Hospitals in Thailand: Are They Any Good?

Every year, millions of people visit Thailand. Some are here to relax beside the beach in resort hotels and tropical islands. Some are here to have their big adventure. And many are here to get medical care.

Lots of people don’t know this, but Thailand is one of the world’s most popular and affordable countries for medical tourism. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come here for plastic surgery, dental work, laser eye surgery and hundreds of other procedures. The biggest draw is the cost (it’s much less expensive to get medical treatment in Thailand than in the USA or Australia) but another draw is the surprisingly high quality of medical care in Thailand.

Thailand might not sound like the kind of country where you’d expect to find world class hospitals. After all, the traffic in Bangkok is beyond description, pollution is a serious problem, and many of the country’s most popular islands are becoming overdeveloped at a scary pace. But despite this, Thailand’s hospitals (at least the private hospitals tourists have access to) aren’t just not bad; they’re really good.

Two of Bangkok’s biggest international hospitals are Bumrungrad, which is near Nana BTS Station, and Samitivej. Both have outstanding facilities that go beyond the expectations of their clients (think of pianists and personal limousines, for example) and both deal with tens of thousands of patients every year. Bangkok has a large variety of other private hospitals, all vying for part of the international medical trade.

It’s not just hospitals that are competing for foreign customers. Dentists in Bangkok are increasingly marketing to foreigners, especially for procedures like crowns and veneers. Like the country’s hospitals, Thailand’s dentists are qualified for the job, with some of the country’s clinics reporting an impressive 91 to 98% success rate for dental implants and other cosmetic procedures.

So, if you’re in need of high quality medical care, particularly for cosmetic and other elective treatments, give Thailand a try. While most are familiar with the appeal of low prices that Thailand offers, the country’s medical and dental industries also have a great deal of expertise to offer.

The Best Hostels on Khao San Road

Khao San Road is Bangkok’s backpacking capital, with more cheap hotels than you can shake a stick at. Despite this, finding hostels on Khao San Road is surprisingly difficult. There are much more cheap hotels on this street than there are hostels with shared bunk beds and dorm rooms.

Still, it’s possible to find hostels in and around Khao San Road if you look hard enough. We’ve partied pretty hard on Khao San Road in the past and stayed in many of the streets best backpacker hostels. Below, we’ve recommended the best hostels on and near Khao San Road for you to choose from if you’re staying in Bangkok.

By the way, all of the hostels listed below are rated more than 7/10 on by previous guests, guaranteeing that they’re good places to stay. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get a clean bed and a pleasant environment for a reasonable cost

Hostels on Khao San Road Itself:

Khao San Road itself only has a few hostels, since most of the accommodation here is of the private guesthouse variety and the few hostels that are there, well… they mostly aren’t particularly nice.

Still, there are a couple of amazing diamonds in the rough (both of which opened very recently in 2015), which we’ve listed below. Both hostels listed below are very popular and fill up quickly, so make sure you book in advance. We’ve seen people get turned away upon arrival without bookings, which is never fun. 

Nitan Hostel Khaosan (Highly Recommended)

Nitan Hostel Khaosan is a really stylish boutique hostel located right on Khao San Road. It’s close to all the street’s best bars and restaurants, giving it one of the best locations on all of Khao San Road.

The best thing about Nitan Hostel Khaosan is that it’s brand new.This hostel opened up in 2015 and feels extremely clean and well cared for. Prices are very affordable and the hostel is overall extremely nice. Previous guests rate it very highly and we agree with them.

Rooms in Nitan Hostel Khaosan are made up of 10 bunk beds, with mixed and female only dorms available. The hostel is fairly quiet for accommodation right on Khao San Road, making it a good choice if you want a nice night’s sleep. This is by far our most recommended hostel on Khao San Road itself.The only other hostels that compare aren’t located directly on Khao San Road, and are a 2-5 minute walk away.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Nitan Hostel Khaosan

The Pillow Hostel Khao San

The Pillow Hostel is another modern hostel on Khao San Road that opened in 2015. As you’d expect from such a new hostel, the facilities are in excellent condition and the whole place is very clean, modern and well cared for.

This hostel is located on a small alley off Khao San Road, making it a bit sheltered from the noise and hustle of Khao San Road itself. If you want a hostel that’s right on Khao San but isn’t too noisy, it’s a good choice.

