and get to know more friends.

Ximen Wow Hostel common area and main hall way (click to enlarge)

The hostel features several mixed rooms while acknowledging the needs of solo female travelers with their female dorms. At the end of the hallway are the shower and toilets with an open concourse layout. The showers has rain-shower-heads with uninterrupted hot water coming out that sometimes it was just difficult to stop showering.

I’ve felt secured all the time while in the hostel because of their advance security system. Each guest is given a personal access card.  You can use these cards to gain access to the hostel (doors are closed by 11pm). The same access card is also used for to access your personal lockers that are big enough to fit a medium bag inside.

I guess my favorite part of the hostel is their veranda. Ximen Wow Hostel veranda offers a good view of the Ximen skyline while letting you observe the busy Hanzhong street. The veranda offers a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the Ximen district. The veranda allows you to take a step back and just savor the moment. I go to Taipei when it’s spring time so chilling out on the veranda literally will make you chill out (which is a nice experience for people from the tropics like me) and just feel the the warmth of your jacket.

Ximen Wow Hostel Veranda (Photo from Ximen Wow Hostel Facebook Page)

Rooms

The room that was assigned to us has a 17 bed capacity, that’s more than enough to bring more friends next time (I had 11 friends with me on this trip). Each bed has a curtain providing some level of privacy for each guest. I like their curtains because they are thick enough to actually give you some privacy. You also get to have a comforter and a comfy pillow for your stay. The rooms in Ximen Wow Hostel are equipped with climate control making the temperature when you sleep just right and comfy. It’s also important (at least for me) to mention that the rooms smelled clean, I mean who would want to sleep in a moldy smelling room? If you are a night reader, it’s also great to know that your enclosure has its own light and a power socket so you can charge your gadgets at night (only get one socket so bring an extension cord if you need more).

Breakfast

Breakfast, to be honest this is one of the things that made me chose Ximen Wow Hostel over another property. I appreciate the fact that when you wake up that there is food and coffee that you can consume and not need to forage for food anymore. Ximen Wow Hostel lets their guest cook for them selves giving you some freedom over how you want your eggs cooked. There are jams available over the counter including a garlic flavored margarine (that I love so much) and a toaster so you can heat up of even make you bread nice and crispy. They also have a microwave so if you are person who needs rice in the morning, you can heat up your FamilyMart bought rice before you eat.

Staff

Taiwan is just starting to open up to the rest of the world, but you don’t have to worry about communication gaps. Ximen Wow Hostel staff has an amazing command of the English language! You can ask for directions, advise about your itinerary or even where to eat. My friends really felt welcome specially with Chen who always makes sure that we are okay. Chen is also sooo patient about me asking him every single day for more than a week about the charges being reversed on my card and he didn’t sound annoyed at all. Now that’s a talent! Hahaha! In general the staff are great to talk to and have lots of cool ideas and recommendation, I’m sure you’ll have a great time with them.

 

Price

You will find slightly cheaper hostels than Ximen Wow Hostel in the Ximen area but they can be farther down the alley or doesn’t have breakfast. I bit of a walk is okay but bringing a group of friends with me made me want to have a hostel that include breakfast. The hostel is also accessible for vans during non-pedestrian hours and can be easily spotted as soon as you walk several meters from the train station. A bed starts at $15-$17 a night on weekdays, reasonable enough for the quality of the hostel.

So I guess if you are looking for a hostel that is just a stone throw away from the train station; a place where you can socialize a lot easier and where morning food is I’d say that Ximen Wow Hostel is a definite match for you!

Bangkok Hostel: Zee Thai Hostel

We were on a 12 day backpacking trip of the Indochina region of Southeast Asia and a few of my friends went ahead to Thailand. They didn’t have the luxury of time. They were booked at the same hostel where the rest of us will be staying. But when they got to the hostel, they were quite disappointed with the accommodation. I got into panic mode and re-booked our group to a different hostel.

wanting to stay near Khaosan road, to be just a stone throw away from the main attractions of the old city so we can just wander around saving us money. Though there are hundreds of hostels in and around Khaosan, I had a budget to work around and a level of comfort to provide for my friends -they aren’t really thrifty-stingy-backpackers like me.

