Asia Hotels and Budget Accommodations Creepy Crawly Hazards

I have had the unfortunate luck of running into things that bite you in the night at some of the Asia hotels and guesthouses that I have stayed at in Asia beside mosquitoes.

One hotel had scabies that fortunately wasn’t in my room but a couple of other people got a dose. If the hotel or guesthouse does not have a dryer it will be difficult for them to get rid of unless they soak the bedding in very hot, roiling boil water for a few minutes. The way to get rid of them off of you personally is that you need to get a ointment usually, that kills them and make sure that you have all of your laundry done and dried completely on the hottest setting, which kills any that might be on your cloths or sleeping garments.

I have been bitten by bed bugs in a few of the cheapest guesthouses. Bed bugs are very hard to get rid of, basically you need to freeze the bed, which is hard to do in the tropics, or stick the entire bed in a plastic bag and apply some bed bug killing solutions, or isolate the mattress for 6 months in a plastic bag, You also need to clean very good the rest of the bed frame and anything close to the bed as the bed bugs can jump back on to a new or cleaned mattress and you are infected again. A good idea is not to stick you luggage on the bed whenever possible to avoid hitchhikers.

Cockroaches you can sometimes have crawl into your luggage when you are traveling and you can bring them home with you. If that is the case take your luggage and shake it real good and look for the little bastards in all the little nicks and crannies, and if you find them, of course, squish the little darlings and give the luggage a good spray with a bug spray.

If you do get a infestation of cockroaches in your home or apartment you need to bomb the dwelling and apply some cockroach powder near all the water fixtures that you can not see like behind the toilet and under the sinks and around the refrigerator. One drop of sweat off a pipe is enough water for a small army of roaches. On the bombing you need to do it 3 times do it the first time and wait 12 days bomb again, wait 12 days and then the final. If you have the powder out and follow that schedule you will be successful in getting rid of them, again the keys are 3 times two weeks apart, which breaks the egg cycle and powder around the water pipes which will get any stragglers. Cardboard is on their favorite food list. Also if you are in a building that has many tenants they might infiltrate from the other apartments, fill all the cracks that you can find. Many times water and drain pipes will share common walls, these are areas to pay particular attention to as no water, no roaches.

Lice are generally caught by close contact with someone who is infected but a pillow case that has them could probably transfer them as well. They are not real hard to get rid of basically if they wash the bedding after each customer you should be fine. If you do get them a cheap remedy is to buy dog flea shampoo which works just fine.

So some general rules are to look and see if they have changed the bedding and to look at the bedding to see if there are any small blood stains which is a very bad sign. Open doors and drawers, and look in the bathroom if you see stuff moving not a good sign. If there are towels or curtains, the little creepy crawlies like to hide there and are good indicators. Also, when ever possible, ask for recommendations from people that have stayed there recently as they will know and so then will you, without the unpleasant experience.

Steps in Renting a Hong Kong Holiday Apartment

Search for a Holiday Apartment
You may want to consider the following criteria when searching for your Hong Kong holiday apartment availability date, suitability for families, Internet access, apartment size and pets/smoking rules. For Hong Kong apartments you especially want to keep an eye out on size. Remember real estate in Hong Kong is among the most expensive in the world so don’t have expectations of similar sized apartments as you are used to in the West unless you are willing to pay ridiculous prices! A 2 bedroom apartment in Hong Kong is typically 40 square metres, if you find one that’s 50 square metres or above you’re doing well!

Use one of the many online holiday apartment websites to search and find a holiday apartment. It can be useful to firstly decide which area you want to stay in (by talking to friends / family or browse the most popular rentals on the website) to narrow down your search. Remember to read the property reviews left by previous guests. They provide an unbiased opinion of the property and serve as a good sanity check on the accuracy of the advertisement. Specifically for Hong Kong apartments you can use tripadvisor they have a good listing of 7 apartments. You can also use Homelidays they have a section for Hong Kong apartments as well.

Hong Kong is generally not an online community so when making bookings make sure you follow up with the phone. Once you have found a selection of properties you are interested in, use the online form on the website to contact the owner directly. You should ensure your contact details are correct in order to receive a prompt response.

Decide if you want Insurance

As with any holiday you want to consider buying travel insurance to cover your flights and accommodation in the event of any unforseen circumstances. Insurance for travel in Asia is generally more expensive that the west, however Hong Kong given it’s been westernised is generally cheaper that other parts of Asia. For local HK insurance some companies like AIA offer a good deal.

