Koh Phangan is renowned for full moon parties, buckets of booze and just out of school backpackers. But there is also a very different side to this island; it’s relaxed, laid back and very beautiful, it’s mountainous and tropical with lush coves and white sand.
As per usual we spent hours trawling the web trying to decide where to stay. In the end we decided to go with a recommendation from one of my favourite travel bloggers, Fit Travels, and booked Cookie’s Salad Resort on Haad Salad Beach in the north west of the island. We booked two Beach View Wooden Cottages for £54 a night.
From the ferry port it’s about a 15-20 minute songathew ride costing 200 baht each. You are dropped at the top of the resort on quite a steep hill, the rooms are dotted around the hillside, so I wouldn’t recommend this resort for anyone who’s not steady on their feet, but it was certainly a fun way to arrive!
We arrived at the resort an hour earlier than check-in so we were fully prepared to spend an hour in the restaurant grabbing lunch. Unfortunately, our rooms weren’t ready for us until 4.30pm, a long time when you’ve been up travelling since 4.30am and just want a shower and a nap! There wasn’t much in the way of explanation and I think the only reason we didn’t wait longer was our persistent asking at reception. Anyway, once in our room any feelings of frustration evaporated at the sight of the view beyond the floor to ceiling doors at the foot of the bed.
We ate a lot in the resorts restaurant/bar/breakfast/hangout area which really is the hub of the place. Breakfast was good, not the most exciting but everyday there was a nice variety of cereal, fruit, pancakes or waffles and some cooked items. The staff are lovely, so friendly, the great value lunch/dinner menu is really varied, Thai and western, and the view over the beach is the best on Haad Salad. The milkshakes, including Nutella, were a big hit over our time there! There are quite a few other resorts and restaurants along the beach for a change of scenery when you fancy it, we had a bbq on the beach one night which was lovely and the seafood was fab.
For me the best thing about staying on this beach was the incredible snorkelling to be had on the incredible reef. We snorkelled a couple of times each day and saw a huge variety of fish and wildlife just a short distance from the beach. We took our own water shoes which were invaluable given the coral but everything you need could be hired from Cookie’s Salad for about 100 baht a day. I love the freedom of being able to snorkel straight off the beach, we stuck quite close initially but after a lovely Dutch man we met showed us how to navigate out we became more adventurous and saw some breathtaking things. For those who aren’t as fond of the sea the resort has a swimming pool which was lovely for cooling off.
A few other things to mention; we ate most lunches and a couple of dinners in the resort as well as drinks throughout the day and our tab on checkout was £100 per couple – such great value!! That also included our transfers to Koh Tao which we booked directly through reception, and the hire of snorkelling gear. Wifi in our rooms was a bit hit and miss but was pretty good in the restaurant and on the beach if this is important for you. There are very low tides on this beach which mean you have to walk quite a way out to swim at certain parts of the day, for us this wasn’t an issue and it certainly wouldn’t put me off going again but worth mentioning.
We really enjoyed our stay at Cookie’s Salad Resort and I would highly recommend it despite the hitch at check-in, after a quick scan of Trip Advisor I think this might actually be a bit of a regular occurrence, something they should really sort out asap. If budget allows I would opt for a Beach View Wooden Cottage or a Beach Front Cottage. The relaxed vibe really suited what we were looking for and we will definitely be going back!!
61/8 Moo 8, Haad Salad, Ko Phangan 84280, Thailand