I scoured through the pages of online booking sites like Booking.com and Agoda. I sorted out options and trying out different types of accommodation just to keep the group together in one room. I kinda gave up and chose Zee Thai Hostel. According to the map, the hostel is almost 1k from the Khaosan area, it felt a bit too far.

LOCATION

I thought that it far from the action in Khaosan road. I was wrong. Though the map tells me that it was almost a kilometer away, but the actual walk from the hostel didn’t feel like it.  It was a leisurely 3-5 minute walk along the alleys of boutique hostels. Turns out that being tucked away from the noise of Khaosan became an advantage.

The location also allowed us to hail taxis and tuktuks without worrying abut competing with other tourists. Every night there are also a lot of pop-up shops that sets up their stores in front of the hostel so food isn’t gonna be an issue if you’re lazy to go to Rambuttri alley. During day time there are barbecue shops around the area where we eat to our hearts content! price starts at 10-20 bhat a piece for grilled chicken.

 

ROOMS

My friends definitely love the rooms. Each dorm bed had curtains that provides some privacy when you sleep.  Each room has its own split type climate control, this was awesome for us since we rented the entire dorm room. They left the controls to us so we were able to adjust the temperature to a comfortable level. However if you are staying with other solo travelers, you can still request the front desk to adjust it for you.

 

AMENITIES

Our stay in Zee Thai Hostel was really comfortable. We would just hang out at the common area and watch cable TV or movies online on their massive smart TV during our free time. Other travelers take advantage of the free use the computer while some just play with the instruments around or read a book that is readily available from the shelves.

 

One thing though that really convinced me that Zee Thai Hostel is one of, if not the best hostel near Khaosan; The washer! It was our group’s last day together -them going back to Manila and me staying behind for business. I had to decide whether I’d extend in Zee Thai Hostel or move on to a cheaper one. Then while hanging out on their roof deck a poster caught my attention. It said yes its free to use! Along with photos of hotel amenities including the clothes washer!  Having clothes washed  will cost you about  $1-2 per kilo and if you have jackets and pants that would cost a lot! So I thought that instead of having my clothes done for me I’d rather stick to this nice hostel and wash my own clothes. I actually saved money by not moving to a cheaper hostel!

For digital nomads, the hostel’s  internet connection is just awesome. We can download an entire album in just minutes on our phones! I was also able to upload photos from a recent wedding I covered in less than 15 minutes!

PRICE

The Zee Thai Hostel offers different price ranges depending on what season, month and how long you will be staying. They offer good discount during lean season and extra discounts for people who will be staying long term in the hostel. We were able to secure our beds for about $8 a night. Being the one who booked for the group, I initially felt that it was a bit pricey.  That notion though changed when we got to the hostel, The interior was so refreshing and the staff was just so warm in welcoming us.

THE VERDICT

I’d say that the Zee Thai hostel is a great choice if you want to stay near Khaosan and still want to have some peace and quite when you retire for the day. There can be other options that way cheaper than the Zee Thai Hostel  if you are trying to slow down your spending – I use to stay in a $2 hostel. However, if you spending a few more dollars is not an issue, or if you are staying for a few days and you want to enjoy your trip without breaking the bank Zee Thai Hostel can be the best choice for you.

Backpackers hanging out at the roof deck.

