In June 2013 work began on the small stretch of road just before Than Sadet that remained dirt track. When it is completed (due 1st October) it will open up the east coast of Koh Phangan to further tourist development.
At present it is only the Thong Nai Pan area that has luxury hotels and a mass tourist appeal. However, this situation could all change within a few years. The west and south coasts suffer from large tidal differences. In the high season of July and August the sea recedes a long way at low tide. It means people have to walk 1 km out to be able to swim. Although beaches like Haad Salad and Haad Yao on the west coast have coral reefs and diving and snorkelling opportunities, for those just wanting a swim these beaches are far from ideal. The best swimming beaches are definitely on the east coast in places like Thong Nai Pan, Than Sadet, Haad Nam Tok, Haad Thian and Haad Yao East. It is these pristine beaches with great swimming conditions that developers will be looking to build hotels and luxury resorts on.
Koh Phangan Airport is under construction and due to be finished in late 2013 or early 2014. With a good road linking the airport to the east coast beaches it is only a matter of time before people stop looking at Ban Tai and Haad Rin and start casting their attention to the eastern beaches.
In Snowdonia in Wales high gates have been placed in the park that are commonly referred to as ‘granny stops’. They are designed to deter the masses from over-running the national park. Only the better and fitter climbers and walkers make it over the high gates to enjoy certain parts of the park. This is to protect the environment.
The bad condition of the Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road was in effect a ‘granny stop’ that held in check mass tourism and large scale development projects. When the 3.75 km part of the road is paved the granny stop will be removed and more people will start to explore the beautiful east coast.
The least well known beaches in Koh Phangan are set, in a few years, to become the best known. That is ‘progress’.