How To

Renting a villa in Thailand shouldn't feel like water torture. And yet ... click-click-click can seem a lot like drip-drip-drip.

Instead? The best way we can think to do anything is (A) in a comfortable spot with (B) a good drink. Ideally with a dog for a pillow, but the details are up to you. In ten easy steps, here's how to enjoy your Thailand villa rental process – from start to finish.

How to rent a villa in Thailand

  1. How big? Consider your group's needs

  2. Requirements? Your “must-have” list

  3. Destination? Choose where in Thailand

  4. Beach villa or hill villa? How to pick

  5. When? Select your dates

  6. How much? Review your villa budget

  7. Listing sites? How to search for villas

  8. Villa comparisons? What to examine

  9. Payment? How to check the fine print

  10. Booking? Select your villa in Thailand

 
 
How to rent a villa in Thailand? The easy ten-step process to rent a villa in Thailand
How to rent a villa in Thailand? The easy ten-step process to rent a villa in Thailand

Villa-hunting tip #1

As you start your search for a villa in Thailand, make sure to look for areas with sun and shade. This way, you can always enjoy time with your group – rather than your most burnable people having to hide inside all afternoon.

1. What size Thai villa?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? How to choose the right size of Thai villa

What’s the purpose of your trip?

First, consider your group's needs, both in and out of your villa. Everyone has a preferred ratio of relaxing to sightseeing while on vacation, but if spending time together is a top priority, you’ll first want to make sure your villa has lots of communal living space – ideally a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, that offer you the choice of sun, shade and air-conditioning. Don't overlook the necessity of air-conditioning in Thailand's tropical heat.

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Make sure your Thai villa has lots of communal living space
How to rent a villa in Thailand? Look for a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces in your Thai villa, that offer you the choice of sun, shade and air-conditioning.

Villa-hunting tip #2

Look for the holy trinity of space in your Thai villa ... sunny spots, shaded corners – and air-conditioning! If they all have ocean views – even better.
 

How big is your group?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Thai villa-hunting tip #3: Some villas in Thailand (including The Pool on the Hill) offer two master bedrooms

How big is your group, and what’s the group composition? Rather than searching for a villa by total occupancy, it can be easier to search by beds and your group's sleeping configuration. If you have two couples of equal “mama bear/papa bear” status, you might want a villa with two master bedrooms.

Villa-hunting tip #3

Some villas (including The Pool on the Hill) offer two master bedrooms – ideal if your group includes two couples or families. Your selection process will be easier as soon as you get specific with your bedroom requirements.
 

How much space do you need?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? How to decide much space – minimum – do you need in a Thai villa

How much space – minimum – do you need in a villa? To start, we recommend getting some paper and writing down the members of your group and their bed/bath requirements for your villa in Thailand. For example:

  • Couple A – king bed, en-suite bathroom, prefer a bathtub

  • Couple B – king bed, en-suite bathroom

  • Couple C – king bed, en-suite bathroom, must be near Kids C & D

  • Kids A & B – twin beds or can share a king

  • Kids C & D – twin beds or can share a king, need a bathtub

Once you have this list, you will know at a glance if a villa will suit – and your search will be much quicker. While many parts of your Thai villa are “nice-to-have” extras, a good night’s sleep and your own bathroom are fundamental to a relaxing vacation.

Villa-hunting homework

Writing down your space requirements as the first step helps you to see your requirements more clearly – especially if you're renting a villa with a group. In fact, it's crucial for visual people to avoid getting overwhelmed by choice.

Showers, bath tubs or both?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Does anyone in your group require a bathtub, or would they love an indoor/outdoor shower?

Who needs what in their bathroom? Ideally, everyone in your group would have their own en-suite bathroom. Does anyone in your group require a bathtub, or would they love an indoor/outdoor shower? Feel free to make your list more specific, or add a second column of “nice to have ______”. 

What’s your preferred villa layout?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? At The Pool on the Hill, the first master bedroom and kitchen/living room are two separate buildings on the main living level, while the other four bedrooms are downstairs on the pool level.

