If you are travelling in Thailand you have a number of options available to you for getting your laundry done and your clothes cleaned. No matter where you are staying in Thailand, be it a budget guest-house or a luxury hotel, there will almost certainly be some type of in-house laundry service available. Whilst that may be convenient, it can also work out to be relatively expensive especially when compared to the other alternatives available throughout Thailand.
Small laundry shops abound in Thailand, especially in areas popular with tourists. Most of these shops charge according to weight, typically around 30 or 40 Baht per kilogram. The price normally includes washing and ironing, but sometimes a small extra charge may be added for ironing the clothes. I regularly use these independent shops myself on my travels in Thailand and the service is invariably friendly and efficient. Some shops can be overly-generous with the fabric conditioner (perfume) and the tendency is also to iron all the clothes on one setting; very hot. Generally speaking though, these small laundry shops offer a great service. Leave your clothes in the morning and you can often pick them up freshly washed and pressed later that day or the following morning. Your clothes will also be sealed neatly into a plastic bag for you to carry away. I wouldn’t leave anything too delicate with them or any item that was expensive or needs a particular wash cycle, but for most t-shirts, blouses, shirts and trousers/slacks these little laundry shops are ideal.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t speak Thai because a few hand gestures and smiles should get you by and in tourist areas the people running the shop will usually know sufficient English to let you know when your clothes will be ready to collect. That said, it’s always good to try at least a few words of Thai even if it’s just to say hello and thank you.
Not surprisingly, the price you pay for the laundry service will go up according to the quality of your hotel. Some smaller hotels and guest houses may charge 10 Baht per item, but anywhere from 30-60 Baht per item can be charged at mid-range hotels with prices in Bangkok tending to be highest. You won’t usually have to walk too far from your accommodation to find an independent laundry service, but if you just have one or two items you need cleaning or which you need doing quickly, the in-house hotel service can be convenient.
Do it yourself
Another option for the laundry is to do it yourself. Small packets of detergent cost from 10 Baht at 7-Eleven convenience stores. Washing your clothes in your room isn’t normally a problem although not all budget guest-houses and hotels will have plugs in the sink/basin so you may need to improvise or bring your own travel plug. Some hotels and guest-houses that have balconies provide a clothes line or wash-stand, but if not you may have to improvise once more or bring you own travel clothes line. Alternatively, supermarkets and convenience stores sell a standard portable clothes dryer with pegs and a hook for approximately 70 Baht. In many local neighbourhoods there are also small self-serve coin-operated laundry machines for 10 or 20 Baht per load, but you will still need to dry and iron the clothes yourself once they have been washed in the machine.
Washing your underwear
Normally, the independent laundry shops will be staffed by women or it might be a husband and wife partnership. Most modern laundry businesses in Thailand are pragmatic, but it’s worth noting that traditionally in Thailand, there was a stigma attached to a man washing a woman’s underwear. Similarly, some Thai women from a very traditional background may still be uncomfortable about the thought of washing men’s underwear. However, like many things times change and it doesn’t mean that the local laundry is going to refuse to wash your underwear especially in modern times when it is a washing machine that is doing the work, but it’s an interesting cultural point to be aware of.