Friday, 9 September 2016

News Update for Thong Nai Pan

Thong Nai Pan continues to remain a popular holiday destination. Despite gaining a reputation as a beach best suited for high-paying guests there are still reasonably and competitively priced rooms available on both beaches at such places as Baan Paanburi, Pingchan, Thong Tapan Resort and Sandee Bungalow.

A study of other parts of the island reveal that the move to up-grade is happening all over Koh Phangan. For example the west coast of Koh Phangan that until recently was mostly frequented by long-term visitors and semi-permanent ex-pats who didn't mind staying next to mud flats and beaches with massive tidal differences has now become something of a hotspot. Srithanu and the beaches nearby such as Nai Wok, Haad Chao Phao, Plaay Laem, Hin Kong and Wok Tum are now known as a centre of spiritual excellence with numerous providers of yoga, reiki, detox-ing, irrigations, medical massage and other New Age treatments and instruction. Hotels such as Kupu Kupu in Plaay Laem, Grand Sea Resort in Nai Wok and private villas for rent such as Tembusa Villa in Hin Kong and Sunset Hill Boutique Resort in Haad Chao Phao are catering for 4 and 5 star guests. Panviman, Rasananda and Santhiya have no longer an exclusive hold on high-paying and short-staying guests.

For some the proximity to the facilities, bars, restaurants and shops of Thongsala as well as the yoga schools of Srithanu outweighs the needs of being next to a great beach. Others prefer a more traditional resort based holiday next to a sandy beach with good swimming. For this Thong Nai Pan remains.


There are few items of news concerning Thong Nai Pan and travel. Firstly, the main road to Thong Nai Pan which is entirely concrete has had some work done to it for maintenance. The road was so long in the making that the earlier parts constructed have needed repairs.

Koh Phangan Airport has come back on the radar. Theories abound about the possible transport hub near Thong Nai Pan. First it was on, then it was off and now it is maybe on again depending on whether Kannithi Aviation can find a loan of 2 billion Baht with low interest rates. The project is already 1.1 billion Thai Baht over-budget. There is no doubt a lot more to the story but facts are few and far between.

It was announced that the Bottle Beach to Thong Nai Pan Road would be upgraded in the future. The road running through the hills at the back of Thong Nai Pan Noi is going to become the last part of the main road going up the east coast.

While getting passing traffic to bypass the village in Thong Nai Pan Noi is a good thing, the temptation for Buri Rasa to claim the public road down to the beach as well as Rasananda to close its part of the beach road is unabated. Vigilance is needed to prevent these things becoming de facto realities.


In August a large contingent of police from the mainland arrived on the island with the mission of investigating building on official park land. Around the island little bits of designated park land (not for building or farming) have been appropriated for commercial use. There is the question of Than Sadet which is all national park status. The beach has Mai Pen Rai Bungalows and Plaa Than Sadet Resort. Talks are on-going with the locals and the government about the use of the beach.

The police knocked down several structures on the west coast and other parts of the island. Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai have been unaffected by the 'clean-up' initiated by the army administration in Bangkok.

In a side note, the police have visited Thong Nai Pan to call upon the local jet ski operators. Naturally no one was licensed and after several chats nothing much has changed.


While there is still a medical centre at the northern end of Thong Nai Pan Yai, near the Middle School and temple accommodation more locals have been availing themselves of a doctor that is now visiting the area once a week. The step up in local medical coverage is analogous from having access to just a nurse to also having access to a general practitioner.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pingchan Beach Resort Opens in Yai

At the start of 2016 Thong Nai Pan Yai welcomed back Pingchan Resort. The resort had been wiped out by a particularly bad storm in the early 2000s. It has taken a long time, but eventually, they have managed to build a new resort where the old one used to be.

Pingchan Beach Resort is located next to Pen's Bungalows. It stretches south and goes in front of the Great Escape Chalets. The most noticeable thing about the new resort is that it has opted to use its beach front not just for its restaurant, but also its bungalows.

So far there are 2 rows of bungalows running parallel to Thong Nai Pan Yai beach. The front row has literally direct access to the beach. Guests don't have to walk through the resort to get to the beach. It is right there, to be enjoyed from the bungalow balcony. Only Rasananda in Noi offers the same level of beach access. There is something wondrous about having an unimpeded view of the beach; and being able to lie on the beach just in front of your bungalow.

