Me and some friends are going traveling on December the 1st, we fly out to Kuala Lumpur, travel north to Ipoh, Penang, Langkawi. We then go from Langkawi all the way along the Andaman Coast, Koh Lipe, Koh Tarutao, Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and finally Phuket. To then go onto the mainland to Suratthani, and onto Koh Tao.
As all of this will be during the month of December, and some of January, obviously we will be travelling over Christmas.
Currently we have only booked one hostel in KL. Do you suggest we book all of them in advance now? Will we be unable to find somewhere if we just turn up of the Christmas/New Year period??
Please give me some advice, as im really not sure what to do.
Of the places you've mentioned the ones I've been to are Langkawi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.
Of those three the busiest is definitely Koh Phi Phi so for peace of mind you could maybe book a place to stay in advance because in peak season you'll see lots of guest houses with the 'Room Full' signs up, especially towards the end of the day. However, I never book in advance and what I do instead when going to Koh Phi Phi is spend a night in Krabi first and then catch the first ferry across to Koh Phi Phi the following morning. Koh Phi Phi is very popular but obviously people leave every day and most check out times are quite early, so if you get there on the first ferry you'll always find somewhere to stay because lots of people will have just checked out. If you've got a certain resort in mind where you definitely want to stay then book in advance, but if you're not fussy then just get there on the first ferry. Just behind the main beach there's a cluster of cheap places on the main lane which charge about 500-600 Baht per night and they're generally okay.
When I was in Langkawi the busiest tourist beach (Cenang Beach) had plenty of vacancies but that was in April so it may be busier over Christmas. I stayed at a hostel called Gecko Hostel which was really good and also cheap, and it was usually full every night. But there were also quite a few similarly priced places next to Gecko as well and most of those were pretty quiet. I think Gecko gets all the custom cos that's the one that gets mentioned in Lonely Planet. Anyway, if I was going back to Langkawi I personally wouldn't book in advance but I would maybe get there early in the day before places fill up. Athough, like I said it only seemed to be Gecko that filled up and the places next to it didn't seem to get that much business.
As for Koh Lanta, I was there at the end of the season so I'm not certain what it will be like over Christmas, but it was fairly quiet when I was there. I stayed at a place called Lazy House in the middle of Long Beach which was 200 Baht per night but there were quite a few other places nearby which charged around 300 Baht per night and the ones I asked at had vacancies. Anyway, they were all quite near a place called Funky Fish so that's where to head.
what could be worse than finding nowhere to stay at Christmas, you have nothing to loose by booking and you'll get peace of mind. I've always booked in advance for Christmas and New Year plus you get to stay where you prefer not what's left.
Over any holiday period, whether western or eastern then it is ALWAYS best to book a head. I have been caught out a few times in Asia and South America just turning up to hostels and not realising there are holidays on. I have then either had to pay for an expensive hotel or sleep at the bus station (usually the bus station option).
Moral of the story ~ Always book it a holiday is on!!
Yes, it is always best to pre-book any accommodation during the busy December/ January Christmas period, especially in Malaysia and Thailand. This is because many places will have already been booked up in advance by people who want to head off for a glimpse of sunshine in the cold, wet winter months.
It’s not a great situation to be in when you arrive in a town or on an island and are having to go from place to place in search for any type of room anywhere you can find it. I have also been caught out a few times during my travels and have had to pay full whack for a room just so that I have somewhere to stay for the night.
If you know where you want to travel to, which it does, it is probably advisable to maybe call or email a few guesthouses/ hotels if you can before you set off or a few days before you know when you are going to arrive to just make sure if there will be any availability for you. Also you should check if they will be charging any extra over the Christmas period and if there are a certain number of days that you have to stay there for, this will save you the time and trouble of enquiring when you arrive.
If you want somewhere to sleep then yes, book it. If you want to walk around for hours with your backpack in the searing heat, then no don't book.