Newest Review: ... hear everything that was going on within the reception area. The room was very basic indeed, although it was very spacious with a big dou... more
The Backpacker's Paradise..
Ben Guesthouse (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Member Name: mythdata
Ben Guesthouse (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Advantages: Very cheap and extremely helpful staff.
Disadvantages: Dirty in places.
As many of you are aware I have recently returned from a three month trip to Thailand, so as you can imagine I have loads to write about. As many of my topics have not yet been covered on dooyoo I thought I would start with the ones that were.
Here I am going to review a little guest house me and my husband found in Chiang Mai, it was one of the cheapest guesthouses we stayed in as we were travelling for three months, and at the start of the holiday we thought we should go cheap and cheerful, to try and save funds. This need not have been an option as we soon discovered you could get some really nice hotels for less that £8.00 a night, but this guest house was by far a lot cheaper than that.
THE BEN GUEST HOUSE
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai we were eligible for the free taxi service from the train or bus station to the hotel, but as we took an overnight train from Bangkok we arrived very early at 6 O'clock in the morning, so we thought it unfair and made our own way in one of the many tuk tuk's lined up outside the train station. This was very cheap to do at only 50 Baht, so less than £1.00 in our money we got to the hotel safely.
I am so glad we did take the Tuk Tuk as the guest house was situated in what seemed like the middle of know where, the Tuk Tuk took us in and out of little alleys for what seemed like miles. When in fact the train station was within spitting distance, but could only be accessed through small passages on either foot of motorbike.
The guest house itself is located at the bottom of a quite little street that only consisted of two guest houses, so it was very peaceful in comparison to the rest of Chaing Mai.
On first appearances the hotel looked very welcoming, with pretty flowers and plants draping over the entrance hall, and a huge reception area that showed off a computer which had free internet access and a massive wooden desk that boasted about the trips that the guest house could arrange for you.
We were greeted by a young Thai woman who did speak English, although it was very broken we did manage to communicate well enough with her. She gave us our room keys and handed us maps of the local areas, which indicated where all the best places were situated. So the check in was done very smoothly and we came away feeling like we had landed on our feet.
We had booked into a double ensuite room, which was located just behind the reception area which later proved to be a bit of a pain as you were never able to relax as you could hear everything that was going on within the reception area.
The room was very basic indeed, although it was very spacious with a big double bed that was big enough for four people, a fitted wardrobe and writing desk. So there was adequate space for all of our luggage and personal belongings.
Toward the back of our bedroom was another door that could be locked from the inside, this was the wash room that consisted of a wash basin, changing area and mirror. Through another door on my left was the shower room and toilet, this was titled from floor to ceiling.
I hated the fact that you had to shower over the toilet. I just felt they should have made the bedroom a bit smaller to accommodate the shower area, This was not my only problem the window in the changing area led straight out into the garden so if anyone was sitting there you would have been in full view, so this was not good for me at all.
The rooms were a real let down, yes the bedding and surfaces were clean but someone over looked the dead cockroaches that had been collecting in corners and the bathroom was appalling, all of the tiles had fallen off the walls and gone mouldy and there was dirty hair in the plug holes. If you did venture to the Ben guest house cleaning supplies will be needed, either that or you need to have the guts to complain.
GARDEN & RESTAURANT
The garden can be accessed by the front of the building or to the left of the reception area, this is a pleasant little area that has been beautifully landscaped at some point, however I feel that it is now very neglected and over grown in areas. The trees have all grown so big that they umbrella you from the sunshine, which some may say is an advantage but the bugs that constantly fall on you are not, trust me.
To the back of the garden in the kitchens and restaurant, this too is very spacious and cleaned to a certain standard. Here you can eat anytime of the day, although sometimes you could be waiting an hour before someone even notices you are there to take your order.
I was very dubious about eating here at first, but I was amazed at how good the food was. They cater a full menu of both Thai and Western dishes all of which were very reasonable and you could get a full meal and drink for as little as 250 Baht per couple, that being roughly a fiver.
