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Backpackers ghettos

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Which ones have you stayed in or hung out in? Do you love them or hate them?
5 years ago, August 6th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #44567  
I stayed at the Khao San Road in Bangkok and Colaba in Mumbai.

I think they can be a welcome relief sometimes when travelling because usually a lot of the staff in them speak English, good coffee is served, there are plenty of backpackers to hang out with and there is the Western food I start to miss when travelling.

I wouldnt want to spend all my travel time in these places but a few days is fun.

Mel Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #45517  
Paharganj, Colaba, and Sultanahmet, and there's a section of Marrakesh's Medina which could be considered one as well. There are a few others that might count as well, but I suppose you're mainly talking about big cities.

I wouldn't be a great fan of any of the above mentioned places, however they serve a purpose - they're generally handy for transport, cheap accomodation, and are centrally located. And you can meet people no problem (just not really the locals....)

Always happy to leave them though...... Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #45535  
The worst hostel I ever stayed in was the Hyde Park Hostel in London. It was cheap, but I would gladly pay $10 more to stay somewhere decent. Here is the review I wrote about it at the time, posted on bugeurope.com hostel reviews (I try to review all the hostels I stayed at when I get back):

i stayed in mid august 2003, and granted it was hot all over london, but this place doesnt even own a fan. the security was good, staff very nice, good location, useable kitchen, reasonable internet (50p/30min), curbside pickup for straytravel tours. BUT, when i checked in at about 11am, clean sheets werent available until the afternoon, and my duvet looked like it had either been a tablecloth at a bacchanal or a communal napkin at an indian restaraunt. it could have been puke, but i was optimistic. my matress had multiple brown and yellow stains in the obvious places. i was so tired i was delirious and just wanted to take a nap, which was obviously impossible on any level. there was only one toilet and shower for at least 20 people, and after one guy got a hold of the toilet, everyone had to use the ones upstairs. while upstairs i could see down a shaft of sorts to the windows on the lower levels, and i watched a mouse jump in through the open window and disappear onto peoples gear and beds. the shower was tiny and had no hooks whatsoever. the bed was only comfortable if you are either exhausted or extremely hardy. i would definitely give this place a pass unless its the only thing left in london, and any more than one night would be a trial."

London has a thriving backpacker scene, and some are whole neighborhoods of them. For partying, socializing, and cheap sleeps, its fine. If you have any desire for clean sheets, fresh air, working toilets, clean showers, security, quiet at night, edible food, etc, there are entire areas of London you should avoid like the plague. I have stayed in a few other London hostels, notably the pricey St Pancras YHA hostel, and it was like the Ritz compared to Hyde Park Hostel. Goes to show, in London, you very often get what you pay for.

Suffice to say I would never stay there again. I also stayed in the USA Hostel Las Vegas, on Fremont St, and it was pretty depressing and dodgy. The ten blocks of crackheads, prostitutes, and drug dealers you walked to get to and from the hostel (cabs will not go there) was pretty off-putting. I think the other backpackers were there to sightsee and gamble, and didn't care how it looked. I spent the next night sleeping on a greyhound bus, and it was definitely preferable.

I haven't stayed in the infamous 'ghettos' like the Pig in Amsterdam, but I have heard some very disturbing first hand accounts of them (getting date raped). I have also stayed in some low budget hostels that were bare bones and a total blast. There is a fine line between cheap and fun and cheap and filthy.

Always be prepared to bail and find another hostel if the one that looked so great on the net turns out to be a backpacker oubliette
Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #45595  
We stayed at the Khao San as well. It was our introduction to SE Asia and our first stop in Bangkok. Before leaving home, for a brief moment, we had this idea that it would be better if we accommodated somewhere else, like in Chinatown, to better experience the 'real' Bangkok. We dropped this idea quickly and it was for the best. Khao San is crazy - loud and crowded. It's amazing how many things you can buy and how many things you do on this tiny stretch of land. We knew what to expect so we were mentally prepared; otherwise we would've been up for a shock. All the major landmarks are within easy reach from Khao (don't bother taking taxis, walk instead), cheap accommodation is very easy to find.
Obvious disadvantages are: you can get tired of it very quickly, the noise (pray there aren't any football matches at the time because drunken fans will keep you up all night), drunk people, the locals constantly trying to sell you something etc. But if you're only staying for few days and the pros outweigh the cons. PS We stayed at "Budget Accommodation" hotel - in the narrow street just in the opposite of 7/11. Basic but cheap (and clean!) rooms.
Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #45596  
Is there a backpackers ghetto in Goa or is Goa one big backpackers ghetto? I have never been there but all of it cant be teeming with backpackers, can it?

