Step into a time machine
If you want to drop off the map for a few days, Koh Tan Village Bungalows at the northern end of the primary beach on Ko Taen, is close to the ideal spot – we liked it here a lot.
In business for more than 30 years and run by amiable Meesak, a third generation native of Ko Taen, the fan-cooled bungalows are smart and modern and set along a shady beachfront. The polished concrete bungalows, with their sloping white roofs and tricoloured windows, look a little incongruous in such a rustic setting, but they're comfortable and clean within.
Each has a double bed, a bench, a towel rack and a standing fan – that is about it. The bathrooms are cold-water only, with a Western toilet and shower (though our shower was missing a shower head). There is only power from sunset till midnight as Ko Taen has no mains power, so they need to rely on a generator. We opened the windows in the evening and caught some breeze but it was a little sticky around 01:00.
The front door of the bungalow can be locked, but the bathroom door cannot be locked. This lack of bathroom to bedroom security is always a concern with open-air bathrooms, but in the case of Ko Taen, which has just 27 permanent residents, we figured there was little to worry about.
Attached to the resort is a large open-air restaurant, with both table seating and a long bench facing out to sea. Plenty of plastic chairs and recliners are arrayed around the place for you to throw yourself in. We were the only guest when we stayed and when we asked about the large size of the restaurant, we were told it was primarily for daytrippers who visit through the middle of the day. In practice what this means is in all likelihood you'll have the place entirely to yourself in the morning and late afternoon, but in the middle of the day you may be joined by a couple of dozen others – the upside of course is the extensive menu available. Do check the prices if ordering seafood; we made this rookie error when we ordered a steamed fish for dinner and felt a bit stung when the bill of 500 baht arrived the next morning.
Given the isolation and the beauty of the island, we thought the price of the bungalow was fair, though the cost of the boat from Ko Samui makes it a bit of an expensive indulgence for a single traveller for just one night. However, for a couple looking for two or three nights off the grid, Koh Tan Village Bungalows is a very tempting deal.
Boatmen in Thong Krut ask 1,500 baht for a return trip to the island (meaning four trips for them), or Meesak charges 1,200 baht for the same thing using his own boat – you'll need to contact him beforehand to arrange this as, as far as we could tell, there is no office handling them in Thong Krut. If you want to see what Samui was like 30 years ago, but with a relatively decent level of comfort, this is an excellent spot. Recommended.
Address: Ko Taen main beach
T: (081) 968 4131; (087) 591 3021;
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º56'53.08" E, 9º22'56.98" 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.
|Bungalow fan private bathroom||1,000 baht||1,000 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 Samui