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Suggestions for serene Thai/Burma beach town destination?

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Does anyone have recommendations for a beautiful, serene relaxing beach town in Thailand or Burma that won't have lots of loud tourists or partiers or new hotel construction?

    I am trying to plan a 3-4 day trip somewhere in Burma or Southern Thailand after I finish my intensive meditation retreat in Burma. Basically I want to be in a really chill beautiful place near the ocean. I don't need it to be the perfect palm tree swaying beach, but I want it to be quiet, peaceful and beautiful. At the same time, I would like the hotel to be comfortable, since I will have just lived like an ascetic for a month. Do those places exist in Southern Thailand? I'm not expecting a beach to myself, but I want a place that is a little more hidden away and not popular with the loud and crazy partiers. (That would be too much of a shock to my system after my month of silence and meditation.) I could pay 50-80 bucks a night, as long as it is comfortable and close to the beach. Also, since I need to get to Bangkok for a returning flight, it would be nice for it to be relatively accessible to buses/planes.

    Any suggestions? There are so many options in my Lonely Planet guidebook that I don't know where to start.
    Any tips are most welcome!

    Take care,
    Andrew

    #1 Posted: 21/5/2010 - 22:37

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  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    When are you going?
    If it's in the next 5 and a half months you will be hitting low season except for Kos Samui/Phangan/Tao and so $50-80 will get you a much better place than in high season.

    Okay, if high season - actually there are a number of places but two resorts fit the bill real well are Thapwarin and Coco Hut on Ko Ngai.
    These would be okay in low season too, because that beach is a real sheltered one in the south-west monsoon. But I think I saw one of these is shut down for renovation this low season.
    One of several all season alternatives - Relax Resort on it's own little beach on the very relaxed east coast of Ko Phi Phi.

    Low season - West Railay is one of the most spectacular beaches in Thailand. Trouble is it tends be be real crowded and overpriced in high season. These disappear low season.
    Alternative - super flash Sivalai on Ko Muk might get down to $80.

    Good weather spot between now and late Sept/early Oct - fewer dollars will get you the best room on Bottle Beach Ko Phangan - google Bottle Beach 2 resort.
    Also google Coral View on Ko Tao (and of course check what TRAVELFISH says on all these).

    #2 Posted: 22/5/2010 - 14:07

  • AngelFish78

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd March, 2010
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 18

    Hi Andrew,

    I totally agree with Tezza on Ko Nga and West Railay, or you could also consider Ko Yao Yai: a beautiful, quiet, very peaceful island with a lot of untouched wilderness. To get there you'll have to go to Phuket, Krabi or Phang Nga and cath a boat from there (1,5 hours).
    Most of the accomodation on the island is fairly basic, but there are also some comfortable places like YaoYai Beach resort. Have a look at the Koh Yao Yai travel guide here on Travelfish, it gives you all the info.

    Hope this helps & good luck with the meditation retreat!

    Angela

    #3 Posted: 23/5/2010 - 02:37

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1951
    Total reviews: 5
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    At least 2

    When are you going .... does it matter if it's raining?

    #4 Posted: 23/5/2010 - 15:20

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Folks,

    Thank you so much for all your tips! I will be there at the beginning of August. Are there any sunny beaches in thailand and burma during this time of the rainy season, or will they all be cloudy and rainy all the time?

    #5 Posted: 24/5/2010 - 03:51

  • AngelFish78

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd March, 2010
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 18

    At that time of year I think you'll be better off going to the islands on the south east coast rather than the south west. There'll be the occasional heavy shower, but they never last long and most of the time it's long sunny periods. You could have a look at Ao Leuk or June Juea beach on Koh Tao, or Koh Nang Yuan, which is also fairly easy to reach from Bangkok (train to Chumphon - boat from there).

    #6 Posted: 24/5/2010 - 04:44

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    Yep, as said, the southern Gulf usually had good weather in August. I'm a weather nerd - this is my usual spiel:


    The southern Gulf islands (Samui, Phangan, Tao) are usually real good in August - still well short of their normal wet season of Oct into Jan. It does rain, but sunshine usually dominates.

    Elsewhere is wet season, but travel is usually okay - we get plenty of posts saying people had a good holiday with the usual daily mixture of one or a few showers/storms and sunshine/scattered cloud, some days with no rain.
    This has been the pattern in all my wet season visits. In August 07, I was on Phi Phi and Phuket in what the newspapers called the wettest period for some years. In 15 days got 2 days virtually cloudless, about 2 where it rained more often than not (but these still had some sunny breaks and were not write-offs), and the rest were the normal mixture of one or a few showers, sun/scattered cloud. I had a great holiday. In August 09 I spent 4 days on the Phuket side. One was real windy, mostly sunny, a few short showers - the others were not windy, otherwise similar. Check the uncredited shots on the 2 Phi Phi pages and 1 Phuket page in the link below, lots of sunshine in them. BTW, Phi Phi/Phuket and Krabi are within sight of each other, so weather patterns are similar.

