Hotels On Travel Route – 3 months, 23 cities, and 29 hotels. What a whirlwind. A crazy, beautiful whirlwind. As I sit here taking it all in and enjoying the Florida sunshine with my puppy back on my lap, I can’t help but get lost in my memories. Sean and I get a lot of questions especially about our travel route and where we live in Southeast Asia. The biggest question we get is: “Is it really affordable?” and the answer is a lot YES and a little NO. It depends on what you want to do, how safe you want to feel while doing it, and where you want to stay. I’ll go into each country one by one in future posts, but I thought I’d start my virtual diary (essentially) detailing our travel route in the hope that it inspires you to get out there, and get out of your comfort zone. place! Although I had some preconceived ideas about our timeline and cities we wanted to visit, we mostly flew by the seat of our pants. The only accommodations we pre-booked were the flights to Singapore and our hotel on arrival. It was the BEST decision we could have made, because our “plan” was unstoppable and drastically changed 5 days into our trip.
Before leaving, I searched and searched for a travel route that showed me what hotels (not hostels) people were staying in, which cities, and the route they chose, and nothing I actually found one that really helped me. My purpose in writing this post is to help other travelers like myself, to find their way. Sean and I tried to stay in the budget range of $30-50 USD per night, and mostly succeeded. In some islands, we have to spend a little to be comfortable, and in some cases, we decide to treat ourselves and spend. When we splurge, we’re always treated to 5-star service, and you’d think we were staying at the Four Seasons; however, it is (of course) cheaper than the Four Seasons. We do this a lot when we crave a “western retreat.” Sometimes you get homesick when you’ve been traveling for a long time, and that’s okay! Yes, I ate tons of rice and noodles, but I’m not ashamed of my game of ordering chicken tenders, french fries, and ice cream sometimes. Below you will find the chronological order of our travel route, and the accommodations we stayed in.
Hotels On Travel Route
SINGAPORE: Hotel Boss, ($$): We really like Singapore as mentioned in previous posts. It is a great city; however, it’s not the most backpacker-friendly city. It’s very expensive, and unless you spend more than $70+ a night, you’re stuck in a hostel, which from our research, is all.
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Start around the $50 mark. Hotel Boss is a good alternative for us as it is located next to the Lavender MRT stop, and it is very clean and budget friendly! This is the only hotel we pre-booked from the United States.
Hotel Boss: Our smallest, but most expensive room for square footage [Please excuse the mess! This is the only photo we took of our humble welcome to Southeast Asia]
KUALA LUMPUR: Hotel Capitol , ($): Would I visit Kuala Lumpur or stay at this hotel again? No thanks! We left KL after two nights as we were not fans of the city. It’s a little sketchy, overpopulated, and honestly, totally not to our taste. To find the hotel, we had to walk through the construction zone, back alleys, and past many homeless beggars. The staff at Hotel Capitol were not friendly, and we felt uncomfortable walking around the city at night. We also found squatty potties in the lobby. However, we had western toilets in our hotel room, thank goodness!
PENANG, MALAYSIA (aka Malaysia’s foodie capital), ($): The Wembley- St. Giles Hotel Penang was the first city we decided to extend our stay. We really like taking a gypsy approach to our trip because it gives us the freedom to ditch a city we don’t particularly care for (ie. KL), or stay longer in cities we love, like the beautiful Penang. The St. Giles is probably the best hotel at the cheapest rate we found in our entire 3 month stay in SEAsia. This amazing hotel cost us $35 a night for a wonderfully updated, modern, suite style room and bathroom with views of the bay. The hotel also has amazing amenities including a roof top bar, infinity pool, and spacious lobby restaurant/bar. The staff is also top notch, and gives the best recommendations!
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LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA: Langkawi is a HUGE island with a very diverse landscape. We decided to stay in Langkawi for a week and a half, and we stayed in 3 different locations with Datai being our favorite. In Datai, we splurged and stayed at The Adaman, a Luxury Collection Resort ($$$) where the jungle meets the clear blue sea. The only way to access this part of the island is to stay on the pricier, more luxurious side with lots of resorts to choose from, which to be honest, we’re fine with! 😉 This part of the island is very beautiful. We saw wild monkeys, colorful corals, and kayaked in the beautiful Andaman sea. After Datai, we traveled an hour to the residential, and very Chinese, town of Kedah, where we stayed at: Bayview Hotel ($-$). We didn’t spend much time here, as we quickly learned that it was very residential. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the BEST traditional Chinese food, and I am very grateful for that. After leaving Kedah, we reached our last stop at Cenang Beach, where we stayed at Cenang Plaza Beach Hotel (-$), another cheap but good one. This hotel cost us a whopping $18 flat!
BUKIT LAWANG, INDONESIA: Sam’s Bungalow, (-$): Sam’s Bungalow has gone down in history for being one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed. It was exactly that, a bungalow, owned by a cool guy named Sam, in the jungle of Indonesia. We could hear the sound of the river flowing in our room, and it was very relaxing. Sam’s Bungalow was the first of only two places without air conditioning that we stayed in during our entire 3-month SEAsian adventure. I’m not going to lie, it was really bad! Thank God for the mosquito nets and fans. We have a two story “town house” type set up, with the bathroom on the first floor and the bedroom and outdoor hammock on the second floor. Meals are served family style with other guests. Our journey to the Indonesian Jungle was inspired by my love for nature. We spent our time trekking through the forest and observing the Orangutans in their natural habitat.
YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA: Gallery Prawirotaman, ($): We love Yogyakarta so much. Until now, I can confidently say that the BEST MASSAGE I received in all of Southeast Asia was at the Gallery Prawirotaman hotel. This modern, colonial hotel is located within walking distance to Prawotiman I and II, where all the bars and restaurants are located. We love to walk around, and explore all that Yogyakarta or “Jogja” has to offer. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the hotel myself, but the one below was taken from their website, along with my favorite photo of Sean and our Gojek driver. I would absolutely go back to Yoga, because there is so much to see and do there. We barely scratched the surface of our 5 day stay.
BROMO, INDONESIA: Cafe Lava Hostel, ($): Cafe Lava Hostel was the only hostel we stayed at during our time in Southeast Asia. It was also one of our more expensive stays with the worst accommodations. All this is due to the location, which is at the foot of the Mount Bromo volcano. We paid $45 US Dollars a night to stay here, and we couldn’t believe how bad it was! Especially after paying no more than $35 a night for high-end accommodations in other parts of Indonesia. Unfortunately, Bromo does not offer mid-level accommodations unless you book very far in advance. Sean and I were stuck at Cafe Lava Hostel for 2 nights, unless we wanted to spend over $150 on high-end accommodations. We both thought we’d enjoy spending $$ somewhere warmer, so Cafe Lava Hostel it was. At the end of the day, it’s worth it. The views we witnessed were priceless, and our sunrise hike felt like we were hiking in a postcard.
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BANYUWANGI, INDONESIA: Ketapang Indah Hotel, ($): After Bromo, we went to Banyuwangi to look for Ijen Crater. Unfortunately upon arrival, 2 of the 3 volcanoes in the Indonesian Ring of Fire (Bromo & Mount Batur) erupted, sending seismic waves and volcanic activity towards us. Due to the volcanic activity, it is not safe to explore the blue flame of Mount Ijen, so we spent a few days in the coastal town of Banyuwangi, which reminded us of Hawaii. Banyuwangi is a 30-minute ferry ride from Bali, and you can see Bali on the horizon. Ketapang Indah Hotel is very nice