Again, consider your group’s requirements. Can your youngest and oldest relatives handle stairs? For example, at The Pool on the Hill, the first master bedroom and kitchen/living room are two separate buildings on the main living level, while the other four bedrooms are downstairs on the pool level.

Fun fact about villas in Thailand

Unlike in Western homes, where the kitchen/living areas are downstairs and the bedrooms are upstairs, Thai villas are often a few small buildings in a walled compound or garden – sometimes on a few levels.
 

2. Your villa requirements?

Sunset at The Pool on the Hill, a 5-bedroom pool villa in Koh Samui, Thailand

Your “must-have” list

Now, we'll begin your “must-have” list for your Thai villa. Before you start looking at beautiful villa photos, recall your favourite moments from past vacations. Some of our personal highlights include:

  1. Spontaneously cooking a huge group lunch during the most insane tropical rainstorm,

  2. Playing Exploding Kittens for three hours straight,

  3. Dancing to the entire One Direction catalogue (somehow the boys knew all the words?),

  4. And – always – watching the sunset from the pool.

From those highlights, we know that we prefer a Thai villa with (1) a Western kitchen and indoor space to enjoy in bad weather, (2) shady outdoor areas that fit a group, (3) outdoor speakers, (4) sunset views and a pool big enough for our group.

How to rent a villa in Thailand? We prefer a Thai villa with (1) a Western kitchen and indoor space to enjoy in bad weather.

Villa-hunting homework

Taking your bedroom/bathroom list from above, add a list of 5-10 “must-haves” for your Thai villa. (Not to belabour the point, but make sure that air-conditioning is on your list!)
 

3. Where to stay in Thailand?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Koh Samui and Phuket are amongst the most popular for villa vacations in Thailand

Koh Samui, Phuket or elsewhere?

Have you already chosen where in Thailand you’d like to stay? Koh Samui and Phuket are amongst the most popular for villa vacations in Thailand and will offer you a huge range of choices. (This post helpfully compares Koh Samui and Phuket).

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #4: Koh Samui is much smaller than Phuket, but is still a direct flight from many Asian hubs including Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok

Villa-hunting tip #4

Koh Samui is much smaller than Phuket, but is still a direct flight from many Asian hubs including Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Getting here? Easy. Leaving? That's a bit harder...
 

Which beach or area?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Though it’s a small island, Koh Samui is easy to access directly from many international airports including Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

Once you have a broad destination in Thailand, it's time to consider a specific area or beach. (For Koh Samui, see Where to Stay on Koh Samui). Note that, though it’s a small island, Koh Samui is easy to access directly from many international airports including Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You can also catch a short connecting flight from Bangkok nearly every hour.

How to find a Thai villa on a budget?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #5: May, June and September are a great time of year to find good villa rates on Koh Samui.
  • Rent a villa in low season (on Koh Samui this is usually May/June and Sept through mid-Dec)

  • Consider a villa off the beach

  • Look at ferry-only destinations like Koh Phangan

Fly-to destinations in Thailand (like Koh Samui and Phuket) can be more expensive than ferry-only destinations (like Koh Tao or Koh Phangan). However, the pay-off is less time in transit and more time at your villa watching the sunset.

As an easy rule of thumb – expect to find lower villa rates at places only reached by boat. Less developed islands, like Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, have a small villa inventory and are popular for budget travellers on longer stays. Compared to Phuket or Koh Samui, such places often (but not always) offer fewer ‘First World’ amenities and more temperamental WiFi.

Villa-hunting tip #5

May, June and September are a great time of year to find good villa rates on Koh Samui. This is low season for many villas but – unlike rainy season in October, November and part of December – you're likely to enjoy good weather and lots of sun.
 

