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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Booking Hotels Online Vs. Walk In Hotel Booking - Which is Better in Thailand?

Here's a question that I often see asked on forums, "Should I book a hotel room in Sukhumvit in advance or after I've arrived in Bangkok?"

The short answer is that it's better to book ahead. But it all depends. For example if you're not carrying a lot of luggage and had a relatively short flight then you're better off heading to a hotel directly to inquire about room rates.

On the other hand, if you already know that you'll be carrying a crap load of luggage and you'll be on an 18 hour flight from halfway around the world then you're better off booking a hotel room in advance. This way you won't have to stress yourself out wondering if you can find a place to stay that's within your budget.

Though I highly recommend you should get a hotel room reserved ahead of time if you have is just one night in Bangkok. With so much fun to be had in a finite time it's best not to spend it on price comparing hotels after arriving into Bangkok.

If you've got this much luggage you might as well book in advance
And think about what would happen if you go to a popular hotel in Sukhumvit with a lot of luggage only to find out that there are no rooms available. Or the rates were not as affordable as you'd thought it would be. Then that smile that you had when you boarded the plane thinking about that special soapy massage or company of a bar girl will quickly turn into a frown.

So you're forced to head out to look for another hotel. Believe me. It's not going to be fun to crawl around Sukhumvit at night with a load of luggage bumping into hordes of tourists and prostitutes. Especially at night when the sidewalks fill up with vendors selling t-shirts, souvenirs and sex toys.

I want Hotel Discounts. Is it Cheaper to Book Online or at the Hotel Directly?

I know a lot of travelers wonder if they can get cheaper hotel rates while standing right in front of the hotel's reception desk, rather then book a room online in advance.

In Thailand it is possible to get cheaper walk in rates with a little bit of polite haggling. That is only if it's a smaller hotel, guesthouse, hostel or anything that is basically run personally by the owner of the hotel.

However it's more difficult to get walk in discounts from medium to large sized corporate hotels. And of course there are some exceptions but most of the time big hotel's rack rates are locked in place. Therefore, the shift manager has no power to give you a discount rate upon arrival.

The best way to get cheaper rooms is to book a room through a hotel reservation website. Online hotel agencies that have special agreements with hotels in Thailand and are offered exclusive unpublished rates that are much better than the hotel's direct walk in rates.

One online hotel booking website I recommend to find the best discounts for hotels throughout Thailand is called Agoda.com. I like that they offer instant confirmations and most of the hotels in Thailand they list have free cancellations. Most of the Thai hotels I've reviewed here are linked to Agoda's website.

I know this sounds nuts. But a lot of times I have asked hotels that I have originally booked through Agoda if they could match their rates. And the answer is no they can not. And that's because Agoda's low rates are exclusive and limited in availability.

So if you've got like 3 nights or more to spend in Bangkok and not overburdened by your luggage then you can try and find a hotel with a cheaper walk in rate. Otherwise, it's just smarter to book a room ahead of time so you never have to stress out on finding a hotel near one of your favorite red light districts in Thailand.

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