Ko Phra Thong is one of the least developed islands in Thailand from both the domestic and tourist points of view. When I visited in March 2011 there was one high end beach villa place, two budget bungalow joints with another soon to open, and a village home stay operation. Domestic activity seemed mainly confined to a couple of fishing villages. I only saw one small agricultural operation. This is the place to go for those wanting to get right away from it all.
Phra Thong is a reasonable size at around 100 sq miles and is mainly sand deposits in the west and extensive mangroves in the east. Similar Ko Kho Khao is directly south and the mountainous and rainforested national park island of Ko Ra is just north. The Surin s are about 40km west.
The west coast of Phra Thong is an attractive 15km of mostly deserted beach. About one third of the way from the north end the beach is broken by a small attractive sandy bay - the tourist accommodation (apart from Lions' Village home-stay) is clustered both sides of this bay but on the main beach, not the bay .
The rather exclusive Golden Buddha Resort has 25 beach houses spread along a big compound behind the beach to the north of the bay.
There are 3 budget places to the south of the bay, Mr Choui's (say Chewy), Nature Beach and No Name - it was not quite ready to open and the owner told me he hadn't decided on a name yet. There is also a pretty neat little beach bar in this area.
Blue Guru Diving has a dive shop on the beach nearer Golden Buddha Resort - associated with Golden Buddha but also able to arrange accommodation at one of the cheaper options such as Mr Chuoi's or the Lions' Village homestay. It can also do this for non divers. Google Blue Guru's website “KO PHRA THONG” - probably the best all round website on the island and is not confined to diving activities. Besides being in such a laid back location, this outfit has the advantage of closest dive operation to the world class Surin islands and Richelieu Rock.
There are only a few villages on Phra Thong. The biggest and main entry point to the island is what the tourist web pages call Baan Phra Thong. Baan Lions in the north was rebuilt post tsunami by the Lions Club international with help from the Swiss government. There is also a small village at the southern pier.
Roads are narrow concrete tracks just wide enough for a 4 wheeled vehicle (although I saw only one, connected with a road maintenance gang). These paved roads are mainly confined to the north half of the island. Other areas have narrow unpaved tracks, often sandy.
The mainland base for Phra Thong is Kuraburi on the coastal highway about 4 hours north of Phuket/1.5 from Khao Sok. Kuraburi is better known as the base for the Surin islands.
Blue Guru's website talks of chartering a longtail which costs 1700 to Golden Buddha and 1400 to Lions' Village. Mr Chuoi can arrange one for 1000 from the mangrove "pier" (70b motorcycle-taxi from town) a long way south of the main Kuraburi pier. For one person only he can arrange a 400b “banana boat” - a super small awesomely fast long tail with room for the driver and one passenger - to pick up from the same pier. Mr Chuoi waits at the Phra Tong end for free transport to his joint.
No doubt other places can do the same.
I came back on a public long tail at 730am for 300b including Songhaew to Kuraburi. Like a dummy I didn't ask what time this boat returned to the island. Maybe there is no set time. Maybe it doesn’t run every day. I didn't see anything about this boat in my research prior the trip.
I'll do a report on Mr Chuoi's and impressions of the other joints on the PLACES WE MISSED page.
Great report tezza - thanks.
We almost bought into Golden Buddha when we still lived in Thailand. Couldn't quite get the cash together then a year later much of it was washed away by the tsunami. Probably good we didn't buy as we would have been there for it.
Regardless a great island. Did you do a trip up to Ko Ra? That's another very very impressive island.
I had Ko Ra pencilled in - apparently there is a not too expensive eco resort there - but I ran short of time.
One for a future trip - where I'lll try to get back to the Surins just to see if National Parks has lifted its game at the camp-sites.
Chris who runs Blue Guru just emailed me that the public boat's timing depends on high tide. I assume that is high tide at the mainland mangrove "pier" - the town pier on the island would not have this problem.
Now high tide comes roughly an hour later each day so no strict timetable can be given. Because the boat has to get in and out it is probably timed to arrive an hour or two before peak tide and leave the same gap after.
Chris told me it got too hard to co-ordinate this variable timing plus transport from town with incoming people which is why his website now only quotes the 1400/1700 job. He also told me he hopes Baan Lions will organise a direct cheap public boat from the mainland sometime soon.