Our 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia in 12 years of Grantourismo are your all-time top 12 Southeast Asian hotel destinations. These are the most popular Southeast Asian accommodation guides according to Grantourismo readers – the Southeast Asian hotels, resorts, lodges, and glamping accommodation you most searched for, browsed and booked.
We’re continuing Grantourismo’s 12th birthday celebrations with our series of collections of our 12 most popular all-time posts of the last twelve years of the life of Grantourismo. Since the start of the year we’ve been sharing compilations of the top 12 posts in a number of the most popular categories.
We kicked off with recipes, including our 12 most popular recipes of the last 12 years, then shared our 12 most popular Weekend Eggs recipes of the last 12 years from our breakfast eggs recipe series on quintessential eggs dishes from around the world, our 12 most popular Asian recipes of the last 12 years.
Then we moved on to accommodation, starting with your top 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years, today we’re sharing your 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia in 12 years of Grantourismo, and next week we’ll share your best 12 accommodation destinations in the rest of the world.
If you’re visiting us for the first time, we launched Grantourismo in 2010 with a yearlong global grand tour, aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel. We settled in to places for two weeks at a time, staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to get an insight into how locals lived their lives.
Now before I share your 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia in 12 years of our site, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or other content on the site, please consider supporting Grantourismo. You could buy us a coffee and we’ll use that donation to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing or donate to our epic original Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon.
Another option is to use our links to book accommodation, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, buy travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. Or purchase something on Amazon, such as these James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Southeast Asian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, or gifts for Asian food lovers, picnic lovers and travellers who love photography. We may earn a small commission but you won’t pay extra.
You could also shop our Grantourismo store on Society6 for gifts for foodies, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let’s tell you about your 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia in 12 years of Grantourismo.
12 Best Places to Stay in Southeast Asia in 12 Years of Grantourismo – Your Top 12 Southeast Asian Hotel Destinations
Where to Stay in Siem Reap — Best Boutique Hotels, Stylish Resorts and Atmospheric Lodges
At the top of the list of your 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia is Siem Reap, Cambodia. Where to stay in Siem Reap is not an easy question to answer in a city with thousands of hotels, so we’ve selected our top picks across a range of categories, from the best boutique hotels, stylish resorts and atmospheric lodges to luxury hotels. This is a very selective list of only the very best boutique sleeps, all tried and tested.
Where to stay in Siem Reap is a tough decision, because there’s an abundance of beautiful hotels. From atmospheric traditional Khmer houses in tropical gardens to laidback resorts set amidst the rice paddies. While Siem Reap’s luxury hotels like Amansara and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Belmond’s La Residence are best known, Cambodia’s ‘temple town’ has plenty of lesser-known, smaller hotels, from chic boutique hotels and stylish resorts to atmospheric lodges that are hard to beat.
Where to stay in Siem Reap depends upon how you like to travel and what kind of holiday you want. If you like the sound of a pool with peace, tranquility and exclusivity, Maison Polanka and Sala Lodges are unbeatable. If you want a cool pool and a little glamour then boutique hotel Viroth’s is your best bet. Shopping, eating and drinking are the priority? Then Treeline is for you, surrounded by brilliant restaurants and cool bars.
Where to stay in Siem Reap should also be determined by the location. Want to be close to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor temples? Luxury glamping lodge THE BEIGE is about as close to the temples as you can get and gorgeous Templation with its enormous pool is pretty perfect too.
Slap-bang in the heart of town? Shinta Mani Club and Shinta Mani Resort are two blocks from the main shopping street and just one block from the leafy riverside. Within walking distance of Siem Reap’s markets? Opt for charming Rambutan. Happy to stay out of town and take tuk tuks everywhere? Navutu Dreams and Sojourn are lovely.
Many of the boutique hotels below offer similar levels of comfort and service to the luxury hotels, but are better value. Most hotels include breakfast and offer free Wi-Fi, and during the low season double room rates for entry level rooms can be found from as little as US$50 per night for some of these properties. Rates are higher in peak season from December through February.
Also see our guide to Siem Reap’s best hotels for stunning swimming pools and if you’re thinking of settling in for a while, see our insider guide to renting apartments in Siem Reap.
Best Bangkok Riverside Hotels on the Chao Phraya River
Next on the list of the 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia is Bangkok, which is probably not so surprising. The best Bangkok riverside hotels on the Chao Phraya River range from one of Bangkok’s oldest hotels, the Mandarin Oriental to one of its most luxurious, The Siam, and everything in between, from riverside hotels with rooftop swimming pools to sleek boutique hotels offering spectacular temple views.
