Photo by Greg Rodgers
Lao Tzu said: 'A man with no expectations is never disappointed.' He must have been referring to budget hotels.
We've all done it. You booked what looked like the perfect hotel for your trip, only to arrive and find out that they must have made liberal use of Photoshop to create the online pictures of the property.
Deciding where to stay on your trip from thousands of miles away can be daunting. Review sites are often skewed with disgruntled guests warning about nonexistent bedbugs and hotel staff sprinkling in obviously overdone, glowing reviews of their own place.
So where to start? First, remember that there are plenty of other accommodation options that are not listed in your guidebook or the online booking sites. But if you're arriving late, having a place to crash already organized is great for peace of mind during the journey.
Unless traveling during a festival or peak time, you may be better off only booking the first night or two, then shopping around on the street for a new hotel. Nothing can be more frustrating than being stuck in a place already paid in advance while an even better, cheaper hotel is just next door.
Whenever possible, never prepay. Hotel competition is fierce in Asia -- don't be afraid to ask for a discount if you are staying longer than average.
Also, remember that you'll most likely need less luxury from a budget hotel in Asia. Who cares what's on the flickering TV when an exciting new country is waiting just outside? You'll probably spend less time in a hotel room than you think -- possibly only to shower and sleep.
Why not spend the difference for activities that will keep you out of the room? Or even bolder, perhaps consider giving couchsurfing a try?