Monday, 12 March 2012

Thong Nai Pan Airport

The sign says: "Thank you Mr. Phum for supporting Kan Air to arrive in Koh Phangan."

The rumours about Koh Phangan getting an airport come around every year. It seems to be like the rainy season – an annual event. Speculation is also partly fuelled by developers who want to sell villas. The prospect of an airport anywhere in Koh Phangan would surely drive the value of villas and land up on Koh Phangan.

As with all good rumours there is a touch of conspiracy in the mix. Bangkok Airways that own Koh Samui airport have for years been overcharging for their Samui to Bangkok flights. These flights serve people not only who want to go to Koh Samui, but also Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. This lucrative monopoly would end if Koh Phangan got their own airport (unless it was also run by Bangkok Airways). And hence the conspiracy that Bangkok Airways have used their influence in the past to stop permission being given for Koh Phangan airport.

The other aspect to the back story is the lack of flat land on Koh Phangan, other than beaches. Jokes abound about using planes that can land in the water or reclaiming some land for an airstrip.

However, there is land being cleared between Than Sadet and Thong Nai Pan. There is flat land in this area. Moreover, the road now between Than Sadet and Thong Nai Pan is the best on the island.

For those who think that Koh Phangan will never be a 5 star destination and that the hotels on Koh Phangan aren’t that great, I humbly beg to differ. The evidence on the ground says a different story.

Koh Samui is over developed and has a jaded look to several parts of it. Most of the people who go to Chaweng are not the upper classes. It is more like an Ibiza crowd who want to get drunk and buy relationships with pretty Thai girls. Despite the Conrad Hotel and the Amari Palm Reef Hotel it is wrong to presume that all the rich folks go to Koh Samui on their holidays. Back in the 90s and noughties lots of ex-pats set up on the island and hence the big supermarkets, hospitals and schools. It is ex-pats, footballers and package tourists that have fuelled the Koh Samui boom. David Beckham might have bought a villa in Koh Samui but I doubt very much that he spends much time on the island.

The rich move on. They want something new. They want exciting and beautiful locations just as much as luxury resorts. Rasananda despite the high prices for their bungalows on the beach runs at nearly full capacity, so does Panviman and Santhiya. When I was on Thong Nai Pan Noi beach last Christmas and New Year I was surrounded by people with posh accents.

Bantai and Haad Rin might be predominately populated with full mooners, half mooners etc. but that is not the case with Thong Nai Pan. It has two outstanding beaches and isn’t ruined by over-development. Than Sadet is another beautiful beach with an historic waterfall. The only reason Than Sadet doesn’t have a Rasananda is because the locals don’t want to sell up.

A small airfield between Than Sadet and Thong Nai Pan doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me. The scoffers said there would never be a Tesco in Koh Phangan. They were wrong about that.

The source of this rumour:

To keep up with the progress of Koh Phangan Airport visit