A stay at one of the best Bangkok riverside hotels on the Chao Phraya River is a must for first-time visitors to Thailand’s capital as far as we’re concerned – or for that matter, repeat travellers seeking respite from the traffic chaos and car fumes of Sukhumvit Road and bright lights and bustling streets of Silom. There are few things as restorative as a few days spent by the water.
The Chao Phraya River snakes through the heart of historic Bangkok (see this guide to Bangkok’s Old City heritage hotels and hotels for foodies). On the right bank is Bangkok’s Old Town, Rattanakosin Island, with its Grand Palace and gleaming pagodas, and atmospheric neighbourhoods of Chinatown and Bangrak, site of Bangkok’s first roads. To the north is the elegant royal neighbourhood of Dusit with its broad boulevards and leafy streets.
On the left bank is the laid-back residential areas of Thonburi, Khlong San, Bangkok Noi, and Bangkok Yai, which are home to the magnificent mosaic-tiled Wat Arun, a handsome Portuguese church, Chinese temples, Islamic mosques, some fascinating museums, and quite lanes that are worth ambling. One of the most enjoyable things to do in that part of Bangkok is a tour by long-tail boat along the khlongs or canals.
By day, the lively activity on the river is engrossing and the riverside neighbourhoods with their clear footpaths and quiet streets are so much more pleasurable to navigate than the broken, cluttered pavements of the busy downtown areas. Come sunset, there are few better places to be in Bangkok than on a rooftop bar or waterfront terrace sipping a drink as you savour the sunset over the Chao Phraya River. See our things to do on the Chao Phraya River.
Best Ho Chi Minh City Luxury Hotels in the Heart of Saigon’s Central District One
We were pleased to see Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as the locals call it next on the list of the 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia is Bangkok. The best Ho Chi Minh City luxury hotels are slap-bang in the centre in District 1, home to most of Saigon’s sights, museums and galleries, as well as great eating, drinking and shopping. They include everything from big 5-star brands, such as the Sofitel, InterContinental and Park Hyatt to historic hotels such as The Continental, and The Reverie Saigon, perhaps the city’s most sumptuous lodgings.
The luxurious Park Hyatt Saigon has 245 comfortable rooms and suites decorated in a colonial style, the best of which are the deluxe suites, which French doors that open onto shady terraces. The pool area is a welcome relief after a sweaty day of sightseeing and there’s a great spa as well.
The Hôtel des Arts Saigon M Gallery Collection is full of 1930s Indochine charm. Just a few blocks from the main attractions and museums and there is a stunning rooftop infinity pool and bar where you can cool down with a dip and a drink.
The Reverie Saigon boasts flamboyant lodgings designed by Italian design firms in a range of styles, from baroque to modernist. The pool and gym are excellent, and there are plenty of dining options if you can’t bring yourself to leave after a busy day out and about in bustling Saigon.
New World Saigon Hotel has spacious, comfortable rooms and suites, fantastic Club extras, and a big outdoor swimming pool. It’s handily located to Ben Thanh Market, the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace) and Maison Marou, a must for chocolate lovers, and a short stroll from chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s award-winning Anan Saigon.
The four-star Hotel Continental Saigon is the city’s oldest hotel, dating to 1880, and has a real sense of history despite a 1980s refurbishment. This is the hotel where Graeme Greene, a long-term guest who stayed in room 214, conceived and wrote part of The Quiet American. During the Vietnam War, Time and Newsweek had offices on the second floor. The rooms have high ceilings and large windows. Book a balcony room overlooking the Opera House.
Where to Stay in Hanoi for Lakeside Luxury and Hotels with Lake Views
We adore Hanoi, it’s perhaps our most favourite Southeast Asian city, and we lived there for a short time in 2012 so we were pleased to see Hanoi of your list of 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia. Located on the banks of the Red River, Vietnam’s capital is home to some twenty lakes and a hotel on, near or overlooking a lake is where to stay in Hanoi. These are our picks for lakeside luxury and hotels with lake views.
In the heart of Hanoi and at the edge of the historic Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake or Hồ Hoàn Kiếm is the most enchanting and best known of Hanoi’s lakes. Cross the red-lacquered Huc Bridge (Morning Sunlight Bridge), above, to reach the 18th-century Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain). The pretty Turtle Tower (Thap Rùa) on a tiny island at its centre is photogenic.
The Apricot Hotel is in a fantastic location right opposite Ho Hoan Kiem and its rooftop swimming pool has lake vistas, plenty of sun-beds surrounding it, and a rooftop bar with panoramic views of Hanoi and Hoan Kiem below. The Apricot is in an unbeatable location if, like us, you love to get an insight into local life on early morning walks or late afternoon strolls around the lake.
