A trip back to our little paradise in Thailand
Back in 2017, as many of you will know, we bit the bullet and took a Silver Gap Year. We wanted to have the experience while we were still young enough to enjoy and appreciate things we might not be able to in a decade or so’s time.
Part of our experience was visiting the Island of Koh Phangan in the south of the Gulf of Thailand. Back then we were completely blown away by it. The peace and quiet, the slow and easy pace of life and the extraordinary friendliness of the people. The locations were idyllic, with pristine white sandy beaches, lush forests and crystal clear blue waters. This was all combined with a lovely warm (not too hot!) climate. Paradise!
We vowed then to repeat the experience, so after all the Covid lockdowns and restrictions between 2020 and 2023 we decided to go back. We were hoping in our heart of hearts that we wouldn’t be disappointed, having had such a special experience last time.
This time we were to spend 6 days on the island of Koh Samui before returning to Koh Phangan. Being accustomed to our own home comforts, we decided not to scrimp and booked a beachfront villa at the lovely Prana Resort on Bangrak beach. It’s a stone’s throw from both the airport and the ferry port it is ideally situated for easy access on arrival.
The Flight With Eva Air
Getting there was surprisingly easy. We flew with Eva Air on their non-stop London to Bangkok service and then took the short domestic flight onward to Koh Samui. The whole Bangkok airport transfers couldn’t be easier. Everything is located in the one terminal building and with minimal queueing we were through to our domestic flight with the minimum of fuss. Eva air, we hasten to add, were fantastic.
We took advantage of an eleventh-hour upgrade to their Royal Laurel Class and were treated like VIPs throughout. The departure was on time, the service was second-to-none and the food and drink were absolutely superb. We could definitely get used to the whole lay-flat bed arrangement that comes with the upgrade, but can’t imagine being able to afford such luxuries on a regular basis. Everything pre-flight was great too. The Eva App proved to be extremely helpful, with options to check-in, choose meals, and even change seat allocations if available.
Bangkok Airways’ flight to Koh Samui was also surprisingly good too, with on-time departure, and considering it’s only a 1 hour flight, an in-flight meal service. Before we knew it the hotel’s own taxi service whisked us to our check-in at the Prana Resort.
Arrival At Koh Samui
We’d been in touch with the Prana in advance to find out some information about the resort. The person we’d been in touch with, Min, was there to meet us when we checked in. Nothing was too much trouble. The room was fantastic, looking out onto the infinity pool and the beach just beyond. We literally stepped straight from our room, through our own sun terrace and onto the pool deck. The resort has its own spa, where we took advantage of a couple of treatments. The traditional Thai massage was an invigorating, if a little bruising experience. However, I definitely felt good after it. Kathryn went for the facial, which she said was also really relaxing.
The resort is close to lots of little restaurants and bars as well as a couple of supermarkets. The quality of the food both at the hotel and in the nearby restaurants was amazing.
Samui to our Paradise on Phangan
After six days it was time to get a ferry over to Koh Phangan. We chose the Seatran Service as it departed from Bangrak pier, just half a mile from the hotel. Arriving at Koh Phangan, one thing we did notice was that it seemed busier than the last time we visited. However, we surmised that it must have just been a busy afternoon when we arrived because when we got to our next hotel – Beyond The Blue Horizon – everything was as we left it.
It really is our definition of paradise. Each bungalow is tastefully furnished, air-conditioned and has its own terrace verlooking the beach at Haad Chao Phao. This is where sitting out having sunset drinks is our idea of heaven. The Frangipani restaurant serves a mix of local and European dishes all done to perfection. The breakfasts are out of this world, all served with an open beach view as a bonus.
Our preferred way of getting around the island was on a rental motorbike. The roads are narrow and not the easiest to navigate in a car. Not only that, but the feel of the wind blowing past as you explore the remote coastal roads can’t be beaten. We did wince a little when we saw obviously inexperienced youngsters hiring bikes. Riding bikes on those roads isn’t for the faint hearted or inexperienced and it’s little wonder the accident stats are so high there.
So, was it still paradise? You bet! We’d go back at the drop of a hat (or a lottery win) without hesitation. We have memories from there that will last a lifetime and met friends that we’ll never forget.