4. Beach villa or hillside Thai villa?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Beach villa or hillside Thai villa pros and cons
How to rent a villa in Thailand? The Pool on the Hill sits – surprise! – on a hillside, and we love its location for a variety of reasons

Next, decide your location specifics: Your villa choices on any Thai island will be (A) beach or (B) hillside. The Pool on the Hill sits – surprise! – on a hillside, and we love its location for a variety of reasons:

  • Ocean views spanning Koh Samui’s entire north coast, across to Koh Phangan

  • Better breezes

  • Fewer mosquitoes

  • A large variety of birdlife

  • Greater privacy – Thailand’s beaches are public. Unless the villa is in a secluded location, you might expect to share your view with passersby.

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #6: Hillside villas in Thailand can mean better breezes, greater privacy and fewer mosquitoes than beach-front villas.

Villa-hunting tip #6

Hillside villas in Thailand can mean better breezes, greater privacy and fewer mosquitoes than beach-front villas. Love the beach? If you’re an adamant beach bum and are tending towards a Koh Samui villa, we recommend reading The Koh Samui Guide to make sure you choose a beach that suits your preferences and personality.

Walking vs driving distance

How to rent a villa in Thailand? While we love our villa’s hillside location, it’s still walking distance to Choeng Mon Beach and nearby amenities including ATMs, pharmacies, bars and restaurants.

Whether you choose a beach or hillside villa location, make sure to balance that decision with what’s nearby and whether you’ll need to (A) rent a car or (B) rely on drivers/taxis for transport. While we love our villa’s hillside location, it’s still walking distance to Choeng Mon Beach and nearby amenities including ATMs, pharmacies, bars and restaurants. (We prefer to drive – it’s hot! – but it’s a twelve-minute downhill walk to the beach and many guests choose to get around entirely on foot).

Airport proximity and local landmarks

How to rent a villa in Thailand? If you have a short trip or a 6 am departure flight, you might want to focus on villas a short distance to the airport to make the most of your vacation.

Note that some of Koh Samui’s most remote villas can be an hour’s drive to/from the airport. If you have a short trip or a 6 am departure flight, you might want to focus on villas a short distance to the airport to make the most of your vacation. Apply the same principle to any sightseeing or shopping you want to do.

Hillside vs mountainside Thai villas

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Hillside vs mountainside Thai villas pros and cons

Many hillside villas are more accurately mountainside and require 4X4 transport. These would make an amazing away-from-it-all retreat for a group who never wants to leave the villa. However, you want to make sure your location expectations are accurate so you don’t go stir-crazy.

 

5. Select your dates

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #7: When do you want to come to Thailand? Koh Samui and Phuket, for example, are in different climate zones and don’t share the same rainy season.

Your travel dates vs Thailand’s climate

Do you have specific dates or a range of options? In addition to checking the villa's booking calendar for availability, be sure to check your location against its climate over your travel dates.

How to rent a villa in Thailand? While Christmas and New Year are typically peak season for villas in Thailand, you might enjoy low season rates at different times of year on Phuket vs Koh Samui.

Villa-hunting tip #7

When do you want to come to Thailand? Koh Samui and Phuket, for example, are in different climate zones and don’t share the same rainy season.

Low, high and peak season rates

How to rent a villa in Thailand? The 10-step process to rent a villa in Thailand, from choosing villa size to booking and payment.

While Christmas and New Year are typically peak season for villas across Thailand, you might enjoy low season rates at different times of year on Phuket vs Koh Samui. This often indicates rainy season. (See this post about what to expect during the rainy season on Koh Samui). Note that some villas in Thailand have minimum stay requirements, especially over Christmas and New Years, when many villas require a 3- or 7-day minimum stay.

Villa-hunting tip #8

Before booking your villa, be sure to double-check your dates against your flights. Make sure you’ve accounted for the international date line if you’re crossing it, and/or night flights with next-day arrival.
 

6. Your villa budget

How to rent a villa in Thailand? What's included in a Thai villa's rates? On the rates page for The Pool on the Hill, we try to spell out very clearly what you can expect to be included (and excluded) from the rates.