A block from Hoan Kiem Lake, the luxurious Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in the French Quarter is Hanoi’s colonial-era grande dame, dating to 1901, and oozes history despite a remodelling. Guests have included literary greats such as Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. We recommend the rooms steeped in history in the Metropole Wing with polished floorboards and Oriental carpets and antiques. There’s a beautiful pool, poolside Bamboo Bar, and the Parisian-style La Terrasse for people-watching.
Once again, no lake views, but the lavish 5-star Hotel de L’Opera Hanoi M Gallery is just a block and half’s stroll from the lake and a few minutes walk to French Quarter attractions, such as the majestic Hanoi Opera House. The theatrical hotel design is rather whimsical with crimson velvet studded sofas, gilt-edged mirrors, and back-stage, dressing room light bulbs in the bathrooms.
Silk Path Boutique Hotel is a sumptuous little hotel right across the road from Hoan Kiem Lake on leafy Hang Khay street, which is closed to traffic on weekends. You’ll get to absorb the activity from your own balcony if you book the Grand Executive room which has lake vistas through the trees.
Best Phuket Hotels from Luxury Beach Resorts to Boutique Hotels in Phuket Old Town
These are the best Phuket hotels from luxury beach resorts to boutique hotels in Phuket Old Town. Here’s where to stay on Phuket depending on the experience you want – whether you want breathtaking sea views, want to be within splashing distance of the sand or a stunning swimming pool, or close to atmospheric markets, street food and restaurants specialising in southern Thai food.
Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is blessed with a wide variety of beaches, towns, villages, and beach resorts, each with their own personality, which means you need to choose where to stay on Phuket carefully. Then there’s Phuket’s Old Town, also called Phuket Town, the charming historic heart of the island’s capital.
In Phuket Old Town, you’ll find markets, street food stalls, cafés and restaurants offering fantastic Southern Thai food, including Phuket cuisine that’s unique to the island. Phuket Town also has a rich culture and long history, splendid pastel-painted heritage buildings, decent shopping, and cafés and bars with character, which have been gradually reopening.
While most visitors prefer to be by the beach and visit Phuket Town on a day trip or for dinner, even if you’re set on a beach holiday we think Phuket Town warrants a stay of at least a night or two.
Best Ho Chi Minh City Boutique Hotels from Chic City Stays to Riverside Retreats
Vietnam’s southern city, more fondly known by its pre-1975 name of Saigon, is an engrossing destination famed for its fantastic food, wonderful restaurants and bars, lively markets, leafy parks, and terrific sights – from French-colonial architectural gems to compelling museums and art galleries.
The best Ho Chi Minh City boutique hotels include an audacious design hotel that wouldn’t be out of place in Barcelona or Bilbao, romantic waterfront retreats on the peaceful Saigon River, and intimate off the beaten track lodgings that ooze French colonial charm.
In the heart of the city centre in District 1, The Myst Dong Khoi has an audacious white exterior with plant-filled balconies and windows of different shapes and sizes. Inside, the decor has retro touches like curved arches and window grills and rooms that feel more like apartments with potted plants, original art, bold feature walls, and polished concrete.
Overlooking District 1’s leafy Cong Vien Van Hoa Park, Fusion Suites would have an almost Nordic feel to it, with its blonde woods, minimalist style and neutral tones, if it weren’t for the touches of Indochine chic: a faded French-colonial tile pattern on the bathroom floors, wall murals of Vietnamese scenes, such as a fisherman casting his net, and a display in the café of quintessentially Vietnamese objects, from a conical hat to the front-end of a motor scooter.
Located in a leafy residential neighbourhood on the Saigon River, peaceful Villa Song makes for a restful escape from the chaotic city centre. The intimate lodgings in a handsome French-colonial style building are individually decorated in an elegant style with wooden floorboards and marble-topped coffee tables. There’s a sizeable swimming pool with sun-loungers and a palm-shaded riverside restaurant, and complimentary shuttles on Villa Song’s private boat from their own pier.
Ma Maison is located in a French colonial-inspired building, painted in the typical lemon-yellow of the era, in an alley in a fascinating local neighbourhood in District 3. Ma Maison is the perfect base for travellers who want to go local and get an insight into everyday life. Rooms are decorated in the grey-painted furniture typical of the Provence style with matching floorboards, French doors and shuttered windows that open onto tiny balconies, flowers in vases, and pretty tiled bathrooms.
