58/18 Moo 8, Haad Yao T: (077) 349 217
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If you’re looking for a popular backpacker spot on Ko Pha Ngan close to the beach, with not only cheap rooms but entertainment galore as well, look no further than Shiralea.
Shiralea is less than a three-minute walk to the popular Haad Yao beach, a long strip of sand that is becoming increasingly popular among a younger crowd on Ko Pha Ngan due to the relaxed nightlife the beach bars offer. This guesthouse has everything a backpacker –- or even flashpacker -– would want.
Their wooden bungalows make up an area they call the Bamboo Village and have thatched roofs and concrete/wood walls. They’re sturdy and clean enough, going for 600 baht per night. Inside are double or twin beds, private hot water bathroom, a wardrobe, towels and a mosquito net.
One level up are their Palmleaf Valley bungalows, which have the added touches of air-con and dust mite-free mattresses, as well as a safe, going for 1,300 baht per night. They also offer a Coconut Heights Deluxe room, which can sleep four people, going for 1,100 baht per night. All bungalows have a patio with the required hammock to chill out on.
The place opened in 2008 and is fairly well-maintained with organised common areas cleaner than you’d expect such well-used quarters to be. The gardens are certainly growing into a well-pruned jungle, maintaining Shiralea’s controlled exotic atmosphere.
There’s a large pool on-site -– an uncommon feature in a backpacker joint -– as well as a movie room, a pool table, and a spa that offers fantastic Thai massages. In short, you could never leave the hotel, and you’d never be bored.
The restaurant and bar is a spacious wooden area with plenty of floor and table seating, and apparently the best “subs” around (yes, the subway kind), but they’re a bit pricey at 200 baht. Beers are priced relatively fairly, at 60 to 80 baht. One of their signature shots is apparently so potent they only serve guests a maximum of two. It’s called the Attitude Adjuster, and the staff are very secretive about what goes in it. Perhaps use caution …
The Aussie owner is sometimes around and his sister bartends there as well; everyone is super-friendly. On the wall hang loads of photos from parties past, demonstrating that this place can get pretty rowdy, though the sister assures us that it’s only ‘if that’s what the guests want’. Still, if the massive sound system is anything to go by, the parties can get loud.
Shiralea is not well advertised or signposted, but it doesn’t need to be, as it’s almost always full. In other words, make sure to book in advance. You’ll find it down the road that leads to Haad Yao Bay View Resort, on the righthand side (look for the wooden Shiralea sign). If Shiralea is full when you arrive, backtrack up the hill slightly and look for Sun Moon Star guesthouse on your right. It’s got simple backpacker bungalows for 300 baht a night.
By Kaila Krayewski
Last updated on 24th March, 2015.