    The driest of the non-Southern Gulf islands tends to be Ko Samet near Bangkok. Most of Samet's beaches face east and are sheltered from the prevailing wet season winds which on the days when they get stronger can cause rough seas and blow a lot of flotsam and jetsom onto the beach.
    The wettest are Big Ko Chang and neighbours + the Ranong area islands. Nevertheless I have seen plenty of posts from visitors to the former in the wet season saying they enjoyed themselves.

    #7 Posted: 24/5/2010 - 18:25

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Tezza and Angela,

    From what you have said, it seems like either Relax Beach Resort on Phi Phi or Bottle Beach on Ko Phangan are my best bets. If I want to do some snorkeling, and I want to splurge a little in terms of comfort (without being around lots of overdeveloped tourist resorts) and want some isolation (I don't need nightclubs or need to be around young people), which of the two is a better bet?

    Also if there is a relatively good chance that during my three days there in Phi Phi I won't get any sun, that could be a determining factor or push me over to Bottle Beach in Ko Phangan. My one concern about Bottle Beach was that it would be noisy with a lot of young backpackers since it is pretty cheap. With Ko Tao I worry about it being very crowded (and congested) with divers in August. Are these correct assessments?

    Thanks!

    Andrew

    #8 Posted: 30/5/2010 - 05:24

  • samh90

    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2010
    Posts: 9

    Callarda, if your not wanting partying and lots of tourists, then from experience, Phi Phi might not be for you, as for Ko Phangan I cannot really say although it is most well known for its night life. I've just come back from several island/beach resorts, and found Ko Chang (near thai/cambodia border) was the most serene. We stayed at white sands beach and for much of the time, we really did have the beach to ourselves! PM me if you want any pictures. There are some very swish hotels bang on the beach which is affordable for your budget.

    As for the whether, i'd be surprised if you didn't get any sun, the storms usually just last an hour or so, can be a nice break from the heat sometimes!

    #9 Posted: 30/5/2010 - 16:48

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    Between Relax and Bottle - Relax will be quieter, have the better snorkelling, fewer backpackers but usually less sun (although my experience of August that side is enough sun).

    Tao does get busy with divers in August, but there are some get-away areas you will not be aware of business.

    #10 Posted: 30/5/2010 - 20:08

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  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Thank you so much! A question for both tezza and samh90

    Tezza: Do you know the Ferry schedule at all from Phuket to Phi Phi? I'm trying to figure out if I could conceivably get a morning flight from Yangon to Phuket and then catch the ferry to arrive in Phi Phi by the afternoon. How many ferries leave Phuket for West Railay and Phi Phi each day?

    Samh90: What would be the easiest way to get to Ko Chang from Yangon, Burma? Where would I fly to? Would I need to catch any ferries? If so, how often do they run? Trying to get from Yangon (leaving early morning) to the thai beach by aternoon/early evening. Is that feasible?

    Thanks again for the tips! Don't know what I would do without you!!! :)

    #11 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 04:21

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    One more question for Samh90- When were you at White Sands Beach? During July? August? Travelfish says its the most popular beach on the island, and that Ko Chang is rapidly developing into the next Phuket. Even with all this, you found it was not that crowded and really serene? Was that just because it was the low season?

    Just curious -- Ko Chang seems really appealing to me (almost too good to be true:) ) if it is serene and not crowded as you say during early August. What are its drawbacks?

    Any comfy resort hotels in particularly you would recommedn on White Sands?

    Thanks again,
    Andrew

    #12 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 04:29

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    This site http://www.phuket-trips.com/boat-transfer.htm shows Phuket-PP boats at 0830 - 1100 and 1430. I think that may be the one ferry company. Google Andaman Island Hopping for maybe other options. Actually Google should scare up quite a few timetables.

    That above link also has Phi Phi to Ao Nang/Railay and to Krabi town via Phi PHi - looks like the direct boat doesn't run in low season.

    I'll put my 20 cents worth in on big Ko Chang .
    The eastern Gulf around Trat /big Ko Chang is often REAL wet in July and August - the August AVERAGE is over 1000mm for the month - I'd hate to be there in a wetter than normal August. For comparison, I think London averages something in the 400s for a YEAR. Nevertheless I've seen plenty of posts from Chang around then talking of good holidays - looks like they still get a fair bit of sunshine, but when it rains it REALLY rains.

    I've also seen a number of posts talking of PEOPLE DROWNING in big surf on Chang. All the main beaches face west into the prevailing winds - when these blow hard for a few days you can get big surf with dangerous rip currents, so take care. Maybe you could read my TIPS ON NOT DROWNING PAGE here http://tezzasthaiinfo.blogspot.com/2007/04/some-tips-on-not-drowning.html

    If you fly into Bangkok from Burma you can fly to Trat near big Chang on Bangkok Air. They have a coach service which takes you from arrivals to anywhere on Chang via the vehicle ferries for a reasonable sum - sure beats mucking around getting to the pier(s) and the scrum on arrivals getting transport to your accommodation.

