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Soaring tourist numbers—particularly young Chinese visitors with newly acquired wealth and the urge and freedom to travel—have fueled an unprecedented hotel building boom in recent years. The majority are in the traditional so-called Lanna style and the most luxurious of these rival hotels in Bangkok. One, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi, justly claims to be among Asia's finest. Prices are
Prices are nonetheless far lower than in the capital (outside the December-to-February high season). Charming, modestly priced guesthouses and small hotels abound, and some are right on the water. Watch out for guesthouses that advertise cheap room rates and then tell you the accommodation is only available if you book an expensive tour. Always ask if there's any tour requirement with your room rate. All hotels and most guesthouses accept dollars, but if you are paying in greenbacks check the offered exchange rate carefully; it can be as much as 10 percent less than obtainable in banks and exchange booths.