Darn Good Digs

"Darn Good Digs Reveals Outstanding Accommodations with Budget Prices" - Arthur Frommer

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Darn Good Digs in Thailand

Darn Good Digs are the world's best independently owned accommodations for budget-minded travelers, all with rooms under US$150. Darn Good Digs stand out for their originality, spectacular locations, scrumptious food, and great vibes.

BangkokChiang Mai Province (northern region)Mae Hong Son Province (northern region)
Surat Thani Province (islands, Gulf of Thailand, southern region)Udon Thani Province (northeastern region)

  =   Editors' Choice


Ibrik by the River

Traveler Favorite

Bangkok, Thailand: Ibrik by the River
 Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, December '10

Price Range: 3200 – 4000 Baht # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Ibrik by the River so Darn Good? "Ibrik by the River is a simple but stylish guest house in a peaceful, convenient location right on the Chao Phraya River. Only three guest rooms means privacy and quiet, and the staff is incredibly polite and helpful. This little spot is like a home away from home in sprawling, bustling Bangkok, and a welcome respite at the end of a long day of sightseeing."

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Traveler Favorite

Chiang Mai Province (Chiang Mai), Thailand: Sri Pat Guest House
 Nominated By: Kathy, Ankara, Turkey, May '10

Price Range: # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Sri Pat Guest House so Darn Good? "These digs, in this neighborhood, are luxurious for a relatively small price. Other places were bare boned, concrete boxes with a shower head in the middle of another box called the bathroom. It is very easy to see that some effort, thought, and love had gone into the Sri Pat. The owners understand what weary travelers need and want, and they go the extra mile to deliver. My daughter and I stayed at Sri Pat for one month and had a great time."

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studio 99 studio 99 studio 99 studio 99

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Chiang Mai Province (Chiang Mai), Thailand: Studio 99 Serviced Apartments
Nominated By: Rasputin, Melbourne, Australia, November '10

Price Range: 2000-2800 Baht # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Studio 99 so Darn Good? Studio 99’s modern and comfortable apartments are in a residential area just a five minute walk to Thapae Gate and Chiang Mai’s old city. The building has a security guard, which I appreciated, and the staff is helpful and polite.

Location: Set on a quiet soi, or side lane, just off the main road leading to the old city’s eastern entrance through Thapae Gate, Studio 99 is within easy walking distance to many of Chiang Mai’s greatest attractions. Wander the old city’s winding streets, shop at the bustling Night Bazaar, or visit one of the hundreds of Wats, or temples, honoring Buddha throughout the city. Chiang Mai is also a popular starting off point for treks up north and is easily reached by train, bus, or plane from Bangkok.

Rooms: Studio 99 has six spacious and very well-kept apartments with either one or two bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms. All apartments have balconies overlooking the street or courtyard garden, air conditioning, kitchenettes, and lounges complete with televisions and DVD players.

Food: Studio 99 does not serve food, but guests can cook their own meals in their kitchenettes. Several nearby guesthouses offer good affordable breakfasts, and plenty of tasty restaurants are within walking distance.

Vibe: Very local.

Keep in Mind: Studio 99 has three floors but no elevator, so if you need a ground floor room, make sure to ask for one.

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bueng pai farm bueng pai farm bueng pai farm bueng pai farm

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Mae Hong Son (Pai), Thailand: Bueng Pai Farm
Nominated By: Mary Bartnikowski, San Francisco, California and Mike, Montreal, Canada, November '11

Price Range: 500-1800 Baht # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes Bueng Pai Farm so Darn Good? A true gem - we never wanted to leave this little piece of heaven on earth! Surrounded by rice paddies in a gorgeous mountain valley, the farm has private bungalows overlooking a quiet fishing pond where guests can fish right from their hammocks. When not exploring the countryside, we spent our days fishing, relaxing in the farm's open-air island library, and swimming in the farm's natural, chemical-free swimming pool - complete with little fish to tickle your toes! Your hosts, Run and Orn, are absolute angels – kind, helpful, and fantastic cooks to boot. I felt so absolutely cared for and rested in this Pai-adise.

Location: The farm is set among rice paddies along the lazy Pai River two and a half kilometers outside of Pai, a laid-back backpacker town with a lively music and restaurant scene. When not lazing in your hammock, you may want to take a bike ride through the countryside, go tubing down the Pai River, or check out the nearby hot springs and waterfalls. Pai is a popular starting off point for elephant treks through Northern Thailand and can be reached by bus from Chiang Mai, eighty kilometers away, or by plane directly to Pai.

Rooms: Bueng Pai Farm's fourteen bungalows, all traditionally designed and built using local, natural materials, are immaculate with en-suite bathrooms, hot showers, and free WiFi. Many of the bungalows are right on the pond, yet the ones set back from the water are also wonderful as they have gorgeous views of the rice fields to be enjoyed from your veranda. The bungalows range in size to accommodate single travelers as well as families.

Food: Better than mom's! Run and Orn cook up delicious and nutritious vegetarian breakfasts such as home-made toasted muesli with yogurt, omelets cooked and served on a banana leaf, and chocolate pancakes. These and other delicious dishes and drinks are served with a smile – everyone at the farm is wonderful at making you feel at home. For lunch and dinner, the farm has a fully equipped guest kitchen, and the nearby town of Pai has plenty of restaurants with tasty food from the world-over.