Zee Thai Hostel
Address: 258/1, บ้านพานถม, พระนคร, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
(258/1 Wisut Kasat Road Pranakorn 10200 Bangkok, Thailand)
Phone: +66 97 201 6317

Phnom Penh Hostel: The Billabong Hostel

Off from the main street we took a turn to a connecting alley where the hostel is nestled. I have five friends with me booked in an eight bed dorm room all paid for by us. We were kinda excited about this Phnom Penh hostel property because they have a pool and good reviews in Booking.com and Agoda.com. We were trying to manage our expectations though, so we don’t get a broken heart. Many sites try to pull the better reviews up on the ranks so that people see them first and sometimes can be rigged by the hotel them selves, but this time I think we hit jackpot and found the best Phnom Penh Hostel!

phnom penh hostel

Location

The Hostel is just walking distance from the Phnom Penh Central Market where you can explore a lot of Khmer products, food and souvenirs. If you are coming from Viet Nam via MekongExpress, you will be dropped off at the Orussey Market 500 meters away from the best Phnom Penh Hostel, The Billabong Hostel.

There are restaurants near by where you can dine out and drink with friends over good food at night. In the morning if you don’t fancy the hotel breakfast, you can roam around the area and find great street food that offers grilled port and chicken with rice.

phnom penh hostel

Rooms

I learned that the hostel was formerly branded as a hotel. Hence, they have enough private rooms and with the expansion of their brand to the hostel market they were able to add more rooms into their inventory. This could be the reason why it felt like I was staying in an upscale property during our stay. I mean the rooms are incredibly clean and sound proof!

The dorms have wide beds, enough space for your to roll over and over (LOL), and has nice support to the back giving you a good night sleep. Climate control inside the room (air conditioning) is also nice and cool the whole day so if you decide to have a lazy day you’d be tucked in a nice and cozy bed.

The Billabong Hostel also have the bathrooms inside the dorms so you don’t have to go out and travel back wet along a corridor. This is what my friends love the most about this hostel.

phnom penh hostel

Amenities

The pool, that is what got me the first time I saw this property. I looove pools! Specially when traveling around Southeast Asia where temperatures can sometimes be unforgiving. I had to manage my expectations at first because for the price that wee pay per head was unbelievable. I was hesitating thinking how can a property this good be so affordable! But I was wrong the property did proved to be what its reviews are saying that it is the best Phnom Penh hostel.

The pool was clean and clear without that strong smell of chlorine where  guests can just soak under the Sun by the pool and take a quick dip when it becomes a bit too hot.

phnom penh hostel

Next to the pool is the restaurant where you can order food and refillable coffee. Yep refillable, that one got my heart hahahaha! they have a good menu that offers light and heavy meals good for both westerners and Asian guests. If you are staying in a private room, breakfast actually is included in your room’s price.

Billabong Hostel also provides towels and padlocks for lockers ($10 deposit required) that are big enough to fit small luggage. I really appreciate that they provide these since it takes away the burden from me in packing up wet towels in my backpack.

The Verdict 

Even if we only stayed for one night, I would give The Billabong Hostel 5/5 rating. Value for money incredible and location is just perfect! Their staff speaks really good English and doesn’t need to be called for them to assist. My friends were so happy with the time we spent their even if it was a short while in the best Phnom Penh hostel. I just delighted to have discovered The Billabong Hostel. Now I don’t have to think of anywhere else to bring my guests whenever in Phnom Penh.

 

The Billabong Hostel 
No. 5 Street 158, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
www.thebillabonghotel.com
Contact Info
+855 (0) 23 223 703
+855 (0) 92 229 306
info@thebillabonghotel.com
FB: @billabonghostelphnompenh

Siem Reap Hostel: Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar

Cambodia can be pretty awesome when it comes to accommodation and they can be pretty cheap if you know what and where to look for them. You might also be surprised on how epic they can be. So on my first Indochina trip last year, I made sure to find the best hostel that I can and I think I found one of Siem Reap’s hidden gem of an accommodation The Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar

Location

This hostel is tucked in along one of the small alleys of Sok San road just about a hundred meters off of Pub Street and the Night Market road making. Its location is ideal as it makes points of interest are just walking distance

The hostel also has a 24 hour reception so anyone can check in at any time that they arrive in Siem Reap. They also offer free bus station and airport transfers!