Rooms at The Pillow Hostel are six bedroom mixed dorms. There are also private rooms available, including triple and quadruple bed rooms. Prices are VERY good (think 300-400 baht per bed, per night) making this one of the best value options for a clean, well maintained bed on Khao San Road.

View Current Rates and Book Online for The Pillow Hostel Khao San

Hotels Near Khao San Road (Within Five Minutes Walk):

The best hostels aren’t actually on Khao San Road itself, but near Khao San Road. By staying in a hotel that’s a short walk away from Khao San Road on a street like Soi Rambuttri, you can stay close to the bars and restaurants while being far enough away to get a good night’s sleep due the lower noise level.

There are several amazing hostels near Khao San Road, including some of Thailand’s top hostels. We’ve listed the best of the best (hostels rated 8+/10 by guests) below for you to choose from. Like the hostels directly on Khao San Road, these nearby hostels fill up quickly and often turn away guests without reservations, so make sure you book online before you arrive. 

 Full House Khaosan (2-3 minutes to walk to Khao San Road)

Full House Khaosan is a beautiful hostel close to Khao San. It’s located on a quiet street that’s about two minutes walk from Khao San Road itself, making it a great choice if you want to get a good night’s sleep.

This hostel was renovated in 2015 and has an amazing design, with teak wood surrounding the beds and extremely clean rooms and common areas. Guests have consistently rated it 9+ out of 10 because of its quality. A great alternative to staying directly on Khao San Road.

Beds are available at Full House Khaosan in shared rooms with bunks, or in private rooms. The shared rooms offer the best value for money, while the private rooms are a good option if you want some more space to spread out and relax while staying close to one of Bangkok’s most exciting streets.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Full House Khaosan

Baan Bovorn Khaosan (2-3 minutes to walk to Khao San Road)

Baan Bovorn Khaosan is a modern hostel near Khao San Road that’s about two to three minutes away from the area’s top restaurants and hotels. It’s also really close to Soi Rambuttri, which is a more chilled out, bohemian alternative to crowded Khao San Road.

Rooms at Baan Bovorn are pretty simple, with male and female dormitories, as well as mixed dormitories available. One of the biggest advatages of Baan Bovorn compared with other hostels around Khao San Road is that it’s very clean, with good maintenance and a nice atmosphere.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Baan Bovorn Khaosan

Lights, Beer, Bars! Inside Bangkok’s Red Light Districts

Thailand is probably the world’s most well known destination for sex tourism. Mention you’re visiting and you’ll be the butt of endless ladyboy jokes (at least I was) and have to explain to your friends that you’re not visiting Thailand for that reason.

It’s a shame that Thailand has this reputation, because it’s an amazing country and sex tourism is something that can easily be avoided by spending time away from the 0.1% of Bangkok that’s home to the city’s red light districts.

But what if you don’t want to avoid this? It might not be politically correct to talk about it, but lots of people visit Bangkok specifically to spend time in the red light zones, whether for people watching and a fun night out or to meet someone special — or at least temporarily special.

Below, we’ve profiled Bangkok’s “big three” red light districts: the always seedy Nana Plaza, the neon-lit Soi Cowboy, and the neo-tourist attraction Patpong. If you’re in the mood for a crazy night out in Bangkok, pick your poison:

Bangkok’s seedy capital: Nana Plaza

Of Bangkok’s three foreigner-focused red light districts, Nana Plaza is probably the seediest. Well off the tourist trail on Sukhumvit Soi 4, Nana Plaza is surrounded by guest friendly hotels in Bangkok (update 2017: a more detailed list is available here) and generally attracts more sexpats and sex tourists than innocent “people watchers” by a factor of about one thousand.

Unlike Patpong and Soi Cowboy, which are short streets, Nana Plaza is an outdoor complex with several floors. The lower floors are mostly beer bars with a few strip clubs thrown in for good measure, while the upper floors are a mix of go-go bars and “kathoey” ladyboy bars aimed at serious customers.

Like most red light districts in Bangkok, most of the dancers in Nana Plaza aren’t nude. Some of the girls wear nipple covers and pasties, while others are nude in some of the bars on the top floors.

Glitz, noise and plenty of neon: Soi Cowboy

Located close to Sukhumvit MRT station, Soi Cowboy is probably the cleanest of Bangkok’s red light districts. It’s brightly lit with a massive amount of neon lighting turned up to a blinding intensity, filled to the brim with young women in various cute and sexy (and occasionally silly) outfits, and home to several go-go bars and rock music pubs.

