Monday, 27 May 2013

Haad Yao East and Than Phraphad Developments

Haad Yao East

Haad Nam Tok waterfall
Haad Yao East and Than Phraphad are small beaches on the East Coast of Koh Phangan that are usually off the radar for visitors to Koh Phangan. One has been sold to a luxury hotel developer and the other is up for sale. Quietly, this part of the island is attracting interest from those wanting to build high-end resorts.

Haad Yao East is largely unheard of because there is another beach on the island called Haad Yao. It is located on the west coast and is a popular holiday destination as it has a 1km long beach and a nearby coral reef. This beach is sometimes called ‘Haad Yao West’.

Than Phraphad is a waterfall and jungle area near Haad Nam Tok. It is a famous beauty spot for Thais but has been largely over-looked by foreign visitors to the island due to its inaccessibility. Moreover the neighbouring waterfall of Than Sadet with its royal connections and better facilities has become part of most boat tours of the island.

It is only with the commencement of construction work on Koh Phangan Airport near Than Phraphad that the area has had any media exposure.

Already some smart investors are beginning to see the potential for the region. It has the best beaches, pristine jungle, spectacular mountain scenery and, most importantly, Thong Nai Pan Noi with its 4 luxury hotels clearly indicates the viability of high-end tourism in the region.

The dozen beaches on the east coast are all owned by local families. It is unusual for ownership to change hands: rather beach land is customarily leased out. Yet already rumor has it that Haad Yao East has been sold and Than Phraphad is up for sale. The success of Thong Nai Pan Noi has not gone unnoticed by the local communities along the east coast of Koh Phangan.

Change will not come immediately. It takes 2 years to make an environmental impact assessment before building work can begin on a resort. Also Koh Phangan Airport is probably 3 to 5 years away from being fully operational. Investment in the region is a mid to long term strategy that requires plenty of financial clout and perseverance. Rasananda in TNP Noi was up and running in just over a year, as was Santhiya. The mooted developments require a different model.

Time will tell, but anyone who has regularly visited Koh Phangan over the last 10 years will tell you how tourism and infrastructure on the island has changed dramatically.

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