Saturday, 17 December 2011

Chaloklum


One of the best beaches in Koh Phangan is Chaloklum. It is in the north of the island, accessed by a good road from Thongsala that goes over flatish jungle. The noticeable thing about Chaloklum is that it has kept its character – it’s not been overtaken with expensive luxury resorts, nor has it become solely a party center. It has these elements but it remains very much the same place as it was 15 years ago. As a result Chaloklum is a favorite with regular returnees to Koh Phangan.

Chaloklum consists of a road that runs parallel to the beach. Along this road there are still a few of the traditional wooden Chinese fisherman’s houses. This invites comparisons with Fisherman’s Village in Bophut, Koh Samui. However, unlike in Bophut many of the houses are still used by fishermen instead of being converted into boutique bars, cafes and shops.

The Chaloklum village is an intriguing mix of the old and the new. There are local shops and restaurants next to boutique places like the Mandalai Hotel and Sheesha Bar. There are also backpacker bars, dive shops, book shops, DVD places etc. On the corner next to the main road is a very handy 7-11 where you can buy cheap drinks and snacks.

Beaches


The main beach at Chaloklum is long – 2.5 km long. Near the center is a pier that the fishermen use. There are good swimming spots to either side of the pier. Being such a long beach it is easy to find an uncrowded part of the beach. Indeed Chaloklum never feels particularly crowded.

The best beach is a sand bank just off the coast. It is accessed via a bridge from Malibu Beach Bungalows. The beach is thus called Malibu Beach. As is so often the case, it is claimed to be a ‘private beach’ but in law it isn’t. The sand is fine white and the sea clear.

From Chaloklum there is a path through a forest to the small beach of Haad Khom. It can be done by motorbike or 4 wheel drive. From March to November some of the bungalow places in Haad Khom shut as it is the lower tidal months. There is an extensive coral reef system at Haad Khom that makes it a great spot for snorkeling.

Haad Khom has no mains electricity. It is a quiet and hippy style beach popular with long stay visitors. Here you can strike a deal to pay for a fan bungalow on a monthly rate. Coconut Beach and Garden Bungalows has bungalows starting at 300 THB a night. Ocean View Resort has bungalows from 450 THB. Often there are no seasonal variations in price at Haad Khom and certainly no minimum stay requirement because of the Full Moon Party.

Activities in Chaloklum


Chaloklum is one of the better places for those who like to do something other than lie on a beach and read a book. Diving is popular. There are a few dive schools at Chaloklum, the best of which is probably Chaloklum Diving.

The wind sometimes gets up in the bay. There is a place on the beach that offers kite boarding and wake boarding.

Near Chaloklum village there is a place that offers elephant treks in the jungle. Opposite is another place that has archery.

From Chaloklum it is possible to walk to Haad Khom and from there you can take a coastal path over to Bottle Beach. For those people intent on a big adventure, the trail continues on to Thong Nai Pan Noi.

Nightlife in Chaloklum


Chaloklum is not a party beach. It is much more laid back and less packed with bars and bodies than Haad Rin. However, it is not a bad place to go out for a few drinks. Drinking spots include the stylish Sheesha Bar where you can get a sea view and suck on a Sheesha pipe. Opposite is Omega Bar. On Wednesday nights Omega Bar has a jam session. They have amps, instruments and a stage. Often ex-pats appear to get some lively jamming going.


In the jungle just off the main village road is Crow Bar. It serves a range of cocktails and snacks and often has a party night. The newest bar in Chaloklum is Zhaba Jazz Bar. It is a converted fisherman’s house on the beach that plays jazz music.

For trance heads in the high seasons there is often an all night party 1 km from Chaloklum. It is the Paradise Waterfall Party, near Paradise Bungalows. The waterfall is not much but there are permanent buildings in the jungle that provide alcohol, food and chill out areas. The party is similar to most of the other parties in Koh Phangan (the Half Moon, Shiva Moon, Black Moon and Jungle Experience) in that it is mostly psy-trance and progressive house beats.

Accommodation in Chaloklum


There are a number of places to stay the beach and nearby. At the west end of the beach is the popular Chaloklum Bay Resort. It has plenty of bungalows both fan and air-con. It also has a small pool. For hotel style rooms there is Viva on the Beach.

A new place is Buri Tara Resort and Spa. It is at the east end of the beach. It has air-con cottages and the resort has an impressive free form pool overlooking the beach.

