Saturday, 7 June 2014

Than Sadet

Than Sadet is the most historically important beach on the island on account of it being visited by 3 different kings of Thailand, including the present King Bhumibol and the much revered King Rama V. The latter visited the forest and beach of Than Sadet over 10 times. It is in his honour that the small village was named 'Than Sadet' meaning 'royal river'.

The forest at Than Sadet is protected by national park status. For the time being no big hotels have been built at Than Sadet. It is uncertain that the park status will prevent development in the area. It is hoped that if the local families consent to large-scale development that the national park land is preserved as it makes a gorgeous backdrop to the stunning beach often called Haad Sadet.

The beach is divided into two sections. Just south of the main beach is a smaller beach called Haad Thong Reng. It is also sandy with large rocks strewn around the bay. There is one basic backpacker place to stay. Than Sadet used to be a traveller secret - an awesome beach hidden away from the world with just basic bungalows for rent. It attracted long stay visitors on a budget who wanted a remote beach idyll. It still retains the same feel only now there are air-copn bungalows for rent. Families now stay at Than Sadet. Plaa's, Mai Pen Rai and J.S Hut all welcome families.

The power is still from generators and there is no mobile phone coverage. The road is still a dirt road that gets treacherous after heavy rains. For many this is as it should be. Anyway here is a short movie top give you an idea about what Than Sadet is like.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Haad Khontee

Haad Khontee is part of the Haad Rin peninsula. It is the first beach you encounter as you move north from Haad Rin Nok. You can see the beach from the southern tip of the Full Moon Party Beach. It looks very close and inviting.

Indeed Haad Khontee is only 1 kilometer away as the crow flies. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can walk up Haad Rin Nok and find a trail head leading to the next beach. The mountainous terrain in Koh Phangan means that many of the trails seem counter-intuitive, heading the wrong way. They were established as the easiest way over the rocks and through the jungle.

A good account of how not to get to Haad Khontee is provided in this blog post. Following the coast means scrambling over huge boulders, with the sea crashing all around, as well as forcing your way through thick jungle. Don’t do any hiking in flip flops or without water, sunblock and some snack food.

Always ask a Thai person where a trail starts. The Haad Yuan trail from Haad Rin starts just outside the town. This trail doesn’t go via Haad Khontee. The best options for visiting Haad Khontee is to ask around taxi drivers. The beach was deserted but now has one resort – Khontee Resort. It is a basic bungalow resort composed of wooden bungalows and wooden reception and restaurant. The resort is serviced by a dirt road through the jungle. A decent 4 wheel drive vehicle can do the journey, especially when there isn’t too much mud. The less bumpy option is a taxi longtail boat from Haad Rin Pier.

Haad Khontee

As with the other east coast beaches, Haad Khontee is a gorgeous white sand beach. It’s about 200 meters long. Due to its position and the coastal drift the beach gets lots of drift wood, flotsam and jetsam on the shore. Having the resort on the beach helps to keep it cleaner.

Another thing that should be noted about Haad Khontee is that it is good for swimming near the shore, but don’t try to venture beyond the headland as there are strong currents in the sea. Bungalows at Haad Khontee Resort start at 1,000 Thai Baht a night. It is quite expensive for what you get, but the remoteness and isolation of the beach partly justifies the premium rate. If you stay a few days you might be able to negotiate a room discount.

It is surprising how close Haad Khontee is to the commercial heart of the island, and yet it is one of the least visited and least known about beaches on the island.

Haad Khontee Update

Haad Khontee Resort has closed. All that is left are some wooden bungalows slowly being reclaimed by nature. This makes Haad Khontee a 'free beach'. You could bring a tent or even try to make one of the disused bungalows a temporary shelter.

However, be sure to bring plenty of water, food and other supplies as the nearest shop is either back in Haad Rin or on the next beach up the coast, Haad Yuan.

For those interested in snorkelling, Haad Khontee has a few corals off the coast that are worth exploring. This is one of the few places where you can go snorkelling on the east coast.