Posted by: James Shannon | April 24, 2012

Guesthouse Review: The Green Tulip House, Chiang Mai, Thailand

 An exquisite painting accents the decor of the Green Tulip House, one of the best guesthouses for your travelling $$$ in Chiang Mai … just be careful of the food prices downstairs!

Whenever the ongoing price inflation in Southern Thailand – partly from rising fuel and food costs on the world market, partly from gouging via greedy tourism operators – a trip to the North is like a sharp intake of clean, cold, fresh air.  Price points are lower across the board, from meals to beds to activities, lifting the budgetary yoke off your wallet.  When in Chiang Mai and Pai, I routinely struggle to break $20 of spending in a day, room and board included.

It’s easy to toe the financial line when you’re snoozing for $5 a night (and it’s possible to scope out beds in this city for 100 baht [$3.35] or less) … what’s even more telling of the value you get in this place is the fact that for five measly greenbacks, you can experience an accomodation that makes even the grungiest backpacker feel like royalty.

This place that I speak of is none other than The Green Tulip House.

Located near the southwest corner of the moat on Samlan Road in the old city of Chiang Mai, The Green Tulip delivers superior cleanliness, decor, comfortable (if slightly hard) beds, and great food … delivering excellent value and friendliness the entire time.  Just don’t mind the high food prices, as Stella is a wonderful cook that pours her heart and soul into every meal that exits her kitchen!

Enough blabbering, and let’s see some photographic evidence!

 One of the dorm rooms in the Green Tulip House … for $5 a berth, one of these bad boys can be yours!  Pro Tip: the beds in the middle of the floor usually are more comfortable, as they tend to be either slightly plusher mattresses than the bunkbed mattresses, or spring mattresses.

 Looking towards the sink in the third floor bathroom…

 and the toilet!  The pebbles massage your feet while you attend to your personal business! 🙂

 Moving to the roof, there is a sunning area and small garden atop the Green Tulip House, as well as an 1,000,000 baht view of the surrounding city and mountains!

 Floors so clean you could eat off them (I would, but I don’t like accents of wood cleaner with my massaman curry!)

One of my favourite meals off the menu in the ground floor restaurant: The American Breakfast!  Costs 120 ($4) baht, and I may or may not have eaten one of the sausage links before taking this photo.  The menu has an extensive selection of Thai standards, as well as several Western options if you’re sick of see-sawing between rice and noodle dishes every day.

Pros:

  • The Cleanliness: after enduring so many dodgy and grungy guesthouses (many that cost significantly more than what I paid per night here), it is refreshing to walk upon crisp, dirt-free floors that you can do your hair in!

  • The Friendliness: The owners make sure your every need is taken care of … Stella, the cook is especially passionate about her work, and will tailor your meal to your liking.

  • The Decor: amazing attention to detail, colour, and pieces like the one shown at the top of the post make you feel like a member of Thai high society.

  • The Convenience: If there’s an activity you wanna do in Chiang Mai, from cooking to trekking to meditation, the people at the Green Tulip have it covered. Same goes for booking onward transportation to Pai or Sukhothai or Laos or Bangkok or wherever!

  • The Value: Again … $5. All the pictures posted above are from a guesthouse that charges $5 a night for their dorm berths. Try finding a guesthouse like this in Bangkok, or Koh Phangan. Case closed!

Cons:

  • Hard Beds: The bunk bed mattresses can be quite hard … if this isn’t your cup of tea, try out the mattresses in the standalone beds in the middle of the dorm rooms.

  • Erratic Internet: The internet here is great and offers decent upload/download speeds … when it isn’t randomly disconnecting, or not allowing your laptop to reconnect to the server (even when others are happily surfing away!) Hopefully, this problem will be resolved when they move to their new location in July 2012 (see below in the conclusion of this review)

  • The Food: Nothing wrong with the food quality-wise, as Stella is as an amazing cook as she is a human being. But the price points for many of the dishes are in a different atmosphere than comparable meals elsewhere in the city. It’s normal that you should expect more of a markup in hotel/guesthouse restaurants versus independents, but the valuations here, even with the quality built in, are higher than they should be, especially for Northern Thailand.

  • The Noise: The dorm rooms face onto Samlan Road, busy at most hours of the day and night. In Thailand, that means all sorts of motorbikes, cars with bad mufflers, tuk-tuks (that are the anti-muffler standard bearer of vehicles, it would seem) buzz by your single pane, uninsulated window continuously, seemingly without end. Bring earplugs, or rent a single room in the interior of the building for 200 baht ($6.70).

All things considered, The Green Tulip House is a special place, and should be on your A list when scouting out places to stay in Chiang Mai. To truly become an institution in this city however, to make the jump from good to great, the shortcomings must be addressed, though none are so insidious that they are an absolute dealbreaker in my mind.

Green Tulip House = A-

P.S. Travelers hoping to stay here beyond July 2012, take note: The Green Tulip House is planning to move to a new building this summer. While I don’t know the exact location, I have been told that it will be located near the 7/11 on Samlan Road, merely a three minute walk from its present location at the intersection of Samlan and Ratchamanka. If you drop by after the new opening, feel free to leave a comment below with details on the experience at the new Green Tulip House!

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