If you hunt around you can still find some of the original fan bungalows that go for about 300 Thai Baht a night.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Moscowfish

The best band to emerge from the growing musical scene in Koh Phangan is Moscowfish. The core of the band consists of 2 Canadians that hail from Vancouver - Ted Hall and Ea Birkett. They've set up a recording studio in a converted fisherman's wooden house on the island. They enthuse alot about the creaky wooden house, but they clearly love the place.

Moscow fish are a live band that mixes electronica with acoustic and electric guitars as well as other instruments. It is hard to pigeon hole Moscowfish they sometimes sound like the triphop of Portishead other times like a folk punk band. On their facebook page Moscowfish describes their music as: Other / chill-out, contemporary creative, folk/punk/blues, / electronica acoustic.

Whatever the genre it is a sound that works, and that is original. Below you can see a Youtube video that they made on Koh Phangan that features images from the island:


You can catch Moscowfish at several venues around the island. They play every Half Moon Party in Ban Tai. The Half Moon Party is a Jungle Party that is held 1 week before and 1 week after the Full Moon Party. To find the schedule for the Half Moon Party click here.

Moscowfish also sometimes play at A's Coffeeshop. To find their latest gig date go to their website: moscowfish.com.

The band also has a soundcloud page with lots of great songs for you to check out:

Despite the sometimes formulaic nature of the party scene in Koh Phangan it is clear to see that the beautiful island is also starting to attract those who want to create not just 'play' and imitate.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Jungle Experience


The Jungle Experience is one of the several parties in Koh Phangan that sprang up shortly after the Full Moon Party gained international recognition. The party is held in the jungle as opposed to the beach. For people who are really keen on hard techno and psy-trance the Jungle Experience is in some ways better than the FMP.

Ban Tai is the village on the road between Thongsala and Haad Rin. There’s a turning just before the 7-11 for a road that goes to Thong Nai Pan and Than Sadet. About 1 km up this road is the home of the Jungle Experience in Koh Phangan.

The party always happens 2 days before every Full Moon and Black Moon Party. The FMP itself doesn’t always fall exactly on the night of the full moon when there is a clash with a Buddha Day holiday.

Jungle Experience is great value at only 300 Thai Baht for entry with 1 free drink. If you go before 11pm entry is free. Time and effort has been put into the area of the party. There is a river that runs through the site. There are water features, fluorescent displays, a ‘magical flower garden’ and organic light installations.

As well as selling alcohol all night long (although they should stop at 2am) there is also an all night Thai restaurant for those who need to stock up on carbohydrates.

Unlike the Full Moon Party there is one DJ playing at a time. One sound system brings people together. The 12 plus sound systems at the FMP tend to fragment the crowd.

The music at Jungle Experience is very much the ‘Phangan Sound’ – namely hard and progressive beats and psy-trance. It’s what Thai DJs on Koh Phangan do best. The DJ team includes popular Thai and foreign DJs resident on the island.

Naturally the party is made better with fire dancing, VDJ displays and of course the gradual heightening of the tempo as time goes on. The party ends at 8am.

Jungle Experience is not the biggest or most original party in Koh Phangan but for those who love the Half Moon and Black Moon parties it is worth going to. The one sour note is that many of the villagers living in Ban Tai have complained about the noise keeping them up all night. Nobody has paid much attention to them it seems.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Plaay Laem Beach Review

Plaay Laem is located in the south-west of Koh Phangan. It is an area of the island that is much less visited than other parts, especially the south-west where the twin beaches of Haad Rin dominate the tourist scene. In many ways this is a good thing because part of the undoubted charm of Plaay Laem for the visitor is that it is an empty beach.

It is not easy to reach Plaay Laem. You cannot simply hop on a motorbike and drive there. A short ride from Thongsala there is a footpath that is inaccessible by normal bike. A visitor must walk the final ten minutes to get to Plaay Laem beach. The alternative is to hire a longtail boat in Thongsala and take the sea route to the beach.

Plaay Laem is a beautiful white sand beach with a great sunset and view of Angthong National Park in the distance. Behind the beach rises the mountain of Khao Hin Nok. The mountain appears to overflow from the land and spill at into the sea. The result is giant granite boulders scattered around the bay of Plaay Laem. Consequently the best place to kayak in Koh Phangan is Plaay Laem. It is great fun exploring the rocks just off the coast. It is also possible to organize sailing and windsurfing if you stay at Plaay Laem

80 meters off the shore there is a coral reef that is great for snorkeling. The only downside to the beach at Plaay Laem is that the sea shelf gets deep gradually before the corals. This makes swimming best during the higher tidal months between November and April.

