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Accommodations, Destinations, Posted by Amanda, Recommendations, Southeast Asia

American Hotels vs. Southeast Asian Hotels

If my travels have taught me one thing, it’s that there is a major difference between hotels in America and hotels in developing countries, particularly Southeast Asian hotels. Here are a few things that I learned about this topic along the way.


In almost all hotels around the world (except for America), the electricity only works after you’ve inserted your room key-card into a designated power outlet. I think it’s a great idea as a way to be more efficient and for hotels to save money. The only time this becomes a problem is if you want to charge electronics when you are gone and if you are visiting a tropical country in 100-degree heat. In this case it usually takes a good hour after you return for the AC to even make a dent in the room temperature. Most hotels only provide one key-card even if there are 2 guests in the room to prevent you from leaving a card in the outlet while you are out. However, if you are lucky, sometimes you’ll find a room where a business card will do the trick and you can return dripping wet from sweat to an ice cold room!


While most hotels these days have wifi it’s important to note that it varies depending on your location within the hotel. Sometimes you’ll get lucky enough to score a room near the router but if not, all your web-surfing, emailing, face-booking, instagramming, texting and skyping will unfortunately have to be done in the lobby.

Hotel Amenities

This year I learned that hotel amenities can vary greatly between different countries. Back home I was used to receiving shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, a bar of hand soap, body lotion and if I was lucky mouthwash and a sewing kit. This is absolutely not the case in many mid-range hotels to the east of Europe. For the most part I received shampoo (sometimes in a packet that would maybe get you 2 washes if you used it sparingly) and a small bar of hand soap that didn’t even lather after being dowsed in water. If you are a conditioner and shower gel person like myself, I highly suggest that you bring your own!


This next subject is more common than you would think in South East Asia. I would say that about 6 times out of 10, I would enter into the bathroom of my hotel only to be greeted by a sign that politely asked to NOT FLUSH the toilette paper down the toilette. This my friends is something that I will never get used to for the mere fact that it’s disgusting and secondly, (although I tried to remember), I always forgot and was constantly flushing paper down the toilette by mistake. Just for the record, nothing ever happened when I did this but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

House Keeping

Depending on the quality of your hotel, sometimes house keeping comes once every 2 to 3 days. I honestly didn’t mind this although it is very refreshing to come back to your room with a freshly made bed. In some hotels house keeping didn’t come at all unless requested. It’s a good idea to ask when you arrive how often house keeping makes a visit and of course they will send one daily if you ask (you’ll just have to remind them everyday).


In tropical climates there is no way around mosquitos and geckos. There will always be spaces and cracks that they will find to let themselves in. While geckos were something that I had to get used to- one night there was a gecko on the wall above my head the size of my pinky finger and I actually moved my king size bed into the middle of the room- I eventually got used to it. In fact, you may be surprised to know that it’s actually better to have a gecko or two in your room because they get rid of all the small insects and mosquitos that will eat you alive while you sleep.

What I found in my room after the sun came up

These however are not the critters that I am referring to; there is another kind and I learned about them the hard way (2 times). One night I was woken up by a very loud cracking and snapping noise. I quickly flipped on my lights and the sound immediately went away only to return 5 minutes after I turned the lights back off. It was 5AM in the morning and I was terrified but knew I only had an hour before the sun came up so I put the sheets over my head and prayed that whatever it was, my mosquito net would protect me.  When the sun finally did come up a very long 60 minutes later the noise stopped and I looked around and found that the plastic peanut butter jar about 3 feet from my bed had a hole in it. Whatever it was- either a mouse, rat or weasel- it had actually eaten through the plastic to get to the peanut butter.

A few weeks later, in another hotel, I had left an empty wrapper in a waste paper basket and around 3AM I heard the rustling of those wrappers. I turned on the lights, the noise stopped and I quickly grabbed the garbage and put it outside of my door. That was the last time I ever brought anything but water into a hotel room again.

Free Breakfasts

hotel foodThis is one difference that I could definitely get used to- free breakfasts! About 95% of the hotels in Southeast Asia have breakfast included with your stay. It’s usually a good mixture between a traditional American breakfast of eggs and toast as well as some local options. Sometimes the food isn’t the greatest but hey, it’s not like you wasted any money on it!

All of the hotels that I stay in are usually mid-tier hotels between 2 and 4 stars.It may sound very low compared to western standards but in the east you will really find some quality places in this range. I’m sure if you are staying in 5 star hotels you won’t have to worry about anything on this list but what’s the fun in that?

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