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Resort Ratings in Haad Salad in 2016

January 12th, 2016 | Posted by Salad Daze in Comment - (Comments Off on Resort Ratings in Haad Salad in 2016)

asia-bungalows-TA

Haad Salad has plenty of places to stay that range from basic bungalows on the beach to villas with private pools. When choosing where to stay many people consider the ratings resorts and hotels receive from such popular sites as Trip Advisor and Agoda. However, without knowing if a place has gone up or down in the ratings a vital piece of information is missed. Below are notes about how accommodation providers in Haad Salad fared on Trip Advisor and Agoda over the period 2015 to 2016.

Agoda

It is slightly depressing to discover that not one resort in Haad Salad improved its Agoda rating over the year. Several places such as Double Duke Bungalow, Asia Bungalows and Salad Grand Bungalow don’t have an aggregate score out of 10 yet due to a lack of reviews. Green Papaya Resort went from no Agoda score to 8.2.

Sea Salad Resort maintained the score of 7.4. Salad Beach Resort likewise remained at 7.9. And Haad Salad Villa stayed at 7.8 over the year from 2015 to 2016.

Those places that lost ranking on Agoda are Smile Beach Resort (6.7 to 6.5), Cookies Salad Resort (8.1 to 7.9), Salad Hut (8.7 to 8.6) and Salad Buri Resort (7.8 to 7.7).

It would seem the places in the last list need to do more to maintain standards of service and quality of amenities and facilities.

Trip Advisor

The changes in the Trip Advisor rankings for Haad Salad resorts is more dramatic than for the equivalent Agoda rankings. The only thing that is a bit confusing with Trip Advisor is their decisions of whether to classify a place as a ‘hotel’, ‘lodge’ or ‘B&B’. There seems to be little consistency in their classification of places. What exactly is a ‘speciality lodging’ and how is that different to a typical Koh Phangan bungalow resort? Does any accommodation provider including breakfast in their rental deals deserve to be designated ‘Bed and Breakfast’?

Gripes aside, here are the changes for Haad Salad accommodation Trip Advisor rankings for 2015-2016

Double Duke made an impressive jump from 71 to 56 in the B&B category. Likewise Asia Bungalows went from 26th to 13th best lodge in Koh Phangan. A small gain was also registered for Salad Buri Resort (#51 to #47 in hotels).

On the other side of the coin, Salad Grand Bungalow did terrible dropping from 123rd to 216th out of 273 lodges in Koh Phangan. Similarly, Sea Salad Resort plummeted from 55th to 130th out of 273 lodges. Not much better was Smile Beach Resort that fell from 46th best B&B to 86th best B&B in Koh Phangan.

Others that had bad years on Trip Advisor were Haad Salad Villa (from 4th to 7th out of 50 speciality lodges in Suratthani); Phangan Natural Resort fell from 45th best B&B to 58th best; Cookies Salad Resort (from 27th to 30th best hotel); Salad Beach Resort (from 42nd to 45th best hotel); and Green Papaya Resort (from 26th to 31st best hotel).

While these ranking have to be taken with a pinch of salt, they do highlight the fact that some places in Haad Salad really need to improve their service and make their cleaning staff work a tad harder. The most common complaints about Koh Phangan accommodation are always that the room was dirty; that the linen was dirty and not changed; that there were insects in the room / bathroom; and that the staff were rude. If some resort owners focused on these things more than upgrading accommodation and facilities in order to charge customers more, they would no doubt benefit from improving Trip Advisor and Agoda ratings.

Has Koh Phangan Changed?

April 25th, 2015 | Posted by Salad Daze in Comment - (Comments Off on Has Koh Phangan Changed?)

West-coast

Koh Phangan has changed a lot since it became a tourist destination in the 1970s. Now it is 2015 and Koh Phangan is very different to the undeveloped jungle island that it once was. As with many holiday spots Koh Phangan has moved on. It seemed that it had become a party and beach mecca for the young. Very recently both the central government in Bangkok as well as the provincial government have insisted Koh Phangan clean up its act. Has anything changed?

