Beach Life

Chef Tummy Thai Cooking School

May 8th, 2014 | Posted by Salad Daze in Activities - (Comments Off on Chef Tummy Thai Cooking School)

One of the chief pleasures people find in Thailand is eating. Thailand boasts a unique style of cuisine that combines hot, sweet and sour. It is rich in flavour and full of great ingredients. Thai cooking is gaining in international popularity with Thai restaurants appearing all over Europe and America. Such dishes as green curry and tom yum goong have become part of that list of international dishes that include such favourites as pizza and balti curry.

A great way to impress your friends when you return home from your dream holiday in Koh Phangan is to hold a dinner party and produce some Thai classics. You might think this is a tall order, but not at all. For a start it has become much easier to find some of the key ingredients for Thai dishes such as coconut milk and sweet basil in supermarkets. Such is the global market that we live in.

For those lucky souls that have chosen Haad Salad for their beach holiday one of the best places to learn how to cook a couple of Thai dishes is the delightfully named Chef Tummy Thai Cooking School.

The cooking school is located on the beach at Haadlad Prestige Resort. It is run by a friendly and rotund man who is happy to laugh at himself and call himself chef Tummy. Don’t be deceived by the joviality – he is very serious about making delicious Thai food.

You can choose from a wide selection of Thai dishes for your cooking lesson. In a session you can normally make 2 or 3 different dishes. There are sessions both in the morning and the afternoon.

The cost is 1,500 Thai Baht per person. This includes a trip to the local market where you can get a feel for the natural produce as well as pick up some negotiating tips from Tummy. It’s then back to the beachfront school. Each student has a wok and is given careful guidance from chef Tummy.

Naturally when the cooking is over you get the chance to try your own delicious dishes. Make sure to take notes so that you can replicate the dishes back home.

Who knows it may lead to a new career for you!

H3>Contact Details

None available at the moment. If you want a lesson just stroll down the beach to Haadlad Prestige Resort and ask for cooking lessons at the restaurant.

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.

Rasta Home

February 26th, 2014 | Posted by Salad Daze in Bars and Restaurants - (Comments Off on Rasta Home)

Koh Phangan is a long way from Jamaica, however, that has never stopped some Thai lads from adopting rasta hairstyles and smoking tremendous amounts of weed. During the 1980s and 1990s Koh Phangan was very much a backpacker destination. The order of the day was cheap fan bungalows, lots of coughing and reggae music.

Things have moved on and so have many of the backpackers. Bungalows have been upgraded and cheap and cheerful has been replaced as an aesthetic with expensive and slightly pretentious. In many cases the prices in bars and restaurants have gone up but the food and drinks remain the same just presented differently and in different surroundings.

For some Rasta Home will come as a breath of fresh air, as the place is unashamedly out-of-step with the times. It’s a small bar located on the main road between Haad Yao and Haad Salad. It7s a short taxi or motorbike ride from Haad Salad. The reggae bar is impossible to miss on account of the funky appearance. The bar is made from bamboo and traditional weave thatched roof. Inside the roof and walls are adorned with hippy / reggae art work.

The seating is mostly cushions on the floor and platforms. There’s bar seating, and of course hammocks. If you imagine a reggae bar in Koh Phangan you would be imagining Rasta Home.

They have food and cold bottled beers. There is also a cocktail menu and sometimes specials.

Rasta Home is open every night. It is a relaxed and friendly place and a good spot for a drink. At 10pm on Fridays they have a reggae open-mic night. It is a popular event that usually attracts a handsome group of Thai rastas ready to jam the night away. Occasionally a tourist with musical talent will join in.

Some nights the jam really takes off and the bar is a great place to be. If you are lucky you might catch a performance by Koh Phangan’s most famous band – ‘Job2Do’. They play infectious music and will get you swaying along. When events get bigger they move outside and put up a stage. It is a great spot away from accommodation and full of the local natural beauty.

Even when nothing is happening it is a good choice for an evening drink or two.

Changes to Accommodation in Haad Salad 2014

January 26th, 2014 | Posted by Salad Daze in Resorts - (Comments Off on Changes to Accommodation in Haad Salad 2014)

We update prices and hotel ratings every January to keep accurate, and thus of practical use to our readers. There are two new bungalow resorts that have joined the booking engine. They are Double Duke Bungalow and Phangan Natural Resort. Double Duke Bungalow has rooms starting at 500 Thai Baht and Phangan Natural Resort has accommodation starting at 650 Thai Baht. We are currently researching these places and will soon add them to the main site.

The prices for accommodation in Koh Phangan tend to change every year. Many places raise their prices at the bottom end and, if things are slow, drop the cost of the best rooms and villas. Those places that don’t change prices are normally the most successful and have got their pricing just right.