    Hard to rec places to stay on White Sand Beach not knowing your budget. I like the north end from the Rocksand precinct on - White Sand Bungalows is a nice flashpacker and Rocksand and the joints around it are great budget options. Rocksand can also go flahspacker. I wrote a bit about Rocksand in TRAVELFISH'S "PLACES WE MISSED"

    If you want midrange or better check the booking sites like Agoda and Sawadee.com - or better still TRAVELFISH'S booking site. Being low season there are seriously good deals on pretty nice joints. But I don't know which is great because I haven't stayed in any of these joints since they went upmarket.

    I wrote a reader's report on White Sand Beach after my March visit but TRAVELFISH has not printed it - perhaps it was not good enough.

    #13 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 10:48

  • samh90

    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2010
    Posts: 9

    I've don't know about flights from Yangon or Burma but the nearest airport as tezza says is trat and then you get a bus or songthaew to Leim Ngop where you get the ferry across to Chang. I've only been to Chang once a couple of weeks ago so it sounds like tezza probably has got a better idea than me.

    As for white sands beach, it is the 'busiest' on the island, but literally some days we didn't have a single person in sight on the beach, and its very picturesque. There are other beaches such as lonely beach etc but they were actually busier than the where we stayed.

    I can't remember the names of the posh hotels, i stayed in bungalows, but the jacuzzi underwater sunbeds and swim up bar of one hotels pool was an enjoyable sneaky dip when the sand got annoying!

    Maybe it was heading into the low season when I was there which would explain the quietness, but yes you are right, the government intends to turn it into the next Phuket so if you do intend to go sooner the better in my opinion.

    In terms of downsides, well in my opinion there wasn't any to think of, i loved it. Well priced accomm, very friendly locals, lovely quite beach bars and restaurants with awesome seafood, great cocktails while watching the sunset. Nice waterfalls and pools up not far either and some good snorkelling available on the island I am told.

    As for rain, it rained nearly every night when we were there, but this was usually between 2am-5am(ish) so never saw it except one heavy shower during the day which only lasted an hour. But again, seems like tezza has a better idea of rainfall there than I do. But other than the variable of rainfall, everything else in Chang is top notch in my opinion!

    You may find this helpful www.kohchangislandguide.com but i dont think i saw one of the nicest hotels on white sands beach on the site.

    #14 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 14:29

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Tezza,

    Another question. It looks like the earliest I can get to Phuket or Krabi is 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon, which unfortunately just misses the ferries to Ko Phi Phi . (I can't find a ferry that leaves Phuket later than 3.) If you had a choice, where would you spend the night if you wanted a chill place -- Phuket or Krabi? Obviously I would rather spend the night on Ko Phi Phi but if I am going to have to wait until the morning to go the island, I might as well look for a intermediate place that isn't too crazy to spend the night, right? Any thoughts?

    Also, what's your opinion of Koh Lanta? Seems to be pretty chill from what I read. Any big drawbacks come to mind? Is it just not as pretty as Railay and Ko Phi Phi?

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    #15 Posted: 1/6/2010 - 09:35

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    Krabi v Phuket for one night? - well I like Krabi town more than Phuket town but you could stay at one of Phuket's beaches overnight. Then again you could stay at Ao Nang (which could be a good one if the Ao Nang Phi Phi ferry is running that time of year).

    Lanta is a good island with many beaches and a heap of accommodation. You are right in that the scenery isn't as good as Railay or Phi Phi. I've never stayed on Lanta in low season - some reports say it's VERY quiet, maybe too quiet.

    #16 Posted: 1/6/2010 - 20:39

  • callarda

    Joined Travelfish
    21st May, 2010
    Posts: 25

    Tezza,

    Is 30 minutes enough time to transfer in Bangkok from an international to a domestic flight?

    If not, I'm pretty much stuck going to Phuket instead of Krabi , since I would have to pay a lot more for a flight to leave Bangkok later. If this is the case, any recommendations for lodging in Phuket that is in the most quiet (I know, this may be a stretch) part of Phuket? I am only going to spend a night there, so it's more that I want to avoid nightlife....It will be a Sunday evening in August.

    Also, what are you recommendations of places to stay on Krabi and on Ao Nang? Are there any pretty and quiet beaches on either place?

    Also, I will probably be stashing my stuff at a guesthouse and spending an afternoon at either Ao Nang, Krabi or Phuket en route to Bangkok. (I would wait until the evening to leave Phi Phi but the last ferry is at 2:30.) I am trying to get to Bangkok as late as posssible so that I can catch a 5:30 am flight the next day without leaving the Bangkok airport. There's a Phuket flight that gets in at midnight, which would be great. If I decided to spend an afternoon in Phuket (Thursday afternoon), what would you recommend for a beach that I could go to enjoy sunset before I have to go the airport for a late flight?

    Thanks as always!

    Andrew

    #17 Posted: 2/6/2010 - 01:28

  • leobroces

    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2010
    Posts: 3

    Andrew,

    If you still need some info
    here's the one I could recommend for your unwinding
    adventure in the Southern part of Thailand.

    The Melati Beach Resort of Koh Samui. It is wonderful to experience the paradise of Melati.

    Hope you have the chance to visit.
    Thanks,
    Leo

    #18 Posted: 11/6/2010 - 08:42

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