Far away from the chaos and noise awaits an enchanting beach. On the Island of Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, you can find the perfect hideaway–Tong Nai Pan Noi. Silky white sands, crystal clear waters…where the sea washes away all your worries.
Please take a moment to enjoy the sights and sounds of paradise:
Many people know Phangan Island (or Koh Phangan) for its wild Full Moon beach parties on the southern end…but this beach gem is isolated on the northeast coast of the island, offering quiet relaxation and rejuvenation. It has gained a reputation as one of the most perfect beaches in Thailand, discretely hidden away and yet just accessible and developed enough to make it convenient and pleasant.
Accommodation: Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas
The Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas offer the beach’s most luxury accommodation, although there are other choices available for different budgets. The following review focuses on my own experience at Anantara Rasananda and a few local restaurants, but I’m confident in this beautiful setting, one can experience the magical charm of Thong Nai Pan Noi beach at many different levels.
Our first visit to Rasananda came three years ago when we stepped off the deluxe speed boat from Samui into the gentle surf, greeted with smiles and fragrant flowers by the entire staff, including the General Manager.
The Anantara offers many units with plunge pools where you can look over the picturesque beach from privacy, or you can chill out under brilliant red canopies on the beach chairs, where the attentive staff caters to all your needs. As a luxury resort, you enjoy many little extra touches of service, such as free drinks to start your day on the beach chairs, occasional offers of free fresh fruit throughout the day, and complimentary liquors in the room.
Anantara has free use of water sport equipment, such as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and even a new stand-up peddle board, for relaxed floating in the well-protected waters of the bay.
The resort recently opened an atmospheric Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, and offers international and Thai dining as well as a large wine selection. They run special events throughout the week to entertain the guests, such as Thai dancing, movie night, and special buffets. To make someone feel really special, you can arrange romantic personalized candlelit beachside dining under a dreamy flowered canopy.
The local scene, especially at night, is quiet, but still offers nice choices for dining or drinking. Close to the beach is a large seafood barbecue restaurant which usually features a live singer or band, and a few nicely appointed bars offering cocktails, local beers, and a small selection of imported beers. Further from the shore, along the single road that accesses the area, one can find a couple of humble places serving Northeast Thai cuisine (which tends to be spicier), as well as other Thai restaurants, the largest of which is probably Jib Shop. A reggae bar, Rasta Baby Bar, tucked up in the tree-covered hill usually has something going on, while a “Mexican” restaurant, Hacienda Happy Days, nearby is often lively with margarita and rum drinkers. One has to appreciate the challenge the Finnish owner of this Mexican restaurant faces, as authentic ingredients are usually impossible to find in Thailand; but the food provides a change in taste, and the avocados made for a fresh guacamole. Just down the road from this establishment are several other excellent fine dining choices offering quality western cuisine, including That’s Amore Pizzeria Trattoria, Valentino Restaurant and Wine Bar, and Luna Restaurant. For cheaper eats, check out the small shacks on the small side road leading to the back of Anantara, where you can order Pad Thai noodles (about 2 USD), mango shake (About 1 USD), or dessert crepes with choices like Nutella, banana, and ice cream (3 USD).
How to Get There
If you can’t afford the rather pricey deluxe speed boat service of the resorts, the best cheap alternative is to take one of the ferry services. Seatran offers passenger-only service from Surat Thani (Donsak Pier) or from Samui. If you want to take a car, you’ll need to use Raja Ferry service, which has trips from Surat Thani, Donsak Pier, every two hours (except over lunch time) starting at 6 am. The trip takes 2.5 hours to Thong Sala pier on the Southwest side of Phangan, but the road across to Thong Nai Pan is very well maintained and takes only about 20 minutes.
It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but of course, that’s the point! Thong Nai Pan Noi is my favorite beach in all of Thailand…I hope you have a chance to taste a little bit of paradise as well!