If you’re not a serious sex tourist and just want a night of fun with a seedy side, Soi Cowboy is a pretty good pick. There are fewer sex tourist hotels nearby, more of a fun atmosphere, and a great selection of bars. It’s also the easiest of Bangkok’s red light districts to get to using the MRT or BTS Skytrain.

Old, worn out and touristy: Patpong

Thirty (or maybe forty) years ago, Patpong was the capital of Bangkok’s go-go bar scene. Duran Duran blasted out of the street’s strip clubs and passersby popped in and out of each bar to enjoy the city’s budding nightlife. Today, however, Patpong is mostly past its used by date, with a touristy market the main “attraction” of this area.

Patpong still has a few go-go bars and clubs, but they’re not as good as the alternatives in Sukhumvit and scams are all too common here. Fun as a place to people watch or shop for overpriced trinkets, Patpong is Bangkok’s historical red light district, but probably not your first choice for a crazy bachelor party today.

5 Essentials for Successful Travel to Thailand

So you’re finally visiting Thailand, huh? Thailand is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, and for plenty of good reasons. It has amazing beaches, a huge, exciting city, gorgeous mountains, some of the world’s finest food and a fun way of life that makes spending time here an amazing experience.

It also has a reputation as a bit of a backpacker destination — the type of wild, off-the-beaten-track country where you need a gigantic backpack, camping roll, cooking set and other life-in-the-wilderness type accessories to survive.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but for the most part Thailand is a pretty well developed country with the infrastructure and services for an easy stay, even if you don’t bring your jumbo sized backpack. So leave the huge hiking bag at home and instead bring the five essentials listed below when you visit Thailand:

A small backpack or suitcase

There is absolutely no need to bring a gigantic backpack with you to Thailand. Using a huge backpack not only makes you weighed down with stuff you’ll never use — it also makes you an obvious mark for touts and scammers.

It’s far better to blend in with a small backpack (under 25 liters) or a suitcase. If you plan to spend most of your time in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai or Koh Samui, the backpack is a waste of time. If you’re visiting any of the smaller islands, stick with a compact bag you can comfortably carry around without destroying your spine.

Good sunglasses

Thailand is hot and sunny, so pack a pair of sunglasses. Why are sunglasses such an important thing to bring? Because high quality, brand name sunglasses cost a fortune in Thailand due to import taxes, while the cheap sunglasses that you can buy on the beach here break in five seconds.

Before you leave, pick up a pair of decent Polaroid or Ray-Ban sunglasses for your trip, especially if you’re visiting Southern Thailand. Your eyes will thank you instead of hating you after spending the entire day squinting against the tropical sky.

Some semi-formal clothes

Sounds silly, right? After all, who dresses up to go to Thailand? While we’re not talking about a three-piece suit, it’s worth bringing at least one nice shirt and pair of pants or a nice dress to Thailand. The reason for this is that many of Thailand’s nicer bars and restaurants have a fairly strict dress code, at least compared to the West.

Show up in fisherman’s pants and sandals to most nice hotel bars on Phuket or in Bangkok and you’ll be politely turned away. Bringing some nice-ish clothes doesn’t mean you need to wear them, but it expands your options and gives you access to a much better range of nightlife and dining venues.

Also, casual summer clothes

Thailand is hot. Like, really hot. If you dress for a Northern European winter, you will cook. Bring some light t-shirts that breathe easily, especially if you plan on spending any time on the islands. If you prefer a long sleeved shirt, avoid cotton in favor of lighter, more breathable linen instead.

Likewise, a few pairs of shorts will help you a lot throughout your time in Thailand. It’s best to pack two to three versions of everything, as you’ll need a second (or third) pair of shorts when your first two are drying after a long hike and an unexpected swim at one of the world’s most amazing beaches.

Your smartphone

Seriously, bring your smartphone. Thailand has excellent mobile coverage and it’s easy to get a signal pretty much anywhere in the country, even on some of the most remote islands. If your phone is unlocked and accepts a sim card from anywhere, it will be a godsend while you’re in Thailand.

All of the major Thai phone networks — DTAC, AIS and True — offer tourist plans that are prepaid and provide access to the country’s mobile network. Having your phone will make it much easier to look up reviews and recommendations, saving you from having to cling to your Lonely Planet guidebook the whole time you’re here.