Rooms

Most of the rooms are air conditioned so you don’t have to worry about melting under the Cambodian weather. They are also cleaned every day by the hostel staff making sure that you are comfortable during your stay. The bed I had was in an 6 bed room (I don’t like big dorms) though they also have bigger dorms (16  and 8 bed dorms) that costs way lesser. If you are looking for some more privacy they also offer private rooms at a very affordable price.

 

Facilities and Service

As the name suggests the hostel features a nice pool and a bar that comes alive at night with backpackers trying to have a great time. Drinks are also at a reasonable price and I’m pretty sure that you’ll have an epic night partying. This Siem Reap hostel also has a nice soccer and beach volley ball court where you can play a good game with your new found friends.

Siem Reap Hostel

The best part that I love most about this hostel is that they have a 24 hour kitchen where you can order their awesome drip coffee at any time of the day, yeah coffee addict here. How much is their coffee you might ask? 1 freakin’ dollar! This Siem Reap hostel also amazes me of their service. Hostels usually tend to be lean towards being self service, but the Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool bar has a ridiculous number of staff at any given time that are ready to assist you of anything that you need giving you some sort of Hotel vibe. They also have a concierge desk where you can book your bus tickets which is awesome since they’ll also be the one who’ll coordinate with the bus company to pick you up from the hostel.

 

Siem Reap Hostel

Siem Reap Hostel

How Much This Siem Reap Hostel Costs?

Now here’s the bomb. You can get a bed at this hostel for as low as $4 for their non air conditioned dorm, the bed that I got though only costs $6! I mean, I’d be staying with lesser people in a room that is air conditioned. You just can’t over look what value that extra $2 gives you. Yeah that cheap!

There are other Siem Reap hostels that you can find that has pool but I think the Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar is one of the best there is in Siem Reap.

 

Like this hostel? Check rates at  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Liwliwa Hostel: La Zerena Beach Resort

Searching for a private room in Liwliwa, San Felipe Zambales can be difficult on a weekend when everything is almost fully booked. Good thing we wandered a bit more and found La Zerena just across Circle Hostel.

We took one of their nipa huts that is good for two to three persons. The comfort rooms are communal located near the huts are reasonably clean and water is good.

The resort is about two to three minutes walk to the beach.

la zerena resort

 la zerena resort

 

 la zerena resort

 

 la zerena resort

Priced at 1,200 La Zerena nipa huts are quite affordable specially if there’s going to be three of you splitting the cost. I also like the resort’s location since it is just right beside Fely’s Canteen and store where we bought most of our necessities.

Airconditioned rooms though are priced at 3,000 pesos good for two.

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

It was almost a no-thinking-required decision when we booked Hostel Avenue. We were trying to escape the rains in Cebu so we find our selves up north in the province of Aklan. With no plans at all, we pushed all the way to Boracay with no reservations for the night. So we turned to our phones and searched through our apps for one. Agoda.com was the one that gave us the best options, sorting the results from cheapest to the highest priced accommodation Hostel Avenue quickly got my attention as it showed to be located on a beach front property. It was also strategically located in Station 2 near D’Mall and Epic Club so everything is right at your reach!

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

The hostel has two rooms (at least that I know of) that has dorm facilities. The dorm that we were assigned to stay in has two showers and two toilets. It also has two sinks outside the toilets so bathroom traffic was pretty much manageable.

You are given clean linens and pillow cases as soon as you check in. You also don’t have to worry about towels as they will also give you fresh ones. I was specifically impressed with their bunk beds, Usually, bunk beds tend to move and wobble every time the one who stays in the upper bunk moves or gets off. But for Hostel Avenue, the beds doesn’t move an inch. You also get to have a socket assigned to your bed and even the upper bunks have one!

