Thong Nai Pan Noi is the leading beach for those looking for luxury accommodation on Koh Phangan. The beach has undergone significant change over the last 10 years. It’s gone from one of the best hippy beaches in the world with a great range of bargain and mid-range accommodation to an enclave for ‘5 star guests’. The only constant in this process of change is the beach itself. It remains a perfect stretch of white sand fringed with coconut palms and surrounded by jungle covered mountains. Thong Nai Pan Noi has all year swimming. The sea bed drops off at a perfect angle for swimming – neither at too shallow an angle nor too quickly.
The beach is dominated by Anantara Rasananda Resort. It belongs to the popular Anantara brand that has luxury hotels all over Thailand and Asia. Anantara offers beach front villas that have 2 storeys. Many of them have small plunge pools with salas. The villas are furnished in a contemporary style and feature 32 inch LCD TV, DVD player, iPod dock, rain shower, expresso machine, air-con and IDD telephone.
There are 7 villa types to choose from:
1) Pool Suite – 100 sqm of living space
2) Garden Pool Suite – 130 sqm of living space
3) Ocean Pool Suite – 100 sqm of living space with ocean views
4) Ocean Garden Pool Suite – 200 sqm of living space with ocean view pool, private garden with sala and day bed.
5) Lagoon Pool Suite – 140 sqm of living space
6) Thai Pool Villa – 180 sqm of living space with Thai interior styling
7) Ocean Pool Villa – 260 sqm of living space with open-air bathroom, garden courtyard and beach front pool.
Anantara Rasananda has a reception area that features a communal pool with swim up bar. The restaurant offers a Michelin trend menu with a wide range of wines. The resort also has a fitness room and a spa set in a tropical garden. For those who want luxury on the beach in Koh Phangan Rasananda is the best option.
Panviman Resort and Spa
Panviman Resort and Spa is the original 5 star hotel in Koh Phangan. It is located on the headland between Thong Nai Pan Noi and the southern Thong Nai Pan Yai. The headland is a large area and over the years Panviman has expanded to fill the land available. In 2012 Panviman gained ownership of the entire headland and now plans to expand its operation to offer villas with access to both beaches in Thong Nai Pan Bay.
Panviman has the best located swimming pool possibly on the island; it is on the peak of the headland with an infinity lip that allows guests to hang over the edge and gain a view of the bay. The pool drops through a series of terraces making smaller pools, one of which is also a Jacuzzi. Next to the pool is a decking area and restaurant that serves food during the day.
There are four restaurants in Panviman Resort: the pool bar just mentioned, Pan Sea Restaurant, Stone Beach Restaurant and Cool Sand Pub and Restaurant. Pan Sea Restaurant is a large round building on the hill. Stone Beach Restaurant is on the beach and has a popular BBQ and buffet in the evening. Cool Sand Pub is also on the beach (Thong Nai Pan Noi side) it has live music most nights. The music is easy listening and nobody seems interested in either the music or the high drinks prices.
Panviman has hotel style rooms as well as individual villas. All rooms have recently been refurbished so the rooms don’t have that ‘tired’ look that many luxury hotels in Thailand seem to develop after a few years in business. All rooms have air-con, LCD satellite TV, private bathroom with bath tub, mini bar, telephone safe, and tea and coffee making facilities.
There are 7 different grades of accommodation to choose from:
1) Superior Hotel Rooms with 32 sqm of living space
2) Deluxe Hotel Rooms with 44 sqm of living space
3) Deluxe Cottages with with 51 sqm of living space
4) Family Cottages with 2 floors and a total of 80 sqm of living space
5) Pool Villas with private pool and 109 sqm of living apace
6) Spa Villas with private outdoor Jacuzzi and 80 sqm of living space
7) President Suite with private outdoor Jacuzzi and 121 sqm of living space
The high-end villas and suites are built around huge granite boulders that form part of the interior and exterior design. This adds a certain drama to the accommodation and also helps to keep the interiors naturally cool.
Panviman has a small beach at the bottom of the headland on the Thong Nai Pan Noi side. Here there are sun loungers, free towels and drinks service. No doubt they will also try to claim a piece of Thong Nai Pan Yai beach.
Panviman has a spa overlooking the bay called Viman Spa. There is free wifi throughout the resort.
