Quintessential Ko Pha Ngan
A winding dirt lane rambles to Golden Beach Resort, one of our top picks out of the many small, family-run bungalow spots that dot the south coast.
Set on an almost-private stretch of sand towards the east end of Baan Kai Beach, this 30-year-old resort has stayed true to the laid-back and backpacker-friendly vibe that first put Ko Pha Ngan on the travel map back in the 1980s.
The centrepiece is a large restaurant and bar with tables and hammocks in an open-sided pavilion placed high up on a hill – the sunset views from here are breathtaking. English-speaking staff are well versed in offering guests all they need while ensuring that everyone has a good time.
Painted light yellow and crimson, the bungalows are spread out along the hill and over beachside boulders, with concrete steps leading down to the sand. We stayed in Number Four, a venerable beachfront bungalow made of wood, logs and woven bamboo. A sea breeze blew through three screened windows and joined a wall-mounted fan keep us cool at night. From our large porch we could hop down a boulder to the beach.
The best fan bungalows come with fridges and hot water, both unexpected for the notably low rates. Cheaper huts have ceiling fans and tinier bathrooms, but all of the attached porches bag you a sea view. All bathrooms are small and a bit grimy, and a few geckos should be expected on the walls.
Air-con bungalows are made of concrete and tile but are otherwise similar to the fan editions, with the same metal roofs and hard beds raised off the floor. These were the cheapest air-con digs we came across on the south coast. A few rooms come two to a building, sharing a porch, and are ideal for groups and families. We were amazed to find that free WiFi worked well beyond the restaurant.
Golden Beach rents motorbikes and has a pick-up truck that’s used to shuttle guests to and from the ferry piers. There’s not much in the immediate vicinity beyond a handful of other resorts, but the setting is very tranquil and the chefs whip up tasty Thai food. We spoke with a happy few travellers who hadn’t left the resort for days.
If you’re up for motorbiking or grabbing one of the pick-up truck taxis that pass by frequently along the main road, Haad Rin and Baan Tai are both a five-minute cruise away from Golden Beach, and Thong Sala town is six kilometres to the west. Other good budget options in this vicinity include Silvermoon and Green Peace, which is next door to Golden Beach.
Address: Baan Kai, Ko Pha Ngan
T: (077) 377 912; (084) 737 0385;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º2'25.89" E, 9º41'31.29" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 600B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Bungalow fan private bathroom|
Add 150 baht for beachfront.
|350 baht||450 baht|
|Bungalow air-con private bathroom||500 baht||600 baht|
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Ko Pha Ngan