Vibe: The beauty and tranquility of Bueng Pai Farm are mesmerizing. I loved sitting on one of the shady decks watching the fish in the pond leap for joy and at night listening to the frogs in the rice fields sing me to sleep.

Keep in Mind: The Farm is a couple of kilometers out of town so you may need a bicycle, motorbike, or car to get around. The walk to town is doable though, and you get to enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.

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soppong river inn soppong river inn soppong river inn soppong river inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Mae Hong Son Province (Soppong), Thailand: Soppong River Inn
Nominated By: Tony, Australia, May '08

Price Range: 700 – 2450 Baht # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes Soppong River Inn so Darn Good? Going to the land of zzzz's on an excellent bed in a room with open eaves poised high above the chattering river after an excellent Thai spread in the Soppong River Inn restaurant is one of my lingering memories of the fabulous Mae Hong Son province. In ten years of wandering through Thailand, my favourite bed and breakfast or hotel has to be the Soppong River Inn. I score it a 10/10 for location, atmosphere, food, and service.

Location: The Soppong River Inn is located in Soppong, a small village in the mountainous Mae Hong Son province near the Burmese border, 130 km northwest of Chaing Mai. Soppong has a lively market every Tuesday, when hill tribe people journey down from the mountains to shop and sell their goods. If you are in the mood for some outdoor adventure, the Inn is a perfect base for caving, kayaking, rafting, and trekking.

Rooms: The rooms and cottages are different styles, but all are made using traditional materials such as teak and bamboo, and all take their cues from traditional and modern Thai architecture. All rooms have cotton sheets and towels, en-suite bathrooms, and hot water. Some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the river, gardens, and rainforest.

Food: The Inn's Seven Elephants Café serves a choice of Thai, American, or European style breakfasts, all with a super-fresh tropical fruit salad. Coffee drinkers will be psyched about the Inn's espresso machine, the only one for miles around. The dinner menu includes both Southeast Asian (even some local Shan specialties) and western style meals. The restaurant has both indoor seating and an outside deck perched above the river.

Vibe: Every time I've been back, Burt and Joy, the owners, seem to have improved the place even more, though how it's possible amazes me.

Things to Keep in Mind: It's a bit of a trek to get to Soppong, but the roads are good and the flights from Chang Mai are short.

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Traveler Favorite

Surat Thani Province (Koh Tao island), Thailand: Haad Tien Beach Resort
 Nominated By: Akila, Salem, Alabama, May '10

Price Range: 3000 – 13000 Baht # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Haad Tien Beach Resort so Darn Good? "This is our favorite beach resort EVER! We don't know how the resort does it, but there is a gentle breeze at all times of the day - from early in the morning until late at night - so it is a joy and pleasure to spend your days lounging on the sumptuous oversized outdoor beds and lawn chairs while overlooking the crystal clear waters, craggy coastline, and the sharks that roam through the bay in the early morning."

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Gecko Villa Gecko Villa Gecko Villa Gecko Villa

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Udon Thani Province, Thailand: Gecko Villa
Nominated By: James63, London, United Kingdom, November '08

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Price Range: 6,500 Baht (three meals included) # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes Gecko Villa so Darn Good? Located bang in the middle of rice paddy fields and sugar cane plantations, Gecko Villa is a green oasis far from Thailand’s tourist trails. The two things that truly made our stay were the superb food, and the kindness and welcoming nature of the local host family and villagers. Having our own pool was a definite plus!

Location: Gecko Villa is located in Northeast Thailand’s Isaan region, fifty minutes by plane or nine hours by train from Bangkok, and not far from the Laos border. The province, Udon Thani, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site, Ban Chiang, and its national museum which displays locally excavated artifacts and pottery dating as far back as 7,500 years. If that doesn’t float your boat, guests at Gecko Villa can take a boat ride among lotus flowers in the nearby lake, and all around are opportunities for exploring the villages, temples, and farms of bucolic Thailand.

Rooms: Gecko Villa is a northern Thai-style country house with a pool that you rent all for yourself! The Villa’s three bedrooms, large living and dining rooms, and fully equipped Western and Thai kitchens are in separate buildings and are connected by covered wooden verandas surrounding a garden. Traditional wooden furniture and artwork adorn the rooms and outdoor areas.

Food: Excellent and very zingy Thai food is cooked for you three times daily by Ten and Euang, the Villa’s caretakers and chefs, who live in a small village a couple of kilometers away. Ask to try local Isaan dishes such as spicy beef salad with mint or their wicked barbecue chicken with papaya salad. Make sure to say upfront what your chili factor is! Thai cooking lessons are also included in the price.

Vibe: Guests could just chill by the pool and eat well, but definitely take the plunge and ask to get integrated: the locals are very friendly and definitely enjoy a good time! Gecko Villa is owned and run by local villagers, and all revenues stay in the community.

Things to Keep in Mind: Take any personal necessities with you because the nearest banks and major shopping areas are 45 minutes away!

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