Haad Yao Accommodation Update 2017

Sun Moon Star Resort

Sun Moon Star Resort

The Thai Baht has dropped in value against the US dollar. Whereas, traditionally the Baht hovered around 30 Thai Baht to a dollar it is now 35 Thai Baht to one dollar. The strengthened dollar has meant many accommodation providers have been able to drop their prices. This is good news for Americans. Not so good news for Brits whose wrecking-ball referendum on the European Union has seen the British pound fall further back against the Baht. The focus of this post will not be on currency fluctuations but on how the public see the resorts and hotels in Haad Yao. Which businesses have impressed and which disappointed.

Rising Standards

Euphoria Bungalow has made modest progress on Trip Advisor going from 120 to 116 in the speciality lodging category. The bungalow outfit has received its first Agoda rating and enters the Agoda rating system at a generous 6.8.

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort has done well on Trip Advisor – it has gone from 55th to 31st best speciality lodging in Koh Phangan. Despite that its Agoda rating out of ten has dropped slightly from 6.5 to 6.4.

Another Trip Advisor success story is Haad Yao Sunset Bungalow that moved from 84 to 75 in the best B&B category. The budget bungalow outfit has also got its first Agoda ranking – 7.3

Sun Moon Star Resort has now the most expensive ‘low end’ accommodation with prices starting at 1,700 Thai Baht. The villa resort has gone from 9th best B&B in Koh Phangan to 7th best. Its Agoda ranking remains at an impressive 9.1. Clearly they are treating their guests well!

Another top end place to do well is See Through Boutique Resort, also in the B&Bs and inns category, it has risen from 56th to 46 on Trip Advisor. It has also improved its Agoda score from 7.3 to 7.4. And more good news – See Through Boutique has lowered its prices.

Long Bay Resort had a good year. In 2016 the resort ranked 50th in the Trip Advisor hotel rankings. In 2017 it made it to 40th. However, its Agoda scored dropped slightly from 7.6 to 7.5. Prices have gone up at Long Bay Resort primarily because the fan bungalows have been upgraded to air-con. Shame for the environment.

Falling Standards

Sadly, the list of establishments offering accommodation with falling Trip Advisor and Agoda ratings is longer.

Baan Haad Yao Villas dropped from 181st to 231st best speciality lodging in Koh Phangan according to Trip Advisor. It did, however, improve its Agoda score from 6.6 to 6.7

Easy Life Bungalows has had a number of negative reviews and has fallen from 84th best speciality lodging to 209th. This is reflected in a falling Agoda score that in a year has gone from 6.7 to 6.5.

Haad Yao Bay View Resort, one of the few places classified as a hotel by Trip Advisor went down from 63rd best hotel in Koh Phangan to 74th. The Agoda ranking remains unchanged at 7.3.

Haad Yao Bungalows drops 7 places in the Trip Advisor B&B category from 26th to 32nd. Despite this, the Agoda rating went up over the year from 6.9 to 7.1.

Haad Yao Resort fell from 70th position in the hotel list for Koh Phangan to 77th according to Trip Advisor. The Agoda score also dropped from 7.1 to 6.8.

A similar year long record is available for Haad Yao Villa – it dropped from 110th best speciality lodging to 137th. Its Agoda rating also dropped from 7.9 to 7.6.

In the same category is Seaboard Bungalows. It fared no better over 2016. It is now in 2017 at 57 in the lodging section. It was 46 in 2016. Agoda rated the resort as 7.5 in 2016 and only 7.3 in 2017. The good news is that Seaboard Bungalows has dropped its room prices slightly.

Conclusion

Prices remain competitive in Haad Yao. There are still plenty of cheaper fan bungalows to rent despite the near axiomatic business notion in Koh Phangan that upgrading accommodation is the way forward.

