For the right kind of budget traveller, the Laughing Gecko is exactly where you want to be.
The Canadian/Thai owners lived on Ko Yao Yai for several years, bringing the ultra-laid-back island atmosphere with them when they moved to Haad Noppharat Thara in the early 2000s. Some of the oldest bamboo and thatch bungalows are starting to droop and crack, though a handful of newer ones are still in pretty good shape. Inside they get the job done with double mattresses draped in mosquito nets, fans and private cold-water bathrooms. There’s also a bamboo longhouse with a fan-cooled dorm relying on shared bathrooms -- probably the cheapest beds in the whole Ao Nang area. All rooms put you close to nature, including those eponymous geckos; just remember -- they eat the bugs! That's why they're laughing, maybe. An hour after we met gentle owner, Nui, we were still hanging around and discussing the meaning of life. That's the sort of place this is: a retreat for creative travellers who appreciate nature, simplicity and the rag-tag communal vibe that’s gradually disappearing in the islands. Jam sessions are common in the evenings, and there’s even a pro-size billiards table in a room off the endearingly rickety common pavilion. Communal dinners are served for a flat rate, and guests keep track of their drinks on an honour system. Laughing Gecko may close for part of low season. Head next door to Cashew Nut should that be the case.
Type of room, low and high season prices
Room: Dorm fan cooled, low season: 180 baht, high season 180 baht. Notes:
Room: Bungalow fan private bathroom, low season: 500 baht, high season 500 baht. Notes:
Room: Family room, low season: 900 baht, high season 900 baht. Notes: Sleeps 5
154 Moo 3 (Soi Noppharat Thara 13), Haad Noppharat Thara
T: (081) 270 5028
Room rates: Under 600B