Accommodation in Plaay Laem

The cheapest place to stay in Plaay Laem is Cookies Bungalow. They have basic fan bungalows starting at 300 Thai Baht a night. They also have better air-con bungalows available. It is at Cookies Bungalow that you can organize sailing and windsurfing.

Recommended is Sabai Beach Resort. They have clay and Thai thatched bungalows both beachfront and sea view. Some of the bungalows are directly on the beach; others command impressive views as they are elevated. Sabai Beach Resort offers basic bungalows as well as air-con bungalows with TV, fridge and DVD player. Bungalows at Sabai Beach Resort cost between 900 THB and 2,500 THB. They also have a restaurant.

Click here to find out more about Sabai Beach Resort

Another good accommodation option at Plaay Laem is Amsterdam Bar and Stone Hill Resort. The Amsterdam reference might not be lost on all; and yes, Plaay Laem is a very laid back place. Amsterdam Bar is accessed from the main road and is built on a giant rock. The veranda at the bar has the best views of the spectacular sunset at Plaay Laem.

Near the bar there are a few air-con bungalows including a family bungalow suitable for 4 people. All the bungalows have large balconies and are great places to enjoy the view.

Click here to find out more about Amsterdam Bar and Stone Hill Resort

Conclusion


Plaay Laem might not have the best beach in Koh Phangan, but it does have one of the quietest beaches. It is a great place to relax and escape the crowds. Plaay Laem is also a good place to enjoy water sports such as kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. Plaay Laem is ideal for couples and for those who like to be near all the amenities of Thongsala but want to enjoy a beautiful beach locale.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Club 9 Review

Club 9 Newest Club addition

Club 9 is the newest club in Koh Phangan. It is also the largest club on the island. Although having an indoor club is not a new idea, it does seem to be quite novel for Koh Phangan where people tend to gather and revel outside. The FMP, the Half Moon Party, the Jungle Experience and the Black Moon Party are all outdoor events with either the jungle or the beach providing the ‘walls’.

Better than Brandon

Although it is not a new idea to charge a cover charge, it is a new idea to use some of that money to get someone famous to play. The other events take the punters money and put on the very non-famous Brandon Block or Graham Gold: both of whom nobody outside of Koh Phangan has heard of. Already in the short life of Club 9 they have hosted Dub Pistols, LTJ Bukem and (disappointingly) Brandon Block.

It is sincerely hoped that this trend in investing in music talent to come to Koh Phangan is a good thing. The derivative sound of progressive/hard trance/techno that the same small band of Thai and ex-pat DJs play for every event in Koh Phangan is frankly monotonous. It is just a re-hash of Goan trance that seemed good back in the late 1990s and has since vanished.

If Koh Phangan is going to persist in championing trance why not get Paul Oakenfold or Tiesto to play more often?

Drink deals

Club 9 has drink deals sometimes available. Something along the lines of pay 1,500 THB to drink as much as you want and get a breakfast. Considering a bucket usually costs 250 THB that means you have to be able to drink 6 buckets to get your money back!

Hostel next door

The club has something called Skittle Vodka and serves pizza. There is also a VIP room available for hire. Next door is a tie-in hostel, House 9 for those who prefer noise to a private beach bungalow.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Angthong National Marine Park


Excursion from Koh Phangan

One of the best excursions from Koh Phangan is to the nearby group of small islands known as the Angthong National Marine Park. It is a protected area that was not open to the public until 1980. It is a collection of over 40 islets that are mostly uninhabited and have a good selection of wildlife and marine life. It also has some splendid scenery and a breathtaking inland lake.

Until 1980 the collection of islands known collectively as Angthong was a naval base for the Thai navy. Now it is a national park. It costs 200 Thai Baht for foreigners to enter (40 Thai Baht for Thai nationals).

About Angthong National Marine Park

The 42 islets cover an area of 250 sq km. The islands are the peaks of limestone mountains that finish in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The islands have wonderful rock formations from which they take their names such as Sleeping Cow Island and 3 Pillars Island. There are also dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches and lush forest.