The answer is basically no. Not long after the military regained control of the country in 2014 they started a campaign to cut back graft, nepotism, scams, foreigners working on a tourist visa and the numerous instances of where the actual law had been ignored for years. They set about reigning in the Jet Ski scammers and the illegal selling of permits to beach chair vendors. They tried to enforce the alcohol curfew after 2am and the 1am closure of massage parlours. Tighter visa restrictions were put in place. They also told civil servants to stop wasting their time on social media instead of working. In short the General had a clear vision of what needs to be done in Thailand.

Koh Phangan did not escape his notice. The double murder of Brits in Koh Tao no doubt focused the attention of the administration on the Samui Archipelago. The general set out a plan to re-brand Koh Phangan as a place to experience ‘Thai style’ parties, as well as sun, sand and 5 star hotels.

It ended at that. None of the party organisers in Baan Tai, Haad Rin and elsewhere on the island paid any attention. The DJs kept playing and the ‘up-for-it’ crowds kept coming. Thailand has seen dozens of coups since getting democracy. Fiercely independent, the locals have a habit of ignoring what goes on in Bangkok.

The end of the party scene seemed more likely after the Governor of Surrathani Province in early 2015 issued a notice that all the parties (bar the Full Moon Party) were too noisy and disruptive and would stop immediately. Again nothing happened. See here for more.

The week of the gubernatorial decree the Half Moon Party went ahead. This was followed a few days later by Jungle Experience holding a special anniversary all-nighter.

To outsiders this might seem confusing. How can the Koh Phangan police not do anything? Why does the governor allow his authority to be flouted? Why doesn’t the General flex his muscles and just bring down his own men from Bangkok to shut down the parties?

Nothing is clear. This is the way things are done in Thailand as well as other places in Asia. Nothing is transparent; the media is not informed about negotiations between stake holders. The notion of the supremacy of the law is just that a notion.

The Full Moon Party is as important to Thai tourism as the beaches of Phuket. It is a huge money spinner and a major attraction. Closing the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Nok was quickly off the table. Unfortunately, the party culture that the FMP has engendered has led to numerous outdoor parties, club nights and DJ events. The island now has a growing music scene and even the smaller parties are gaining international acclaim and attracting big name DJs. You cannot easily manufacture the image of a tourist destination. It looks like the party faction is in a position to gain concessions; to get a compromise.

Koh Phangan will keep on changing and as it does it gains something. The hippies came and gave rise to the need for cheap bungalows and reggae bars. We still have them in Haad Salad, Haad Yao, Haad Khom and other places along the coast. The high paying customers came to Santhiya on the beautiful beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi and the ‘luxury’ cache of Koh Phangan grew. The Full Moon Party gave birth to a burgeoning dance music scene and that will persist. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the paradise beach locations – still sun, sand, jungle and warm sea.

Prices Changes for Haad Salad Accommodation 2015

January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Salad Daze in Comment - (Comments Off on Prices Changes for Haad Salad Accommodation 2015)

I have just updated the prices for the hotels, resorts and backpacker places on Salad beach for 2015. We use r24.org as they offer the best prices of all the major booking engines.

I noticed that virtually all the accommodation providers in Haad Salad hadn’t changed their prices for 2015. The only exceptions were Salad Hut (cheapest hut had gone up $3), Haadlad Prestige Resort (again just an extra $3 for their cheapest room) and Salad Buri Resort and Spa. The later has had quite a price hike going from $59 to $70 for their best value rooms.

This is great news for beach lovers. It points to a few possible conclusions. The falling price of oil has meant costs have dropped and so the same prices equate to more profits. Another possibility is that the law of supply and demand has led to few resort owners feeling confident enough to rise prices without gifting customers to their rivals. Another possibility is that there is something of an unspoken agreement by the resort owners not to start a discounting war.

