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.
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 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.
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.