If there was one place on Ko Pha Ngan that summed up the hippy chic of the island, The Sanctuary on Haad Thian on the east coast of the island, would be it.
The Sanctuary is part resort, part spa and part detox centre but it is probably best known for its outstanding beachside restaurant. Nestled into the southern end of Haad Thian, with accommodation both scattered across the hillside and running back from the resort, Sanctuary indeed lives up to its name offering a tempting escape from the sometimes hectic other parts of the island. Here you can spend days just whiling away the time on your balcony hammock, listening to the wind in the trees, or busy yourself socialising in the popular restaurant (which offers plenty of events) and exploring the various activities on offer.
The reception fronts the small beach with cushioned deck chairs and some over-friendly dogs, while the rooms are a winding maze heading up into the jungle and around through the gardens. Numerous types of bungalows, houses and a dorm are on offer, with price dependent on size, view and whether you opt for amenities such as a fan or air-con, television, minibar and hot-water showers.
Each is individual, with tasteful modern decor, large comfortable beds, pillows you'll want to take home, mosquito nets, couches and balconies with either table and chairs or hammocks. Many of the jungle houses have been built into the natural surroundings where the shower is blended into the rocks and the open window allows for gazing over the beach to the horizon.
Prices are somewhat higher than what you’ll pay elsewhere, but this is a bit of a special property. True jungle living done with style, you may never want to leave and not surprisingly Sanctuary does a lot of return custom, with the same people returning year after year. Do check their website for the full range of their accommodation offerings.
The multi-tiered restaurant, nestled into a giant quartz-granite rock has an extensive vegetarian (plus seafood) Thai and international menu. They boast raw foods dishes, fresh breads and cakes baked daily, a well stocked bar, and a real coffee machine. Not the cheapest menu on the island, but worth the cost as the food is especially memorable. Staff are friendly, but service can be very slow and billing remains an issue – do check your bill, we were both undercharged and overcharged on a recent stay.
The ambience at Sanctuary is geared toward relaxation and unwinding, rather than party time, and while many love it, others may find the scene decidedly cliquey as The Sanctuary attracts longer-stay, repeat guests and yoga groups. The peace and quiet aimed at adults needing a break, rather than a family holiday, though children are welcome.
There are detox packages, yoga, pilates, meditation, as well as a host of spiritual, creative and body healers available for workshops and private sessions in the Tea Temple, another slice of heaven to steal some quiet time and enjoy their Japanese-inspired menu. Need more? There is boutique shop, a spa, steam room, a movie night, open-mic, and a small market on Sundays.
There's nowhere else quite like Sanctuary on Ko Pha Ngan, so if you're looking for a memorable stay and the activities appeal, this could be just the hideaway you were looking for.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 24th October, 2016.