Whatever the reason, the visitor to Haad Salad should be pleased that 2015 is a good value year.

We should note that hotels, resorts etc. can change their prices anytime during the year (although they usually don’t), and that at Full Moon time and the peak time of Christmas and New Year the prices shoot up.

Personally, I love Koh Phangan in March. It is low season but the weather is hot and the sea is calm; few people are around and so you can get some real room bargains.

Pirates in Haad Salad

September 5th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Comment - (Comments Off on Pirates in Haad Salad)

Koh Kra monument
In the local Koh Phangan dialect ‘salad’ means ‘pirate’. Thus, ‘Haad Salad’ translates as ‘Pirate Beach’. Today the pirates have gone and all that remains is a name. As with so many details about the history of Koh Phangan, the facts about piracy in Haad Salad are far from clear. Much of the near past is hidden in Thai documents and the memories of the residents.

It also seems likely that the history of the island is obscured and muddied by the commercial value of the place in terms of tourism. The place name of any tourist destination put into Google results in a string of online travel agents, hotel booking sites and sites intended to gather affiliate income. The same is true of searches like ‘Haad Salad history’ and ‘pirates in Haad Salad’.

Here is what small information I have gathered.

www.althaiman.ru

This site claims that pirates went to Haad Salad in order to re-stock supplies and repair their boats. It is an assertion that the beach was a place to ‘lick wounds’.

A Geocached page: http://goo.gl/TCwXPO

This page has a different version of events. It gives a time period for a start. To paraphrase: in the 1700s Haad Salad was used by pirates to hide their boats and treasure, and that when a galleon passed up the coast the pirates would give pursuit.

This version puts the pirates very much on the front foot. It also points out that Haad Salad was not just a place to hide, but also of strategic value: it was a good place from which to mount an ‘ambush’.

Google Books: http://goo.gl/3XOcPh

The extract from a book entitled Pirates in Paradise: Modern History of South East Asia’s Maritime Marauders.

As you would expect in the modern era, pirates in the Gulf of Thailand were far from the ‘Jack Sparrow’ romantic swashbucklers.

Thai pirates in the Twentieth Century preyed on Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. Since these two countries became communist in 1975 there was a steady stream of people escaping to Thailand on boats navigating the Gulf of Thailand. The practice of robbing and raping rich people fleeing communism continued up to 1981 when the situation was researched and condemned by the United Nations.

The book notes that at most only 2% of Thai fishing boats probably engaged in piracy. Many Thais from Koh Phangan and elsewhere in the Gulf helped the refuges by fixing their boats, giving them supplies and telling them about sea routes.

A few were ‘honorable’ pirates who boarded refugee boats with knives and hatchets and demanded valuables such as cash and gold, but left food and water supplies and told them how to navigate to the mainland.

Later professional pirates caught on to the potential for exploiting the steady trickle of illegal immigrants over the Gulf. Boats were frequently robbed several times during a journey. When the pirates found nothing, they raped and abducted women and sunk boats. Koh Kra just off the coast of Suratthani Province is a collection of uninhabited islets. It became a prison for women who were continually abused. Today there is a plaque remembering the sufferings of Vietnamese boat people on Koh Kra.

In the 1970s the first backpackers made it over to Koh Phangan. The first place that developed for tourism was Haad Rin Village. By the 1980s Haad Salad had become a firm favourite with regulars to Koh Phangan. It thus seems unlikely that pirates would choose such a place for a secret hideaway.

Besides there is a coral reef just off the coast which makes it difficult to land vessels any bigger than a longtail boat. Maybe in the 1700s they moored on the other side of the reef and rowed on to the island. It also makes sense to use Haad Salad as it is tucked into the north west corner of the island and a good spot from which to surprise shipping coming up the coast from Thongsala.

Finally, the possibility of buried treasure must be mentioned. I haven’t found any reports of such finds. I might get myself a metal detector.