Wildlife in Angthong

The islands are home to a variety of animals including 40 types of tropical birds, dusky langurs, short tailed macaques and sea otters. The sea around the islands is also rich in corals and marine life. One of the best diving and snorkeling spots is around Koh Sam Sao. It is an area that has fan corals and a wealth of fish to spot. Sometimes dolphins can be seen in the area too. Most diving schools on Koh Phangan have trips to Angthong Marine Park year round except in July when the currents change and make visibility bad. Recommended diving specialists in Koh Phangan is H2O Scuba School.

The park headquarters is on the largest island, Koh Wua Talab. Here it is possible to hire guides to see something of the interiors of the islands. On the same island there are treks to impressive viewpoints of the archipelago. Also on Koh Wua Talab is a camping ground with tents for hire. Staying the night in Angthong is wonderful because you have beautiful beaches all to yourself like you were Robinson Crusoe.

Golden Basin Highlight

The highlight of a trip to Angthong National Park is a visit to Koh Mae Ko. It is an island that contains a big lake with turquoise water. Surrounding the lake is a golden basin (‘angthong’ in Thai) that gives the name to the archipelago.

Other activities in Angthong

As well as trekking, snorkeling and diving, other popular activities include sea canoeing and exploring limestone caves. The whole area has pristine natural scenery that is well worth the effort getting to the island.

Other than the park headquarters the only other inhabited island is Koh Paluay that is a semi-permanent home to sea gypsies.

Costs

A number of dive schools and travel agents arrange trips to Angthong Marine Park. A trip typically costs about 1,500 Thai Baht (excluding entrance fees). If you have your own boat or yacht it is an ideal area to moor in a bay and enjoy your own private beach.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Best Snorkeling Spots in Koh Phangan

Although Koh Tao is the most famous island in the Samui Archipelago for snorkeling and diving, the small island does not have a monopoly on dive sites in the Gulf. There is over 16 km of live corals around Koh Phangan, much of which is easily accessible by swimming from shore or taking a kayak out from the beach. Because Koh Phangan is not famous for its snorkeling it is often the case that you can find yourself alone on a reef. Less people snorkeling means the marine life is less disturbed and the better the chances you have of seeing something special. Below is a list of some of the best snorkeling spots around Koh Phangan.

Koh Ma



Koh Ma is a small island off the Mae Haad beach. It is joined to the mainland by a small sand bar. In a way Koh Ma is Koh Phangan’s Nang Yuan because it has a sand bar; it is a marine park; and has some great snorkeling.

Koh Ma has boulder, staghorn and fan corals. There is a spectacular 30 meter long anemone garden. There is an abundance of marine life to see including Blue spotted stingrays, Barracuda, Butterfly fish, Groupers and sometimes a reef shark.

Haad Salad


This is a favorite snorkeling spot for many. The reef stretches around the bay. At the southern end it is sandy and ideal for snorkeling and diving. The reef has many brain and table corals. There are many colorful fish to see such as Butterfly fish, Angel fish, Parrot fish and Damsel fish. Haad Salad used to be a smuggler’s hideout and is a great beach to stay on.

Haad Yao


Haad Yao is sometimes referred to as a ‘perfect beach’. The snorkeling does not disappoint either. The corals stretch for the whole length of the 1km beach. Haad Yao has a very healthy coral system that includes brain corals, table corals and barrel sponges. The coral is accessible for snorkeling from the beach and has Porcupine fish, Blue spotted rays, Parrot fish, Squirrel fish and fusiliers.

Haad Chao Phao


Haad Chao Phao is a lesser known beach on the West coast. It is a great place to snorkel uninterrupted by groups of people learning to dive. The dive site is close to the shore. There is a soft coral field where you can see Nudibranches and Blue spotted rays.

Other dive and snorkeling spots on Koh Phangan include the small beach of Haad Khom between Chaloklum and Bottle Beach, and some small islets a short boat journey away – Kong Nui and Kong Yai (both 15 minutes by longtail boat off the West coast), and Koh Tae Nok, Koh Tae Nai (off the South coast). Even if you don’t want to spend money joining diving or snorkeling trips it is possible to hire a motorbike and get to many of these snorkel sites by yourself. As always never touch the corals and don’t be tempted to take home a souvenir.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Haad Yuan


Haad Yuan on the east coast of Koh Phangan is just 5 km north of the main party beaches of Haad Rin Nok and Haad Rin Nai and yet this small and isolated beach feels like a million miles away from the brash and hedonistic atmosphere of Haad Rin.