As far as we could see the staff were made up of a married couple and a cleaner, the lady at the reception and her husband Lek were very helpful. They drove us to certain areas of Chaing Mai and basically became our tour guide for the day, this cost us 500 baht but we got to see everything we wanted to.
Lek and his wife lived in a small room to the side of the reception area and from what we could make out he worked full time, so she had to do all the cooking, cleaning, book work, tours and everything associated with running the guest house herself.
It was at this point we realised why we had to wait for food and cleaning ect, as the poor woman was doing it all herself. I will certainly give them a 10/10 for customer service, it's just a shame that cleanliness lets them down.
I would strongly advise them to clean the rooms on a regular basis and give them a lick of paint and I am sure they will have a successful little business, which they could charge more for in the long run.
GETTING THERE / LOCATION
If you are travelling to Chaing Mai via train of bus, you can call the guest house to get a free taxi or you can jump in a Tuk Tuk for less than a pound.
It is ideally located on the outskirts of Chaing Mai's new town, but it is only a ten minute walk across the river to the nearest night markets and shopping plazas. So far me it was perfect as I could have peace and quiet or head into town for something more lively.
You can catch daily overnight trains from Bangkok's Hulampong main train station or you can take one or the several buses from any of Bangkok's main bus terminals.
We booked this last minute on hostel bookers website, we paid just over £6.00 a night but if we had waited we could have paid the guest house as little as 200 Baht a night, which would have been roughly £4.00 a night.
Yes this was very cheap to stay but you do end up paying a lot more if you want to eat, although the food prices are very competitive with any other restaurants in Chaing Mai.
The Ben Guest house also catered for our needs when we wanted to do trips, you could visit the long neck tribes, mountain biking, tiger temples, white water rafting, bamboo rafting and more famously elephant tracking.
We did a mountain biking trip and visited the Tiger temple, both of which cost just over twenty five pounds each. If you wanted to save money you could also go into Chaing Mai itself and book a trip as agents tended to beat any quotes you had previously.
The guest house offered free internet access from the PC located in the main reception, but you could only use it until 10pm every night and that was if you could get on it. While we were there a young couple hogged it and played Michael Jacksons Thriller sound track over and over, with our room being so close to the reception this was all we heard.
As we never got a sniff at the PC due to other guests we asked for the wifi key and we got connected via a mobile phone, so this was another occasion that the staff were very accommodating.
If you wanted to see the outskirts of Chaing Mai, you could also borrow bikes from the guest house. These were free of charge, but they were very old a beat up so you were taking your life in your own hands by
Phone / Fax (66) 53-244-103
BEN GUEST HOUSE
4/4, 4/11 Lamphun Rd
Soi 2 Muang
Chiang Mai 50000
The web site and many reviews I read beforehand strongly suggested that this was the place to stay, however if felt totally let down as the place looked very different to the pictures on the site and what I had in mind, but I could not complain considering it was so cheap to stay there.
I was also let down by the fact this place said they offered basic Thai language lessons when in fact they did not, they classed a Thai lesson as a black board that contained a few phrases and the English equivalent. So I felt like this was a false advertisement on their web site.
For me the Ben guest house was perfectly located for the town of Chaing Mai, the nights markets and the old town and its many Wat's, but we only found this out one a last couple of days when we stumbled across the little alley ways, that were located at the bottom of the street.
Yes this was a very cheap hotel that excelled in certain areas but I felt this was let down by the cleanliness of the place, if someone had taken care and cleaned the bedroom floors and bathrooms this would have been an excellent place to stay.
I could not fault the staff in any way as they did all they could to make our stay pleasant, so for that alone I will recommend this guest house if you are travelling Thailand on a budget.
As you can see this place has many good points and some bad, if I was not such a snob I would have been happy but it was the dirt I could not cope with. If they cleaned up I would have been giving this review a full five stars.
This Place I would class as a Backpackers paradise, but for a couple such as myself and my husband you may be disappointed.
Summary: Recommended if you are traveling on a shoe string.
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