Considering the number of resorts and hotels in Haad Yao that have seen both their Trip Advisor and Agoda rankings diminish accommodation owners and managers in Haad Yao might be better served by another business axiom – the customer is always right

Review of House People

housepeople

House People refers not to people enjoying 4/4 beat dance music but the name of a new restaurant in Haad Yao that has excellent reviews since opening.

House People is located on the main road that runs parallel to the Haad Yao beach. House People is located on the beach side of the road, about half way up the beach. See the location map below.

The owners at this restaurant work very hard to cook tasty Thai fusion food and serve it with a smile. They make their food from fresh ingredients and to order. The team provide excellent service. Sometimes the food can be a little bit long coming out, but this reflects that the food is cooked to order rather than heated up or microwaved.

The menu has Thai favourites such as Penang curry and red curry. Many dishes combine these delicious sauces with fresh seafood. They also do mean burgers for those who need a break from spicy food. There is also a sandwich menu and pasta menu.

housepeople2

The restaurant is a large open space with a typical Thai style thatch roof. It has plenty of seating for guests. There is also a bar for those who prefer to sit at the bar and chat.

Early evening they often have a 2 for 1 happy hour. They also do mean cocktails. The restaurant has plenty of nice seating areas for relaxing. There is usually some chilled music. For this reason House People is a also a popular spot for evening drinks in Haad Yao.

House People is open 7 days a week from 3 pm to 11.30 pm. As a sample for prices, Rama 5 King Burger costs 140 Thai Baht, Pasta Carbonara 170 Thai Baht and 1 litre bottle of house wine 320 Thai Baht.

housepeopledrinks

Location

Reviews

House People curate their Trip Advisor listing and look to be pro-active regarding feedback. They have quickly reached number 3 in the best restaurants in Koh Phangan list. Nearly all the reviews are positive. Only 1 review at the time of writing rated the restaurant as ‘poor’.

Telephone: +66 99 330 9582
Facebook: www.facebook.com/phanganhousepeople

Rating Changes for Haad Yao Accommodation in 2016

reviews

Every year I try to give myself an hour or so to see how Agoda and Trip Advisor ratings have changed over the last year for various resorts and hotels in Koh Phangan. I recently performed this task for Haad Yao. Below are my observations.

Firstly, it is noticed that generally resort ratings decrease over time. This is not primarily, I suspect, down to bad service or churlish managers. Rather, resorts get a bit run down over time: facilities break down, holes appear where mosquitoes and insects can get in and paint peels and fades. It is customary for a resort to be renovated or completely re-built every 10 years or so in Koh Phangan where the sea air takes its toll on facilities. In the old days the wooden bungalows that used to be the prevalent accommodation option in Koh Phangan would be allowed to get really tatty before being torn down and re-built usually with an upgrade to increase revenue.

My second observation is that Trip Advisor ratings are effected not only by how well the resort is perceived by guests but also by the amount of competition. Every year Trip Advisor includes further hotels, lodges and inns to its lists. The effect is often to amplify the nose dive of position. Agoda that uses an aggregate score out of 10 doesn’t have this problem.

Thirdly, it is very possible for a resort to improve its Agoda rating but lose ground in its Trip Advisor position. It seems contradictory, and should instruct us all to take these things with a pinch of salt. After all we know that resort owners and managers have a history of giving themselves good reviews and their competitors bad ones.

Winners

Agoda

Haad Yao Resort went from 7 to 7.1
Seaboard Bungalows rose slightly from 7.4 to 7.5

Trip Advisor

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort jumped from #109 to #55 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
Euphoria Bungalows jumped from #141 to #120 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
See Through Boutique Resort went from #60 to #56 out of #116 Inns and B&Bs
Haad Yao Bungalows did well to go from #55 to #26 out of #116 Inns and B&Bs

Losers

Agoda

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort went from 6.8 to 6.5
Sun Moon Star Resort dropped slightly from 9.2 to 9.1