Request, Review and Return the Rental Agreement

Once you have a tentative agreement with the owner, ask for a rental contract. By HK law if you are renting for over 3 months (even for holiday apartments) you want your rental contract stamped by the rental authority. This is because in the case of any dispute if the contract is not stamped then you may legally not enforce your rights. The contract will highlight your check in and check out dates, obligations on renting the holiday apartment and most importantly any cancellation and refund policies. You should review this contract carefully to make sure you are comfortable with the terms and keep a signed copy of the contract.

Book the Holiday Apartment

Generally Hong Kong holiday apartment owners will ask for deposit between 30-50% of the rental price to secure the booking. You want to check for the terms and conditions related the return of the deposit. The rental contract you reviewed in the previous step will contain the exact payment schedule. In most cases in Hong Kong, full payment is expected prior to check in date. Check with the owner on payment methods, most common is PayPal, followed by online bank transfer and credit cards. You can also ask to speak the person directly in HK to double ensure you are comfortable with what you are booking for. This is often a good check as their phone number should be a Hong Kong based on i.e. starts with country code +852

Important Details Before you Arrive

Before you go on your holiday you want to ensure you have the following details about the Hong Kong holiday apartment from the owner:

· Address of the apartment

· Keys to the property or a pre-arranged appointment with the owner on how to get them

· Owner’s contact details (a phone number or at least an email)

· Travel instructions to reach the apartment from the airport. When travelling to and from Hong Kong airport to your apartment, its best to use the airport express it’s the cheapest and most efficient way to travel to and from the airport.

It usually takes about 30 minutes from the airport to get into the City Central in HK so this is a good time to call the owner to give them a heads up on arrival.

A Simple and Easy Guide to Renting a Service Apartment in Bangkok, Thailand

What are the best areas of Bangkok to rent? What facilities and services can I expect from a Bangkok serviced apartment? What are the best and worst serviced apartments in Bangkok? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and much more in my simple and easy guide to renting a serviced apartment in Bangkok for both expats and travelers.

Bangkok is the Center of Southeast Asia

As the commercial center of Thailand and the hub of business and leisure travel within Southeast Asia, Bangkok has exceptional hotels of all kinds catering to the business elite and casual traveler.

Recently, a new kind of accommodation has gained favor with business executives on short stays in Bangkok–the luxury serviced apartment. With increased commercial expansion over the past several years, serviced apartments are quickly becoming the favorite choice of living style for their affordable luxury.

What is a Serviced Apartment?

The serviced part of the equation usually refers to the daily or twice weekly cleaning of your room, the furniture, kitchen amenities and so on that normal apartments do not include. Some service apartments also function as hotels, and these are called Aparthotels.

What’s So Special About Bangkok Serviced Apartments?

Real estate and relocation agents believe Bangkok has the most number of sophisticated apartments the world has to offer. There are not just one or two luxurious apartments, but close to 50. This is because skilled labor is cheap in thailand, and the city itself is a major business hub for the southeast asia region.

Renting a serviced apartment in bangkok can be a daunting task for several reasons–the primary one being there are so many ‘fine print’ and extra costs involved when signing a weekly, monthly or yearly contract.

I have been living in Bangkok for a few years now, and have gone through several serviced apartments, learning on the way which ‘services’ are included and what to expect from your stay in Bangkok.

Bangkok’s City Plan

The Bangkok Jungle has several meanings, one of them being that the city was never built with a city plan or urban design in mind. The city is a sprawling landscape, a montage of residential and commercial buildings juxtaposing one another. It is home to 10 to 15 million people, depending on who is arriving from the rural country and abroad. The people as well, from poor to affluent, live side by side.

The city itself is lopsided; if you look down any major road in bangkok, you will see that both sides of the road arent balanced, building heights are different, and there is an overall lack of symmetry. This is what makes Bangkok unique and charming. And what makes it a jungle.