Due to the on-going political problems in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand the pricing alterations have been further complicated. Fewer tourists are arriving in Thailand and lowering prices is the best way to keep up occupancy rates.

The good news is that Koh Phangan has its internal political scene but tends to adopt an isolationist attitude to what is happening on the mainland. In short, you don’t see clashes of red and yellow shirts on Koh Phangan.

Trip Advisor

As I have mentioned previously Trip Advisor is a very flawed rating system: resort owners write their own positive reviews and sometimes write damning reviews of their competition. Despite TA claiming they vet all reviews that is not the case. It still remains easy to write bogus reviews.

For those who give TA any credence, changes in ratings for Haad Salad resorts are as follows:

  1. Cookies Salad Resort – drop from 22nd to 27th best hotel in Koh Phangan
  2. Asia Bungalows – drop from 15th to 26th in speciality lodging in Koh Phangan
  3. Green Papaya Resort – up from 27th to 26th best hotel in Koh Phangan
  4. Haadlad Prestige Resort up from 59th to 54th best hotel in Koh Phangan
  5. Haad Salad Villa – drop from 3rd to 4th best speciality lodging in Suratthani
  6. Salad Beach Resort – remains the 35th best hotel in Koh Phangan
  7. Salad Buri Resort and Spa – drop from 46th to 51st best hotel in Koh Phangan
  8. Sea Salad Resort – up from 87th to 55th best speciality lodging in Koh Phangan
  9. Smile Beach Resort – remains 46th best B&B in Koh Phangan

So, most places have fallen in the Trip Advisor ratings. The most notable change is that Green Papaya Resort has replaced Cookies Salad Resort as the highest rated hotel on the beach. However, considering rooms are twice as expensive at Green Papaya as at Cookies this should not come as a surprise.

It is perhaps hoped that all the resorts with fallen ratings on Trip Advisor will perhaps try harder to provide efficient and friendly service. There are a few unpleasant reviews of avaricious owners cheating guests out of a few dollars by one means or another. They should be taken with a pinch of salt since we are only privy to one side of the argument, but it is worth noting what cons are being used in order to avoid them yourself.

Let’s not dwell on the doom and gloom. The weather has been excellent in January 2014. Haad Salad remains a place of timeless beauty, ideal as a place to unwind, rejuvenate and put the troubles of the world on hold.

Coral Beach Bungalows

December 30th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Resorts - (Comments Off on Coral Beach Bungalows)

Coral Beach Bungalows
Coral Beach Bungalows is one those Koh Phangan gems that tend to get overlooked by most visitors to the island because it is not currently available for online booking. While this might deter some people from considering this Haad Salad accommodation option, it means they often have a bungalow available for those willing to take the chance of just turning up and looking for a room.

The bungalows are beachfront located at the center of the beach. The simple bungalows are just a short walk from the sand. They are separated by walkways in a garden. The bungalows are basic with fan and shower room. They are Spartan – just a bed, mosquito net and fan. Each bungalow also has a balcony with a hammock to relax in and enjoy the sea views.

The staff at Coral Beach Bungalows are friendly and hardworking. They keep the bungalows clean and in a good state of repair. They also run a beachfront restaurant that serves delicious and reasonably priced Thai food as well as Western standards such as sandwiches and pasta.

While Koh Phangan changes quickly and owners seek to upgrade their rooms to capture the mid-range, short stay guests it is refreshing to see places like Coral Beach Bungalows sticking to the winning formula of cheap and basic wooden bungalows on the beach.

If you want to stay at Coral Beach Bungalows the best thing to do is just turn up and ask for a bungalow. Chances are you will get a great place next to the beach. If not there are plenty of other options within easy walking distance.

When we last asked a beachfront bungalow cost 400 Thai Baht a night in the low season and 500 Thai Baht in the high season. Non-beachfront fan bungalows cost 300 Thai Baht in the low season and 400 in the high season.

France Plongee

November 16th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Diving - (Comments Off on France Plongee)

France Plongee
Those going to Koh Phangan to hang out in the party zone of Haad Rin and Baan Tai might come to the conclusion that the island is mostly visited by English speakers from the UK, the USA and Australia. It is more accurate to say that these young Anglophones are drawn to the party area, not the entire island. Other parts of Koh Phangan are popular with other nationalities.

The fastest growing sectors for tourism in Thailand are Chinese and Russian tourists. While most visit Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui a few make it to Koh Phangan. Thong Nai Pan attracts a few. Russians also seem keen on private villa rental as they perceive it as better value for money. The Chinese, like other Far East Asians prefer more hand holding and tend to choose mid to high-end hotels.

Europeans, and especially French speakers, tend to like those beaches that are quieter and offer basic, good value accommodation. Than Sadet and Haad Tian on the East coast have a pool of returning French speakers.