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

The only thing that kinda let me down, is that we can’t leave our electronics charging. This means that I had to stay in the hostel whenever I have to charge one of my gadgets because they will plug it out if they see it unattended. To be fair though, I didn’t ask if I can leave my gadgets charging in the reception area.

They also clean the room and toilets on a daily basis which is a +++ for me! The water pressure though is quite disappointing. But it could be because of the water heater just like in most cases. You can’t have both – heated water or pressure – you choose!

I really find the hostel strategically located, I will stay here over and over if I am traveling alone. One thing though that I would like to point out is that, it would be a loooooot more awesome if they have free drinking water. I mean really. Honestly, I was quite disappointed with that, but then they served FREE Cocktails on my last night so no biggie! Hahaha! I really had a fun stay at Hostel Avenue, I’m sure you will too.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through     agoda-logo   for the best rates

P.S. They have this awesome roof deck over looking the beach bar performers. You can just buy your own beer and chill there while listening to live music… totally awesome!

Boracay hostel

Boracay hostel\

Note: Photos lifted from agoda.com. This post is the sole opinion of the writer of whom was not solicited by the establishment. 

Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Hostels aren’t that popular for Filipinos but I think one must try staying at this hostel called Bugoy’s Biker Bed and breakfast. Hotels tend to provide canned customer service of some sort like they smile all the time and everything but experiencing real personal customer service is something that one can only experience when the people who own the accommodation actually attend to your need.

I booked Bugoy’s Bed and Breakfast six months ahead of the festival, honestly I had hesitations with it because the location doesn’t seem to be at the center of Cebu and the place looked like it was an old house. Though admittedly, the owners does say it is thus prohibiting smoking inside the accommodation.

Cebu Hostel
But I guess, I was wrong, Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast is just a 15 minute ride away from where the Sinulog action is. It is also conveniently located near JY mall where I was able to find a travel agency that helped me book a ferry to escape the rain in Cebu to Boracay. It is also walking distance to the market, supermarket, fastfood and cheap eateries where I often eat.

The best thing I like about Bugoy’s Bikers Bed and Breakfast is the owner’s personal touch of service. They are really honest and would make sure that you are comfortable. Jens with his wife who owns the B&B will attend and tour you around the property informing you of everything that you need to know.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

I also admire their honesty. I really appreciate the fact that they are very transparent and fair with their prices. I booked through a certain website that gave me a different price which was 25% more of what other guests are paying for. I gaveRenz the amount stated on the website as I checked then she pulled at the back of the property and insisted on giving me back the excess of the price that I was suppose to pay. If that is not enough honesty and integrity, what more can I say? I mean that is money for them already and that is not even cheating or anything since that is the price that I signed up for but she gave it back to me because it was not right. I am really impressed.

They also provide free water and brewed coffee which is awesome, specially for digital nomads like me who need s caffeine to keep our bloods running ^_^. They also serve continental breakfast which is awesome and helpful when it was terribly raining because we didn’t have to go out and find food.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Most of the people who stay there are westerners and I was able to speak with one of the owners who quite sad about locals (people from the country) who book at their hostels and just don’t show up, mostly because they are expecting of some sort of hotel like accommodation. I just hope that Filipinos could open up and actually try staying in hostels and get to know more people.

Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast definitely delivers exceptional service. It has nothing like the luxurious amenities of a hotel but it has more than what you can experience more than a hotel.

It is also worth mentioning that Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and breakfast can be one of the few accomodations that does hostels right. Some accommodations would label them selves as hostels only because they offer dorms of accomodation below the standards of a hotel, but that is not what hostels are all about. Hostels are about meeting new people and keeping accomodations low.

In general, I would highly recommend Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast because of their excellent personal service and hospitality.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Note: this post is the sole opinion of the author who is not associated with the hostel in anyway. If you are booking for Sinulog make sure that you book at least 6 months ahead.