Haad Yuan - Window on the past

Haad Yuan is like a window onto the past. The small beach has avoided development partly because it is only accessible by jungle footpath or by longtail boat and partly because most of the bungalow owners are opposed to big development such as has occurred on Thong Nai Pan Noi that prices most people out of the market.

The beach still has simple bungalows made from natural and local materials such as coconut wood. They offer a fan, a bathroom (optional) a mosquito net and a small veranda. Bamboo Resort, Horizon Resort and Haad Yuan Resort all offer such basic bungalows. These are some of the cheapest places to stay on the entire island.

And the great thing about Haad Yuan is that it is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. It has fine white sand and the sea has only a small tidal difference. Unlike many of the beaches on the west coast, Haad Yuan offers year round swimming.

There are also some good trails to follow in the area. It is a short walk to the equally beautiful beach of Haad Thian (East) where people study tai chi, yoga etc.

Concession to the 21st Century

There is no one resort with air-con rooms and a communal swimming pool. This is the only concession that Haad Yuan seems to be making to the 21st Century. The place is Centara Pariya Haad Yuan. It has 39 beach villas built from concrete in a round style. The rooms are well appointed and the villas fit unobtrusively into the jungle fringe of the beach.

For people looking for a beach near Haad Rin but without noise, Haad Yuan is a good option. For those people looking for privacy and the ultimate in relaxing atmospheres Haad Yuan is a good option. And for those people wondering what Koh Phangan used to be like Haad Yuan is a good choice.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Haad Salad

Haad Salad and Koh Phangan

Haad Salad is the name of a beautiful beach that is located in the north west of the tropical island of Koh Phangan. It is a less well known beach than other destinations on Koh Phangan such as Haad Rin, Haad Yao and Thong Nai Pan Noi, and this is to its advantage, as the beach is one of the most unspoiled and peaceful of all the beaches on the island.

Koh Phangan is blessed with over 20 beaches. Most of them have fine white sand, clear blue waters and tropical foliage. It is typical of human nature that most first time visitors to the island head for the most commercial beaches. It seems that people want to have the same experiences wherever they go.

It is only those who re-visit the paradise island of Koh Phangan who realize that there is so much more to the place than simply the Full Moon Party. These are the people you will encounter if you stay at Haad Salad.

Haad Salad - pirate hangout

In Thai ‘haad’ means ‘beach’ and in southern dialect ‘salad’ means ‘pirate’. This small beach was so named because it was a favorite smugglers’ hangout many years ago. The bay allows only shallow bottom boats because there is a coral reef 150 meters out from the coast. This provided protection to those seeking to hide from the Thai navy.

Nowadays the pirates have gone. Until recently Haad Salad was a place catering exclusively to backpackers and those wishing to stay long term and cheaply. Now Haad Salad has a good range of accommodation. There are both cheap bungalows on the beach and air-con rooms. Prices range from $10 to $120 a night for accommodation.

Accommodation and Bars on Haad Salad

There’s a good selection of restaurants, bars, shops and caf├ęs on Haad Salad. It is a beach with good facilities but it remains quiet. It is not a party beach.

To enter the beach you first pass a number of businesses including Reggae Village and the ever popular Haad Salad Reggae Bar. Reggae is far more the flavor of Haad Salad than the psy-trance of Haad Rin.

The swimming in Haad Salad is best during the high tidal months of November to April. The coral reefs just out in the bay offer great snorkeling and diving opportunities. Nearby is Koh Ma, Koh Phangan’s only Marine Park. Other places of interest nearby include Wangsai Waterfall and Laem Son lake.

After staying on Haad Salad for a while you begin to wonder why anybody would prefer bigger and noisier beaches; you also start to envy those earlier pirates.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Bottle Beach Review

Legendary Status of Bottle Beach

Bottle Beach is legendary in traveler’s circles because of its perfect beach backed by lush jungle. Until a few years ago Bottle Beach was one of the most inaccessible beaches on Koh Phangan. That has somewhat changed since a road was built connecting Bottle Beach to the Thong Nai Pan road. It nevertheless remains a very attractive beach destination for those who like their nature unspoiled.

