1. Book Ahead Through Agoda
Agoda.com is widely used throughout Thailand. You’ll find Thai hotels, guesthouses and resorts that aren’t advertised on other English language booking sites.
2. Read A Lot Of Reviews
Ideally locate independent blogs that have reviewed the hotel / guesthouse / resort you’re interested in. Typically they’re more in-depth and include photos of the establishment’s current amenities (not promo pics that may be a decade old, or Photoshopped).
3. Understand Thai Transliteration Inconsistencies
Many cities share the same name as the province they reside in. Should this be the case, the city will be listed as Amphoe Meuang (Ampeur Muang). Note, as there is no unified transliteration of Thai language (to Roman script), the cited examples are the two that I read most often (or any mix of the words, i.e. Ampeur Meuang). If it reads as anything similar, in sound, I suggest assuming it is referring to the city. For example, a hotel may be listed as:
NAME OF HOTEL, 534/26 Vasitdee Road, Amphoe Muang Buriram, Buriram, 3299 Thailand
Please note, often people will omit the Amphoe/Ampeur and simply write something to the affect of:
To further complicate the matter, Thailand is divided in provinces, regions, subsections, cities, towns, etc. differently than what I’m assuming a great deal of you are used to (or anything like I’ve experienced in Canada or the U.S.). To simplify the entire situation, I suggest reading Amphoe Meuang /Ampeur Muang or any mix, including only one of the words as a signifier of the name of the city. For example:
NAME OF HOTEL, 39 Soi Prachuabauichaem, Tambon Nang Rong, Amphoe Nangrong, Nang Rong, Buriram, Thailand 31170
Where is this hotel located? Nangrong City, in the province of Buriram.
Finally, one last question. Where is this hotel located?
NAME OF HOTEL,514/59 Harnchana road, Muang Burirum, Buriram, Thailand 31000
Correct. Buriram City.
4. Understand Thai City Planning
Because a hotel is listed as being in the city (as described above), that may not translate as one would expect in the West. For example, although the mailing address is listed as the city, the hotel may be 15km away from what a lot of you, I suspect would consider city. Basically, it’ll look like you’re in the sticks, with little to none of the expected amenities (i.e. buses, tuk tuks, taxis, motorcycle taxis, restaurants, net cafes, a 7-Eleven). This happened to me when I booked at a hotel in Kanchanaburi. This is how the address was listed online:
NAME OF HOTEL, 99/9 Moo 3, Thamakam, Kanchanaburi City Center, Kanchanaburi, Thailand 71000
So what can you do? Spend that extra time researching reviews online.
5. Don’t Expect To Find English Speaking Staff
Despite the hotel either being listed on a website marketed towards English readers or having a website written in English, it doesn’t mean the staff can speak English. Simple, but often an assumption made which I suspect has been the source of frustration for some travelers. Download a Thai translation app, bring a translation book or simply learn to roll with it.
For Thailand hotel reviews, travel information and tips, check out Backpacking Thailand, my free Thailand resource.