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Thailand forum

Let's find the Island

Posted by GBnuva on 4/3/2011 at 01:53

Hi everyone!!
Great find this site. Great resources.

I'm going in Asia for a year.
I'll travel the first 3 months in Thailand.

My goal is to spend the first month on a paradise island (read: insanely gorgeous) in a beachfront accommodation to just relax, read, take it slow.

Here are some details:
- My budget is fairly low so I was hoping to find a nice place for 200B ($5)
- I'd like to take my diving lessons. Where are the cheapest places to do that?
- Quiet and unspoiled place. (not too touristic) I'm looking forward to meet other travelers but I'm just not the party every day type. ex: small village, place where I’ll have more of a sense of the people and culture.
- Away from the wet season
- I'll land there in April. I've never been to Thailand before.

There are so many islands in Thailand, I just can't see clearly… : )
I was thinking about Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan but they pop up a lot, and I'm not sure if they're that cheap or calm and still relatively "remote".

What are your suggestions?

P.S. I looked here: but was hoping to have suggestions based on the info shared.

#1 GBnuva has been a member since 4/3/2011. Posts: 3

Posted by somtam2000 on 9/3/2011 at 20:15 admin

Bump. (marked as spam in error, so just bumping it back up -- sorry!)

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,939
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Posted by Sparrk on 9/3/2011 at 21:06

Ive been to Koh phangan and its a lovley place. Going to Koh tao and koh phangan again in a week to join the fullmoon party, dident get the chance last time:) I wouldent say it is to touristic, more of a backpacker place. If you stay there before the fullmoon there is not much people, we stayed 15 min from town which was very nice, calm and relaxing. We payed 400B for one bungalow each by the beach. We also rented scooters so we could explore the island, drive to some nice beaches.

I havent been in koh tao yet but ive heared its better then Koh Phangan. A friend of mine stayed there for 1 month and payed 400B each night. He loved it. He dident stay on the side were all the tourists are, but a place called Tanote Bay, which was one the remote side of the island and very relaxing.

#3 Sparrk has been a member since 19/9/2010. Posts: 5

Posted by GBnuva on 15/3/2011 at 09:22

Hi Sparrk, thanks for sharing your experience!!
400B is higher than what I was intending to pay. Does beachfront accomodations at 200B still exist?

I suspect the thread never got traction because it was marked as spam in error.
I'd really like to have more feedback and ideas.

Hope to hear from you

#4 GBnuva has been a member since 4/3/2011. Posts: 3

Posted by MADMAC on 15/3/2011 at 10:31

I'd be very surprised if you found something that was beach front that was in the 200 baht category that was habitable. Thailand is a recently developed country - vice a developing country. It's not that cheap anymore. It's still pretty cheap in many respects, but not Ethiopia-like cheap. Frankly, I would think it would be tough to find something decent even at 400 baht that was beach front. I would consider that a damn good deal.

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Posted by gratorn on 17/3/2011 at 14:12

Regarding your point on wanting to be a place where you get a feel for the people and culture, from my own experiences I've found most islands are not a good place to experience this. It's due to Thai's moving to islands in the last 20 years to work in the tourism industry, so they don't have their own village or village history around. The mainland is a better place to experience the culture. The islands are a great place to kick back and enjoy, just not so great if you want Thai culture.

Anyone who's discovered better Islands than me, please feel free to proove me wrong.

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Posted by MADMAC on 17/3/2011 at 17:57

I would say this is probably generally a correct assessment. I have a friend who owns land on an island that is pretty under-developed and there is a fishing village there that's old and still untainted by tourism. BUT - there's nothing there, including no place to sleep or eat.

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Posted by exacto on 17/3/2011 at 19:56

Like the others suggest, it will be difficult if not impossible to find the place you've described - perfect beach, not too many others, for very little money. I think those places existed back in 1992 but not so much now. Plus, that $5 per night you mentioned is really only 150 baht these days not 200.