The Best Areas To Live In Bangkok

Bangkok contains inexpensive to exclusive apartments, but the best ones are found in the following regions of Bangkok:

  • Sukhumvit, the main road or artery of Bangkok
  • Asok, one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live
  • Thong Lo, the chic and fashionable street,
  • Sathorn, the business district of Bangkok
  • Silom, another business and red light district
  • Ploenchit, business district
  • Chit Lom, business district

The areas listed above are all within easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, trains, skytrains, and expressways. If you choose to live in one of these areas, you will experience life in the center of Bangkok’s thriving business and shopping centres while indulging in an ultra private serviced apartment in Bangkok. I personally recommend Asok and Chit Lom, as they are the classiest areas of Bangkok, but if you are looking to be close to the night markets Silom is perfect, and Sukhumvit is always a colorful experience.

Facilities and Services of Typical Bangkok Serviced Apartments

These vary between the different types of apartments and condos, but a standard of excellence has been establlished from the increasing competition among serviced apartments. Facilities and services are upgraded regularly to keep up with rival residences. However, before investing in a serviced apartment, be sure to check if these services and facilities are available.

5 Services That Should Be Included Free of Charge:

  • Room Cleaning
  • Water/Utilities
  • Internet Usage
  • 24 Hour Security
  • Room Service/Errand Boy

4 Facilities That Should Be Included

  • Restaurant
  • Gym
  • Pool
  • Convenience Store

The Loopholes: Length of Stay, Deposits and Electricity

If you are staying for a month or year, the serviced apartment may charge you for electricity. Make sure that you negotiate this price to 6.5 Baht/Unit. A lot of times the apartment owners will charge 8 Baht/Unit for more profit. They only pay 3 or 4 Baht/Unit.

Be careful when signing leases; most require a 2 month deposit, and if you move out before your contract is finished you forfeit this deposit.

Make sure the serviced apartment has a laundry service, either in house or out of house. Most serviced apartments have coin operated laundry rooms as well as pick up services. More deluxe suites will have washing machine in the room. Note that most places do not have dryers.

How much Should I Pay?

This is a difficult question to answer, but the more facilities a serviced apartment has, the more it will cost. If a serviced apartment has a pool, gym and also functions as a 24 hour hotel, then the monthly price will be above 30,000 Baht.

Location also has a large part to do with cost of a bangkok serviced apartment. If you are staying in an area not close to skytrain or subway access, your price will be much lower. Conversely, staying in the business districts of Silom or trendy spots like Ekkamai or Thonglor will raise your monthly rent.

Which Serviced Apartment Should I Choose?

The serviced apartment market in Bangkok is lead by three groups, The President Group, The Ascott Group, and Centre Point. Most of them offer first class accommodation and have a decent system of serving their customers. However, there are numerous independent serviced apartments to choose from.

The 2 Worst Serviced Apartments in Bangkok

  • Ascott Bangkok Sathorn

There have been several articles written in trade journals about the decline in service at the once famous and most prestigious serviced apartment in Bangkok. Once known for attention to customer relations, their lack of it is now glaringly obvious to everyone who stays there. This place is an example of a chain serviced apartment becoming too much like a corporation with no human touch of service.

  • Lebua

Rumor is their staff is very untrustworthy. Read the trade journals and ‘google’ the residence for reviews.

Top 2 Most Luxurious Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Siri Sathorn Apartments

Siri Sathorn is a five-star luxury `boutique` property which epitomises private and elegant living in a residential setting. It is a concept of the perfect home which appeals to international traveller. This place caters to Japanese clientelle but of course is open to everyone.

  • Fraser Place Urbana Langusan

They have an exclusive 45-metre driveway leading from the main road to the serviced residence for great privacy. They also have some of the best services and customer relations I have ever experienced, pampered is the only word that comes to mind

Best Value Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Silom Convent Garden

Newly built in November 2006, this chic serviced apartment is located in the Silom-Sathorn area but has some of the cheapest rates for this business and night market district. For 36,000 Baht/$1000 a month you can have a 38 square meter, 1 bedroom, fully furnished luxurious apartment complete with full kitchen, washer machine, flat screen tv, and rain shower. The only drawback is the place doesn’t have a pool or gym, but thats the reason the price is so low and why its one of the best values in Bangkok.

If you are still undecided whether to have a stay in Bangkok on your next trip, it was just recently announced that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) plans to make Bangkok a “paradise” city. The article from the Bangkok Post states the BMA will establish a fund to address trash, pollution and traffic problems. Now is the time to take your next vacation or business trip to Bangkok, as life couldn’t get any better in the City of Angels!