Now’s the time to take a closer look at your budget. What's included in a Thai villa's rates? On the rates page for The Pool on the Hill, we try to spell out very clearly what you can expect to be included (and excluded) from the rates.

What to look for on the rates page of a Thai villa:

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #9: Some Thai villas include all fees and taxes in their rates; some don't.
  • Are VAT (tax) and other fees, such as gratuities, included?

  • Is housekeeping included?

  • Is breakfast included?

  • Do you receive round-trip airport transfer?

  • Is WiFi free? (It’s 2018 – it better be!)

  • Are there any extra fees for electricity or gas?

  • What services incur an extra cost? (e.g. laundry, massage, yoga lessons)

Villa-hunting tip #9

Some villas include all fees and taxes in their rates; some don't. To more easily compare Thai villas, it can be helpful to make an Excel spreadsheet. This way, you can compare like-with-like, e.g. villa base rate plus taxes, all in your preferred currency. If you hate math – it's really helpful to let Excel do the work.

Villa rates vs its location

While making your budget and reviewing rates, also keep a villa’s location in mind: if you need to take a twenty-minute taxi every time you want to buy more sunscreen, your transport costs could be significant.

 

7. How to find a villa in Thailand

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #10: To avoid overwhelming yourself, aim for a maximum of ten potential Thai villas on your short-list.

Now you’re equipped to expertly search for your villa in Thailand, where to start? A quick Google search will bring you dozens of listing sites and thousands of options. By using the parameters and preferences above, you can easily filter out unsuitable villas to find a list of quality options – in under a minute.

Some sites we trust and use often for our own accommodation searches include:

Villa-hunting tip #10

To avoid overwhelming yourself, aim for a maximum of ten potential Thai villas on your short-list. Instead of simply bookmarking your favourites, write down the ones that jump out – and a note about what distinguishes them. Otherwise? An hour from now, it will all be a beautiful blur.

On-site management

How to rent a villa in Thailand? On Koh Samui, our villa – The Pool on the Hill – is managed by island experts IVL Property. They offer service in a variety of languages and are based locally on Koh Samui.

On Koh Samui, our villa – The Pool on the Hill – is managed by our on-site team. It's good to look for on-site or local management in your villa search as they're likely to know the villa personally and will be able to answer your questions with firsthand knowledge.

 

8. Detailed villa comparison

How to rent a villa in Thailand? How to do a detailed villa comparison

With a list of ten or so Thai villa options, the fun part begins: dissection. Grab a notebook and dive into each villa to examine it in detail, and to compare it with others.

What does only this villa have?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Hidden Villa Perk: The infinity pool at The Pool on the Hill is freshwater – totally chlorine-free – and uses filtered rainwater. It feels like swimming in silk.
How to rent a villa in Thailand? At The Pool on the Hill you get all the benefits of an eco villa: a fresh-water (chlorine-free) infinity pool, solar power back-up in case of a power cut, and filtered rainwater showers in all five en-suite bathrooms.

What does this villa have that you won’t find elsewhere? At The Pool on the Hill, for instance, you get all the benefits of an eco villa: a fresh-water (chlorine-free) infinity pool, solar power back-up in case of a power cut,  and filtered rainwater showers in all five en-suite bathrooms. Cue dancing lady emoji!!

Hidden Villa Perk

The infinity pool at The Pool on the Hill is freshwater – totally chlorine-free – and uses filtered rainwater. It feels like swimming in silk.
 

Double-check those 'sunsets'

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Make sure that the sunset views in villa photos are definitely sunsets (not sunrises!).

Examine the photos and double-check those sunsets! Unless you’re a morning person, make sure that the sunset views are definitely sunsets (not sunrises!). Study the photos for what’s in the villa in terms of furnishing – look for comfy spots and places to relax in the shade.

Villa amenities and appliances

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Is there a dishwasher? Air-conditioning? Who is on site and available in terms of staff? Can you book a private chef?

Take a detailed look at the amenities and appliances available to you at the villa. Is there a dishwasher? Air-conditioning? Who is on site and available in terms of staff? Can you book a private chef?

