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