Thong Nai Pan Yai is the quieter half of a double bay in the north east corner of Koh Phangan in Southern Thailand. The next door beach is the better known Thong Nai Pan Noi, which has four luxury beachfront resorts that attract high spending tourists from all other the world. By way of contrast Thong Nai Pan Yai has no luxury resorts in the same price range but loads of mid range and budget bungalows. You can walk between the two beaches in about 20 minutes.
About Thong Nai Pan Yai
Thong Nai Yai has a small village spread out, unattractively, on the road set back about 140 metres from the beach. There are some bars, shops and restaurants along this road and quite a lot of the the local people live there. What attracts tourists to Thong Yai Pan Yai is, however, not this village area but the beach and the resorts built between the road and the beach.
Before the large resorts moved into the neighbouring Thong Nai Pan Noi from 2005 onward, very few people went to Thong Nai Pan Yai. This changed as Thong Nai Pan Noi developed and the inexpensive bungalows there were replaced by very expensive hotel rooms and beachfront pool villas. Thong Nai Pan Yai gets visitors on a lower budget, mostly families but also some younger visitors on back packing tours around South East Asia. This means that the bars get a bit more lively on Thong Nai Pan Yai than they do in Thong Nai Pan Noi, although no where near as busy or noisy as the nightlife in Haad Rin on the other side of the island, where the Full Moon Party takes place.
Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach
Thong Nai Pan Yai has a 950 metre long gently curved white sand beach. The beach on Thong Nai Pan Yai is actually better for swimming than the more popular beach on Thong Nai Pan Noi. The currents are less strong and the sea floor drops more gently as you walk into the sea from the beach. It is a good place to bring children to swim. There are rocks, however, in the far eastern end of the beach which you can avoid by sticking to the western half of the beach.
There are lots of beach bungalow resorts with restaurants where you can eat on the beach front, as well as a small number of independent restaurants and bars, none of which are particularly expensive. For day trippers to Thong Nai Pan Yai the most popular option is to park their vehicle at Pen’s Bungalows in the middle of the beach and to enjoy the beach in front of this resort, making use of the restaurant and bar operated by Pen’s Bungalows.
Restaurants in Thong Nai Pan Yai
Most of the eateries in Thong Nai Pan Yai are operated by the resorts. Some of these are better than others. There is also a small market area in the village opposite the branch of 7-Eleven. This market is fairly cheap and the stalls are operated by local people and worth supporting to help spread some of the tourist income around amongst smaller business operators instead of giving everything to the big resort owners.
Independent restaurants in Thong Nai Pan Yai include:
- The Living Room: Italian food at mid range prices, with an Italian chef overseeing the cooking.
- Pa Thong: Authentic Thai food at the cheapest prices you will find in Thong Nai Pan Yai. There is only one chef here so if it gets busy you need to wait a while for your food.
- Wisit Burger: Small restaurant that serves burgers big on flavour. The Thai owner spent many years living in the USA and learnt how to cook good Western food whilst living there.
- Siam House: Pleasantly located Thai restaurant inside a Thai style wooden building.
- Siam Beach: Old school beach front bar and restaurant that serves very good pizza and Thai food at reasonable prices.
Accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Yai
The accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Yai is moderately expensive compared to mainland Thailand, but cheap compared to neighbouring Thong Nai Pan Noi. You can get a basic bungalow near the beach for less than 1,000 THB per night, but you need to pay a bit more for something actually on the beach or a bit more luxurious.
The hotels in Thong Nai Pan Yai include:
- PingChan Koh Phangan Beachfront Resort – 3 star. Newly built 1 and 2 bed beachfront bungalows. This is the best and most expensive resort on Thong Nai Pan Yai.
- Starlight Resort Koh Phangan – 3 star. Mix of bungalows and hotel rooms of various quality and range of prices. Nice pool and beachfront location.
- The Great Escape Chalets – 3 star. Very comfortable bungalows with plunge pools. Set back a short way from the beach this small resort is very popular with regular visitors to the area.
- Nice Beach Resort Koh Pha-ngan – 3 star. Hotel rooms set around a large pool on the beachfront.
- Pen’s Bungalow – 3 star. One of the largest and longest running resorts on the beach. Great value for money with a wide range of different types of bungalows. The restaurant here serves better than average food and the small bar is popular.
- Thai Terrace Bungalow – 2 star. Value for money bungalows in a garden a short way from the beach. This is very much a traditional style bungalow resort.
- Dreamland Resort – 2 star. Large and inexpensive bungalow resort right on the beachfront. This resort has a large pool and restaurant area.
- Aesthetic Resort – 2 star. Small mid price range bungalow resort on the beach.
- Longtail Beach Resort – 2 star. Value for money small bungalow resort in a quiet location at the eastern end of the beach. The restaurant here serves very good Thai food at reasonable prices and it is well worth going there to eat even if you don’t stay there.
Travel to Thong Nai Pan Yai Yai
There are lots of ways to get to Koh Phangan. The most expensive option is to fly to Koh Samui and then take a boat over to Koh Phangan. Cheaper options include flying to Surat Thani and then taking a bus and boat transfer to the island, or taking a sleeper train to Surat Thani and then a bus and ferry transfer to the island.
There is only one form of public transport in Koh Phangan, which is a shared taxi. The fare from the main port in Thong Sala to Thong Nai Pan Yai in a shared taxi is 300 THB per person.
Location of Thong Nai Pan Yai
- Thong Nai Pan Yai is on the East Coast of Koh Phangan.