Hidden Villa Perks

The Pool on the Hill's kitchen features Siemens appliances, ice machine, espresso machine, gas and induction cooktops – and plenty of place to sit and wait for someone to feed you.

Are any extra perks provided? 

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Guests at The Pool on the Hill have access to a full concierge service including pre-stocking groceries, ordering rental cars delivered to the house, booking Thai massages and yoga lessons to enjoy on site, and much more.

For example, guests at The Pool on the Hill have access to a full concierge service including pre-stocking groceries, ordering rental cars delivered to the house, booking Thai massages and yoga lessons to enjoy on site, and much more.

 

Is anything against the rules?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #11: Some villas in Thailand will have rules particular to the property – almost always to keep you safe
How to rent a villa in Thailand? As The Pool on the Hill is an eco-villa, we also prohibit smoking anywhere in the house (and ask smokers to use the designated smoking area).

While most rental agreements ask for common decency (and common sense), some Thai villas might have particular rules. For your safety, ours pertain to the safe use of the infinity pool – which ends in a good view and a steep drop. As The Pool on the Hill is an eco-villa, we also prohibit smoking anywhere in the house (and ask smokers to use the designated smoking area).

Villa-hunting tip #11

Some villas in Thailand will have rules particular to the property – almost always to keep you safe. At The Pool on the Hill, a few safe conduct rules are in effect regarding the infinity pool (there's a steep drop on the other side). Oh – and no smoking!

Do you have unanswered questions?

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Our FAQs explain our no-smoking policy, our infinity-edge pool and give more detail about walking to the beach.

If you have more questions specific to your group or requirements, make sure to read any FAQs in full. For example, our FAQs explain our no-smoking policy, our infinity-edge pool and give more detail about walking to the beach. If questions remain, get in touch with the owner or management company to find out more. You can email our management and concierge team here.

 

Check your villa's reviews

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Rread any reviews of the villa and the variety of ways past guests have enjoyed the villa’s space and amenities.

Finally, be sure to read any reviews of the villa and particularly note any objective remarks – for instance, the availability of shade at all times of day – and the variety of ways past guests have enjoyed the villa’s space and amenities.

"Swimming in the pool while enjoying cocktails is like something out of a movie. We will definitely be back to live the dream again." – a recent guest

 

9. Check the fine print

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Check the fine print of the Thai villa you’re considering and make sure you read and understand the booking process

This is the boring step – so save it until you’re in a good mood. Head to the fine print of the villa or villas you’re considering and make sure you read and understand the booking process, including:

  • The booking deposit and associated terms and timing

  • How payment is made – whether through PayPal, bank transfer, money order or by credit card – and payment dates

  • The damage deposit and associated terms and timing

  • Any other fine print, fees or stipulations

How to rent a villa in Thailand? Villa-hunting tip #12: Don't forget to buy trip cancellation insurance: Crucially, check the cancellation policies and make sure to buy travel insurance with cancellation coverage for your villa booking

Villa-hunting tip #12

Don't forget to buy trip cancellation insurance: Crucially, check the cancellation policies and make sure to buy travel insurance with cancellation coverage for your villa booking specifically and Thailand trip generally. World Nomads and Travel Guard are popular policy providers (though neither covers ‘changing your mind’!).
 

10. Select your villa

How to rent a villa in Thailand? How to reserve your stay at The Pool on the Hill

The above detective work should have whittled your long list of Thai villa options down to a short few – ideally to just one! Congrats on all the hard work – it will soon pay off with a wonderful vacation. Have any more questions for us?

 

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How to rent a villa in Thailand? In ten easy steps, here's how to enjoy your Thailand villa rental process – from start to finish. | #bangkok #thailand #phuket #kohsamui
How to rent a villa in Thailand? In ten easy steps, here's how to enjoy your Thailand villa rental process – from start to finish. | #bangkok #thailand #phuket #kohsamui #villa