The Doctor’s House in Madiha is a funky and fun hostel, bar, and restaurant on the shores of south Sri Lanka. The rooms retain the original aesthetics of the crumbling colonial architecture, creating a fascinating look into the past, while maintaining a comfortable space to kick it for a few days (or a week).
The dorm rooms are located in the quiet back of the property. They have some cool antique furniture with new comfortable beds. Our favorite part was the showers, which are open air with gardens inside and utilize spaghetti strainers to create waterfall style shower heads.
The bar features a variety of tasty cocktails and smoothies, and the restaurant utilizes a clay wood burning oven. They push out the best pizzas on the south coast and other western-style dishes, but with a Sri Lankan flair.
The Doctor’s House also contains a newly-opened surf shop, The Box, selling boards, surf gear, and zinc sunscreen. You can find them on Instagram at @_thebox_
The best day to check out The Doctor’s House is for their bi-weekly Saturday market. Many vendors set up in the courtyard and the beers flow along with the music from several live artists.
The Doctor’s House in Madiha, south Sri Lanka, was one of the straight up coolest places we have ever crashed. Everything is so artfully created, so perfectly unperfect. Actually, its really hard to explain how cool it is, so just go there!
Bunkyard Hostel in Colombo, Sri Lanka is a place that is doing things right. With its “junkyard” up-cycled decor, the hostel is a photographer’s dream with Instagramable objects in nearly every room. The owners and managers are extremely friendly and you can tell that they really want you to have a good time! Trying to find the best word to describe Bunkyard was hard, but eventually I chose “FUN!” because it’s true!
The rooms are super clean, and we really enjoyed the thick, soft mattresses. Many hostels unfortunately skimp on the beds, leaving you tossing and turning. Bunkyard remembered that the main reason you are at their hostel is to sleep, and stocked the ‘yard with cozy beds. There is A/C in all the rooms and the dorm beds also have reading lights and USB charging hubs.
The top floor’s dorms have an awesome, big patio overlooking the street. The bottom floor features the reception area and a nice hangout space. As you walk farther into the building you walk past a small shop that sells cool board shorts, hats, yoga pants, and our favorite super-colorful, traditional Sri Lankan shirts made by Gitano (Instagram @gitanoshirts). The back of the first floor has two kitchens, one for the restaurant and a shared one for guests. There is also a refrigerator for your leftovers and hot water with free tea and coffee!!!!
Also included in your stay at Bunkyard Hostel in Colombo is free breakfast. Free is a word you almost never hear in Sri Lanka, so this added huge value to our stay. You get the choice of omelette or fruit + yogurt. They have a few more options as well if you want to add on for a small price.
Bunkyard Hostel was a breath of fresh air in the busy city of Colombo. It was refreshing to stay someplace so funky but clean, and well managed. The owners treated us super kindly and we wish them lots of success on their future projects. Definitely check this place out whenever you’re headed in or out of Colombo!
Games and books
Kombucha and soda for sale
Special breakfasts and smoothies
Homemade lunch for sale every day, occasional dinner specials
Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe in Ayutthaya, Thailand is a new and chic hostel in the old capital city. Located in a quiet neighborhood just outside the old city, Yimwhan offers everything a traveler needs to feel comfortable in a new place. Their cafe and common room are great places to enjoy a coffee, or you can rent bicycles from their friendly staff and quickly find yourself among the ancient temples. If biking is not your thing then they will call you a tuk tuk and have you at the temples in minutes.
Their private rooms feature large comfy beds on trendy pallet supports. We loved the antique style light bulbs and old 80s televisions used as tables. Each room also has a safe for your valuables.
Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe also has mixed dorm and female dorm rooms. The dorms are simple, clean, and well lit, a great value for the price.
The highlight of Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe for us was the free breakfast. Going way above and beyond the normal free hostel breakfast, Yimwhan served eggs, sausage, toast, cereals, milk, juice, and coffee.
Yimwhan’s common room is a great place to relax after a long day of biking around the temples of Ayutthaya. They have comfy beanbag chairs and movies to watch to wind down. Check out our video below for a virtual tour around the hostel!
Backpacking Malaysia is great for easy Asia travel. Easier than South America, easier than Thailand. We traveled the length of the Malaysian peninsula from Malacca to Penang, Kuala Lumpur (KL) to the Perhentian Islands through the Cameron Highlands. The people are friendly, welcoming, and excited to have you in their country. The buses are clean with organized stations and the roads are smooth with minimal traffic, especially in the countryside. The highlight of backpacking Malaysia was the food. From Malay to Chinese to Indian, the cuisine is an amazing fusion of different cultures, living together in relative harmony. Low food costs are easy for every budget traveler and in Malaysia you can get a full meal starting at $1.50 for a vegetarian banana leaf lunch. Even though the government just added a tourist tax to all hotel rooms, Malaysia still has good deals for travelers on a budget. We stayed in some of the nicest and most fun hostels of our lives, and our 15 days in the peninsula didn’t scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.
