Mai Pen Rai Bungalows really lives up to its name with a laid back, uber relaxed vibe along with the best beachside setting on Than Sadet.
Long-running, Mai Pen Rai's bungalows are scattered all over the place – beach bums will love the beachfront rooms that run alongside the restaurant, while those sitting limpet like along the rocky northern headland below Plaa's Restaurant will appeal to those who rate a view over sand immediacy.
If they fit with your budget, the beachside bungalows are good value. They're well shaded with comfortable verandas strung with a hammock and built in seating. Aside from the family bungalows, these are the biggest and most spacious at Mai Pen Rai. Beds are comfortable (with space for an extra bed) and the bathroom in the one we looked into was clean. They're very close to the restaurant so lack the chilled out atmosphere of some of the more remote rooms.
On the northern rocky headland are a second gaggle of rooms and we were not able to see inside one as they were all full. From the exterior, they looked variable and while many have tremendous views, they're mostly wooden construction wasn't always bearing up well to the elements. These are a walk from the restaurant and at night you'll need a torch to find your way home. Some of these are family rooms and while good with older kids, we'd be cautious about recommending for families with toddlers due to patchy railings, uneven stairs and so on.
There is another clutch of rooms run by Mai Pen Rai on the southern side of the river which are cheaper, smaller and quieter than the rooms near the restaurant and the rates reflect this. You reach these by the bamboo bridge near the restaurant – keep an eye out for the very large monitor lizards that swim in the river here – and you're also close to the secluded Thong Heng Beach.
Mai Pen Rai's main restaurant sits on the beach and had a decent but typical bungalow menu with Thai and western standards. Tables are both in the restaurant and also out on the sand under a great shade tree. If you go for beach seating, watch out for the red biting ants which drop out of the tree.
Mai Pen Rai has a wide variety and dispersal of bungalows and an equally broad range of prices. Take the listed prices as indicative, but refer to their website for a detailed breakdown of all the options available.
Mai Pen Rai is not the only place to stay at Than Sadet. Silver Cliff is perched on the northern headland with a well appointed restaurant and has a clutch of typical Ko Pha Ngan bungalows for 600 baht. Wrapping around the headland at a slightly higher elevation sits Plaa's, which has the best positioned deck restaurant at Than Sadet and a handful of bungalows (from 900 baht) facing out to sea. Mai Pen Rai though, remains our first and recommended choice on Than Sadet.
Address: Haad Sadet, Ko Pha Ngan
T: (093) 959 8073; (081) 894 5076;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º4'27.29" E, 9º44'58.9" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 600B to 1,500B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Standard double room|
|650 baht||650 baht|
|Superior double room|
On the rocks
|900 baht||900 baht|
|Family room||1,300 baht||1,300 baht|
|1,500 baht||1,500 baht|
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Ko Pha Ngan