Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New Rasananda Site and Review of Tanaporn Massage House

New Rasananda Site


The Rasananda is now officially the Anantara Rasananda. The change has no doubt helped to improve business for the luxury resort as it is now affiliated into a larger group of luxury resorts and hotels. On the negative side the change has detracted from the unique quality of the resort; rather it has joined a corporate entity. The branding is all about Anantara not Rasananda. The Anantara group have made sure of this by publishing a new website for the Rasananda. The old website address now has a re-direct to the new one. It is of course a professional website but not as stylish. And worst of all the Rasananda webcam has gone. I thought this was a brilliant idea. A chance to spot Tony Blair chatting to Saudi oil barons around the pool has gone.

Tanaporn Massage House


Tanaporn Massage House has been a long time favorite of people who return to Thong Nai Pan Noi beach. The massages and spa beauty treatments are first class, the surroundings beautiful and the staff friendly. Greg and Porn give great service and at prices much better than at the spas belonging to the big resorts. They finally have a bit more web recognition with the latest review of Tanaporn Massage House on www.thongnaipan.info.

Finally...


It was a long monsoon this year, the sea is still a bit choppy but the beaches of Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai are as busy as they have ever been. Good news. Let's hope that other parts of Thailand and especially Bangkok soon bounce back from the terrible flooding in 2011.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Baan Panburi Re-opens on Thong Nai Pan Yai


Baan Panburi have done the same thing as Flip Flop Pharmacy: after being shouldered out of Thong Nai Pan Noi they have re-opened on the next beach, namely Thong Nai Pan Yai. Is this a trend I see? Are the older businesses from Noi all going to move to Yai as Rasanada slowly buys up the whole beach?

Anyway, this is good news. Baan Panburi became very popular in Thong Nai Pan Noi. The rooms were cheap but had air-con and closet space, and the 'Beach Club' did average food but had a great happy hour. The staff at the Baan Panburi in Thong Nai Pan Noi used to be excellent, especially Boy and the two women (I forgot their names). 

It looks like the new Baan Panburi Village in Thong Nai Pan Yai is very similar to the old one. There's a big restaurant on the beach and the bungalows are made of bamboo and wood and offer great value. Garden Huts are 300 to 600 THB, the Seaview Huts are 900 to 1,500 and the Thai House is 700 to 1,400 THB. The cheap bungalows are fan with cold water and the Seaview bungalows and Thai House has air-con and hot water. The interior of the Seaview looks well done from the picture below.
Although the choice of accommodation types is limited at the moment, they have just opened and are sure to add bungalows and cottages over the following year. 

They are also sure to have a happy hour, regular BBQ nights and Thai dancing for the peak and high seasons. Baan Panburi has a lot of experience in catering for guests in Thong Nai Pan and it will be no doubt a popular place to stay in Thong Nai Pan Yai.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

SAGA Holidays to Thong Nai Pan Yai

Things have indeed moved on since the first hippies discovered the tucked away beaches of Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai. The area seems to have by-passed the phase of being over-run with Israelis clutching their army pay and gone straight into the mainstream of tourism.

The latest tours by Saga include Siam Island Adventure. It is an 11 night tour that costs £1,549. For the same money I could travel around South America for 3 months. Nevertheless, for those who don't want to think about buying tickets or finding places to stay the package tour will always remain popular. The Japanese who fear that all the world is dangerous bar for their ugly city or town where they live, the guided tour is the norm when going abroad.

The 'Siam Adventure Tour' starts in Bangkok and takes in Hua Hin and Chumphon before hitting Koh Phangan. Tourists are treated to 2 nights at Havana Beach Resort in Thong Nai Pan Yai before visiting Than Sadet and then moving on to Koh Samui.

What is interesting about the Saga holiday to Koh Phangan is that it chose Thong Nai Pan rather than Haad Rin, Haad Yao or Ban Tai as its beach location. This is confirmation perhaps that Thong Nai Pan is the best beach on the island. It is also intersting to note that the price of £1,549 is not enough to stay at the better resorts of Santhiya, Panviman or Rasananda. In a way I'm pleased as I like the owners of Havana.

However, if you are reading this and you are thinking of going to Koh Phangan for the first time, then unless you are old don't waste your money with Saga. Thailand is one of the safest places to travel in the world. Why not make your own way down to Koh Phangan from Bangkok and why not give some of your money to the local businesses along the way instead of giving it to corporate entities in First World countries?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Rasananda Changes to Anantara Rasananda

Rasananda was completed in 2009. It offered the first luxury accommodation on the beach front of Thong Nai Pan Noi. The concept is individual pool villas in a modern Thai style that combines the best of the clean lines of minimalism with the features of traditional Thai accommodation. 