Santhiya Resort and Spa
On the opposite end of the beach to Panviman is Santhiya Resort and Spa. It is on its own small beach. The resort used to be accessible via a walk through Tapan Noi Resort. The Santhiya management has closed this route and now guests have to take a hilly, unpaved jungle road to get to the main beach. Most of the guests staying at Santhiya have booked through travel agents and are unaware until arrival that they have been artificially isolated to make sure they spend most of their money in the bars and restaurants of Santhiya.
On the plus side Santhiya is certainly a very imposing resort. There is strong attention to detail with the teak lanna-style architecture. The landscaping is also beautifully done. The swimming pool is massive. It covers several levels and includes a giant waterfall. Since the ‘Santhiya Beach’ has slightly coarse sand the guests seem to spend most of their time around the giant pool.
Chantara Restaurant is perched on the headland and has a great view of both Thong Nai Pan beaches. This is the main eating area in Santhiya. The restaurant specializes in fresh fish, steak and Thai food. It is also possible to organize private beach dining. Mahkok is a small coffee shop in a shady spot with a small shop.
There is a spa called Ayurvana that offers the usual scrubs, wraps, facials and massages. It also has Swedish massage. Somewhat stingily free wifi is only available in the lobby and restaurant area.
Finally, there is a health center with weights, tread mill and other exercise equipment.
Santhiya has 99 rooms and villas. All villas have air-con, hot water, satellite TV, DVD/CD player, IDD telephone, mini bar, toiletries and hairdryer. Deluxe rooms are in a low rise building with verandas enjoying a sea view.
There are 11 different types of accommodation on offer:
1) Santhiya Deluxe Room – 43 sqm of living space
2) Santhiya Supreme Deluxe – 48 sqm of living space
3) Santhiya Supreme Deluxe Pool Access – 48 sqm of living space with access to a dramatic swimming pool with a great sea view
4) Santhiya The Rock – 86 sqm of living space over 2 storeys. There is a large rock downstairs that forms part of the décor.
5) Santhiya Sea View Villa Suite – villa with 85 sqm of living space.
6) Santhiya Junior Pool Villa Suite – villa with 115 sqm of living space and a plunge pool.
7) Santhiya Hideaway Pool Villa Suite – villa with 115 sqm of living space a private swimming pool
8) Santhiya Sea View Pool Suite – villa with 115 sqm of living space, a private pool with sea view and indoor / outdoor bathtubs.
9) Santhiya Grand Villa Suite – villa with 150 sqm of living space over 2 floors, a private pool.
10) Santhiya Sea View Pool Villa Suite Plus – villa with 115 sqm of living space and sea view private pool.
11) Santhiya Royal Grand Pool Villa Suite – villa with 197 sqm of living space, private sea view pool, living room, 2 bedrooms, open-air bathroom and private garden.
Buri Rasa is the latest addition to accommodation options in Thong Nai Pan Noi. It is located at the southern end of the beach. The hotel is still under construction. So far the restaurant and a coffee shop are open for business. Buri Rasa is designed to fill the gap between the luxury of Rasananda, Panviman and Santhiya and the more local style of other places.
Sunrise Villa is located on a hill behind Phuwadee Resort. It is the best value for money private villa for rent in Thong Nai Pan Noi. The villa was completed in 2011 and since then has hosted both families and young couples.
Sunrise Villa has 3 double bedrooms. Two bedrooms downstairs and a master bedroom upstairs. All rooms are en-suite with hot water showers. The rooms have air-con and are fully furnished. The master bedroom has floor to ceiling windows that provide spectacular views of Thong Nai Pan bay.
These views are also available from the wrap-around balcony at the front of the house that is accessed from the living room. Also downstairs is a fully equipped kitchen and dining area.
The villa is set in a large landscaped garden in a quiet area. Sunrise Villa is about 800 meters from the beach. It takes only a few minutes to walk to the beach, but the return takes longer because of a steep hill. It is a good idea to rent a bike or a jeep if staying at Sunrise Villa.
The villa comfortably accommodates 6 people. A flat rate of 5,000 Thai Baht is charged per night, except during the peak season around Christmas / New Year.
To find out more about Sunrise Villa visit their website: www.sunrisevilla.info
This place was previously called Raiwin Resort and then Thong Nai Pan Resort. It is now called Phuwadee Resort. It has a series of concrete bungalows near the beach in a garden. They all have air-con, hot water shower, electronic safe and TV with only a few channels.
