You can find laundry services wherever you go in South-East Asia. Coin-operated and self-service launderettes are available, but much rarer.
Expect to pay around $1 per kilogram (more if you want your laundry back the same day). Bag your clothes up (separate the whites) and they will weigh the clothes for you. Always agree a price before you leave, and check that it includes drying as well as washing your clothes. Sometimes you pay beforehand and sometimes you pay on collection (usually the next day).
Top tip: hotels often charge by the item for laundry services and prices can be extortionate. Look around for laundry services in your local area instead. You will find signs in little shops and travel agents.
Despite the horror stories, we didn’t have many issues with laundry. For the most part, our clothes came back clean, smelling fresh and sometimes even ironed!
Our worst experience was in Hanoi when our white clothes came back a strange yellow colour. It was just a few t-shirts, so nothing to get too upset about, but they were stained and unwearable. We replaced them quite cheaply at the market.
Our first experience of getting laundry done in Java, Indonesia, happened to be the best of the entire trip, despite a minor panic. We had dropped off our clothes on a Friday afternoon at a place just down the road from our hotel and told to come back the next day to collect them. When we went back on Saturday to pick them up, we found the laundry closed! Our train was booked for first thing on Monday morning, so we worried that if it had closed for the weekend, we had just lost all our clothes. Fortunately, we went back a few hours later to find it open and not only were our clothes washed and dried for us, they were also ironed! A bargain at just £1.50 for 6.5kg!
Top tip: don’t leave your laundry until the day before you leave somewhere. If your clothes aren’t ready, then you may have to go without them!
In some of the major cities, you can also get your laundry done online. In Kuala Lumpur, we used a service called Laundry Town: https://www.laundrytown.com/ which is also available in Beijing, Bangkok, Shanghai and Taipei.
It was slightly more expensive than we had paid elsewhere, but very convenient. You leave your laundry at the hotel reception, they pick it up and drop it back off again and you get alerts as it is delivered, just like you would do if you had a parcel delivery. The laundry came back fresh and clean. You can pay for the laundry in cash or by using PayPal.
Don’t put your best clothes in to the laundry. If you have items that you want to take special care of, for example your swimwear or underwear, then hand wash them in the bathroom. You can buy little sachets of washing powder in small shops. If your sink doesn’t have a plug, a shower cap works really well as a substitute.