Pick a Route:
Picking a backpacking route though Malaysia is easy. For a two week trip we would recommend starting in Singapore and working your way north from Malacca to KL, Cameron Highlands, Perhentian Islands, then back across to Georgetown, Penang. If you have three weeks we would suggest adding Taman Negara National Park and Langkawi Island. These are both trips along the standard backpacker trail, great for your first time in Malaysia. Since Malaysia has much fewer tourists than Thailand, you will run into the same friendly faces as you go. There was one lady on our trip that we ran into in at three different places on our adventure. Of course there are many other parts of Malaysia worth exploring, mainly the jungles of Borneo where things are more wild. On a four week trip we would suggest spending a week there getting off the tourist path.
Enjoy the Food:
The food in Malaysia is easy and good for any backpacker’s budget. The most we “cooked” for ourselves in Malaysia was to peel a banana, maybe once. The local markets are great places to pig out economically. Check out the laksa, poh piah, mee koring, and nasi kandar. Western style restaurants are there, but they are the most expensive and generally not as exciting as the local flavors. Every city has a Chinese neighborhood and an Indian neighborhood. Little India was always our favorite spot to eat, great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike! For one meal I had seven different curries and spent a total of less than $3. For these reasons, Malaysia was my all time favorite country to eat in!
Stay in a Hostel:
Backpackers will love Malaysia for the hostels which are cheap and easy to book online. Sometimes they do fill up, especially in the busy season, so we suggest booking in advance. They range in price and quality and there is a new 10 Ringgit tourist tax for every room. Our favorites were the Lemongrass on Long Beach in the Perhentians, and Frame Guesthouse in Georgetown, Penang. Prices range from $10 per night for a dorm bed, $15 for a beach bungalow, or $18 for private room with A/C.
Speak With the Locals:
Backpacking Malaysia is easier than other parts of Asia because most people can speak or at least understand English. A majority of the signs are also in English and Malay, so you will never have a hard time finding your way around. Malay also using the English characters so it’s easy to pick up a little bit along the way which always makes the locals appreciate you more. Knowing few words like terima kasih (thank you) can get you a lot of respect points and make you look a little better than the average traveler.
When looking for easier Asia travel, backpacking Malaysia should be at the top of your list. With top notch people, food, nature and adventure, and hostels, never ending aventuras await you in this tropical paradise!
Like this post about backpacking Malaysia for easy Asia travel? Check out our archives for never ending travel advice, reviews, and many stories of adventure in Malaysia!
Hostel Holidays are the best holidays. You meet friends from all over the world and share a special time together. It’s an incredible opportunity for travelers to learn about new holidays they don’t celebrate at home. Sharing holidays is an important part of cultural exchange. It creates a bond between the traveler and the local that becomes the base of friendship. Having activities like these are what makes great hostels great.
Take Thanksgiving for instance– it’s a great hostel holiday. It’s so much fun to cook a huge feast of all your childhood favorites and show the other backpackers what they’ve been missing out on their whole lives. This year we are planning a food and wine buffet at Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok. Mashed potatoes are of course the most important part, with lots of butter and salt.
While Carrie was working at a hostel on Christmas in San Diego they would have a special free breakfast buffet with champagne mimosas, then do the “present ball” game with dollar store gifts! You could also do a white elephant gift exchange, creating mayhem by swapping and stealing each others presents. It always turns into a bunch of laughing and merry hooting and hollering. Getting some free drinks into your customers is a good way to start the holiday off right! This is why hostel holidays are the best!
As a local, it’s nice to keep travelers up to date on the upcoming holidays – especially if it involves stores closing or transportation headaches. One of our craziest holiday experiences while traveling was when we were in Morocco for Eid al Fitr. Eid is the biggest holiday of the year for Muslim families. Signifying the end of the Ramadan fasting period, Eid is the yearly giant feast. Most families will purchase a sheep which is slaughtered on the morning of the feast. The week before the feast it’s a sight to behold with sheep being shuffled around all over the city. There were sheep on the backs of motorbikes, parking lots turned into temporary “sheep parking”, and sheep just about everywhere. We walked into the apartment complex where we were CouchSurfing. Our host sniffed the air like “What’s that smell?” and tried to open the basement door. “Sheep parking in the basement!“, he realized. We called it the sheep genocide. The festival impacted where in Morocco we could travel as the bus tickets were almost all purchased by locals in advance. We ended up having to change most of our trip but since we’re flexible we still had fun.
You should also create events for your guests around the holidays. If there is a Christmas parade in town, take them to go see it! Free food for a Buddhist vegetarian festival? Make signs and organize a tour there! Contact us at email@example.com for more tips on hostel activities and how you can make your hostel holidays great!