It used to be that the only way to leave Bottle Beach was to take a taxi longtail or to attempt a hike through the jungle to the nearest road followed by a hitch back to Thong Sala. If the weather turned and the sea became choppy then people found themselves stranded on Bottle Beach for a few extra days.

And what a place to become stranded! Bottle Beach has a wide golden sand beach with good year round swimming. The water is clear and often small fish can be seen. Behind the beach is undisturbed jungle as far as the eye can see. There are a number of trails that you can take from the beach. One of them leads to a view point over the bay.

Accommodation on Bottle Beach

The accommodation on Bottle Beach is not luxurious, but neither is it uncomfortable. There are 4 accommodation providers – Smile Resort, Haad Khuat Resort (Bottle Beach 3), Bottle Beach 1 and Bottle Beach 2. These places offer air-con or fan bungalows with bathrooms.

As yet there are no hotels or luxury resorts on Bottle Beach. This is one of the beaches on Koh Phangan that has so far resisted the call to promote itself as a package tourist destination complete with swimming pools and Thais wearing uniforms.

Advantage of Bottle Beach

The main advantage of Bottle Beach is that there is no road behind the beach. This means there is never any traffic noise. It also completely eliminates those visitors who enjoy polluting the air by zapping here and there on their bikes.

For some Bottle Beach remains one of the best places to unwind not just in Thailand but in all of South East Asia. For those who like to go shopping and enjoy a variety of bars and restaurants and a loud nightlife this is not the beach for you.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Haad Chao Phao Review

Haad Chao Phao - less visited beach


Haad Chao Phao is one of the less visited beaches on the tropical island of Koh Phangan. Most of the visitors to the island in the Gulf of Thailand seem to end up either staying at Haad Rin, Ban Tai, Thong Nai Pan or Haad Yuan. This is great for those people who get the gorgeous white sands of Haad Chao Phao to themselves, but is perhaps bad for the locals who have businesses in the area.

Koh Phangan has now become synonymous with the Full Moon Party in the minds of lots of gap year students and backpackers. As a consequence the south and the east of Koh Phangan sees a lot more visitors than the west coast. This is somewhat ironic because the roads in the west of Koh Phangan are in much better condition. Moreover, there is a long series of live corals along the west coast which offers great snorkeling and diving opportunities.

About Haad Chao Phao


Haad Chao Phao is about 10 minutes by taxi from the main port town of Thongsala. It is a softly curving bay with spectacular sunsets. The beach has fine white sand. The sea drops off steeply before the coral reef so there is good swimming no matter what the tidal conditions. The coral reef is 100 meters from the shore and once crossed there is a great profusion of marine life to enjoy.

Accommodation, Bars and Restaurants in Haad Chao Phao


There is plenty of accommodation on Haad Chao Beach. The options range from basic bungalows on the beach to luxury apartments with sea views at Sunset Hill Resort. The apartments can hold up to 8 people and so can be great value for money.

Nearby is the Village Green Restaurant and Pub that does great Thai food and English grub. In its own little cove is the Pirate Bar. It’s a great spot to have a few drinks and go wild to the music. Alternatively, there’s the Seaflower Beach Bar on the center of Haad Chao Phao beach. When a few customers turn up the bar man can often be persuaded to do some fire dancing.

Haad Chao Phao is a gem of a beach. There’s everything you could want except for the crowds. If you want them you will have to go to Haad Rin.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Song for Bottle Beach

You know a place must be either really good or really bad if it can inspire a song. The Bottle Beach Song is a bit of a hippy cliche but it gives you a good idea about:

1) How gorgeous Bottle Beach is
2) How peaceful the place is and how perfect it is for a beach holiday.

Although Bottle Beach or Haad Kruat/Kruad has expanded from 1 resort offering basic coconut thatched bungalows for $3 a night to 3 resorts with $10 to $20 a night fancy bungalows, it still remains one of the least developed beaches on the island. It used to be cut off from the rest of the island. Now there's a road through to Thong Nai Pan Noi. It remains a hard place to get to and definitely worth the effort.

There's virtually no tide on Bottle Beach. It is great for year round swimming. You can sometimes spot little fish in the sea. There are also some good trails to follow into the jungle behind the beach.

Anyway, without further ado here's the Bottle Beach Song.




