Escaping to Thailand’s mesmerising Koh Phayam Island is perfect for eluding the hoards of people celebrating Songkran…
Traditionally, Songkran is a crazy holiday in Thailand that celebrates the Thai New Year.
Any unsuspecting passer-by whether strolling, in a car, motorbike, or other, is bombarded with water bombs, flour, and talcum powder. Bombs are hurled from secret locations along roads, against buildings, bins, anything, usually by children or teenagers, but also the occasional cheeky adult. So, the decision is made to escape from Khao Lak to gorgeous Koh Phayam Island during Songkran.
Getting to Koh Phayam Island
An early start today from Khao Lak so at the highway spot before the 7:15 am pick-up.
Although the bus company advises pick-up for our group of 6 is at the Day Market Bus Depot, decide to go with our gut feel and stand along the highway.
A wise move as the bus arrives slightly earlier (unheard of here) and doesn’t drive into the Day Market at all.
As Fiona, our fabulous Aussie Host on the island pre-booked tickets, our bus seats even boast reserved signs.
With a crowded bus, we start the 4-hour journey to Ranong, which only stops for a 20-minute break at Takua Pa. This bus starts from Phuket and continues further than Ranong. As this is Songkran’s holiday week (or weeks), we decide to pay for the ticket from Phuket just to get seats. A smart move.
The bus drops you off at the Ranong bus station, which is around 5-kilometres from the jetty. After a quick ride in the back of a Ute (pick-up), arrive for the 35-minute speed boat ride, which leaves at 12:00 pm.
PrettyAndaman Sea vistas await during this relaxing boat ride while whizzing along, passing many islands.
Speed Boat: 700B return
Accommodation: PP Land Beach Resort bungalow for 700B/night
Island Motorbike: 250B/day
Bus: Phuket to Ranong (225B)
Bus: Ranong to Phuket (350B includes minibus to Ranong Bus Station)
- Prices on the island are about 25% higher than in Bang Niang as everything has to be shipped to the island.
- At the time of writing in 2016, no ATM points or banks exist on the island. Bring buckets of cash unless your plan is to spend all of your time in high-end hotels and restaurants, as think these do accept credit cards.
A little on Koh Phayam Island
As the second-largest Andaman Sea island, this gorgeous slice of heaven off the coast of the Ranong Province is easily accessible to everyone.
No cars exist on the island – only motorbikes and scooters.
Fuel is more expensive than on the mainland of course (about 40-50B/litre). Although when a local guy charges 20B to pump up one scooter tyre, this is a tad annoying.
Taxi drivers on motorbikes are plentiful and waiting at the ferry dock, so don’t despair if you don’t have wheels. There is always someone to take you somewhere on this small 5-kilometre-long island. Luckily, Fiona awaits our arrival so we don’t have to barter for bikes.
Off we ride across this tiny island to our accommodation, on sandy roads that barely resemble a track. I am told that during the wet season, most of the roads on Koh Phayam are impassable and become sandy bogs.
Although the island is busy with local and foreign tourists, a wonderfully relaxed feel exudes from our surroundings. Maybe this is because the PP Land bungalow site is off the main drag.
Time seems to stop completely on Koh Phayam.
Interesting ‘Live Show’
Amidst the bungalow’s serenity of this island paradise location, guests are treated to what one can only describe accurately as hearing a live sex show!
One afternoon, the show begins behind the walls of the bungalow next to ours and continues again in the evening.
On this very quiet and still night, the dulcet tones of moans and groans permeate from the bungalow, which quickly increases to a shrilling crescendo until that ‘special’ moment of ecstasy is reached!
But the intense orchestrated experience does not stop there as the pleasure and show continue for an hour or so until sheer exhaustion overcomes the 3 ladies sharing the bungalow.
Many guests in bungalows applaud following the finale, as we also do!
After this performance, I’m beginning to wonder whether it was an LGBT weekend as there are also many same-sex couples and groups staying at the bungalows.
Where to eat
It’s wonderful to have a ‘local’ show you around Koh Phayam and also the best authentic eating haunts. The island offers many vegetarian and vegan alternatives while emanating an alternative bohemian feel.
Aside from riding around the island, swimming, snorkelling, lazing around at one of any given gorgeous sandy beaches, and meeting locals and ex-pats, eating your way around the island is also an excellent option! Depending on how much time you spend in Koh Phayam, you could do worse than trying every eating place.
Cha Chai Home
A little way down the main road to Ao Yai, Long Beach, try this groovy cafe for the best cheesecake I’ve had in Thailand and also the incredible shakes. Try the Snickers or Oreo shakes, which are to die for then there are the wonderful homemade cakes and slices. Meals are also available.
Not the cheapest prices around but friendly owners (Charmaine and Chai) and staff make the difference, especially by offering excellent service.
Right on the beach, you’ll spend hours here cherishing the cool evening breezes after a sweltering hot day. Sip your choice of liquid gold while contemplating life and your navel! Alcohol prices are a little on the high side. The Swedish father and son operation makes this very relaxed and why not, you are on island time in Koh Phayam…
My BBQ Bar
Don’t forget our amazing friend and host P Tao and Nara for delicious authentic local food, delectable fish, and incredible stories of piracy – what a colourful character. You must try this restaurant at least once during your stay.
The Hippy Bar
This incredible hand-crafted bar has taken the owner around 8 years to complete.
A labour of love collecting driftwood, flotsam and jetsam from along the beach to build this massive boat, with extra extensions.
A testament to enormous patience, passion, and stamina.
Volunteer with ‘All for Villages’
A worthy cause – Thailand has many not-for-profit organisations if you want to volunteer or donate.
Another reason for the escape to Koh Phayam is to visit Fiona from All for Villages, which is a not-for-profit organisation started after the 2004 Tsunami, which devastated most of the Andaman Coast.
If you’re interested in volunteering on a paradise island, then contact Fiona.
The organisation educates and provides community support on the island, especially for the displaced Moken Sea Gypsy Community. All for Villages also operates 2 HIV Outreach Programs, runs clean water projects, includes a sterilisation program for dogs and cats, and more admirable contributions to the island.
Leaving Koh Phayam
Trying to secure a ticket from Koj Phayam is a tad harder than coming over. On the island, you need to barter for the price, although you already know what the price should be because you arrived from the mainland. You would think that the ferry cost is the same price returning as when arriving on the island?
Think again…where there’s money to be made on the side, there’s a local waiting in the shadows. Still, this is the Songkran holiday season and a time when everyone makes a little extra cash.
As a suggestion though, try and buy your return ticket from the mainland to avoid being ripped off on Koh Phayam Island. For now, it’s back to reality for more volunteering after an incredible time on the island.