If you are a bit flexible in your plans, you could select one of the small villages along the Mekong River in Nong Khai Province and specifically the town of Sangkhom for your retreat. For your 200 baht per night you'd get a bungalow at Bouy Guesthouse with a hammock on a bluff overlooking the river. No diving here but swimming in the river and walks on a decent section of sandy beach. Plus, great food at the guesthouse and any number of places in town. The town itself is genuine Thailand without many tourists and hardly any western tourists. Great spot to check out from the world for a week while you read a book or three from your hammock. Just a thought.

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Posted by C on 17/3/2011 at 20:27

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hello There!

Chumphon. Its on the coast of mainland Thailand where you take the ferry over to Koh Tao. The beach is called Nakhon Si Thammarat. There is a place called the pirate cafe that has a beautiful villa that you can rent for a month a few minutes walk from the beach. Its got one bedroom, kitchen and lounge and a veranda that overlooks the river. Its within your budget if you stay a month and the diving there is very cheap. Thgink lots of unspoilt beaches, your own luxury apartment with wifi and a backdrop of islands.. Its not an island, but on your budget.....

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Posted by MADMAC on 18/3/2011 at 10:15

Exacto and C - thanks for the info on both counts. They both work for me in different ways (my wife likes the beach I like Issan). Good places to know.

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Posted by Thomas922 on 19/3/2011 at 05:11

OP...adding have to double your price to even get something habitable. If you go to the places mentioned in the last few posts you may get some good scenery. Many people want that pure white sand perfect blue that you can find in places in the Caribbean, and some islands in the Pacific, but in Thailand most of the best places are touristy or bought up by the big resorts.
You want to meet other travelers so it is best to stick to the well traveled places. Some of the places you can get a sense of culture are not well traveled nor have much English. The noth is much better for that unless you go to the coastal areas in the south that are not touristed. But the most beautiful places ARE.

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Posted by MADMAC on 19/3/2011 at 16:48

Thomas states this well. You can't have everything. If it's cheap, and it's a nice vista, then you aren't likely to get anything else to go with that. A dirt cheap place where you can meet other tourists but isn't too touristy is not going to exist - as those two things are in conflict with each other.

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Posted by chriswotton on 19/3/2011 at 17:28

Have to echo everything the others have said about how unlikely you are to find somewhere beachfront like you describe for 200B.

Don't write off Koh Pha Ngan - I wouldn't stay in Haad Rin (where the full moon parties take place) if you paid me, but I am a big fan of the Ban Tai area and in particular Mac Bay resort. You can get a beachfront bungalow - literally a few feet from the water's edge - for 500B, with fan, hammock and cold water shower. There's also a beautiful pool and a decent restaurant, with plenty more options a short walk away. Diving can be arranged nearby, though many options will take you to Koh Tao or at least to Sail Rock (between Tao and Pha Ngan) as the diving is better there. I don't dive so afraid I can't help pricing wise.

Aside from Mac Bay itself having a lovely atmosphere - both friendly staff in a family-run, fairly Thai-feeling place, and enough western tourists if you're looking to meet others - Ban Thai is low key enough to feel at least a bit villagey. Okay, so it's still a touristed island and you'll have no problem speaking English wherever you go, but you can still feel far away enough from what you might have come to expect from Koh Pha Ngan as a whole. Ban Thai is also only a short distance by shared songthaew taxi from Haad Rin if you do fancy a fire show and a vodka red bull bucket.

A word of warning - Mac Bay plays host to the Black Moon party once a month, right on the beach in front of that dream bungalow I've been selling you. Might not what be what you're after, so do check your dates :)

I also think Gratorn is spot on about the lack of a genuine Thai feel to the islands - not the case everywhere obviously, but by and large very true in my experience to date.

Enjoy the trip - I've just come back from another visit to Thailand (though not the south this time) and am very jealous that you are headed there so soon!

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Posted by GBnuva on 22/3/2011 at 03:19

Hey guys!

Thanks for your contribution and for all the comments and suggestions.

At first I was leaning for either Indonesia or Thailand and from the quick research I did, there seemed to be $5 beachfront places in Indonesia. I expected the same from Thailand. So Indonesia is cheaper than Thailand now?

When I mentioned a non-touristic place, I simply meant not a in heart of tourism like say Bali or Ko Phi Phi. A place where tourists go, but still relatively quiet.