Trip Advisor

Sun Moon Star Resort fell from #7 to #9 out of 116 B&Bs and Inns
Haad Yao Resort fell from #66 to #70 out of 90 hotels
Baan Haad Yao Villas down from #146 to #181 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
Haad Yao Villa went from #82 to #110 out of #273 Speciality Lodges

Other results include non-movers and those new places without listings on Agoda and/or Trip Advisor. Agoda ratings usually go up or down by just 0.1. The exception is Haad Yao Over Bay Resort that lost 0.2 points. More dramatic are Trip Advisor ratings: Baan Haad Yao Villas dropped 35 places; Haad Yao Villa fell 28 spots; Euphoria Bungalows rose by 21 positions; and most impressively Haad Yao Over Bay Resort went up 54 places.

Perhaps the most interesting stat is that it isn’t the most expensive resort that gets the best review scores. Sun Moon Star Resort has rooms starting at 1,500 Thai Baht a night and yet it is the 9th best inn in Koh Phangan and has an Agoda rating of 9.1

Crave Menu

The Scandal

The Scandal

Crave has become one of the leading restaurants on Koh Phangan in terms of popularity. The restaurant in Haad Yao serves large portions, uses the best ingredients and has friendly and efficient staff. If you are in Haad Yao and want some comfort food, check out Crave. They have their own website. And unlike virtually every other restaurant on Koh Phangan they publish their menu and prices.

Hats off to Crave. Here is the menu for those keen to check out in advance what the restaurant has to offer.

Starters

Homemade fries 80 THB
Green salad and balsamic vinaigrette 80 THB
Jalapenos and cheese quesadilla 140 THB
Chicken nuggets and dips120 THB
Hummus 120 THB
Smoked salmon 150 THB
Falafel plate 130 THB
Chicken wings 130 THB
Poutine (French fries, gravy and cheese) 130 THB

Burgers and Sandwiches (add 50 THB for a side of poutine)

The Classic 180 THB
The Cheesy cheddar 200 THB
The Hotty 200 THB
The Vic’s (with blue cheese) 210 THB
The Med (with feta, olives & hummus) 210 THB
The Deluxe (with bacon and blue cheese) 220 THB
The Crave (with onion rings and bacon) 220 THB
The Sweet Pete (with pineapple) 200 THB
The Surf and Turf (with cream cheese & smoked salmon) 250 THB
The Animal (with 2 beef patties, coleslaw, egg & crispy onions) 250 THB
The Fat Betty (with 2 beef patties and cheddar cheese) 260 THB
The Scandal (with 2 beef patties, mozzarella, double bacon & fried onions) 300 THB
Pulled Pork Sandwich (with mozzarella) 200 THB

Kids Meals (served with fries)

Mini burger 140 THB
Mini chicken nuggets 130 THB

Salads

Cesar salad

Cesar salad

Tuna salad 180 THB
Greek salad 170 THB
Caesar salad 180 THB
Mixed salad 180 THB
Med salad (chicken or tuna) 200 THB

Meals

BBQ Sangsom pork ribs 230 THB
White flesh fish fillet 220 THB
Beef tartare 240 THB
Beef kabab wrap or falafel wrap 200 THB

Desserts

Key lime mousse

Key lime mousse

Ice cream 80 THB
Warm apple crumble 100 THB
Key lime mousse 100 THB
Chocolate brownie (with ice cream) 110 THB
Carrot cake 110 THB
New York cheese cake 130 THB

Apnea Koh Phangan – Freediving School in Haad Yao

Apnea Koh Phangan is a freediving school located in Baan Haad Yao Villas on Haad Yao beach. For those not familiar with freediving, it doesn’t refer to a diving school without charges, but to a type of diving that doesn’t use scuba equipment. It is an amazing experience to dive without the encumbrances of air tank, BCD etc..

For those who haven’t tried freediving the most common concern is the lack of potential under-surface time. Why not use scuba equipment? Through breathing techniques Apnea Koh Phangan instructors guarantee that at the end of the day you will be able to hold your breath for at least 3 minutes.