It is a place I avoided on my last trip to India and will avoid again in my 2 upcomming trips to India. Mostly because unlike the Khao San Road I would have to travel some distance to get to it once I fly into one of the main airports and that would make it not worth bothering with. Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #45604  
B Posts: 102
Mel - There are many beaches in Goa. I've only been to a couple of them (Palolem & Patnem) which were tourist/backpacker-laden, but certainly didn't feel like KSR (what does?). But from what I understand, you can find beaches that range from the extreme backpacker party scene to ones that are more populated by Indians.

My experience there was enjoyable, but in my opinion (and depending on what you're looking for), I'd suggest spending your India time doing something else & go to the beach in another country. Goa is beautiful and I loved it there, but India is such an experience and I'd rather spend my India time doing something that's more "Indian" than sitting at a beach with other backpackers. But if what you want is a chilled time at a beautiful beach then go for it. The less touristy beaches may offer a different experience, but I haven't been...and thus can't say.

Ahh...India. What a great place. Reply to this

5 years ago, August 15th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #45613  
Thanks for the info Marc This time I am flying into Delhi so I certainly wont be making it as far as Goa.

We will stay in a hotel in Paharganj, Delhi. Another backpackers ghetto, in case anyone here does not know of it. Reply to this

5 years ago, August 16th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #45674  
Goa is pretty much stocked with backpackers, but I got lucky and when I was in palolem (one of the smaller beaches in goa I believe) it was pretty empty and a great place to relax, and swim. like Goingglobal stated it is unlike any other part of india, but if you have a long stay in india and could use a few days break on the beach there isn't any other place I could think of that would be as nice. Reply to this

5 years ago, August 17th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #45734  
Thanks Jordan Reply to this

5 years ago, August 20th 2008 No: 10 Msg: #46163  
Yep ... Kho San Road, lakeside in Phnom Phen, Taganga in Columbia, Hampi in India ... there's definitely a time and place for these ... you know you can buy cheap stuff (some of which you actually need), you know you can get a whole bunch of tips for the next part of the journey, accom is plentiful, you meet lots of interesting travelers (some not so interesting ...) and if you're craving some western contact/food etc - it's quite nice. A friend once told me not to spend more than 5 days in Kha San Rd, I reckon this applies to most of these places ... in the end, it all gets a little too much and you're always happy to get out before your liver packs it in!

What about the other phenonomen - the 'mega hostel'? I've just left South America and everyone is talking about 'Loki' (http://www.lokihostel.com/), a chain of hostels which are extremely well organised and clean, but remove you from the local experience somewhat. Again, I think these have their place - a type of shelter from the real world outside (sometimes necessary when the road is long), a plethora of comforts for the weary backpacker (bless the duvets, king singles and lockers with power points) ... not bad for a party either. I'm not going to pretend I'm a local experience purist ... for me, the journey is just as much about the people along the way - whether it be locals or other travelers ... Reply to this

5 years ago, August 20th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #46175  
B Posts: 212
won't comment on KSR as loads of people have already and I haven't got much new to say...
the two worst I stayed in were Arambol in Goa - it was a real pseudo-hippie (ie you stand out for not having dredlocks) hangout, and predominantly full of these westerners who stay there for 6 months at a time, not even exploring the rest of India - even some of the local businesses are western, eg massage places and cafes - the place had a horrible feel to it, like the local community there was really trodden on by the westerners.
The other place was Pushkar - I was so disappointed when I went there, to find it, again, completely overrun by the dredlock brigade - practically ruining a beautiful and holy city. That was also the place where I had the two loneliest days of my whole 6 months in India, as I was by myself and there was no opening at all for meeting or getting chatting to other travellers - the ones there were in really tight cliques (is that still a word???) and totally disinterested in anything but themselves, just sitting on rooftop cafes and getting stoned all day long, with no respect at all for the native community there. Not holding back today from blatant travel-snobbing! and I don't care! Some places I felt fine to be on my own, but there, because the authenticity of the place was all but drowned out by the tourism and westerners, I just felt isolated and depressed. It really ruined my time there. Reply to this

5 years ago, August 25th 2008 No: 12 Msg: #46672  
B Posts: 24
When I was in India last, I stayed in the Sudder St area in Kolkata... it's handy to things, and has the usual conveniences - internet, backpacker cuisine, people who are used to westerners, money changers etc; and the usual hassles - touts, scammers and beggars. I did go and stay in a place on the fringe of it, rather than the middle....but really it wasn't too bad...and it was nice to go to places where people understood that coffee can be served black with no sugar ( such things begin to count after a month or two!!!)
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