@ exacto. Your suggestion sounds great. Definitely a keeper. thanks :)

FYI, I wanted to avoid places with pools or other "luxuries" like a furnished apartments. I'm looking for a very basic little hut, on the beach, away from anything that looks like a city, etc.

If these less basic places are around 500B (chriswotton's recommandation), there should be more basic accommodations for less, no?

Since I'm leaving for at least 6 months in Asia, my accommodation budget needs to stay low and if not, it would put a serious doubt in my ability to stay as long as a I want.

I would appreciate any other input.
Thanks again for your precious help

#14 GBnuva has been a member since 4/3/2011. Posts: 3

Posted by chriswotton on 22/3/2011 at 03:30

Just down the road from Mac Bay is Two Rocks Bungalows, which has very basic huts for 300B per night, but when I say basic I mean basic, and for comfort's sake it's not somewhere I can happily recommend - if you really want to do things on a tight budget then it'll pass, but I would personally be happier paying the extra 200B per night up the road.

I think others would agree that the existence of slightly less basic places (or rather, basic places with nice amenities like pools) for around 500B doesn't necessarily mean there are an abundance of cheaper, more basic places - the islands' development tends to go in favour of demolishing older, cheaper huts and replacing them with at least slightly higher end places.

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Posted by MADMAC on 22/3/2011 at 17:44

Yep, Chris is right. Thailand is no longer what I would term as a developing country, rather it is a recently developed country. It's not super cheap anymore (although the costs are uneven, some things being quite inexpensive). Places that are insanely gourgeous with crappy little huts as an accomodation choice on the Islands are going to be VERY few and far between, if they exist at all. Such places will have long since been upgraded. I don't know how the cost of living is in Indonesia, so I can't comment on that. But even here in Mukdahan, which is on the Laos border deep in Isaan (one of the poorer parts of Thailand) we don't have anything for 200 baht a night (although you could rent an apartment for 3,000 a month).

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Posted by SBE on 23/3/2011 at 11:02

Like others have said, your wish list is unrealistic. Thailand has a massive tourist industry. Thousands and thousands of other tourists want exactly the same thing as you do (insanely gorgeous island and beach front accommodation) and they are prepared to pay a lot more than you are.

If money is your main concern and you're willing to compromise on the "insanely gorgeous" bit then Ko Phayam may be a good option. Phayam is relatively unspoilt and still has lots of wildlife ... loads of birds including many hornbills, monkeys in the places with some jungle left, butterflies.... and a thriving snake population, including lots of cobras. There are only a few roads and no cars on the island (but plenty of motorbikes).

Accommodation is cheaper than the other islands mentioned above and there are a couple of dive shops so you could learn to dive there too.

The island does have some drawbacks however. First, the sea there is very silty so visibility is terrible, often no more than a meter. It's hard to see any coral or fish. Also the water often has stingers (microscopic jellyfish larva). They aren't dangerous but the stinging sensation they cause can make swimming very unpleasant or even impossible at times. There are also lots of sandflies which give you itchy bites and take a long time to heal. There are also plenty of mosquitoes and cases of dengue are fairly common, especially in rainy season. At low tide the beaches tend to be silt rather than sand and on some beaches the water goes out a very long way, meaning it's only deep enough for swimming for a few hours a day.

On the other hand the beaches aren't very crowded and it's still possible to find beach accommodation for under 100B on the most popular beach (Ao Yai). For that price expect VERY basic and a communal toilet. Decent beach huts with private bathrooms can be had for 300B and you'll probably be able to get a discount if you stay a month. You haven't mentioned when you're going but you could get even cheaper accommodation if you're not going in high season, roughly mid December to the end of March. It does rain a lot there in low season mind you...Ranong province has the highest rainfall in Thailand.

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Posted by swag on 23/3/2011 at 11:27

I must admit I giggled a lot when I read the op. Insanely gorgeous beachfront bungalow no tourists for $5 a night.Sounds like Chaweng beach on Samui 25 years ago. Aaah the memories.Seriously either pay a little more and stay a little less. Anyway maybe Prachuap Kiri Khan places available 300thb hook up with a local to give you a lift to the beach each day. At least you'll be seeing some real Thailand. Hope that didn't sound too cynical

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