Phuwadee Resort was the first place to offer concrete bungalows and a pool on the beach. The owners did themselves no favors by painting the bungalows pink. Now there are mostly 5 star prices for beach front accommodation Phuwadee Resort is good value.
The service is not great and the food and drink at the restaurant is average. If you put aside these deficiencies the room rates are competitive, and there is a small swimming pool to enjoy. The location of Phuwadee on the middle of the beach is also great.
Thong Tapan is a locally owned resort that also owns the budget bungalow Tapan Noi Resort next door. Thong Tapan are a friendly and organized operation run by a family. Most of the bungalows are set in a beautiful tropical garden on a hill just back from the beach. They used to have a great restaurant serving the best Thai food on the beach. Now it is closed and guests use the next door Tapan Noi restaurant.
Some of the bungalows have been recently refitted and slightly upgraded. Thong Tapan offers both simple single room bungalows and family villas.
Wifi is available for garden suite, superior beach front, 2 bedroom villas and the Thong Tapan suite.
The resort has recently taken over the failed Tropical Dive Club. They now offer dive courses as well as fun dives. Another innovation on Thong Tapan’s part is a Full Moon Package deal.
Thong Tapan Accommodation
There are 30 accommodation units to choose from. They are divided into the following categories:
1) Standard Wooden Bunglaows – with king or twin beds, fan, small veranda and shower
2) Superior Garden Bungalows – with king or twin beds, bathroom, veranda and air-con.
3) Garden suite – king or twin beds, air-con, larger living space, bathroom and 30 meters from beach.
4) Superior Beach Front Bungalows – with king size bed, dressing table, air-con, bathroom, wall fan and on the beach.
5) 2 Bedroom Villas – 2 bedroom, shared balcony, air-con, dressing table, bathroom and 20 meters from the beach.
6) Thong Tapan Suite – with king size bed, bathroom and air-con. Up a flight of stairs overlooking the beach.
People are apt to see the Tapan Noi as an extension of Thong Tapan Resort. It is the same people who own it and the restaurant for the Tapan Noi serves both resorts. The restaurant is on the beach and has a popular BBQ most nights during busy times on the beach.
Accommodation at Tapan Noi
Tapan Noi has a number of wooden bungalows on the rocky headland at the northern end of the beach. They vary from simple bungalows without toilets to bungalows with separate living / eating area. The bungalows cost about 300 Thai Baht a night to rent. They cannot be booked in advance or online. It is first come, first served. Some of the bungalows have real character (even if they are a bit shabby) and great views. These are the cheapest bungalows available on Thong Nai Pan Noi beach.
It used to be that you could walk through Tapan Noi onto ‘Santhiya Beach’. This route has now been blocked.
Sandee Bungalow used to be the favorite place for regular returnees to the beach. They had a range of good value bungalows, some of which were really cheap if rented by the month. These bungalows have been torn down and replaced with more expensive units.
Sandee Bungalow still is good value compared to much of the other accommodation options on Thong Nai Pan Noi. They are open to negotiation. You can email Sandee to book a room in advance.
Sandee Bungalow is on the corner as the road leaves the village and turns left and parallel to the beach. It takes about 1 minute to walk to the beach from Sandee bungalow.
The restaurant is closed. The only service they offer is clean sheets once a week. Opposite Sandee Bungalow is an internet place where the management are to be found. They offer the best motorbike rental deals.
To reserve a room email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thong Nai Pan Noi Village
Thong Nai Pan Noi has a few good restaurants in the small village leading from the beach to the main road. These are Better Than Sex, Luna Lounge and Jip Shop.
For fast food the place to go is Handsome Sandwich on the corner where the road to Tanaporn starts. They do a great burger. Next door is H20 Scuba School.
The popular Tanaporn Massage House offers massages, facials etc. at much cheaper rates than the spas at the big hotels. Next to Tanaporn Massage House is the Star Hut Restaurant.
Other places to try in the village are Again and Again, Bamboo, Jungle Bar and La Hacienda. There are other places that come and go fairly frequently as rents become due. The village has cheaper food and drinks than the beach resorts. It also provides a chance for tourists to meet Thais who aren’t serving customers. At the end of the village is a big shop with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. It also sells petrol.
We recommend venturing into Thong Nai Pan Noi village and taking the time to explore the immediate surroundings. It is a wonderland.