Easy to get to via the pier, we took the fast boat over 350BHT and someone we had met in Ranong called 'Waan' had her sister from Saithong Bungalows to meet us at the pier. Saithong Bungalows is right next door to Mr Gao's. We got a hut right in front, and it was about 5 steps to the sandy beach. This was home for the next 20 days. The huts are basic but fine. I did think the cleanliness of the bathroom was poor tho and they could have definitely done with buying a new toilet seat. We got given one change of towels and bedding in 20 days. However, I realise you pay for what you get and at 300BHT per night for 20 nights we had a good deal!! If you don't like gheckos pooping on you, big spiders and other various insects, you might want to pay around the 600BHT mark for something better. The people that run these bungalows were reasonably friendly at first then ... we'll let's say we felt more welcomed next door by Geck at Mr Gao's when we ate at their restaurant. Saithong could definitely take a lesson from Mr Gao's on how to treat their customers!
Fantastic beach where we saw otters, sea eagles, crabs, squirrels, beautiful butterflies of all different shapes and colours and frogs etc.
Its about a 20-30 minute walk into the shops at the pier from Saithong or Mr Gao's, good exercise!! You can rent bikes for 200BHT a day for short periods. That gives you an automatic one. The manual ones are 100-150BHT depending on how long you want to rent them. I found the best and cheapest place to rent them was the supermarket at the start of the road to Aow Yai beach. Good value and good bikes and no paperwork!! Yeah!!
Plenty of internet cafes around at 2BHT per minute.
The sea water is not as clean as Australia's (just using as a comparison!) and sometimes the plankton is around and stings you. A lot of people say this island is like Koh Samui in the 80's, however having being in Koh Samui in the early 80's the only comparison I can make is that neither had electricity and there the comparison ends. After visiting Aow Yai Beach I would say Mr Goa's is the best for location and things to do, however this is not a surf beach. It also has the least problems with sandflies and mossies. If you are looking for a more upmarket experience Phayam cottages looked really good, with a big swimming pool and their own fast boat to get you from Ranong to Koh Phayam. (I know that, cause I saw the boat leaving Ranong as I got in this morning!)
I was told there were no cars on the island, but the guy who fixes the motor bikes got one in. However the island people had a big 'pow wow' and he was told he couldn't use it on the 'roads'. We didn't see it after a couple of days, so I guess he sent it back to the mainland. I still wonder how he got it on the island in the first place!
I visited a couple of so called 'eco resorts', PP Land and Kwang Peep. I could not see any 'eco' things about either of these places apart from the fact that PP Land was growing some of its own food. The beach it faced was full of rubbish, not very pleasant at all. Whilst their bungalows looked good, there was no vegetation inbetween them, making them look a bit sparse with not much privacy. The food, by the way at PP Land was very poor, and I heard the same from 2 other sources as well. We ordered a tuna salad sandwich and a cheese sandwich. The sandwhich was very small, stale bread and was swimming in mayonnaise 155BHT!. PP Land is an easy walk to the shops and pier, its not as far away as it looks on the maps. Kwang Peep, however is far enough away from everything that it would be best to rent a bike for the whole time.
There are probably better choices than Sabai Sabai and the new resort Blue Sky which are stuck in a mangrove and have heaps of mossies and worse, sandflies.
All of the restaurants we ate at, had mostly the same things on their menus, however we did find a couple of gems on the island. Multi Kulti by the pier serves great tasting pizza's. There was a vegetarian restaurant on the way to Aow Kai beach (A small green sign on wood with 'Vegetarian' on the right hand side of the road before the bridge to the beach). Its opposite a small market and has a library of books out the back. I can attest to this being the best bread I have tasted in Thailand so far, and the best chocolate brownie as well (We'll it was my birthday after all!!). The food on this island is more expensive than Ranong, budget about 300BHT a day per person, more if you are a big eater.
We took the slow boat back 150BHT and would highly recommend taking it. In fact if I went back I would always use the slow boat unless I was in a hurry. It was a cloudy and rainy day the day we took this but still enjoyed it.
Just a few helpful hints - make sure you have plenty of sarongs, plenty of suntan lotion (is around 350 - 500BHT on the island) and spray for mozzies and sandflies. We used up 3 in 20 days.
New buildings are going up all over the island, and I don't think this place will be without electricity for much longer the way things are going, So if you want to see this place before that happens I suggest you get there within the next 2 years. This is a good place to slow/wind down and there is lots to do.
On a last note, I really like Ranong and am spending a couple more days here before I'm off to Nong Khai up north. Food is cheap and its a chance to get the feel of a real untouristy Thai place. With the exception of the pier, no touts here, in fact couldn't get one motor bike taxi to give us a ride this morning!! What a refreshing change! Highly recommend the LeSurin Chalet to stay at. It is the higher end at 500BHT per night, but is real value for money. Looks like they are closing one of the roads here for a big market tonight so am looking forward to that!!