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Island Paradise - which island and resort?

  • jewels

    Joined Travelfish
    6th November, 2007
    Posts: 5

    Hi All

    My husband and I want to travel to Thailand for 2 weeks around March/April next year. We are in desperate need of some utter relaxation!

    Can you please recommend an island and resort which can fit into our dreams of:
    a) being very quiet and secluded - definately not Phuket, Phi Phi or Koi Samui!
    b) cabin with aircon, double bed, hot water, beautiful seaview and which is literally ON THE BEACH
    c) clear blue water and white sand...

    My husband wants to do some fishing and spearfishing (is this permitted in Thailand?) as well.

    Surfing the internet has left me more confused than ever. I need some advice...

    #1 Posted: 6/11/2007 - 21:13

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  • somtam2000

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    You could get that for anywhere from US$20 to $12,000 a night (yes, really, $12,000!), so if you could give an idea on how much you're planning to spend, people should be able to make some more useful suggestions.

    Cheers & welcome to Travelfish

    #2 Posted: 6/11/2007 - 21:37

  • jewels

    Joined Travelfish
    6th November, 2007
    Posts: 5

    Hi Somtam, sorry if I was too cryptic!

    We want to go mid price-range - I suppose not more than 2500 THB per night per room. We'll be paying in ZAR, not the strongest currency around!

    Please advise re the spearfishing.
    Thanks.

    #3 Posted: 6/11/2007 - 21:53

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    Koh Chang - A Paradise Lost…


    It is unfortunate that many travelers to Thailand are rather uncritical about their environment and the effect tourism is having on the islands of the Kingdom. Koh Chang is a terrible example of unregulated tourist development gone mad.

    I first went to Koh Chang in 2003 and was rather disturbed by what I found and what has happened in the subsequent years I find even more disturbing.

    Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand. Given an unexpected boost by the post-tsunami unpopularity of the west coast (i.e. Phuket) an ever increasing number of western tourists are heading for this island...here is my polemic on why this is not so good....

    I've been to Koh Chang many times over the past few years, largely because it's near to where I live, and every time a friend comes to stay this is the most convenient "paradise island” to take them to... My brother even got married there in March 2005.
    So what’s wrong with this slice of “bounty” advert?

    (Deep breath)

    Koh Chang is a tragedy....it’s being badly developed, it’s overpriced and it's going down hill at a rate of knots......

    Why? The land for development was all bought up by bigwig friends of the "great and powerful" and now anyone who wants to set up a business there has to pay through the nose for it. All the hotels are overpriced even when you compare with Phuket and Samui. The insensitive despoiling of the island had started before the Tsunami as the island had been ear-marked for development by releasing the flat coastal land a few years before. Whether it ever appeared for sale on the open market I don’t know. In the post tsunami era the island’s desecration has continued with increased vigour as developers realised the new potential.

    Almost all the west coast is now covered with awful self-contained resorts, built with no thought for the environment, conservation or island infrastructure. They are for the most part badly designed and ill finished. Appearance is all, the places are little more than decorated concrete sheds. Health and safety is simply not addressed - some of the pool designs look positively lethal. Slippery tiles adorn pool-side and bathroom alike. The building never stops; frequently you can find your room is on a building site. It is unlikely the hotel will warn you of this. This is now greatly restricting the amount of beach that is accessible to the public; it can only be a matter of time before all the good sandy beaches become resort owned or dominated sea fronts.

    If you're coming from Europe or the States you'll find that the cost of living and rooms is cheap but not compared to elsewhere in Thailand. You'll love the sunsets and the white sand, you won't wonder where all the sewage is going and what happened to the mangroves or the fishing industry that gets smaller catches every year, or the fishing villages being turned into souvenir arcades-com-hotels.

    The centre of Koh Chang is a national park, but unlike all of Thailand's other National Parks, apart from the odd waterfall, no-one is allowed inside, you can get a guide who will take you in but strictly speaking that's against the law. There is virtually no effort made to set up a good system of eco-tourism in the park as you might find in Australia.

    There is only one road around KC and it doesn't go all the way round, it's a horse-shoe affair. There is a motorbike track that connects the two ends but it's not for the faint of heart! The main road is barely more than single track (asphalted) but cannot cope with the ever increasing load of traffic pouring onto the island. Most of the bridges have been washed out and are replaced by drains covered over with rubble – beware of hitting these at night or on a motorbike.

    As KC is the second biggest island in Thailand, walking around it in a day is not an option. KC is also very mountainous and the roads are very windy and hilly and the resorts can be a long way from any shops, night-life etc, the baht taxi service (song taew) is very patchy and any where you want to go is further than you want to walk, so it’s really essential to hire a motorbike or car; these are about 50% to 100 % more than on the mainland. It might even be worth hiring a vehicle on the mainland and driving there (Pattaya is about a 4 ½ hour drive to the KC ferries - fare approximately 350 baht).
    The main town, if you could call it that is White Sands a long strip of hotels, resorts and motley bars about 3 km long. The building over the last 3 years has completely filled the space between hills and shore. If you arrive on foot with no hotel booked a baht taxi will take you from the ferry to Whitesands and drop you there. (So long as he has a full load at the ferry or he'll want you to foot the extra money before he sets off.) You will then have to find somewhere to stay this is impossible on foot and with luggage so book in advance at least for the first night. Then get some wheels, car/Jeep or motorbike and look around the next day for a place you like.

    There is no airport on KC itself, if you go by plane you'll land at Trat airport which is on the mainland quite near to the ferries to KC. Get a taxi to the ferry - only a few baht. There are several ferries across, the crossing takes 45 to 90 min, depending on which ferry you take. On one ferry I paid 30 e/w for me and my car, on another I paid 360 baht for my car an five people return. The ferries can now be very over stretched at high season and week-ends – even thought there is a new car-park the queues can extend back up the hill for quite a way.

