Tag: 2017

Mae Haad Update 2017

New beach bungalows

Mae Haad was once a beach destination in Koh Phangan that few people had heard of. For many their only exposure to the beautiful double beach of Mae Haad and nearby Koh Ma would have been a boat and snorkelling trip of the island. Things have moved on for Mae Haad. It now looks set for an up-market make-over.

From 2012 Mae Haad started gaining popularity with beach lovers as an unspoiled beach destination and as Koh Phangan’s equivalent of Nang Yuan which is also a National Park and blessed with a strip of beach joining the mainland to a small island just off the coast.

As a result several accommodation options started popping up in Mae Haad such as Mae Haad Garden Inn and Mae Haad View Resort offering cheap bungalows near the beach. At the same time beach massage shops and small stalls made their appearance.

Changing Beach

In 2017 the beach massage shops and small stalls selling food and drink have largely disappeared. Moreover, the row of wooden bungalows directly on the beach have been pulled down. These fantastic budget options have been replaced with 2 storey beachfront houses made of wood and concrete.

This is clearly a move to appeal to a different demographic. Resorts are trying to attract higher paying customers looking for beachfront accommodation. Island View Cabana and Mae Haad Bay Resort see the future of Mae Haad tourism as being about air-con, swimming pools, better service and exclusivity. To some degree this transformation can be seen happening all over the island. It is perhaps just more noticeable in Mae Haad.

The beach used to attract long stay guests of a more Bohemian mindset looking for a relaxed and friendly beach with cheap prices. These guests have largely been replaced by short stay tourists looking for more creature comforts.

Mae Haad is in a transitional phase. Whether it can be re-branded as a luxury resort area like Thong Nai Pan Noi is still to be seen. However, for those looking to escape the crowds of other Koh Phangan beaches Mae Haad is still an excellent option. There are also still cheap rooms to be had at:

And what’s more less people to share the stunning beach with is for many a massive bonus.

Accommodation Update for Mae Haad for 2017

Mae Haad Cove Bungalows

The year 2016 was good for Mae Haad accommodation. Two resorts managed to get Agoda scores for the first time. Another first is Mae Haad Cove: they finally caved in and partnered up with booking.com to provide online booking. The other major development is that Wang Sai Resort is looking to expand by splitting into two businesses.

In terms of room prices, there has been little movement. This means with the small drop in the value of the Thai Baht, Mae Haad provides good value for money. The one exception is Island View Cabana that has doubled the price of its cheapest bungalow offering.

The Movers

Mae Haad Cove is perhaps the standout resort in Mae Haad in terms of improvement. It has gone from 94 in the specialist lodging category to 66. Moreover, Mae Haad Cove can now be booked online using booking.com.

While Mae Haad View Resort fell in the B&Bs category from 62 to 70, it registered its first Agoda rating (5.9 out of 10). This is not high but it shows they are taking online booking seriously. And even better, prices fell slightly for beachfront bungalows.

According to Trip Advisor Mae Haad Guest House dropped slightly in excellence – going from 155th to 164th in the lodging category. The good news is that the guest house broke into the Agoda rankings and scores a very respectable 7.3. Room prices remain the same at Mae Haad Guest House.

Wang Sai Resort is a mover for the reason that they seem now to have two listings with Agoda. One is Wang Sai Resort, the other is Wang Sai Garden Resort. It looks like they are starting to use land set well back from the beach. Travellers booking online should be clear about which Wang Sai they are booking.

In terms of ratings, Wang Sai Resort got its first Agoda score – 7.3. However, it fell in Trip Advisor – moving from 140 to 189 in the speciality lodging section. The prices for accommodation also went up.

The Non Mover

Why Not Bungalows continues for 2017 to fly under the internet radar. Agoda and Trip Advisor continue to ignore the backpacker resort primarily because it eschews online booking. You still have to rock up and see if they have a free bungalow.

The good news is that prices remain the same for the bungalows at Why Not and, as before, those prepared to stay for a few days can negotiate a discount.

The Losers

Royal Orchid Resort has seen a slight drop in rankings. Agoda continues to ignore the place while the Trip Advisor ranking fell one place from 83rd to 84th in the hotels category. This category only lists 89 hotels. So Royal Orchid is literally one of the worst hotels in Koh Phangan. The price for a sea view fan bungalow stays at 400 Thai Baht a night.

Although Island View Cabana slightly improved its Agoda rating (going from 6.5 to 6.6) the popular resort fell from 64th to 98th in the B&Bs category. This doesn’t tally well with a jump in price from 400 to 800 Thai Baht for a fan bungalow.

Mae Haad Garden Inn rose from 8.6 to 8.7 in Agoda but dropped considerably in the Trip Advisor listing – going from 126th to 193rd in the lodging category. The one positive is that the pricing structure for accommodation stays about the same.

Mae Haad Bay Resort is the best example of a hotel in Mae Haad. It has had an average to poor year. It’s Agoda score dropped from 8.3 to 8.2 and it went from 22nd best hotel to 31st best hotel. Perhaps connected, is that the fact that room prices went up except for the most basic rooms which fell in price.

Conclusion

Mae Haad continues very much the same as usual. Prices haven’t changed dramatically and the resorts have not attempted to upgrade significantly and convert the land by the beach into a building site.

The fact that some Mae Haad accommodation has got an Agoda score for the first time indicates that Mae Haad is not quite as obscure and underground as it once was. Still it remains a fabulous beach and the best place to go snorkelling in Koh Phangan.