There is a Discover Freediving Course available for beginners to the sport. Currently, for 4,500 Thai Baht Apnea Koh Phangan offers a day course that includes tuition, equipment rental and a dive trip to Sail Rock, the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand. On this introductory course customers get to experience depths up to 12 meters. They also get expert tuition in the following areas:

  • Introduction to freediving and the different disciplines
  • Familiarisation with equipment
  • Duck-dives – Effective underwater entry technique
  • Kicking technique
  • Equalisation techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Recovery breathing
  • Hydration and diet

If you like freediving the first day can be counted towards a 2-day course leading to certification in freediving.

Another option is the Static Apnea Clinic. This is another 1 day course which is about holding your breath. It is guaranteed that at the end of the day you will be able to hold your breath under water for at least 3 minutes. This course includes lots of tips for mind and body control as well as suggestions for future training to further extend breath-hold capability.

Just as with PADI scuba shops there are longer courses available for those who wish to qualify as an instructor.

For those interested in finding more out about freediving in Haad Yao here are the contact details for Apnea Koh Phangan:

Address: Baan Haad Yao Villas, Haad Yao, Koh Phangan
Phone: +66 923 801 494
Facebook: www.facebook.com/apneakohphangan
E-mail: info@apneakohphangan.com

So if you are holidaying in Haad Yao or elsewhere on Koh Phangan, and you want to try something a bit different then check out freediving with Apnea Koh Phangan. They are a professional and certified outfit that will allow you to not only see the underwater beauty of the Gulf of Thailand but also help you discover your limits and understand that they lie further that you thought.

We at Haad Yao Guide recommend you head over to the Apnea Koh Phangan website to find out more about freediving and the Apnea Koh Phangan team.

How Do You Rate Haad Yao?

haad-yao-at-night

For those aficionados of Koh Phangan it is a moot point to declare the best beach. Is it Thong Nai Pan Noi? Is it Haad Yao? Is it one of those obscure beaches on the east coast where they do colonic irrigations? Or is it Haad Rin Nok, the Full Moon Party beach? It is very much open to debate. A great beach isn’t just the sand, sea and palm trees. Often people are attracted to the atmosphere of a beach location just as much as the natural beauty of a place.

This is where Haad Yao scores so highly. Yes, it is a beautiful long beach with soft white sand; yes the palms tower into the sky; and yes the distant mountains display vast virgin forest. But that isn’t the whole story. People love Haad Yao because it is just at that right level of development. You can find cheaper wooden bungalows as well more luxury rooms. The beach front hasn’t been taken over by 2 or 3 large businesses. There is still room for the locals and the proverbial ‘little man’ to set up a reggae bar, a mom and pops shop or a little restaurant.

Along Haad Yao beach as well as back in the village there is an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, shops and massage houses. There are local characters. There is a feeling of staying in a little community of beach folk when you go to Haad Yao.

At dusk the beach gets lit up with lights, cool music can be heard mingling with the sound of the surf and the cocktails are downed while everyone looks out to sea and the invariably fantastic sunset. No doubt at any given time many of these sunset gazers are wishing that their holiday didn’t have to end so quickly.

If you want to go back then you know it is a great beach.

Although Trip Advisor ratings go up and down as new entries are posted it seems that the general consensus is that Haad Yao is one of the best beaches in Koh Phangan. Only Thong Nai Pan Noi, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Haad Yuan and Haad Salad came out with a higher rating in the ‘Things to Do’ list. Haad Yao was rated much higher than Haad Rin, Than Sadet and Jungle Experience.

Latest News on Koh Phangan Parties

There has been a lot of uncertainty over the last few months regarding the fate of the numerous parties in Koh Phangan. Many people visiting Haad Yao hope to attend at least one big party during their stay on the island. In order to clarify the situation I have summerised the situation as I see it.

