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Baan Tai Beach in Koh Phangan
Baan Tai (also spelt Bantai) is the name of a village and long stretch of beach along the south coast of Koh Phangan. It is an area that is very popular with visitors to the island for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that it is at the centre of the party culture that has begun to define the island in the wider public perception.
Baan Tai beach starts just outside the main port town of Thongsala and runs along the coast uninterrupted to the small beach of Baan Kai which is separated by a small creek. After Baan Kai the Haad Rin peninsula juts out to the sea.
It is a long stretch of beach that at low tide can be walked in its entirety. Halfway along the beach is a small pier used by local fishermen, tour boats and rented speed boats.
The beach at Baan Tai has fine white sand. There remains plenty of tree cover and the resorts are spread out, not cramped together. Behind the beach is a road that runs along the coast. The area used to be part of Koh Phangan’s coconut industry.
There are corals at either side of the pier or marina that start 200 meters off the coast. The sea floor gently slopes down to meet the coral reef. This means that during the lower tidal months (April to November) it is not deep enough to swim until the coral reef has been crossed. On the positive side, the shallow decline means it is easy to reach the corals and to go snorkeling. There are always plenty of colourful fish and other marine life to spot around the corals. These corals aren’t used very much for diving instruction or fun dives.
Another great thing about Baan Tai Beach is the view. You can see Koh Samui in the distance. At 6pm there is more often than not a wondrous sunset to make the view even more special.
If you lie on the beach sunbathing at Baan Tai you wouldn’t particularly notice the wind, but there is a steady sea breeze that makes ideal conditions for kiteboarding. It is a great sport that involves using a kite to drag you over the sea on a big board, somewhat like a snowboard.
KBA has a shop on Baan Tai beach. They rent out equipment and offer tuition. The winds change direction in December and June. Generally Baan Tai has the best kiteboard spots on Koh Phangan, expect in December when all the serious boarders head up to the north coast bay of Chaloklum.
Nightlife and Parties
If you read reviews about Baan Tai you will read several people complaining about a lack in nightlife. There are plenty of bars and clubs in Baan Tai. There are also outdoor parties nearly every week, but Baan Tai tourism (as with Haad Rin) is really geared around the Full Moon Party. It is like a having a mini peak season every month. When the moon is not nearly full or just past its zenith the various nightspots can seem quiet and lacking in atmosphere.
For those looking for a nightclub atmosphere there are three stand out venues – Loi Lay Floating Bar (at the pier), Amnesia (main road) and Ku Club (beach). They regularly throw parties and have guest DJs.
For those who prefer bands and live music there is White Rabbit, Bangers and Mash and Outlaw Bar. These bars also show live sporting events and have frequent promotions, Happy Hours etc.
The biggest party in Baan Tai is the Half Moon Party located on the road to Thong Nai Pan. On the same road is Jungle Experience. Both are monthly parties with an entrance fee. They go on all night and feature techno and trance devotees wild-eyed and swaying to the music that goes on to early the next morning. Other parties include Black Moon Culture (at Mac Bay) and Shiva Family.
The all-night raves at Baan Tai are very different to the Full Moon Party. They are more about the music; the FMP is a carnival of drunkenness and mayhem. People go to the Full Moon Party because it is the biggest beach party in Southeast Asia. They go to a Baan Tai party because they are into techno/house/trance.
For those unable to sleep after an all-night party, there is Baan Sabai Resort on the beach that hold free after parties.
Finally, no young man will be able to travel down the Baan Tai road at night without noticing the shouts of young Thai women outside the ‘girly’ bars. There are about 10 of these bars. This is the full extent of the red light district in Koh Phangan.
Baan Tai has a good selection of places to eat. There are cheap Thai restaurants, fast food places as well as restaurants more geared towards ‘cuisine’.
Popular places to eat include:
Fisherman’s Restaurant: Fresh seafood. Regularly voted one of the best restaurants on the island.
Food Factory: pizza, burgers and cold beer. Open air bar with theme that shows sporting events
Fresh Sushi: serves sushi, other Japanese dishes and Thai food
Hell’s Kitchen – has great burgers as well as Thai hotpot (mu gra tat)
Krua Span: specialises in grilled meats
The Lounge serves an impressive full English breakfast
The Pier Restaurant has fresh fish that they cook as requested.
Ando Loco has decent Mex-Tex dishes and has a happy hour
Yoghurt Home 1 has salads, vegetarian food and fresh yoghurt
There are beach resorts, basic backpacker resorts, basic jungle huts, private villas and backpacker hostels. You can spend as little as $6 and as much as $187 for a bed for the night.
As Baan Tai is a long beach with plenty of land behind the beach there is plenty of room for resorts to spread out. You are not as crammed into bungalows as is the case often in Haad Rin. The close proximity to Haad Rin means lots of full mooners choose to stay at Baan Tai. As a consequence many (if not most) accommodation places in Baan Tai insist on a minimum stay for those checking in around the FMP. This ranges from 3 to 5 days. Prices go up at this time.
Places like Lime n Soda, Power Beach Resort and Morning Star Resort have good mid-range accommodation near the beach with restaurant and pool.
Jungle Bar and Bungalow and Palida Resort have basic jungle huts and a warm welcome. The latter also offers fishing.
Sunshine Residence is a small collection of private pool villas. Awe Resort has 2 villas each suitable for 4 people. They are stylish buildings that share a private pool.
You can book a dorm bed in one of Baan Tai’s numerous hostels. Beds start at $6 a night. The dorms are normally mixed and hold 10 to 12 beds. Showers are shared. Guests are given a locker and access to free wifi. Hostels such as Hacienda Backpackers and Hard Road Hostel are very much aimed to a young backpacker crowd looking to meet like-minded souls in the hostel bar. They can be noisy places or lots of fun depending on your penchant.
Some of the best places to stay at Baan Tai are:
A1 Koh Phangan Guesthouse and Hostel from 200 THB
Hacienda Backpackers from 200 THB
O Sole Mio Resort from 400 THB
Power Beach Resort from 700 THB
Morning Star from 790 THB
Lime n Soda from 800 THB
B52 Beach Resort from 1,000 THB
Milky Bay Resort from 1,200 THB
Sunshine Residence from 5,000 THB
Awe Resort from 5,600 THB
In 2008 Princess Eugenie stayed at the Morning Star Resort in Baan Tai. She partied at Baan Tai and went to the Full Moon Party. This should come as no surprise since Eugenie continues to spend large amounts of her working life taking holidays.
Baan Tai is conveniently located near the main port town and Haad Rin, the scene of the Full Moon Party. It has plenty of amenities and facilities such as shops, bike rental places, supermarkets, book stores and even a church. There is a pier for tour boats. There is snorkeling. There are dive shops and a place to go kiteboarding.
By night visitors can enjoy some of the best attended and most ‘up-for-it’ parties in Thailand. It is a mecca for those who love dancing all night to techno, house and trance.
There are also plenty of restaurants to get great Thai food and fresh seafood, as well as to gorge on some sinful fast food. There are also other sinful options.
The beach is clean, plentiful and great for relaxing. The more active can swim or explore the coral reefs. All of this can be done on as little as $20 a day. It is no wonder that so many people return again and again to Baan Tai for their holidays.
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