Beach Life

Haad Gruad

March 21st, 2015 | Posted by Salad Daze in Places to Visit - (Comments Off on Haad Gruad)

Those guests staying in Haad Salad might seek a pause from relaxing on the beach or in a hammock and seek distraction with a bit of exploration. One possibility is to visit the beach just south of Haad Salad called Haad Gruad. It is one of the lesser visited beaches in Koh Phangan and totally free of development except for one resort and a couple of restaurants nearby.

You get to Haad Gruad by getting to the main road and turning south. A short distance is the entrance road to Haad Gruad Resort. You walk through the resort to access the beach. Haad Gruad beach is about 70 meters long. It has soft white sand mixed with dead corals and is fringed with coconut palms. The sea is strewn with large boulders which you can clearly see as you come down the hill to the beach. It is a good beach for snorkelling and splashing around in the shallows.

At the south end of the beach there is a rickety wooden walk way that takes you to some large rocks on the headland. From here you can admire the sea views. You can also attempt to fish. It is possible to catch small fish and squid. The path leads to another small and beautiful beach called Haad Thian West.

The beach at Haad Gruad has a path leading up to the main road. Next to this path, and slightly elevated, is a medium-sized swimming pool. Above this is the resort restaurant. While the food is nothing to write home about, it is a great location for lunch.

There is a small bar on the beach called Sunny Bar. It is one of the old-skool bars with accretions of odd decoration and a couple of low tables and chairs.

Most of the reviews of Haad Gruad focus primarily on the resort. While most find it a little slice of paradise, a few find it too isolated and bad value for money. Haad Salad feels like a quiet beach with little going on but has enough food and drink options to please the overwhelming majority of guests. This becomes apparent from a trip to neighbouring Haad Gruad. However, this is the unique selling point for Haad Gruad – it is virtually a private beach for those staying at the resort and for those few tourists that make it down the hill.

Phangan Safari

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by Salad Daze in Places to Visit - (Comments Off on Phangan Safari)

If you are staying in Haad Salad or another of the North West beaches one activity option that might appeal is Phangan Safari. It is a business that started in 2008 and now in 2014 has become quite a thing.

It started out as a place with a few elephants on the road leading in to Chaloklum. Now they have elephant trekking, snake shows, wild monkeys, crocodiles and squirrels. They have various shows and various options such as treks, feeding the elephants and island tours.

It is worth checking out their website – Aside from being a master class in upper case shouting it has all the prices, times and details for the activities at Phangan Safari. It is unusual to see a company in Koh Phangan so digitally savvy. They even have online tour booking.

Also of note on the website is the page about the cobra snake show. You can see from the video above that it is quite a performance by the snakes and the charmer; the text on the webpage is purple and surreal.

The elephants seem well fed and decently looked after. If you have never ridden an elephant and fancy something exciting take the 30 minute or 1 hour trek through the jungle. However be warned: the elephant has a mind of its own and the steep hill climb and descent are bracing. You have to hold on tight. 1 hour treks cost 800 Thai Baht for adults and 400 Thai Baht for children.

To get to Phangan Safari from Haad Salad you need to get a taxi to Chaloklum. Ask the driver to drop you at Phangan Safari. The alternative is to use a rented motorbike or jeep. The trip takes about 10 minutes.

Making the Most of your Time on the Beach

July 18th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Places to Visit - (Comments Off on Making the Most of your Time on the Beach)

Many of the people who visit Haad Salad want to do two things: have a beach holiday and go to the Full Moon Party. Chances are they have spent a couple of days in Bangkok, if it is their first time in Thailand, seeing the sights; and now, they feel there is no need to do further exploring. This attitude is fully understandable, but I feel, somewhat wrong. Once they get back home and look at their holiday pictures there is a high probability that they will regret not making the effort to see more of Koh Phangan.

It is an easy trap to fall into. I have willingly fallen in this trap too many times to count: I read books, swim in the sea and smoke and that is much as I can manage. At the weekend I might manage to drag myself to a bar to see a footie match. I have been a couple of times to the Full Moon Party, and now it seems too much effort to head to Haad Rin from Haad Salad. The body paint, the crowds, the haggling with taxi drivers – it all seems too much effort when you only have two weeks beach time.

Over the years I have visited Koh Phangan many times. I now make the effort to try different beaches and go to the various places of interest on the island.

Haad Salad is well placed in this regard.

Koh Ma

Mae Haad
Just up the coast is Koh Ma. It is a short ride to Mae Haad and from there a short swim to the coral reef. It is easily the best snorkeling spot on the island. Moreover, it is a great beach and normally deserted. You can spend a pleasant morning in Mae Haad and be back in Haad Salad for lunch.


If you stay in Haad Salad it is worth checking out the two big beaches nearby – Chaloklum and Haad Yao. Chaloklum is like the Bophut of Koh Phangan in that it has several old wooden fishermen’s houses that make the village picturesque. It is a curious mixture of backpacker places, traditional fishing village and boutique bars, restaurants, shops and hotels. I find Chaloklum a lot more interesting to wander around than Thongsala.

Another plus for Chaloklum is Malibu Beach. It is an impressive sand bank and a good spot for swimming in the sea. Unlike Haad Salad there is no coral reef off shore and so the sea-bottom is soft underfoot.

Haad Yao

Haad Yao
Haad Yao is one of the longest beaches in Koh Phangan. Its sand gently curves over 1 km and is fringed with palms. As with Haad Salad it has a coral reef off the coast which supplies the focus for water activities.

In the evening the bars in Haad Yao are livelier than at Haad Salad. I like to have a few drinks at Jack’s Bar or Eagle Bar. If there is live music on, I will make it over to Rasta Home. It has more of a raw Koh Phangan feel than Reggae Village in HS.

I am not that bothered about Laem Son Lake. To my mind, Wipeout is a bit daft. I also suspect that the lake is poisoned by zinc from the old mine. You never see locals swimming in the lake.

Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple
What is more interesting to visit is the Chinese Temple. Apparently built on the behest of a dream, it is an impressive temple in an even more impressive location. The view over the jungle is one that makes memorable photos. I also like the fact that the temple has very little going on. I have never seen a monk or any type of obeisance to Buddha. I guess it is too hot.

These are just a few things near to Haad Salad that are worth checking out. They don’t take long to get to, and are free. Just a few hours away from the beach or the resort pool will reveal some of the treasures of the island and help you connect with the place on a deeper level.