The party scene peeked in 2014 prior to the military take-over. At that time Koh Phangan had a big outdoor event virtually every week. Near the Full Moon Party the parties were coming thick and fast (especially around the jungle at Ban Tai) as people sought to cash in on the increased visitors, many of whom were forced to stay in Koh Phangan for a few days due to compulsory minimum stays at hotels and resorts.

At that time the Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party, Black Moon Culture, Jungle Experience, Shiva Family, Rhythm and Sands and Sramanora Waterfall Party along with club events at Ku Club, Club 9 and Merkaba vied for the raver crowd Baht. 2013 and 2014 seemed years when any bar, club or dance event could be introduced into the Koh Phangan dance scene with a fair chance of success.

Then in the autumn of 2014 the Thaksin government was ousted and the new military regime soon embarked upon a self-imposed crusade to clean up Thailand. This was given more urgency by the tragic death of a British couple on the neighbouring island of Koh Tao. The young couple were at an all-night party. The party culture of drugs and laissez faire island politics was exposed and the loss of international face meant the junta imposed a ban on Koh Phangan parties (excepting the Full Moon Party).

The ban was lifted for the peak Christmas / New Year season in 2014. Encouraged by the seeming softening attitude by the authorities in Bangkok, the organisers of the Half Moon Party published a full schedule of parties complete with DJ line-ups booked until autumn 2015. They also increased their entry fee to 1,000 THB (expect reductions during the low seasons). It is telling that Black Moon Culture, Jungle Experience and Shiva Family have both remained silent about their next all-night, outdoor parties.

Recently the municipal authorities organised Koh Phangan’s first ‘Colour Moon Festival’. It was a show case for Thai culture and local crafts along with food stalls. It was a far cry from the booze and drug fuelled parties normally associated with Koh Phangan. It was part of an on-going (and poorly financed) attempt to re-brand the island and attract a different type of tourist.

Thailand Authority of Tourism has always been keen to attract a certain type of tourist – ones that spend big, stay just a few days and stay clear of the illicit attractions of the Kingdom. Rarely does the ideal actually tally with reality. Russians have seen a massive drop in the value of the rouble, and cases of Chinese bad-behaviour on an airplane to Thailand (www.thenanfang.com/blog/land-of-smiles-turns-to-frowns-after-more-misbehaving-chinese-tourists-at-historic-bangkok-site) have meant the right type of tourist stereotype is just that – a stereotype.

Don’t expect those in power to discontinue pushing for re-branding in order to maximise profit and improve image. But also don’t expect the party scene to vanish from Koh Phangan. Money is slow to be spent by the oligarchs on things other than high-end resorts. One sure bet for Koh Phangan is that the Full Moon Party is the golden goose who will be allowed to lay eggs until it dies. Too many livelihoods are connected to the party. At the same time don’t expect a return any time soon to the normal ‘lunacy’.

Reefers Dive Resort

reefers

Reefers Dive Resort markets itself as Koh Phangan’s first fully inclusive 5 star dive resort. We at haadyao.info are not sure what this appellation means but Reefers is a dive shop with a good reputation and they offer diving packages that include accommodation.

Reefers Dive Resort has 2 offices where you can go to enquire about diving. One is behind Haad Yao Bayview Resort the other is next to Seaboard Bungalows on the beach.

The dive school has an impressive set up. They have a 3 meter deep pool as well as a comfortable classroom. There is also a refurbished dive boat that can hold 20 people.

Every day the school organises beach dives and boat dives. The boat dives include lunch. The staff is friendly and they play music on the boat (not to everyone’s delight I am sure).

The full range of PADI dive courses are available starting from beginner and going up to Dive Instructor. If you are interested in a diving career Reefers also offer internships to budding divers. Course numbers are kept low (4 students to 1 instructor) to make sure the students get all the attention they need to gain confidence under the water.

For those with scuba qualifications they also offer Nitrox diving. For kids there is bubblemakers.