In 2010 Rasananda won "Best Luxury Resort" at the Luxury Travel Awards. Since then demand has soared for the boutique resort. In June 2012 Rasananda will add another 20 private villas to its resort.

As a result of increased demand, Rasananda has partnered up with Anantara Brand Management to improve the experience of staying at the resort. Anantara has over 4,800 rooms world wide and has resorts in such places as Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket, Bangkok and Hua Hin.

Ownership of Rasananda remains Thai. It is promised that the newly branded Anantara Rasananda will remain true to its cultural roots while bringing the wealth of know-how that Anantara have to make an even better resort in Thong Nai Pan Noi.

While this might disappoint some - seeing a brand slip into the accommodation mix in TNP Noi - it will be seen as a welcome development for guests at Anantara Rasananda as they will be provided with even more luxury.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

History of how Thong Nai Pan Noi has Changed

Somebody once wrote that the only constant in history was change. This is as true of Thong Nai Pan Noi as anywhere else in the world. Even the Bhutanese are seeing change. It is very much open to debate as to whether change represents progress. It is also very debatable as to whether history is cyclical as the Hindus believe.

Change has happened quickly on the small beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi. Since it was first 'discovered' in the 1970s it was quickly dubbed as the best beach on Koh Phangan. This perhaps is why Thong Nai Pan Noi has changed so quickly. A new article on www.thongnaipan.info chronicles the changes to Thong Nai Pan Noi since 1997. It makes interesting reading. It is also a good thing that somebody is making the effort to record the change. People are much too reliant on wikipedia nowadays for their version of history.

Only by recording change can we hope to learn from our mistakes, and only by preserving the beauty of nature can people continue to profit from nature's beauty. Neither of these points can be made too strongly.

The picture above was taken in 1997. It7s what the walk from Sandee Bungalow (then Honey Bungalow) used to look like.

Monday, 22 August 2011

H20 Scuba Update

H20 Scuba School continues to improve its online presence with a new Facebook page. The page is better than most facebook efforts in that it tries to give a little bit of information rather than being like so many facebook pages which degenerate into random 'tweets' from a random bunch of people whom you probably don't know. Yes, the author thinks Facebook pages are a daft fad and Google is wasting space featuring them.

Other scuba news is that H20 Scuba now has a few branches to save the hassle of getting to Thong Nai Pan Noi if you are not staying nearby. There's a branch at Phuwadee (AKA Raiwin and the Pink Bungalows) on Thong Nai Pan Noi. There is also a place to sign up in Yai - Pen's Bungalows on the center of the beach. In Bottle Beach people can get H20 Scuba Information from Bottle Beach Resort.

Finally, for those people wondering if Koh Phangan would ever get a proper night club the day has finally arrived. It's not on Thong Nai Pan sadly. Rather it's in Haad Rin. It is called Club 9. They've managed to attract LTJ Bukem so far. Club 9 is the largest indoor venue on the island. Hopefully they will sack off Graham Gold and Brandon Block and get some more famous DJs to the island.

In short the options for a night out in Koh Phangan have just got better; as have the options for signing up for Scuba diving with H2O Scuba School.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Indian Bar


The Indian Bar is a business that has been around for quite a while on Thong Nai Pan Yai. The present incarnation of the bar is at the northern end of the village near the beach. It is located among the grassy paths leading down the beach near the middle school and the small wat.

All the times I've been over to Yai I have to put my hands up and say I've never stopped in for a drink at the Indian Bar. It is a big structure  - spiky Thai roof in corrugated metal with the usual open plan feel (no walls). Inside there is plenty of seating. I always guessed it was a place to chill out and play games.

The new website of the Indian Bar hardly makes it clearer what the unique selling point of the place is. As with so many of the websites done for businesses on Koh Phangan the site has bells and whistles but little useful content. There is no menu or price list (a sure sign this site will never be updated) and few pictures of the business.

A little bit of history is revealed by the site. The old spot for the bar was behind Havana Resort which back then was Honey Bungalows. This is interesting because Honey Bungalows in 1997 was the name of Sandee Bungalow on Thong Nai Pan Noi. Honey Bungalow many years ago was my favorite place to stay in Thong Nai Pan Noi. Around 2000 they moved to Yai and then shortly afterwards gave up their lease in Yai so Havana could be built.

Another interesting thing about the Indian Bar website is that it reveals that they have a few bungalows to rent. This is always useful to know if Dreamland or Central is full and you are despairing of finding a place to stay.

Returning back to the theme of bells and whistles and no wheels - the website also has a sophisticated forum, social network plugin which is marvelously underused  - 1 person has signed up. The chances are approaching zero of one of the Thai family who run Indian Bar of regularly administering such a thing. Thumbs down to the site, but thumbs up to Indian Bar for keeping the old hippy vibe of Thong Nai Pan Yai going.

