Saturday, 25 November 2017

Room at the Inn

 Here we are again. Another year ending and a new one soon to begin. We are in the silly season of embarrassing sweaters and eyebrow raising prices for beach accommodation. If you are lucky enough to be staying in Thong Nai Pan for Christmas and / or New Year's Eve but haven't booked a place to stay yet, here are the options available to you. Bear in mind that minimum stay requirements will apply. New Year's is the most coveted time to stay on the beach so this is peak time plus. Some resorts might have rooms available that they are not releasing them through the net.

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Tapan has rooms for Christmas left starting at 1,800 Thai Baht

Sandee Bungalow seems to have forgot its Christmas. Rooms for this time are only 500 Thai Baht. Nothing is available on line for New Year (I suspect they are having a holiday themselves).

Buri Rasa has rooms for both Xmas and New Year. Christmas rooms start at 6,100 THB. For New Year they go for 13,700 Thai Baht.

Santhiya is the second most expensive place to stay during the holiday. Rooms at Christmas start at 9,000 THB and for New Year at 15,000 THB

Rasananda wins the most expensive room prize. Xmas is 13,500 THB and New Year is 21,000 THB. Then there are the compulsory buffets to fork out for.

Phuwadee the pink bungalow eyesores have only Christmas vacancies. Prices start at 1,200 THB a night.

If you are a group of 6 or less people and you don't mind a hill walk the best value private villa rental is Sunrise Villa. Just 9,200 Thai Baht a night. That's the same price as Panviman but for 6 people not 2. The luxury villa is still available for both Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Dreamland has sold out for New Year's Eve but still have some rooms available for Christmas that start at just 700 THB.

The same is the case with Pingchan . Xmas bungalows cost 5,200 THB a night.

Again Pen's Bungalows is not taking New Year's Eve bookings but they are taking bookings for Christmas. An Xmas bungalow will set you back a modest 1,300 Thai Baht a night.

The cheapest Christmas room on Yai is found at Nice Beach Resort. Rooms start at a bargain price of 650 THB.

And that's it. Longtail in Yai has their own booking system. Candlehut is with The other accommodation options in Thong Nai Pan Yai are full. Book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Sunrise Villa is the best villa rental option. The villa is in Noi and has 3 bedrooms along with kitchen and lounge. For 2 or 3 couples sharing this is a great option.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

New 7 Eleven in Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Nai Pan Noi is going to get its first 7-11 shop. It is due to open early in 2018. Don't get too excited - internecine capitalism is not something frequently found in Koh Phangan. It is not likely to start a price war and a deflationary price spiral for tourist goods.

The new 7 Eleven is being built on the road at the back of the village that leads out to the main road. It is just past the bridge and opposite the big shop where you can buy vegetables, meat, large bottles of water and petrol.

Thong Nai Pan Yai already has a 7 Eleven located on the main road at the southern end of the beach. When news of this shop first spread through the local populace there were many who were expecting cheap beer, coffee and snacks. That was in 2009. These people were soon disappointed. The shop opened with no fanfare with prices ranging between 10% and 20% higher than the other 7 Eleven shops on the island. The business model is clearly not to undercut the competition but to charge as much as the market will stand. Besides you don't step on toes that way.

There are some items in the 7 Eleven in Yai and in Bantai and elsewhere on the island that are slightly different to those found in the local shops such as the coffee machine, the 7 Eleven sandwich (not for sandwich lovers) and the free hot water to make pot noodles. However, the large percentage of the wares found at the 7 Eleven in Yai are the same as those for sale in the local shops.

What attracts tourists to 7 Elevens is the fact that everything is marked with a price. The staff don't moan about breaking notes and they invariably add up your bill correctly and give out the right change. You can get a bit weary of asking the price for everything in advance and having to work out if your change is enough. 7 Elevens are convenient in Thailand, and it is a certain type of convenience. Tourists expect cheap prices, but if they don't get them they still come back because they like the hassle-free nature of a 7 Eleven in Thailand.

In Thong Nai Pan Noi the cheapest shop is Snoop Shop. It is opposite Jip Shop. It doesn't have sliding glass doors or neat displays. It is clearly a 'locals' shop. That is not to say that they don't welcome anyone into the shop. They have meat, vegetables, fruit and a range of everyday products. They have Thai snacks. They have beer and cheap water. You can find all kinds of useful things in the Snoop Shop especially if you can ask for it in Thai.

I suspect that Snoop Shop will be cheaper than the Thong Nai Pan Noi 7 Eleven when it opens. The big shop opposite sells some items in bulk and is also likely to be better value than the 7 Eleven. These shops will retain much of the 'Thai' Baht spent in the village. It is the other numerous tourist shops that will be impacted by the new 7 Eleven. It is the 'tourist' Baht that is being gently fought over.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Thong Nai Pan Night Market

Thong Nai Pan Night Market was started at the end of 2016. It has already proved a hit with both locals and tourists. It provides more income for local businesses as well as an opportunity for visitors to experience an important part of Thai culture. Since its inception the night market has been well attended and it looks like it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The night market is located opposite the 7-11 in Thong Nai Pan Yai. You will find it easily if you walk down the main road heading north (see map below). At present there are in total 8 stalls and a bar. As with many night markets in Thailand and South East Asia the focus is on food. In tropical weather it is pleasing to take the cool air and stroll around food stalls deliberating over what delicacy to try. It is a chance to socialise and court for Thais. It is also a chance for tourists to Thong Nai Pan to experience the gentle atmosphere of a Thai night market in a beach setting. What could be better?

There are 3 stalls selling Thai food. There is 1 Issan food stall. Another option is the crepe stall. Those looking for a sweet snack can try the 2 stalls selling fresh juice and mango with sticky rice. The final stall sells Thai snack food.

You browse the stalls, make your purchase and then grab a table and chairs in the centre of the market. There is seating for about 40 people. Those who fancy a drink have the options of using the bar stall or nipping over to the 7-11. The bar shuts at 21.00. Food dishes cost between 30 and 80 Thai Baht depending on what you have. The beer prices at the bar are the same as in the resorts. The 7-11 option is slightly cheaper.

Thong Nai Pan Night Market is held daily from 16.00 to 22.00. It is run by locals and the food is cooked fresh. It is one of the best ways to try a wider range of Thai dishes than is offered by the resorts and restaurants. Moreover, it is cheap, fun and a unique part of Thai culture.

For those who get the 'night market' bug and want to try other night markets we recommend Suratthani Night Market and Hua Hin Night Market.