Wake up with the hornbills
Northern end of Ao Yai, Ko Phayam T: (095) 953 5289
Set at Ao Khao Kwai’s northern corner, Archan Pan Bungalows was named after the “Teacher” who rents out basic wood huts while crafting herbal remedies and maintaining fruit trees and fresh water sources for wild hornbills, monkeys and other animals. It’s a memorable option for back-to-nature types who like things as laid-back as they come.
Looking more like a wizard than a schoolteacher, Archan (or Ajahn) Pan’s soft eyes, gentle voice, long locks and pointy grey beard are punctuated by a precious stone dangling over sak yant tattoos on a bare chest. He thinks of his place as an animal sanctuary, pointing out half a dozen hornbills perched high in a tree above the bungalows when we stopped by. Respecting nature is his driving force. His usual contented grin switches to disappointment if he catches visitors feeding the animals.
His wife and son are also notably friendly to the travellers who pass through, some to chill for months and others to grab a beer on a beachfront roofed deck with cushions set beside trees that grow through the floorboards, or on a wood platform built over a boulder that protrudes from the beach.
Guitars, ukuleles and painted stones lie around a place that’s more homestay than resort. The Archan was hesitant to quote us exact prices for bungalows, insisting that “respecting the nature” was the main requirement for staying here.
The five well-worn wood bungalows are situated behind the main deck on a hill shaded by several types of trees. In the mornings, guests can step out on to their unfurnished porch to watch the birds, butterflies and monkeys. Each hut comes with a couple of non-screened windows, colourful sheets on a hard bed, mosquito net and bucket-flush toilet in a cold-water bathroom that’s open to the elements. Electricity is switched on only from around 18:00 to 23:00.
Rocks make it tough to swim directly in front of Archan Pan, especially at low tide, but it’s a quick walk south to a more swim-worthy patch. While the area is generally quiet, the nearby Hippy Bar occasionally has parties that can be heard loud and clear at Archan Pan, which itself is a mellow nightlife destination.
If Archan Pan is too hippie for you, neighbouring Mountain Resort is another family-run spot with a handful of cheap concrete bungalows set on the same hillside, but facing the sea. This vicinity also hosts Tang Tong, another tiny spot with basic bamboo bungalows set a little closer to the sand. Lastly, there’s Flower Village, offering cheap bungalows and cheaper tents on the inland side of the lane running behind North Ao Khao Kwai.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 10th January, 2017.