If there is one facility other than body massage that comes really cheap in Thailand, it is laundry. Laundry shops are everywhere. And if you are not able to spot a laundry shop near your hotel, you will certainly see a laundry drop and pick-up counter that will provide outsourced laundry service on the cheap. Most hotels in Thailand provide laundry services for their guests too but they charge a lot more than what a laundry shop will charge. All it takes to get your clothes washed and ironed by the kilo is for you to put everything in a plastic bag and take it to the laundry. Yes, the rates go by the kilo in most shops. The lowest I have seen in Thailand is 40 THB per kilo that I was charged at Hotel Ao Nang Goodwill in Ao Nang, Krabi. Of course, at 40 THB per kilo they will just wash and dry your clothes. If ironing is included, the price is usually double or may be a little less than double. There are coin operated self laundry machines too in most tourist destinations in Thailand, although those are not as many in number as the full service laundry shops. While you use the cheap laundry facilities, there are a few precautions to take.
Coin-operated Self Laundry Facilities
Coin operated self laundry is every tourist’s dream, I think. I love this concept and make use of it to the fullest whenever I can. In Thailand, the self laundry services are not as sophisticated as you will see in a country like Singapore. The Wonderwash Self Laundry in Singapore is world class where you get washers, dryers, folding tables, and waiting chairs, etc. to make your laundry experience comfortable. In Thailand, the self laundry facility may just be one top-load washing machine and no 100% dryer. But there is a huge difference in the cost. Wonderwash in Singapore costs a minimum of 5 SGD for a wash cycle. Dryer costs 5 SGD for every 5 minutes. In Thailand, I saw self laundry machines that worked at 20 THB for a wash load, roughly 20% of the cost in Singapore. A 100% dryer, if available at a self-laundry in Thailand, will cost about 50 THB per load as I saw in a self laundry near Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai. This was a really good self laundry facility. Others are not as good, like the one near Take A Nap Hostel in Sala Daeng Bangkok.
My hostel’s staff directed me there. The laundry machine worked at 40 THB per wash load but it was just a hole in the wall facility. One top loading type machine and a steel stand by the street to dry your clothes for free. I was still happy to use the machine for washing. Later I dried the clothes on the hangers in the open wardrobe in my hostel room.
How To Use Coin Laundry Machines in Thailand
The three-four places where I saw coin operated self laundry machines in Thailand all worked in the same way as under:
Step 1: Put your clothes in the machine’s drum.
Step 2: Put detergent powder on top of the clothes. If you are not carrying detergent, someone at the laundry facility will sell it to you for 10 or 15 THB.
Step 3: Close the machine’s top cover
Step 4: Put 10 THB coins into the slot, three coins for 30 THB or 4 for 40 THB and so on. Do not use any other denomination coins.
Step 5: Actually there is no step 5 for you because once the machine detects that an adequate number of coins have been dropped, it will start automatically and will complete the wash, rinse, and spin cycles within 60-70 minutes.
Do not open the top cover after you have dropped the coins because if you do, the process will get cancelled and may require you to drop money again. Because you may not like to stand by the machine for those 60-70 minutes, make sure that it is in a secure location and someone from the laundry shop is present to keep a watch. Do come back after an hour to collect your clothes.
Laundry Drop-Pickup Counters
I noticed more laundry drop-pickup counters in Patong (Phuket) than actual full service laundry shops. These counters operate from general shops and display signs like in the picture above. They all charged 50 THB per kilo for washing and drying of clothes. There is usually a gap of 24 hours between the drop and the pickup time. I gave my clothes to such a counter near Hotel Casa Jip. The quality of washing was ok but they scared me by returning only half of the clothes that I had given them for washing. Because of the outsourcing involved in the process, the counter owner had to make a few phone calls to trace the rest of my clothes. I got everything in the end but this was the lesson I took: If you hand over your clothes to a shop or a counter for laundry, count everything and make a note with you. When you go for collecting the clothes, count and verify everything.
Full Service Laundry Shops
Full service laundry shops are what you will find the most in Thailand. These people provide a whole host of services like machine wash, dry cleaning, ironing, etc. and charge either on a per kilo basis or a per piece basis. The per kilo wash only rate will be 40-50 THB in Phuket/Krabi and around 60 THB in Pattaya. When ironing is included, they charge 90-100 THB per kilo. In Bangkok, these services are more expensive. Some laundry shops also charge on a per piece basis like 10 THB for washing a shirt and 20 THB including ironing. This is good if you have less number of clothes to wash. The quality of the work at full service shops is usually good. I paid 90 THB per kilo to this shop called JEAB Express in Soi 3 Pattaya and they did a very satisfactory job of washing and ironing. Full service laundry shops are flexible and may alter the service according to the need of the customer. The laundry shops generally do not use 100% dryers and hence need time for the clothes to get dry. They will offer to return the clothes only on the next day so keep that much time on hand when you give your clothes to them. Again, verify everything when taking your clothes back.