Cheap and decent beachfront spot
Ao Seethanu, Ko Pha Ngan T: (077) 349 032
Oh-so-long-running Laem Son Bungalows sits on a great stretch of Sri Thanu beach, with glowing dusty white sand out front and calm waters beyond.
You'll also see here referred to as Laem Son Resort and Laem Son 1, but the accommodation on offer is more straightforward, with three main options on hand. The cheapest are wooden bungalows in a couple of rows just to the north of the restaurant, then come newer concrete fan-cooled free-standing chalets with the most expensive being smarter air-con rooms at the southern end of the grounds.
All are as acceptable as they are forgettable – that's not to say there is anything wrong with them, there's just nothing overly remarkable about them. They're similar to the restaurant in that food of a reasonable standard and price is served, but the effort stops right around there. The owner is a mercantile local who gets some pretty poor reports online, but we found her to be fine to deal with – but we didn't get into any financial dispute with her, which seems to be a common issue here.
Our concrete chalet was clean and well kept with a very clean bathroom, a hammock strung on the deck and a comfortable bed – all this right on the sand. The beach out front is excellent for laying around on, but the waters are very shallow here – you'll need to walk a fair way out for any decent depth.
Also, just to the north of here (around the rocks) is one of Ko Pha Ngan's two nudist beaches – public nudity is illegal in Thailand, but nobody is too bothered about it around here.
Laem Son is reached by a winding dirt road from the main road – turn off at the Culture Centre, if you're coming from the south and reach The Challenge, you've gone too far. Nearby, Seaview Rainbow, The Beach, Happy Beach and Phangan Cove all offer modern lodgings with access to the same beach – we liked Phangan Cove the best of that gaggle.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 24th October, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.