To book cheap accommodation on Bottle Beach click here

Friday, 28 January 2011

Budget Places to Stay in Bantai

There is a wide selection of accommodation options in the small village of Bantai in the South of Koh Phangan. Bantai is conveniently situated on the road between Thongsala, the main port town and Haad Rin, the home of the Full Moon Party. There is a great stretch of white sand beach running the length of Bantai which is only broken by a small river that marks the boundary with neighboring Bankai.

Bantai offers a great combination of convenience and unspoiled beauty. There is a small selection of restaurants, internet shops and shops on the main road including the Bantai 7-11 where you can pick up cheap food and other essentials. Yet the place is quiet and laid back.

Bantai makes a great spot for those people who are keen to party. The Full Moon Party is 10 minutes away, the Half Moon Party is around the corner as is the more intimate Black Moon Party. Yet you can easily get away from the noise when you return to your resort.

Prices for accommodation are generally a lot more reasonable in Bantai than in Haad Rin.

Here is an updated list of places to stay in Bantai (February 2011) with the prices. Budget places first. Simply click on the place to take you through to the R24.org booking engine for secure online booking. Secure a great deal today.



















For reviews of these resorts click the links and you will find review links at the bottom of the page just below the price lists. Don't forget to check about minimum stay requirements if you intend to stay during the time of a Full Moon Party.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Places to Visit in Koh Phangan


For those people who want to do something other than rave the night away at the Full Moon Party there are a number of interesting places to visit in Koh Phangan.

Firstly, there are over 20 temples to visit on the island. The oldest is Wat Phu Khao Noi, just outside Thongsala, near the Hospital. It has some interesting Chedis and a great view over the island. There is also the Chinese Temple on the road between Chaloklum and Thongsala. It is a beautiful temple that was built as the result of a dream that Mrs Malawan had while visiting the island. She dreamed of the Chinese Buddha, Jaomae Kuanin. After the dream she went to Bangkok and raised the money to build the temple that was completed in 1992.

If temples aren't your thing then there are a number of waterfalls to visit on the island. There is Phaeng Waterfall on the trek up to the top of Khao Ra mountain. There is Wang Sai Waterfall near Koh Ma in the north west of Koh Phangan. There is the famous waterfall of Than Sadet where 3 Kings of Thailand have their intitials on the rocks. And there is Thaan Prawet Waterfall near Thong Nai Pan Noi beach.

There are also a number of treks on the island including the walk up to the top of Koh Phangan's highest mountain, Khao Ra. The trek starts at the small village of Baan Madua Wan. You can hire a guide in the village for 500 THB. 

On really hot days a good place to cool off is at Leam Son Lake. The lake is situated on the coastal road on the west of the island just before Haad Yao. There are shady pine trees and a few rope swings for diving into the water. No fishing allowed.

Other places of interest to visit include the fishing village of Chaloklum in the north of the island. There you will find traditional architecture, long tail boats and fishermen mending their nets.

And finally, if you fancy a boat trip a good day excursion is to Ang Thong Marine Park. it is a collection of 40 islands in a protected nature reserve. There are coral reefs to snorkel, kayaking around the islands, limestone caves and a giant saltwater lake. It is possible to arrange over night camping trips to the Marine Park.

And of course when you have had enough of exploring Koh Phangan you can always return to your resort, have a swim and enjoy a cocktail as you watch the sunset.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Reviews of Phanganburi Resort and Spa in Haad Rin Nai


The Phanganburi Resort and Spa is a tall hotel style place to stay near the entrance to Haad Rin. It has 2 pools - one in a central courtyard and one on the beachfront. The beachfront pool has a towel service and a bar. One of the main advantages of the Phanganburi Resort is that it is near to the Full Moon Party and all the amenities of Haad Rin but far enough away to allow guests to get some sleep during the big party.

Facilities at the Phanganburi Resort and Spa include 2 pools, restaurant serving Thai and Western food, herbal sauna and motorbike hire. 

Reviews of the Phanganburi are mixed. Some people are very happy with the staff, service and rooms. Others complain about the dirty pools, the old sun loungers and the lack of maintenance. One reviewer describes the Phanganburi as a '2 Star resort'. That is probably a fair assessment.