While spending years traveling the world, we’ve stayed in a LOT of great hostels. Sometimes we check out the trendy new ones, sometimes we try to save money and go bottom budget. Besides the obvious necessities like cleanliness and safety, here are some things that make for great hostels:
Hostel activities are the best way to make friends while traveling. It is also usually the cheapest way to do the things that you want to do anyways. These actives could be free yoga, beach bonfires, beer pong tournaments, surf lessons, language exchanges, exploring the market, or hiking adventures. Some hostels go as far as to focus their whole marketing strategy around their actives, like Volcano Boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua
2) Free Breakfast
Not paying for that first meal is important to long term travel. Some breakfasts are better than others but it’s nice to at least get some coffee, bread, and fruit. The best breakfasts ever were at the Casas Particulares in Cuba where we one time were served 8 different types of fruit, in addition to bread, eggs, and cheese.
3) A Bar and Restaurant
Sometimes you just want to stay in and hang out with travelers. Hostel bars are the best place to do that. They provide an international vibe that some towns lack. Sometimes the bar is the attraction itself, like Loki Hostels in South America or the Tipsy Tiger in Penang, Malaysia.
4) Chilling Areas
Comfortable places to meet new friends, use your laptop to advance your digital nomad dreams, and share stories of your adventures are a must. These areas range from bean bag chairs, to hammocks, to comfy couches or soft green grass. For places with dorms this is the area that most people will spend their time. The swimming pool at Equity Point in Marrakech wins our vote for best chillin’ area.
5) Fast WiFi
Some countries just have terrible internet all over. But sometimes the hostel gets cheap and goes for the internet package that wouldn’t load AIM in the 90’s. You. must. have. fast. Wifi. It’s so nice to be able to upload photos to Facebook or Skype your family back home in Ulakalakalakastan or wherever you’re from. Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok wins for fastest hostel WiFi ever.
6) Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff
You want tours, you want advice, you want someone who will laugh with you at your stupid mistake of waking up early to spend all of your money on taxis to the airport one day too early (oops). The staff should make you feel at home and help you have the best time possible. By far the best staff we’ve met were at USA Hostels Ocean Beach, San Diego, California.
We know we said 5, but wasn’t 6 better?
Other things that make your stay better:
– Privacy curtains on dorm beds.
– Water refill station.
– No bed bugs. Sometimes if places look grimy it’s better to just pay the extra $1 for no bed bugs. Check out our post on how to remove bed bugs from your stuff.
– Free maps.
– Free earplugs (for the party hostels).
– Instagramable decor – you know you want to brag to your friends back home.
Sometimes in the end everything is not perfect, but sometimes those imperfections are what makes great hostels an experience. I mean, you could have stayed in a hotel and gotten a good nights sleep. But after you go out with your new hostel best friends and dance on the bar until 6am, you never think “man, I wish I would have gotten a hotel and some sleep!” Well sometimes you do, but that doesn’t make a very good story now, does it?
If you’re interested in finding some good places to stay, check out our HOSTEL REVIEWS page and get out there on your own aventura! What important in great hostels to you? We’d love your feedback!
We are hostel marketing consultants and in our years of traveling we have stayed at a LOT of hostels. The difference between a good hostel and a GREAT hostel is often so small that it’s hard to notice from an inside perspective. We have worked with almost 50 different hostels and hotels on five different continents. Our hostel marketing, consulting, writing, photos, and videos have helped many places jump the gap from failure to success.
Here are the 5 biggest reasons why you should hire a hostel marketing consultant:
1) A Different Perspective:
When you are at your hostel day after day, you become blind to the real problems. You also get attached to things that are maybe not the best ideas. A hostel consultant can help you fix problems and think outside the box.
2) Knowing What Foreigners Want:
You know what the locals want; we know what the tourists want. Travelers want clean, easy, safe, and fun! Places and activities that might seem unexciting to locals might be exactly what travelers want!
3) English Promotions On Different Media Types:
Eye-catching social media posts are crucial to your success. Nowadays, many travelers only use Instagram and Facebook to plan their trips. Having a follower base and daily exciting posts are crucial to building your business.
Here are some examples of Instagram accounts from hostels we have worked with:
4) Keeping Up With The Times:
The hostel world is always changing. When you are managing a hostel there is little time for exploring other countries, scoping out your competition, or keeping up with events and attractions around your area. We love travel and the first thing we do when consulting with hostels is to get to know their area like a local, but seeing it though the eyes of a tourist.
5) Professional Photos, Highlights Videos, and Blogging
We specialize in making your hostel shine! iPhones can take pictures, but having professionally edited photos from real cameras sets you above the competition. Highlight videos let people feel like they are actually there from the comfort of their own home. They show how fun, clean, and comfortable your hostel really is. We want your hostel to be a tourist attraction in itself. A website blog highlights attractions in your area which increases the traffic to your website and your hostel!
How we can help:
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss hostel marketing and consulting help for your business!