In Haad Salad French tourists are catered for by France Plongee. It is a dive outfit that has shops in Haad Salad in Koh Phangan and in Koh Samui. Their office is located just off the beach, at the north end of Haad Salad. They offer both beginner courses as well as advanced courses. There is a choice of both PADI and SSI Dive master qualifications to choose from. And, of course, as with all dive shops in Koh Phangan, they will take qualified divers out to dive the local reefs as well as sites farther out such as Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacles and Ang Thong Marine Park.

The primary selling point of France Plongee is that they offer tuition in French by expert divers. They are indeed a professional outfit with good reviews. However, most dive shops on the island have dive masters who among them speak several languages. In this sense, France Plongee is slightly defunct. Nevertheless, knowing that only French is spoken will appeal to some Francophones.

France Plongee charge 4,000 Thai Baht for the introductory day course entitled ‘Discover Scuba’. This is for those who just want a taste of scuba to see if it is for them. Credits from the day course can be used to reduce the expense and time needed to get a PADI Open Water certificate. A PADI Open Water course costs 12,000 Thai Baht.

If you are a French speaker and feel isolated by all the English spoken on the island, then despair not, places like France Plongee are doing well and offer a little refuge from the English speaking world.

France Plongee- website:
Telephone: +66 (0) 77 349 323
More about dive shops in Haad Salad

Best Haad Salad Resort

September 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Resorts - (Comments Off on Best Haad Salad Resort)

Haad Salad is a fairly small beach not only for Koh Phangan but also for the west coast of Koh Phangan, yet it has a surprisingly wide selection of accommodation on offer. I suppose this is testament to how beautiful the beach is; and how this beauty translates into commercial viability.

As this is a blog post rather than the guide part of this website it is acceptable to state personal preferences in hotels and resorts.

The idea of the best resort is fraught with subjectivity – some people value style, others comfort, others location, others service and others price. And then there is the idea of value for money. So if you disagree with my choice, please forgive me – it’s just my opinion.

Haad Salad Villa

Haad Salad Villa
Although Trip Advisor gives Haad Salad Villa a high ranking it is in the category of ‘specialty lodging’ which only has 21 entries. It is also unclear how ‘specialty lodging’ is different to a typical Koh Phangan beach resort. What is clearer is that people really enjoy staying in this beach resort – it is friendly, the bungalows are in a great spot, the staff are friendly and the restaurant is reasonable. In the low season you can get an A/C bungalow for as little as 600 Thai Baht a night. That is good value for Haad Salad.
book Haad Salad Villa

Salad Beach Resort

Salad Beach Resort rates Salad Beach Resort as its pick of the Haad Salad Resorts. They rightly point out that this resort is often full while other places on the beach are empty. This is because the resort appeals to families on a mid-range budget.

Salad Beach Resort has bungalows and hotel style rooms. There is a well designed pool and restaurant area overlooking the white sands. The whole resort is well maintained. The rooms are spacious and include air-con, satellite TV, fridge and safety box.

For families it is no problem that everything shuts down at 9pm at this resort. It means that those seeking evening entertainment wander off to other parts of the beach.
book Salad Beach Resort

Salad Buri Resort

Salad Buri Resort
The most luxurious and most stylish rooms are to be found at Salad Buri Resort. This is the place that displays the most striking architecture and resort design. The rooms feature dark hardwood and are well appointed. Other than the cheapest Standard Room all the accommodation is of a decent size. The restaurant is in a striking location and the 3-level swimming pool is a cut above others on the beach. The only negative point for Salad Buri Resort, and it is a big negative point, is that the service is not very good. The staff are unhelpful and sometimes verge on the rude. Lots of reviews on the net concur with this opinion.
book Salad Buri Resort

Salad Hut

Salad Hut
Agoda particularly rates Salad Hut. And in this I agree. This is a great resort with beachfront bungalows. It is set in beautiful tropical gardens and has a popular restaurant and a medium-sized pool next to the beach.

The rooms feature hardwood floors, plenty of space, TV, air con and mini bar. They also have a large balcony with Bali style day bed and hammock. Accommodation is kept clean and the sheets are regularly washed.

However, the best thing about Salad Hut is the staff. They are friendly and happy to help guests. And since there are only 10 bungalows at this resort they can give plenty of attention to guests. This for me, along with the location and good rooms makes Salad Hut the best accommodation option in Haad Salad.

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.

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:

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:

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.

Bay Residence

August 13th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Property - (Comments Off on Bay Residence)

Bay Residence
Haad Salad is one of a growing number of beaches in Koh Phangan that can boast a private villa development. Bay Residence is a large development offering plots of land and finished builds for sale. The site is a short drive from Haad Salad beach.

From 2000 to 2008 there was a housing boom in Thailand. The laws of Thailand seemed to permit a circumlocutious path to foreign ownership and the world economy was booming. As a result lots of people were looking to buy their dream holiday home in Thailand.