Here are the prices for the Phanganburi for 2011. The prices are in Thai Baht. 's' = single 't' = twin


                      Dec-April  May-June July-Sep15 Sep16-Oct31
Deluxe Room(s)       2700     2500        2850         2500
Deluxe Room(t)       3000     2850        3250        2850
Cottage,single          2900    2750        3150        2750
Cottage,twin            3200    3150        3500        3150
Beach Side Cottage(s)3450   3350       3750        3350
Beach Side Cottage(t)3800   3750       4150        3750
Corner Suite,single     4050   4000       4350        4000
Corner Suite,twin       4350   4350       4750        4350
Beach Front Cottage(s)4050  4000      4350        4000
Beach Front Cottage(t)4350   4350     4750        4350

Click Here For Secure Booking of rooms at the Phanganburi Resort & Spa


Emily Bennett
2010-04-03   
  
The hotel was great. good location and good set up. The staff speak english well and are very helpful. the prices are reasonable at the resteraunt and the food is excellent. Recommended for anyone who wants to stay somewhere with a great view of the beach, but not the mayhem of the full moon party beach. two thumbs up!
     
Jayne Russell
2010-01-05   
  
Was a lovely hotel, great location for full moon party.. only a quick stroll to the party and nice and close to coral bungalows for the pool party.. only downer was the restaurant and service. It took ages for food and wasnt that great. and you may have to ask for fresh towels etc as they dont come some days..
 
Mananunt Ahlefeld
2009-12-12 
   
This hotel could use some TLC. The pool area was messy with dirty dishes and broken glass. The pool furniture was falling apart, the umbrella stands if you were lucky enough to have an umbrella didn t support the umbrella which would fall over with the slightest breeze. The entire place was poorly managed. The rooms were below average, especially for the money being charged. When I requested a comment card to voice these issues I was handed a blank sheet of paper and asked to write my comments.
 
Sagi Ramon
2009-11-29 
   
dont expect too much, rooms are below mid-level, the pool is very nice and the private beach is realy not recommended. if u lokking to stay in had-rin not many good high class resort. rate is overprice to what u get. we stayed there only couple of nights, will not go back.
   
Roy Michael Atkinson
2009-10-06   
  
Well situated on the quieter Sunset Beach but easy access to the busy town and sunrise beach. The whole resort was clean and well appointed which gives a 5 star feel to the resort. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
     
Hin Patelio
2009-07-13 
   
Had a great stay, nice room, helpful staff, ideal for a comfortable stay in koh phangan!!!
 
Sofia Khan
2009-05-13 
   
Nice Hotel would visit there again. Everything clean and staff very friendly. Nice food. Nice pools. Close to Full moon parties but far away enough to get some sleep.
     
MRS NICOLA PIERCY
2009-04-03   
  
We stayed here for three nights - our second stay at this hotel following a trip three years earlier. From what we ve seen it is definitely one of the better resorts in Haad Rin - the staff are good, the pool is clean, and most importantly the location is excellent!! On the good side the two pools are lovely - one is located centrally in the hotel and is very quiet - the other is directly on to the beach and has a very good pool bar including a towel service. It is also an amazing place to view SUNSET, which is spectacular!! Our allocated room was on the ground floor, but as mosquitoes love me, we asked for an upper floor and were accommodated without any hassle. The tourist desk also offers a moped hire service and for 200 baht per day (about £4) the bike we hired was in perfect condition and was brilliant for travelling around the island - but be VERY careful - the roads aren t great (bit s missing, big hills getting out from Haad Rin to Thong Sala) and further north east are basically clay, but if you know what you are doing a great way to get around. On the negative, the resort appears to have nothing done in the last three years - I d describe it as a posh way of roughing it - the rooms are good in size, but could do with a bit of a freshen up and the sunloungers have definitely seen better days... Great if you want to party (close enough to walk to SUNRISE), but also far enough out that you ll get a decent nights sleep.
     
Patrik Arvidsson
2009-02-28     

We stayed at Phanganburi in a Corner Suite for a week. All in all the rooms are overpriced. For the same price you will get a much nicer room on Samui. It is a typical 2-star resort. Our suite, room 3217, was ocean facing but had mostly tree-view. The room was ok, but the bathroom was not. Housekeeping was slow and not very good. There are two quit nice pools, but the sun bed mattresses were dreadful (200 years old and mouldy!). The beach had not the best sand and the seafloor is a bit muddy.

Buchanan
2009-01-13    
 
Most worthwhile just for the pool that overlooks the beach. I think the best resort by far in the Had Rin area. Beautiful deluxe cottages with everything you could possibly want except a bath tub. Staff are friendly, helpful and very polite. Very close to all the action but far enough away to escape. Highly recommend the Phanganburi!