I’ve read blogs, articles and TripAdvisor reviews that have referred to The Overstay as the “Worst Hostel in Bangkok” or even the world, but in my view, its a must visit place for any serious traveller (Tourists need not apply) and ranks as one of the best places I’ve visited while travelling the world – for reasons that might not seem obvious at first.
The Chang in the Room:
The Overstay is a building that elicits strong reactions from people who visit or stay there. You either love or hate the place. I’ve seen it referred to as the “worlds worst hostel” and numerous more phrases to that effect, yet I’ve got mates who have lived there for months, even years at a time.
The simple fact is that The Overstay isn’t for everyone, but for many people its the perfect place. Its cheap, theres a family vibe to people staying there and regulars, the bar is always open, theres a wide variety of music played that you simply don’t get anywhere else, and most importantly a constant batch of fresh kittens that seem to appear from nowhere and end curled up on your lap. It’s close enough to bus routes, the Central Pinklao mall and Khao San Road to be convenient, but local enough that you don’t have to deal with the idiot gap year tourists, scammers and touts, as well as dodgy taxi drivers who pray on tourists in the more popular areas.
The place is a bit of a mess, what do you expect from a former brothel, turned couch surfing crash pad and squat thats transferred to a 24 hour backpackers hangover and dive bar? This isn’t some hi-so hotel in Sukhumvit, its a 100 baht a night hostel, and for that price its good value for money. Sure it smells like cigarettes, has the odd dingy toilet and filthy hippie in the corner, but it also has high speed internet, a friendly vibe, and lots of stories.
Bangkok Artspace & Graffiti Gallery:
I was first introduced to The Overstay via my friend Matt Diamond who is a Kiwi artist based in Bangkok and also a former long term guest at the Overstay. Matt’s art is all over the walls of The Overstay in the form of spray painted murals, the most recent a photo realistic image of David Rodigan. The Overstay is a real artists hangout in the area, with studio rooms for painting, sculpture and more on the various floors, and its hard to find a wall that hasn’t been painted on or decorated by a traveller or former guest in some way shape or form. From time to time you’ll see photos on exhibit, or fresh art on the walls, and if you are a regular to Bangkok you are pretty much guaranteed to see something new every time you visit.
Guesthouse & Budget Backpackers Hostel:
Most people know The Overstay as a guesthouse, with a few floors of budget accommodation, including the cheapest dorm beds you’ll find in Bangkok, single and double rooms. I’ve crashed in the single rooms and while they weren’t my ideal accommodation, they were great value for money at the price I paid. The fact is you get what you pay for, which is somewhere secure to sleep, a bed to crash on and fun and interesting company. You aren’t paying 1000 Baht a night for some flash hotel with room service, which is why I simply cannot understand some of the negative reviews I’ve seen on trip advisor, what does one expect when they select the cheapest accommodation in Bangkok, or my personal favourite – the 17 school children from Christchurch, New Zealand who turned up at 8pm, with no bookings on a school trip and it was the middle of high season (December 26, Boxing Day) and the staff did everything possible to ensure that the kids were safe and comfortable in what is essentially a party hostel during the time of the year. I sincerely doubt any other accommodation provider would go out of their way to accommodate a last minute group like this in this sort of situation, but The Overstay did!
Bar, Club & Live Music Venue:
As I live just around the corner, a short walk or bike ride away, I’m always at The Overstay when theres a party or event on, either as a punter or to help set up the Sound System. Yuval is always investing into improving the system, recently adding brand new subwoofers, limiters and crossovers, amps and power suppliers to ensure that people get to listen to decent quality sound. They have a wide range of music and events, and its one of the best places in Bangkok to listen to underground music that simply doesn’t get played elsewhere, all within a short walk, Tuk Tuk, or taxi distance from Khao San Road. Where else are you going to find a Punk Rock Night, Jungle Drum & Bass, Reggae or Electro night all in the same venue on different nights during the month. Regular parties include Irie Beatz, which is one of Bangkok’s top reggae, dub and jungle nights and a variety of other parties covering genres from psy trance to Aussie rock. Large drinks are cheap, and they even serve cold Beer Lao occasionally, so make sure you pop in for a beer.
Recently the team at The Overstay have started a project to really improve the place, with many things that received complaints in the past being fixed up. There is now a full time cleaner working there, security cameras have been installed, the rooftop has had all the trash removed, new furniture has been purchased for the bar, and as mentioned before the sound system has been upgraded. They retain the vegetarian only rule in the kitchen, but are implementing a menu of takeaway food that can be delivered quickly to the bar, meaning you don’t need to leave for a pizza, curry or thai food.
The owner Yuval is keen to attract more local expats who have heard of The Overstay but perhaps haven’t ventured into the bar yet. I’ve helped them overhaul the website to something more user friendly, and they have finally setup a Facebook page to keep in touch with their fans and friends.
Its the ideal place for expats living in the Banglumphu, Pinklao, Arun Amarin, Charansanitwong areas to catch up and network with each other in between their teaching and other jobs. Expect a lot more positive changes at The Overstay while it still keeps its unique character in the near future.
Finding The Overstay:
Google Maps seems to be terrible at pinpointing The Overstay, and while the correct address is 80-82 Charansanit Wong, Bangkok, you are better off telling your taxi driver to take you to Charansanitwong 40 and get out by the 7/11, if you can see a brothel and a post office you are in the right place. Walk in the direction away from Pinklao and in a 100 or so meters you’ll be there. If you are taking the BTS, get off at Wong Win Yai and take a taxi from there.