1. Location, location, location. Just like in real estate – find out where you are going to be and what is available around you. Is the bus, train, highway near? Where are the shopping malls? How far is it to that temple you want to visit? Remember when reading through the hotel write-ups – not every hotel is “centrally” located. Avoid Khaosan Road unless you like backpackers.
2. Don’t be fooled by a name. Most of the hotels in Bangkok use the words “Grand”, “Boutique”, “Royal”, “Luxury”, “Executive” in the name of the hotel – so just because you booked a room at the Royal Grand Executive Luxury Boutique Service Apartments doesn’t mean the place will be royal, grand or any of the other words.
3. Ask your friends. If they have gone to Bangkok before, ask them where they stayed and get a recommendation. This doesn’t mean you have to stay there – but it should give you some ideas.
4. Shop around. The Internet is a wonderful place. Pop in the name of the hotel you want information on in Google, and you will see a myriad of info and a range of prices. Take good notes. Read actual reviews keeping in mind most people are more willing to write a negative report as opposed to a positive one.
5. Find a forum. There are many forums available on Thailand in general and Bangkok specifically. Most will let you read the info without registering but if you want to post a question you will have to register. A good place to get very current information.
6. Is it near the “action”? Bangkok is infamous for its nightlife and you may or may not want to be close. Most nightlife is centered on Patpong Road (between Silom and Surawongse roads), Nana Entertainment Plaza (Sukhumvit and Soi 4), and Soi Cowboy (near Soi Asoke). So these are the areas to either avoid or make your reservations.
7. Sukhumvit is a very long road. Your friend recommends a hotel on Sukhumvit road but can’t remember which Soi (small street or alley) it is on. So, based on her recommendation, you book a room on Sukhumvit and Soi 103 only to realize it is a gazillion miles from anything. If you want to be centrally located – find a place off Sukhumvit between Sois 1 and 23.
8. What else is included? Free breakfast? Free Wireless? Transportation to and from the airport? Cable, Satellite, DVD, International Direct Dial (IDD) phone? Check to see what is and what is not included.
9. Is there a joiner fee? For the single guys who may bring back a guest for the evening, some hotels charge ridiculous amounts of Baht for having a guest. Best to ask first, and then avoid. You may be able to beat this if you book a double – but it isn’t worth the hassle.
10. You get what you pay for. Don’t expect Marriott service at a flea bag. We all want value for our money – but if you go cheap – don’t expect much. Look for a mid-range priced hotel – around USD $50 per night and you should be satisfied. Bangkok, and all of Thailand, has different prices for different times of the year – high and low season. Check the listed prices carefully.
11. Have fun and smile. Remember – you are in a foreign country and they may not do things like they do back home. Keep your cool, avoid arguing and smile. If you have a problem, ask for the manager and explain it with calm words and a pleasant tone. Yelling and screaming will get you nowhere in the Land of Smiles.
12. Online consolidators can often beat the price of a direct booking.
13. You don’t land at Don Muang Airport any more. Bangkok has a relatively new airport – Suvarnabhumi – about 50 kilometers further south than Don Muang. Plan your airport hotel accordingly.
14. Don’t expect the hotel staff to be fluent in your language. Most will speak English to a degree. Get a dictionary and learn a bit of Thai.