Envision that exotic island paradise you’ve seen in magazines and dreams. You’re lounging in a hammock in a beautiful bungalow overlooking a private beach. At anytime you can order a plate of Pad Thai, a pork sandwich or a ripe coconut. If the tranquility becomes overwhelming, you can jump on your scooter and head to Had Rin for the biggest Full Moon Party on earth. The best part is, accommodation only costs around 400$/month.
This Runaway Retreat is Wattana Resort on the island of Koh Phangan Thailand.
Although there are loads of cool hotels and hostels on Koh Pha Ngan, few are as private and cheap, and none serve a pork sandwich like Wattana does. It’s a collection of waterfront bungalows located in the least touristy north side of the island. This means prices are much lower, and you get the beach almost entirely to yourself.
There are a few types of Bungalows you can choose from. The cheapest is the non-air conditioned room for 12$ a night. This room has a private shower and a large king size bed. The second type of bungalow comes with AC and costs 16$. Finally, the third type has a full bath and shower, AC, TV, and two porch hammocks, and two queen size beds for 30$.
If you’re staying for more than a week, don’t foget to haggle. And if you’re staying a month or more, you can get a significant discount.
The resort is run by a local Thai family. The mother/main manager speaks English well, and I’ve never had a problem communicating with her. Everyone is very friendly, helpful, and won’t hesitate to bring you anything you need.
One of the reasons I keep returning is for their Thai pork sandwich. It’s a medium sized slice of tender pork, onions, and lettuce placed within a fresh bun grilled in a sweet butter. It’s delectable in it’s simplicity and only costs 3$. The restaurant also serves up a range of traditional Thai dishes for really reasonable prices.
Despite the cheap price, eating nothing but pork sandwiches adds up. In order to keep food costs low, head to the local joint across from the 7/11. The chef, a sweet older woman, does great Thai/Japanese fusion, and even offers private cooking lessons if you’re interested.
Things To Do
Koh Pha Ngan is arguably one of the best backpacker and holiday destinations in Thailand. It’s known for countless idyllic and secluded beaches, fresh coconut ice cream shacks, an awesome street market, floating bars, and elephant retreats. The best way to explore the island is by scooter. You can rent a scooter directly through Wattana for around 5$ a day.
If you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of Wattana, you can rent kayaks, windsurfing boards and snorkel gear for a reasonable price.
How To Get To Koh Phangan, Thailand
Getting here is the most expensive aspect of this retreat. However, it isn’t as expensive as you might think. From New York or London, you can often find round trip flights to Bangkok during the low season for around 1000$. If you don’t mind going one way, Norwegian Air offers flights for between 400 and 500$. On the other hand, if your coming from Australia, one way tickets on Air Asia can be found as low as 300$ if you book well in advance.
Once you arrive in Bangkok, there are two ways to get to the island.
The first option is to take a flight from Bangkok to Ko Samui for around 100$. From there you can catch a cab for 8$ to the ferry port followed by a 1 hour ferry for 10$.
The second option takes much longer but is considerably cheaper and more adventurous. First take a bus from Bangkok airport to the central bus station. From there you can book a night bus to Don Sak for around 30$. When you arrive the next morning, book the slow ferry for 10$ to Koh Pha Ngan. Although it takes around 3 hours, it is one of the most scenic trips in the world. Plus, with an on board bar and a bunch of other backpackers, you’re going to have fun.
When you arrive at the harbor on Koh Pha Ngan, you need to find a taxi going north. In order to get the cheapest price, be sure to find a taxi that is already filled with other backpackers. Then simply tell the driver to take you to Wattana Resort. Be sure to not pay more than 6$ to 8$.
When To Go To Thailand
Weather wise, the best time of year to go is during the cool season from November to February. But since this is also the high season, you can expect high prices and endless crowds. That’s why I recommend going between March and May. Although it’s often the hottest time of year, towards May you can expect refreshing mid day showers.
-Thailand is very hot and humid no matter what time of year you go
-Thai food can be spicy, diarrhea inducing-ly so.
-There are big tropical bugs, loud geckos, and mosquitos galore
-The beach is better for wading rather than proper swimming.
Wattana Resort on Koh Pha Ngan is a Runaway Retreat that few others make it to. It’s place to escape the obligations of life and hideout in the tropics for a few months. But if bugs and humidity are an issue, be sure to check out other Runaway Hideouts for some additional cheap long term hideout options.
*All opinions expressed in this article are always 100% my own.