Tag Archive for Haad Chao Phao

Belgian Beer Bar


Even though Koh Phangan has a Makro, a Tesco Lotus and boat loads of imported products arriving many of the restaurants on the island are reluctant to leave the tried and tested best sellers such as burger and fries, pizza, pad Thai and green curry. Where ever you go you are sure to find these items along with Singha and Chang beers grabbing your attention when you peruse a menu. Now read these menu items:

Mussels and Belgian fries (‘Moules frites’)
Leffe blond beer
Stassen apple cider
Salade de chêvre chaud
Belgian stew
Carbonade cooked slowly in a dark beer sauce
Beer made by Cistercian monks
Elderflower & Lime Stassen
Charolais steak

Yes, such menu items now exist- they are at Belgian Beer Bar located on Haad Chao Phao.

This is not an easy place to find. Follow the signs to Pirate Bar that you see on the main coastal road on the West Coast, just north of Srithanu. The beaches of Ao Chao Phao and Srithanu (also spelt Seetanu) are separated by a small headland. Confusingly, Belgian Beer Bar is on the premises of Seenatu Bungalows located on Haad Chao Phao. After a large Belgian beer the falsely eponymous nature of the bungalow set up behind the restaurant won’t give you an existential malaise.

Belgian Beer Bar has over 40 Belgian bottled beers and ciders to try. They are not cheap but for many men represent heaven in liquid form. The females in a partnership should not feel brassed off as the menu is quite a thing: big European favourites both as snacking food and entrées. The portions are big and the Belgian chef makes sure standards don’t slip.

This is a small friendly beachfront restaurant and bar. They have chilled music as well as free wifi. There are a few toys knocking around to distract children while they are waiting for their food.

This is a good restaurant that really attempts more sophisticated European cuisine rather than just steaks, burgers and chips. They also serve excellent beers in the glasses designed for them (including the glass horn!). The place is not well sign-posted and a little difficult to get to, but well worth the effort for those who set their sights higher than comfort fast food and Thai standards.

Belgian Beer Bar is open Monday to Sunday 8am to 10pm.


I don’t normally include Trip Advisor snippets on this blog, but I have made an exception in this case:

Dive Sites in Koh Phangan

whale shark

whale shark at Sail Rock

Diving around Koh Phangan is rewarding. You can see a variety of marine life. There are some good corals and the sites aren’t over-crowded with dive boats as they tend to be in Koh Tao which is much more famous for its diving. Generally you can expect to learn how to scuba dive in Koh Phangan in small groups of 4 or 5 people if you choose an operator such as Chaloklum Diving or H20 Scuba School.

The downside about diving near Koh Phangan is that for the seasoned diver the chances of spotting new types of sea fauna are small. The dives aren’t that challenging. The only 5 Star PADI rated dive site in the Gulf of Thailand is Sail Rock. The other famous spots are Ang Thong National Park, Chumphon Pinnacles and Southwest Pinnacles. These sites take an hour or so to get to by standard chug-chug dive boats.

What the diving outfits in Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui are reluctant to tell their customers is that the diving is much better on the other side. That is the Andaman Coast. The Surin Islands and the Similan Islands near Khao Lak offer world class diving. The Similan Islands dive sites are rated by National Geographic Magazine as in the top 10 in the world. To dive these places you have to sign up for a liveaboard trip usually for 2 or 3 nights.

Anyway back to dive sites in Koh Phangan. Here they are:

Koh Ma

Koh Ma is a small island off the north-west coast of Koh Phangan that is joined to the mainland by a sandbank. It is the Nang Yuan of Koh Phangan – only not as impressive. At Koh Ma there are hard corals, soft corals and whip corals. The maximum depth is 24 meters. Here you can see banner fish, barracuda and grouper. Koh Ma is good for independent snorkeling. Just rent a bike and head over to Mae Haad beach. The corals are a short swim from the beach and the marine park is free to enter.

Haad Salad

This is a beach on the West Coast, known as the Pirate Beach. Hence one of the local diving outfits is called Pirate Divers. The coral at Haad Salad is 150 meters from the coast. There are a range of corals and you can spot some colorful reef fish. Maximum depth is 18 meters. Not a very difficult dive.

Haad Yao

Haad Yao is a great beach. Stretching across the entire bay are corals. There are table corals, brain corals and coral sponges to see. It is possible to see blue spotted sting rays, porcupine fish, parrot fish, squirrel fish and fusiliers. It is possible to dive straight from the beach. The biggest dive shop in Haad Yao is Haad Yao Divers.

Rock Point

Optimistically called ‘Koh Phangan’s Sail Rock’ – Rock Point (Kong Yai) is a chimney rock just off the coast of Chaloklum. It is a seasonal dive. There is a swim through and plenty of fish to see. The maximum depth is 20 meters.

Haad Khom

Haad Khom is a pretty beach next to Chaloklum. There is a coral off the coast that offers good snorkeling. Dive schools in Chaloklum use it for its proximity.

Koh Tae Nok

Koh Tae Nok is the island that is seen by people arriving by boat at Thongsala. It’s quite a big island with a beach which I’ve often thought would make a good spot for a small shed-like bar. There’s a coral reef off the coast and sometimes small reef sharks can be seen. Maximum depth is 19 meters.

Haad Chao Phao

This beach is on the west coast. The coral reef is 100 meters from the beach. There’s a range of hard corals and reef fish.

If you enjoy diving it is worth traveling farther in a boat to go to the better sites in the Gulf of Thailand. The dive schools also prefer this as they can charge more money. However for doing your first couple of dives for an Open Water Course Koh Phangan dive sites are great as they are not too deep and the marine life is not scared off by too many divers.