Big review sites like Trip Advisor and Agoda are a mixed bag. They are internet businesses first and foremost. They use other people’s content – namely reviews of hotels, restaurants, activities etc. and place these between several columns offering ads and booking services for hotels. Thanks to cookies these sites will monitor your visits and make what they think are appropriate suggestions to you. On the positive side, these sites do give people access to lots of comments that can give them a clue as to the level of amenities and services they can expect to get.
Trip Advisor recently got in trouble for its automated comment system when it was found that hotel owners were being blackmailed into giving discounts under the threat of people writing negative reviews.
This is just one problem with review sites. The other is that owners of hotels, tour companies, restaurants etc. can post glowing reviews of their own business and can say nasty things about their competitors. For hostel booking sites this seems to be the case in the highly competitive hostel market in South America. Comments about hostels vary from saying the bed linen was filthy to saying it’s the best hostel in so and so place. There seems to be no middle ground, and even taking into account that people value different things, it smells of manipulation.
www.phanganaccommmodation.net/information isn’t really a review site in the conventional sense. We don’t encourage people to send us reviews. We don’t collate and give out a star system. Not only does this technology need large bandwidth, but we also think the need for such reviews is indicative of a general problem with tourism in the Twenty-first Century. People are letting their perceptions be guided too much, they view going on holiday like buying a flat screen TV – you read the reviews, look at the prices and listen to the spiel of the shop rep and then hand over your credit card.
All the beaches of Koh Phangan are worth visiting. They all have their charms, and they all have their drawbacks. Thong Nai Pan Noi is lovely but overpriced. Haad Rin is lively but too noisy and crowded. The west coast beaches from Hin Kong to Srithanu are relaxed but have a big tidal difference and aren’t great for swimming.
The businesses in Koh Phangan vary from day to day. Even the promise of international brands such as Anantara (Rasananda on Thong Nai Pan Noi) and Best Western (Phanganburi in Haad Rin) cannot entirely rein in the problems of staff going walk about, the food being sometimes below par, the rooms not being cleaned thoroughly, the accounts being done accurately, the taxi arriving on time, the renovations being carried out on time. Thailand simply is not Europe, and even Koh Samui with its pretensions to high standards isn’t much better. Expectations have to be adjusted for Thailand in general and Koh Phangan in particular. It is a magical place with stunning natural scenery. It is a place where you can eat fresh fish and good Thai food. You can buy overpriced red wine. You can get slow internet. You can rent a motorbike or Jet Ski and have a great time as long as you don’t put a scratch on it.
In short, reviews of Koh Phangan businesses, services and activities should be taken with a pinch of salt. The best reviews are by friends who can give you an honest opinion. Moreover, it is important that when you go on holiday you leave Europe, Australia, Canada, and the States behind and enjoy Thai culture and not expect a ‘home away from home’. The hospitality might be this but most other things will have a strong ‘Thai’ gloss.
Anyway for those interested here are Trip Advisor’s lists for Koh Phangan:
Hotels in Koh Phangan
1 Seaview Bungalows – Than Sadet
2 Anantara Rasananda – Thong Nai Pan Noi
3 Sea Scene Resort – Plaay Laem
4 Sunset Cove Resort – Chao Phao
5 Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa – Thong Nai Pan Noi
B&Bs in Koh Phangan
1 Blue Ocean Garden Beach Resort – Chao Phao
2 Nice Sea Resort – Srithanu
3 Blue Lotus Resort – Bankai
Restaurants in Koh Phangan
1. Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar – Ban Tai
2. Again and Again – Thong Nai Pan Noi
3 Beachlounge – Thong Sala