The sign on the resort reads 'Pingchan Beach Resort'. However, the internet listing on Agoda has the place called 'Pingchan Koh Phangan Villas Beach Resort'. To add to the confusion, Trip Advisor has named the place 'Pingchan Beachfront Resort'. Well a rose by any other name.

The resort has yet to be finished. So far there is a beachfront pool and a reception and restaurant building. From the look of things there are plans for a poolside restaurant or bar. Considering the high accommodation prices, it is likely that there will also be a Pingchan spa at some point.

Those who can remember the old Pingchan's will remember their bar on the beach. It was a popular, laid back bar that sometimes hosted parties. We imagine the new Pingchan Resort will show the same resolve to provide good customer service and to entertain and engage with customers.

The new bungalows look great. They are all brand new and have no wear and tear. This means these are some of the cleanest and nicest bungalows on Yai. They all come with air-con, hot water bathroom, cable TV, mini bar, safety deposit box and tea and coffee making facilities. The bungalows are made of wood and have tiled floors inside and glass in the windows. While preserving the look of traditional Koh Phangan bungalows Pingchan are providing plenty of luxury.

Families will be interested in the double bungalows for rent. They are two bungalows adjoining and linked by a connecting door. The one half has a double bed for the parents and the other side has twin beds for the kids. Each side also has its own bathroom. One of the family bungalows is on the beach.

Prices for bungalow rental at Pingchan Beach Resort start at 3,800 Thai Baht a night. This is a very new resort; they haven't published their low season or peak season prices yet. So expect discounts and promotional prices over the coming months.

Also expect more bungalows to appear at Pingchan Beach Resort, along with more facilities and amenities.

It should be mentioned they have built a low sea wall in front of the resort to prevent it being washed away in the event of another freak storm. It is good to see that the lessons of the past are being heeded.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Panviman Changes its Website Again

I guess there is a lot of pressure to deliver when you are in charge of a 5 star hotel in Thailand. I suspect Panviman changes its key management team as frequently as Chelsea Football Club. Each new manager seems compelled to commission a new website. The last one for Panviman needed dealing with as it was hacked, and remained hacked for a number of months.

The latest website for Panviman Resort and Spa in Thong Nai Pan is a thing to behold. It is no doubt expensively put together. The opening page uses a series of full screen video clips sewn together to show what the hotel is like. It is very similar to the opening page of PayPal.

The images start with the corner of the beach that Panviman claims, then the speedboat transfer, then the less glamorous minibus transfer, then various clips of hotel rooms, restaurants, spa and fitness room. The site is successful in drawing the viewer in to the 'world of Panviman on Thong Nai Pan'. Pictures speak louder than words; and videos speak louder than pictures. In a sense Panviman has a jump on Rasananda, Buri Rasa and Santhiya in this respect.

The only downside is that the website needs a decent broadband connection (but less so than old Flash sites) and the impact is diminished by viewing the site on a smart phone (which more and more people are doing because they love their phone).

The biggest criticism is that there is a spelling mistake on every page - namely 'Guest's reviews'. The apostrophe needs to be after the 's' since they are referring to more than one guest. In the review section they use, Agoda and Review Pro. Trip Advisor is noticeable by its absence, as is the fact that the reviews are handpicked and hand coded: the reviews are not in a dynamic feed. The hotel clearly is vetting comments. The hotel also is reluctant to post links to Trip Advisor where people can book on another site.

This leads on to another point - are notorious gits when it comes to their 'price parity' clause in their agreement. It has been challenged in European courts and is an on-going blot on the reputation of the hotel booking site. They insist hotels cannot offer cheaper rates on their own website.

And yet the Panviman website offers 10% discounts on 'best available rate' for those contacting the hotel directly. It looks like flouting the rules. won't take them to court in Thailand but can sabotage Panviman in other ways. We will see.

Other noticeable changes is that the Cool Sands Pub doesn't feature at all on the new website. This surely spells the end for the expensive restaurant on the beach with buffets and live entertainment. It looks like Cool Sands is a flop - the party scene died in Thong Nai Pan Noi and the attempts to instigate a bourgeois, sedate version of the said scene has fallen on its face.