A ten-minute’s drive from District 1, The Alcove is located on a lively alleyway in a handsome French-style building with a lovely courtyard garden fragrant with frangipani trees, and towering lobby library with striking colonial-inspired tiled floors and floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with books – novels, literature classics, travel guides, and reference books.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai – From Charming Boutique Hotels to Chic Apartments
Chiang Mai is best known as a launching pad for mountain treks and for its history as the old Lanna kingdom capital with centuries old pagodas, engaging heritage museums and the excellent MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. It’s Thailand’s best destination for foodies after Bangkok, home to fantastic markets and street food, which you can experience independently or on a Chiang Mai food tour and at superb restaurants serving Northern Thai style Lanna cuisine.
Rachamankha and Tamarind Village are easily our top picks for where to stay in Chiang Mai in the Old City for charm, tranquillity and terrific swimming pools. While Rachamankha has the added bonus of a fine restaurant, Tamarind Village’s activities and location are unbeatable.
If you’re on a budget, there is an abundance of more affordable Chiang Mai boutique hotels, such as Lamphu House and Thapae Loft , both of which are good Old City options, in great locations, although Lamphu House has the better swimming pool while Thapae Loft’s rooms are bigger.
For second time visitors, where to stay in Chiang Mai is a no brainer. Nimmanhaemin Road, which is a shopping, coffee sipping, drinking and dining hub for Thais, particularly students from the nearby university, is where you need to be, home to even more of Chiang Mai’s best boutique hotels, along with luxury hotels and stylish serviced apartments.
Our pick of Chiang Mai accommodation on Nimmanhaemin Road is the Eastin Tan Hotel Chiang Mai. If you plan on settling in for a while, the apartments are the pick of the Eastin Tan’s wide range of rooms. It’s a big hotel, however, so if you prefer something smaller and more luxurious, then check into the glam Akyra Manor Chiang Mai .
For a small Chiang Mai hotel with homey atmosphere and home-cooked Lanna food, check into family-owned Ruen Come In, where you’ll actually be treated like one of the family and will get to sample some of the most delicious home-cooked food you’ll find in Chiang Mai.
Where to Stay in Sapa – From Eco-Lodges with Mountain Views to Village Homestays
Where to stay in Sapa in Northern Vietnam depends on what kind of trip you want. If you’re mixing it up – a trek, day trip, spa, shopping, eating – then stay in Sapa town in a hotel or bed and breakfast. If your focus is the outdoors and trekking, consider an eco-lodge overlooking the rice terraces or a rustic homestay in a village.
When it comes to where to stay in Sapa, the sleepy mountain town up near the Chinese border in Northern Vietnam, our priority is accommodation that’s centrally located – within 500 metres of the main square and French colonial church – offering breathtaking valley or mountain views, preferably from a private balcony.
While gobsmacking valley vistas are still possible from many hotels in Sapa, getting those views could become more challenging in years to come, as I discovered on my last trip hosting a Vietnam Culinary Tour, which is why you need to get to Sapa soon. When you do, these are the things we recommend you do in Sapa.
For those who enjoy a bit of pampering, it’s worth noting that as Sapa was established as a French hill station – a cool retreat from the heat – almost every hotel has ‘spa’ in its name and a wellness centre of some sort, whether it’s a professional operation with numerous massage rooms and a full menu of treatments and therapies, or simply a sauna and hot tub.
Best Luang Prabang Boutique Hotels for Absorbing the Town’s History and Culture
The best Luang Prabang boutique hotels to book to absorb the history, culture and beauty of this well preserved UNESCO World Heritage listed old town include handsome French colonial-era residences of late kings, a former royal summer house, and the old French Governor’s residence of the 1900s.
Atmospheric 3 Nagas is located in three splendidly restored French colonial buildings. First renovated in 2003, then spruced up when taken over by Sofitel’s M Gallery brand a few years ago, the beautiful property, shaded by mature mango and jackfruit trees, has lush gardens sprawling down to the Nam Khan River.
Painstakingly refurbished in 2002, Satri House was built in 1904 by Prince Bounkhong, the last uparat (viceroy) of Luang Prabang and father of Prince Souphanouvong, who lived here as a child, and would go on to become the first President of the new Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Satri House oozes history with rooms furnished with four-poster beds, silk cushions and throws, and antique carpets, artefacts and crafts, including hand-carved Buddha statues
Maison Souvannaphoum, managed by Angsana, is another heritage residence that was once home to royalty – four-time Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma, who was the half-brother of Prince Souphanouvong. The best room in the grand whitewashed French-colonial mansion is the Prince’s former lodgings, with polished parquet floors, a Victorian style bathtub and a pretty balcony overlooking the lush garden.
Belmond La Residence Phou Vao is built around a former royal summerhouse and boasts lush gardens filled with frangipani and mango trees and lotus ponds. There are two stunning swimming pools, including an infinity pool overlooking the tree canopy to the mountains.