    Now you may think I hate the place, well I don't, I just get very disappointed in the direction the powers-that-be have taken KC, it's lack of infrastructure and any forward planning will mean that sooner rather than later this place will become a collection of overpriced resorts and nothing else.

    Where to stay? – Whitesands is the probably the largest conglomeration on the island – hotels, bars shops etc all increasingly crowded into the strip between sea and mountain, the developers have now started to dig away at the hill behind and are erecting buildings wherever they can - between the mudslides. One wonders how long it will be before a cliff collapses and takes a building with it.

    For resorts with a beach, Klong Prao Beach is probably as good as it gets, there are about 4 resorts there actually with beach frontage, The Paradise is all nicely built new bungalows, Coconut and Royal Coconut are next to that and Klong Prao resort has a long beach front and good pool beside the sea. All are constantly redeveloping to increase the density of accommodation within a given strip of beach.
    Indeed, the last time I stayed at Klong Prao Resort in last August (2005) the place was a building site. They didn't tell me until the day I arrived even though I was a regular guest there. If you do book in advance you must ask about this sort of thing because you will very likely not be told by the staff. Building also precedes a hike in prices. I used to pay 1800 baht to stay there. That time I paid 1750, a discount of 50 baht (just over a dollar) because it was the wet season and there was building going on! I was told the new price is 3500 baht and that was what they would still charge whilst the building was continuing. In fact as of Feb 2007 you should be able to get a room for about 2800 baht.

    Wherever you decide to stay - CHECK BEFORE YOU GO ABOUT BUILDING WORK.....ESPECIALLY IN THE WET SEASON!

    The problem with Koh Chang is that it is changing and changing rapidly for the worse. Hotels are constantly building and encroaching on the environment. Prices are rising and beach access is getting more and more taken over by private resorts. The days of a hut on the beach for 200 baht are in fact, virtually gone. The scuba divers are going further and further a field in search of clear water and fish, and don’t be kidded that so long as the hotel claims to be by the sea that it has a beach! (v. Ramayana!!)

    Untrammelled development is occurring all over the islands of Thailand and visitors to the country should be aware of the unsympathetic, unregulated development that is taking place here. It is happening everywhere; Samui has suffered in particular at the hands of unscrupulous “developers” and the same thing is happening on Koh Chang and it is now beginning to spread to the rest of the islands in the archipelago.

    However, I think that Koh Chang is unique in regards to this as it is not only the second largest island in Thailand. (Phuket is the largest but connected to the mainland by road) but the most recently developed. Even as you lie on the beach, an opportunity is being missed here to avoid all the mistakes made on the other “paradise” islands.
    Anyone will tell you that their favourite island has changed beyond recognition in the last few years, but Koh Chang still in my opinion has a chance of changing its ways especially if people are made aware of the situation before they go. Business interests on the island will react to market forces, there is little hope for swift and effective government intervention, as this is almost without precedent in Thailand. During a 2 week stay it is unlikely that the average visitor will become aware of the larger issues surrounding the conservation and development of the island, so I would hope that some at least will think before they go, and ask questions like...

    • Where does the sewerage go?
    • Where are the mangroves?
    • What happened to the local agricultural industries?
    • What do the fishermen do now?
    • Where are all the fish?
    • Where does the water come from and where does it go?
    • What is the sea water quality on my beach?
    • How is the coral?
    • Who is looking after the marine and forest nature reserves?
    • Why is there no satisfactory public access?
    • Who owns the land?

    It is quite possible that in the future Thailand could run out of islands to develop and lose one of its main attractions as a tourist destination. All this will be achieved with your money…you are paying for the development on these islands; it is your money that makes these short term goals achievable.


    PPS - If you want up to date local info on KC, try this site: IamKohChang.com
    a good site for info on Koh Chang and sounds like an interesting place to stay too!

    PPS – I cannot recommend the Ramayana and Boutique resorts!

    #4 Posted: 7/11/2007 - 15:15

  • jewels

    Joined Travelfish
    6th November, 2007
    Posts: 5

    Dear khunwilko

    I share in your frustration. It is terrible when the environment and local communities are exploited for commercial gain. Not only does it ruin the true character of a place, but it also means that there would be nothing left for our children's children to admire and enjoy.

    If somebody can recommend an eco-friendly resort, it will be greatly appreciated.

    #5 Posted: 7/11/2007 - 16:11

  • somtam2000

    admin
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    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 6962
    Total reviews: 24
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    At least 113

    2,500B baht... hmmm -- here's three to get you started.

    Salad Hut on Ko Pha Ngan
    Sai Thong Resort, Ko Tao
    Vong Duen Villa, Ko Samet

    #6 Posted: 8/11/2007 - 09:29

  • somtam2000

    admin
    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 6962
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    Forgot about the spear fishing -- I once met a totally mad Belgium guy on Haad Salad, Ko Pha Ngan (same beach as where Salad Hut is) and he was spearfishing there -- no idea if he caught much though.

    #7 Posted: 8/11/2007 - 09:30

  • stockamole

    Joined Travelfish
    19th November, 2007
    Posts: 10

    You should check out the resort on Laoliang Island. It's an eco-resort, and the beach and reefs are totally unspoiled. Amazing white sand, towering limestone cliffs, and the accomodations are right on the beach. The accomodations are tent cabins. The resort provides all your meals, all you can eat Thai buffets and seafood BBQ's. Great fishing, but I don't know about spearfishing. Here's their website. www.laoliangresort.com

    #8 Posted: 19/11/2007 - 10:59

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