You can go to the Reefers website to find their ‘special offers’. For example, at the moment of writing they were offering an Open Water course and 7 nights’ accommodation for 16,400 Thai Baht. This is good value since you can pay 12,000 Thai Baht for just an Open Water Course at other Koh Phangan dive schools.

Currently Reefers Dive Resort is ranked the 7th best activity in Koh Phangan (out of a list of 55 on Trip Advisor). If you take any notice of Trip Advisor reviews you would do well to insist on not diving with Alex. Other people at the school such as Mitch and Viv get much better reviews.

Weddings on the Beach

Wedding on beach
Over the years it has become a fairly common sight to see people celebrate their wedding in Koh Phangan. Some couples come to a beach in Koh Phangan for their honeymoon, others to renew their vows, and others to have their wedding ceremony. I am sure that at some point someone must have got married at the Full Moon Party. Every party I expect there are a few wedding proposals as well. Haad Yao is no exception. Sandy Bay Bungalows has wedding packages to make it easy for people to arrange their big day.

For people who spend their working life in a big city with cold winters and high prices there is something magical about a beach wedding. It is tying the knot in a paradise setting. It is very romantic and the wedding guests can enjoy a beach holiday on a tropical island at the same time.

Sandy Bay Bungalows is a family-run bungalow resort on Haad Yao that has been running since 1985. It is a mid-range resort with swimming pool, restaurant and free wifi. They have cheaper fan bungalows as well as deluxe bungalows with air-con, satellite TV, fridge and safe.

The wedding package offered by Sandy Bay Bungalows offers a profusion of flowers and floral decorations including a floral arch to walk through during the wedding ceremony. They also provide a band for the reception and then later on a DJ with light show. Since this is Koh Phangan they also have a fire dancer.

Wedding guests can sit down to a meal or have a sea food BBQ on the beach. Either option means fine, clean linen and a proper sense of occasion.

Simply contact Sandy Bay Bungalows for more details: sandybay111@hotmail.com or telephone 66 (77) 349119

It should be mentioned that the ceremony is not considered legally binding whether it is performed by a Christian priest or Buddhist monk. In Thailand people have a wedding ceremony but have to go a government office to officially register their wedding. Some do and some don’t.

Number 1 Thai Massage on West Coast

Chantima Massage
There is a certain amount of subjectivity regarding Thai massages: some people like their massage hard and verging on painful; others prefer something gentler. Thai massage probably came into being in the 19th Century as an amalgam of various Thai and Indian massage styles. However, the legend has it that the founder of Thai massage, Shivago Komarpaj, was no other than the physician to the Buddha himself.

All this aside, Chantima at Chantima Holistic Massage claims to be the ‘number 1 qualified teacher in Koh Phangan’. Her massage centre is in Hin Kong, about 10 minutes away from Haad Yao, down the coast.

It is quite a fancy massage house for Koh Phangan with tasteful décor and comfortable furniture. They are at the top end of the price spectrum for massage places in the area. They offer a wide range of spa and beauty treatments as well as traditional Thai massage. You can get a Dead Sea Mud Mask (1,200 THB) and a Himalayan Crystal Rock Scrub (800 THB). They also do foot reflexology and aromatherapy. For the full list of massages and treatments see: http://www.chantimamassage.com/treatments.html.

For those seeking to learn more about Thai massage or to even gain qualifications to practice Thai massage in a commercial milieu, Chantima Holisitc Massage also hold training courses. Below is a list of their course times and prices for 2014.
courses for 2014
It makes a good activity to do on holiday. As with learning Thai cooking, it is a skill you can take away from your holiday and practice at home. Massage can be beneficial to the health, and definitely is a great aid in relaxing and providing relief to over-worked muscles. They also hold courses on aromatherapy and foot reflexology.

If you are staying in Haad Yao and are looking to do something productive with your time, other than work on your tan, checking out Chantima Holisitc Massage is not a bad idea.