Set on the river bank in a cluster of lemon-coloured colonial style buildings with grey-blue shutters and peppermint doors, The Apsara Rive Droite is a lovely, understated five-star property with bougainvillea filled gardens and a jade-green swimming pool. While the exterior is colonial, the pared-back interiors with polished teak floors are furnished in a modern Asian style with Chinese-style coffee tables and and contemporary rattan chairs and stools.
Best Singapore Hotels for Views That Will Take Your Breath Away
Who doesn’t want a room with a view when you’re on holidays? As long as I’ve travelled, a few factors have guided my decision-making when it came to selecting accommodation, especially in steamy cities like Singapore and Bangkok: a central location, a swimming pool, and a room with a view, preferably from a balcony.
There are few things more relaxing after a sweaty day out and about than kicking back with a drink on a hotel balcony, or in front of a floor to ceiling window, to savour a sunset and the city lights flickering on. Sigh.
For me, Singapore, with its gobsmacking skyline and stunning architecture, requires a room with a view from where you can absorb the jaw-dropping skyline or birds-eye-views of the city, depending how high you are.
The best Singapore hotels for views that will take your breath away range from the unrivalled rooftop panoramas from the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands Sky Park to the sumptuous Mandarin Oriental‘s sweeping vistas of Marina Bay Sands and the city skyline.
Where to Stay in Yogyakarta From Grand Colonial Hotels to Green Boutique Stays
We so love that Yogyakarta was on your list of 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia as it’s one of our favourite ciities in the region. Where to stay in Yogyakarta on Indonesia’s island of Java depends on whether you’re primarily in the city to eat, shop and sightsee, explore Borobudur and Prambanan, or fleeing neighbouring Bali.
D’omah Yogya Hotel is so much more than a boutique hotel, it’s a community tourism project. Located in the village of Tembi, 25 minutes out of Yogyakarta, the breezy Javanese style accommodation with buildings with shutters and outdoor living spaces, includes deluxe rooms, a private villa and beautiful residence, each with gorgeous green swimming pools, lush gardens, and terrace lounges.
A 25-minute drive north of the city centre, Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel is where to stay in Yogyakarta if you’re a fan of Balinese style boutique hotels with heritage and heavenly tropical gardens. Expect Javanese architecture, exquisite wood carvings, rattan backed chairs and batik textiles.
The grand five-star Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – MGallery by Sofitel is where to stay if you like your luxury hotels to ooze history. Built in 1918, this Dutch-era landmark has a sense of colonial grandeur and old-world elegance thanks to its stained glass windows, lofty ceilings, imposing pillars, Rosewood furniture, and antique Javanese ceramics, textiles and art. The Deluxe Legacy Pool View room has a pretty balcony overlooking the courtyard swimming pool surrounded by frangipani trees, and enchantingly illuminated at night.
One for the water-babies, the palatial Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta has several indoor and outdoor swimming pools and water features inspired by the historic Taman Sari Water Castle, with some rooms offering direct pool access from their patios. We highlight recommend these – or the rooms boasting Mount Merapi views.
ogyakarta’s most idiosyncratic and atmospheric boutique hotel in the centre is the Adhisthana Hotel Yogyakarta. Set within a white-washed building there are as many colonial touches as modernist details – from the French doors that open onto the central courtyard to the shutters to the breeze blocks of the first floor wrap-around balcony. The central courtyard almost feels like a Moroccan riad interior with its striking jade-coloured swimming pool fringed by palm trees.
Centrally located, The 1O1 Yogyakarta Tugu is a 4-star boutique hotel with a gorgeous green pool. Book one of the poolside rooms so you can step straight from your deck into the water. Rooms have brown and white checked floors, blonde wood, white cane chairs, and orange accents.
Close to the batik stores and crafts shops of Malioboro, the budget-boutique Hotel Neo Malioboro has spacious rooms with comfy beds, striking black and white murals of aspects of culture and everyday life in Jogya, and a rooftop bar offering stunning panoramic views of the city, mountains and Mount Merapi.
The Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman is a favourite of Instagramming flash-packers for its jungalow style and hanging vertical gardens around the central courtyard swimming pool. The lobby is photogenic, furnished with vintage chairs, and there’s a rooftop hydroponic garden and vegan, vegetarian and halal food on the restaurant’s menu.
We’d love to know what you think of our 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia or rather your 12 best places to stay in Southeast Asia. And if you’re not a regular reader, please do let us know if you’ve stayed at any of these hotels, resorts or lodges in Southeast Asia as we’d love to know what you think.