Hostels have been a very important part of my backpacking experience. Therefore when it comes to choosing one, I am willing to spend that little bit more time researching and asking other travellers their recommendations on the best backpacker hostels.
Don’t believe the most common myths about hostels, they are great and the best place to meet fellow travellers. Read my post about hostel myths.
My list of Best Backpacker Hostels
I want to compile a list of my best backpacker hostels in Asia and the reasons why I loved them so much. My favourite hostels don’t tend to be ones with really fancy amenities or hi-tech gadgets, but more the community feeling of the place.
PODS Backpacker – Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia
This is one of my favourite hostels in Asia. It’s not particularly large and the common area is quite small too. The staff made guests feel at home during the stay, which is why I love this place so much. The common area is small but it does mean that it is very easy to meet people, due to the fact that you will be sat within talking distance of all the guests that are in there.
Get all the advice you need from the staff or just sit and chat with them. They’re all lovely people.
When I came back from a diving trip in Mabul Island, I had the whole day before having to catch my flight to Indonesia. I arrived back in Kota Kinabalu at 5am and headed over to PODS a couple of hours later, where they offered to hold our bags and let me chill in the common room for the day. The staff offered me tea, breakfast as if welcoming an old friend. I wasn’t even staying there that night.
As well as this, the hostel is clean and has comfy beds. The location is excellent too, being close to shopping, food and transport links. I have such fond memories of this place and that is why it’s in my list of best backpacker hostels in Asia.
K’s House – Tokyo – Japan
When I arrived in Tokyo and checked into a hostel, I found that the vibe was quite dead. It’s not predominantly a backpacker destination so the hostels are set up to be more like cheap hotels than a social hub. I changed 3 hostels before arriving at K’s House Tokyo. This was easily one of the best backpacker hostels in Japan. This is because the social area/reception was like a living room. Everything was set up to be sociable. It was very conducive for chatting and meeting new people so consequently it led to meeting some amazing friends here.
It’s based in Asakusa area of Tokyo, next to a 7/11 store, near the metro and lots of food joints. The staff are also very helpful and the hostel very well maintained. If you stay in Tokyo, you’ve got to check this place out. I thought that all the hostels were going to be boring before I came here.
Mr Peace Backpacker’s House – Dalat – Vietnam
Another amazing place on my list of best backpacker hostels in Asia. This was recommended to me from travellers who were coming South to North. I was goin the other way, so was able to get lot’s of good advice from fellow backpackers. It is owned by a young guy named Mr Peace. He is flamboyant, kind of fashionable and really outgoing. He lives there with his wife and young child too. The place is basic, but he has made his hostel into a place where everybody does things together. Mr Peace sets up a family dinner, where all the guests go to the market to buy food and then we all cook together in the evening. It’s a really great way to make friends and a big group of us ended up travelling onto the next cities together.
He also organizes canyoning tours, so I would recommend doing this activity with Peace, as you will get to go with your new hostel mates.
Mr Peace hostel loves Karaoke too, and he will take anyone who wants to go, to the local Karaoke for a singing sessions. This was so much fun and a really surreal experience. I highly recommend this this hostel if you are in Dalat. I did stay in a different one called Wolfpack, but the vibe wasn’t the same.
Sunpath Hostel – Ulaan Batar – Mongolia
There isn’t a massive choice of hostels in Mongolia’s capital but the Sunpath Hostel was definitely one of the best I’ve stayed in Asia. A lady named Doljmaa runs the Sunpath hostel who speaks excellent English and very accomodating to all your trip needs. Most people staying here have come over on the Trans-Siberian Railway from China or Russia, so you tend to get a quite adventurous backpacker crowd here with interesting stories to tell. Please don’t be put off by the really dodgy looking prison style entrance. Inside is much more cosy, I promise.
At the Sunpath Hostel, you can organise Mongolia tours in a Russian Van to suit your preference and time frame. Doljmaa is extremely flexible with your needs and doesn’t try to hard sell you anything. It doesn’t seem like she wants to simply make lots of money. She was very relaxed about money allowing us to pay after the tour had finished. Hot showers are on offer, which is excellent after two weeks in the wild, and the hostel has a real backpacker community feel to it. Free breakfast, teas and coffees are available too. Try to book in advance, but Doljmaa, looks out for her guests as she knows that if you are going on a two week road trip, you will require a bed on your return.
Cloudland International Youth Hostel – Kunming – China
Most of the hostels in China were very clean and had very good amenities for the price. But I didn’t really come across a very sociable one, until I stayed in Kunming. At the Cloudland Hostel there was a diverse mix of guests. Many of the guests there during my stay had been there for quite a while. Some were local Chinese, running away from their life problems and others had decided spontaneously to settle in Kunming and study Chinese for a while. A combination of factors made the environment here really homely. After a day of exploring you could come back to Cloudland and see some familiar faces to chill with or go party with.
It was interesting that many of the local guests were keen to interact with the foreigners and hang out together, which I hadn’t seen in other places in China. I came back here twice after heading to Lijiang and Yuanyang. Both times, friends were still there to welcome me back! Cloudland has such a backpacker community feel, and I wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Kunming.
It can be hard to find a really excellent hostel but it’s worth taking the time, as the experience and friends you find will make it worthwhile. Do some googling about best backpacker hostels, read many reviews on the Hostel World website to see what people have written about it. Don’t just look at the rating, as different people have different opinions on what a good hostel is.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media!