So if you are interested, click here to go to the Indian Bar website.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Rasananda Live Webcam

This is one page that gives me great solace when I'm away from the beach. I can simply click onto the Rasananda website and then go to the live webcam and spend a good five minutes just watching the red flags of the resort fluttering in the breeze and the bored staff wondering around the empty pool looking like they are busy.

It is addictive viewing. I believe it is the first live webcam from Thong Nai Pan Noi. I'm not sure there sure that there should be more. After all, what happens on the beach should stay on the beach. Perhaps someone will spot Ryan Giggs on the webcam this summer regaling some C list celebrity with tales of his Welsh wizardry on the ball.

If you want to read more about Rasananda Resort click the link.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Better than Sex and the Baan Panburi



Changes are a foot again on Thong Nai Pan Noi. Restaurants and accommodation changes on the beach.

Firstly, Pong's new restaurant has finally opened in the place that used to be Pong's Republic near the bridge. The failed night club looks set to succeed as a restaurant. It is an imposing glass and steel construction. with decking and water feature. Pong is a great cook. His Burmese dishes are particularly good. Being positioned at the higher end of the market and considering the position of the restaurant just opposite Luna Lounge, it is a big challenge to the popularity of the Luna Lounge. The battle of the posh restaurants is on.

Accommodation Changes on Thong Nai Pan Noi


Big changes are in progress on Thong Nai Pan Noi beach. As you can see from the photograph above the Baan Panburi has been pulled down. It seems that Rasananda has got the land and plans to expand their row of luxury beach villas with small plunge pools.

For the time being the Star Huts is still standing, but these bungalows are also destined to vanish. The owners of Rasananda have bought this land too and plan to build mid range accommodation under the moniker of Buri Rasa.

Star Huts, a long time favourite with backpackers, will be sorely missed. Some of the people from Star Huts have been given the land next to Tanaporn Massage House. They will build a restaurant.

The Bigger Picture

Much of the road from Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan has now been completed. It is a high quality road that will last longer than previous parts of the road. The Thong Nai Pan area is destined for preeminence on the island.

There are only 3 outfits that are now beachfront on Thong Nai Pan Noi: Thong Tapan (and Tapan Noi which is owned by the same family), Phuwadee and Rasananda. Since Phuwadee is only leased land this is destined to get swallowed up by Rasananda too. They are the newest business on the beach and yet they are destined to dominate the accommodation on Thong Nai Pan Noi. It is only the locally owned Thong Tapan that is between them and owning it all.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Huge Storm in Gulf of Thailand


A storm hit Thong Nai Pan that started on Sunday 26th March and that continued until Thursday March 31st. It was a very unseasonable storm (March is normally the driest month on Koh Phangan).

The whole of the Samui Archipelago was affected. 15,000 tourists were trapped in Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao. All ferry boat services were suspended and all flights to and from Koh Samui were cancelled. The Thai navy were called in to help evacuate people.

21 people died in mudslides on the mainland as villages were swept away by the torrential storm.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the worst hit areas today said:

"If you ask people who are familiar [with the situation], they would tell you they never expected this could happen."

As for Thong Nai Pan - there are no reported deaths or injuries, just damage to buildings and infrastructure. The bridge by the Panviman collapsed (it was built without steel reinforcing). The road out of the village in Thong Nai Pan Noi was flooded. The road from Thong Nai Pan to Thongsala lost 2 bridges. This follows a storm earlier this month that damaged the Santhiya speed boat. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

H20 Scuba in Thong Nai Pan Noi has new website

Lee and Johnny eventually get a new website for H20 Scuba. It's a stylish site that does justice to a great dive school. If you look at the site you will see that H20 Scuba are offering free trial dives to anyone over 12 years old. This is your opportunity to see if diving is for you. H20 Scuba is in Thong Nai Pan Noi, next to Handsome Sandwiches. They do open water, advanced open water, dive master courses and fun dives to Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacle and Ang Thong National Marine Park. There is even a VIP service for those who want a personalized service.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

New Website and the Remains of the Hideaway Bar

Two things of note to write about.

Firstly, the Tanaporn Massage House in Thong Nai Pan Noi goes from strength to strength. Pi Porn and Greg have always offered the best massages and spa treatments in Thong Nai Pan at the best prices. And now they have a website to showcase their massage house. It's a nice wordpress theme with a great Flash gallery page. The website also has a useful prices page. Unlike most of the businesses in the area, they are not afraid to be up front about their costs. Check out the site by clicking the title or the following link below:

http://www.tanaporn.com



Other news is that the Hideaway which used to be at the end of the path where Tanaporn Massage House is located (see map of Thong Nai Pan Noi) has finally been knocked down. All that remains is a pile of bricks and broken concrete and the DJ booth. The booth and its sign leave an eerie reminder of the power of change. I hope the goldfish below the booth were humanely killed.