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After years of travelling through Southeast Asia I still believe that Thailand’s accommodation options offer the best value for money. Wherever you go in the country you can find a range of options that fit different budgets and preferences. If you’re trying to stretch every baht, you can opt for cheap guesthouses and hostels (you can still find beds in Chiang Mai for as low as 150 baht, or about $5, per night!). If you choose mid-range accommodation, you’ll still usually be staying in atmospheric places for surprisingly cheap. And, of course, if you’re able to spend little more, starting around $90-120 per night, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous places to stay, even villas in Thailand, that would cost at least twice as much back at home.
Since accommodation is so affordable compared to many Western countries and most cities, it’s possible to stay in places that you would never splurge for, say, in the UK or Singapore.
This goes for villas or homes in Thailand too.
While you can find private villas for rent all over the country, certain destinations have a higher concentration of options. These include Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Koh Phangan. Phuket and Koh Samui, as the two largest islands in Thailand, have the most villa options with prices going up to $1,000+ a night. Chiang Mai, somewhat surprisingly, doesn’t have many standalone private villas but there are still a few options along with a range of other unique accommodations. Bangkok, not surprisingly considering the premium on space,
Even now after having had the opportunity to stay in some gorgeous places throughout Thailand, renting a villa still often sounds like an overindulgent splurge to me. This is partially because I have a good idea of what average rental rates are for people living here and renting a villa for one night costs more than what I pay in monthly rent for my house.
That said, I also realize when and why renting a villa would be worth it…even if you’re not made of money! It’s completely doable for a group of friends to go in together to rent a place for a special occasion. If you have a large family and want extra space, plus the convenience of a kitchen during your holiday to the Thai islands, having a villa is great. Also, if you’re planning a destination wedding in Thailand, renting a villa could provide a more unique and intimate atmosphere than going the resort route.
I typically see private villas in Thailand accommodating at least eight people – when you consider the cost and logistics of renting four hotels rooms to fit eight people, a villa is the way to go.
There are a number of ways to start your villa search…
If you’ve travelled at all in Asia, or read my recent Chiang Mai hotel posts, you’re probably familiar with Agoda, a hotel booking engine that focuses on Asia properties. From the Agoda homepage you can search for properties selecting either hotels or homes, which will show you more private home options, and the destination you’re interested in. After clicking ‘search’ you can then filter the results further by neighborhood and what types of facilities you’re interested in.
Even ‘luxury’ villas in Thailand are often relatively affordable. Booking website Luxury Retreats lists beautiful, 4-room properties on Koh Samui starting at just $310 a night. That’s what I would spend on a standard hotel in downtown Seattle…treat yo’ self.
Of course, a go-to site to search for private villas and homes is Air BnB. (If you don’t already have an Air BnB account you can sign up here and receive a 1,100 baht credit – about $35 USD.) When you do your search, make sure to mark ‘Entire Home/Apt’ for the initial search then click on the ‘More filters’ button. From there you can go down to ‘Property Type’ and select what styles of property, i.e. a villa, bungalow, house, etc., you’re interested in, and then adjust your budget limits to find the perfect place.
Starting your villa search by typing in “Villas in ____” to Google can be the faster way to narrow your search. For example, there aren’t a ton of properties Chiang Mai that are considered private pools villas. Simply doing a Google search for private pool villas can bring up more relevant options more quickly than searching through the booking sites. It also may bring up unique properties that aren’t listed on standard booking sites, that get buried by hotel listings or that offer special discounts and packages booking directly through their own website. For example, I work with one of the few private pool villas in Chiang Mai – Chandra Residence – and while the family who owns it has listed the property on booking sites, it’s best to contact them directly to plan your personalized stay versus booking through Air BnB or booking.com.
Secret Retreats, a collection of independently owned hotels, cruises and restaurants across Asia, also has a collection of villas throughout the region, aptly named Secret Villas. Villa Ayundra listed in their Thailand collection on Koh Samui looks especially dreamy!
If you’re not comfortable booking an independently-owned villa but still want the space and privacy that a villa offers, many 5-star hotels (outside of Bangkok) and high-end boutique properties have villa options with some properties even being made up entirely of separate villas rather than guest rooms. For instance, places like Four Seasons and The Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai each have a selection of pool villas and private residences. By booking a villa at a hotel, you benefit from the comfort and convenience of an established hotel brand, although prices may be higher.