Best and Worst Hotel of the Trip

Overall the lodging was fine in Thailand and Laos, and we generally booked online using our phones or Amazon Fire tablet a day or two before arrival via or

However the two guest houses included the package from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang (on the Thai border, then in the overnight stop on the two-day slow boat) were by far the worst of the trip, especially the first, below.

It's like a soviet-era compound.

It's owned by a charming Thai who worked hard and had traveled a great deal in the hospitality industry over the years-- including a barren spot in Saudi Arabia, which gave us something to talk about. But here in Chiang Xing on the Thai border he clearly specializes in skimming a portion of proceeds from those like us who booked group travel. He also sold Laos money at a rate beneficial to him, warning of limited ATMs and high fees, etc. There were plenty of them, we found, with reasonable fees, on arrival in Laos.

By careful observation we also feel that several rooms were rented by the hour-- not for prostitutes, but for young couples eager to have some privacy in a strictly traditional nation. See those scooters and motorbikes? All young couples.

Here's a scene of us awaiting transportation to the border, ahead of our boat trip. 

 Here's our "room." I've never slept on a harder surface-- and I've slept in a bathtub. Harsh fluorescent lighting. The overhead fan was either off or gale force.

There was no what we would call sheet, and just a duvet for cover; these were not washed between uses, but we saw they were at least aired out outside the rooms.

The bathroom, heh. Flushed by hand. You scoop water into the bowl via a vessel in the dark tub by the loo, which is filled with water. No towels and any wash water drains directly into the ravine behind the guest house. 

If I had to guess, I'd say rooms were probably $6/night? I don't know as the price was included in our travel.

The nicest room was in Bangkok's Chinatown. At $110/night, quite a difference. But we had been economical most of the trip and so decided to splurge on Shangai Mansion before our departure back to Pittsburgh and winter. 

Another nice couple of night were spent in "new" Sukothai, in our own little traditional Thai-style hut:

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