Koh Samui particularly developed a lot of land for villas, both one-offs and estates. The estate agents even offered credit in some cases.

The vast jump in land prices in Koh Samui triggered a rise in land prices on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan. The belief was that Koh Phangan would turn into property hotspot, especially as soon as an airport was put in place. It seemed a fair bet and since Koh Phangan land was comparatively cheap many felt Koh Phangan represented a great commercial opportunity. As a consequence land prices shot up from half a million a rai to over 3 million.

Those who got in ‘at the ground floor’ in many cases made the decision to really capitalize on the land they had purchased by developing luxury villas for sale.

The property development and land selling business took a serious dip in 2008 with the collapse of stock exchanges around the world. The market is slightly picking up in 2013 but any real boom is being hampered by the drawn out political instability caused by the conflict between the reds and the yellows.

I am only guessing the history of Bay Residence in Haad Salad, but it is likely that it fits in with the above potted history in the sense that the land was probably bought cheaply and the investors sought to maximize their return by building villas for sale.

I did a bit of research and discovered that Phangan Island Property is probably both the estate agent and the developer for Bay Residence. It is fairly typical that estate agents in places like Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are also property developers. It might seem a slight conflict of interests to a Westerner.

Bay Residence is a big housing development set on the hills behind Haad Salad. It is similar in set up to a Koh Samui estate. There are about 6 houses that have been built or are being built. There are also plots available for sale.

The villas have a swimming pool with a view, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The ground floor is all-glass fronted to maximize the views. They have a small kitchen with pantry. The guest room features an en suite bathroom, walk in closet and private balcony.

In total the villas have 550 sq meters in land space and 220 sq meters of indoor space. The villas have a chanote title. From the estate agent website it is unclear whether the villas on the estate up for sale are available for purchase on a lease or as a freehold. The villa on the Phangan Island Property website for sale costs 8.95 million Thai Baht, reduced from 9.95 million Thai Baht.

If your dream is to own your private villa in Haad Salad then Bay Residence can make that dream come true. For those doing the math as regards a villa renting business you could expect to rent a 3 bed room villa in Haad Salad for between 7,000 and 9,000 Thai Baht a night.

For more about land titles, ownership issues in Thailand and other villa related topics see

Climbing Khao Ra and Blogs

August 5th, 2013 | Posted by Salad Daze in Activities - (Comments Off on Climbing Khao Ra and Blogs)

The original meaning of blog is an ellipsis of the words ‘web log’. In the late 1990s the word ‘blog’ came along to refer to someone’s personal website. The word carried connotations of an online diary full of photos, opinions and the quirkiness of a first person point of view. Nowadays, when you type the name of a destination followed by ‘blog’ in a search engine you get results dominated by corporate sites. Algorithm changes are about making more money, not delivering ‘value’, whatever that is.

I have climbed Khao Ra. I did it several years ago. I went with a couple of friends and a guide called ‘Nop’ that our resort organized for us. I remember going off the main road wondering where we were going in the pick up. Just as with the German couple in this blogger post I believe the only reason to get a guide is to get you to the start of the trail up to the top of Khao Ra.

As a slight digression: from a Brit’s point of view Khao Ra is definitely a ‘mountain’ rather than a ‘hill’ because it is well over a 1,000 feet in height. (It is 627 meters in height). Moreover, any 2 hour ascent is worthy of the honor of being designated a ‘mountain’.

When you climb up Khao Ra, one of the things that hit you the most other than the beauty of the jungle and the views that appear as you get higher is the scarcity of other people doing the trek. It is a great thing to do, and it is surprising that more visitors to Koh Phangan don’t take the challenge on. I see plenty of slightly daft folk running up and down the beach to get their middle class exercise fix; I see plenty of youngsters live the dream of being a Muay Thai fighter; but what I rarely see is someone attempting to go off the beaten-track in Koh Phangan.

Now, the path to the top of Khao Ra is well marked and following it is not exactly going off the beaten track, but it is a challenge that few seem to take up. It is a shame because it gives you a unique perspective of the island and makes you realize that the Koh Phangan people experience is actually just 10% of what there is to explore.

What feels me with joy is that this German couple did the trek with 4 liters of water and a snicker bar each. They went with no more information than a few notes they could pull from a forum post. Since I am posting an old skool blog this time, I feel (in my humble opinion) that this is real traveling rather than treating a visit abroad as a consumer item. Massive respect to the pair of them and I hope they keep the blogger up.

I also hope that someone reads my blog post and the blog post I am discussing and feel inspired to take on Khao Ra. If they do, I suspect they will look back on their holiday in Koh Phangan and consider that trek to be more memorable and worth doing than the clichéd night at the Full Moon Party.

Read the blog post here –