Staying on Koh Phayam
As I stepped off the ferry onto Koh Phayam’s pier, I knew immediately that I would love this place.Two nights before I’d spent over an hour reading reviews and checking in with myself before finally choosing Rabbit Bungalows, and I was eager to get to what looked like my tropical paradise. After fitting both my bags and myself onto a taxi scooter, away we drove towards my accommodation. 15 minutes later, Lek (the owner) gave me the keys to my private bungalow, with a lake view. I said thank you, closed my bungalow door and immediately burst into tears. This place was everything I didn’t even realize I needed and I could hardly deal with the overwhelming gratitude I was feeling. I’ve spent the last two weeks enjoying Ko Phayam, exploring its beauty and talking with other tourists.
The island itself is only 10 km long and 5 km wide with a population of around 300 locals. There are around 60 bungalow resorts on the island, which means during high season, you can expect upwards of 1000 tourists each day. As you can see on the map below, there are two main beaches, Aow Yai (Long Beach) and Aow Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay). I opted to stay near the Southern end of Buffalo Bay, which is good because it quickly became my favourite beach.
Where to Stay?
When choosing a place to stay, I asked myself these questions:
- Did I want to be close to the beach? Yes.
- Was I willing to pay more to be right on the beach? Not really.
- Did I want to be with the “crowds” on the beach? Definitely not.
- Did I want a cheaper place inland that I’d have to either walk a long way or take a scooter to? Nope, not worth it.
Then I saw the listing for Rabbit Bungalow and immediately said YES! It is everything I imagined it would be and more.
As you can see in the video above, the bungalows are built around a pond in the center of the island. This means I got my water view, without lots of people. Many mornings I’d have at least half an hour to myself to write and enjoy the view. As with all but 3 resorts on the island, we don’t have 24 hour electricity. We have power from 6pm-6am, so I have a fan to cool me down at night! I don’t miss the daytime electricity. If anything, it has me be more social and present in life. Due to the limited electricity, it also means no hot water. At first I was worried about the cold showers, but I’m usually so hot and sweaty that I welcome the cold. After the first 30 seconds or so of shock, it almost feels warm!
Lek, the owner here, is absolutely wonderful. He speaks English very well and clearly cares about his guests and their experience. Every few nights he’d organize BBQs, beach outings or has desserts and tropical fruits for us to try. The property is beautiful, but it’s his hospitality that really makes Rabbit Bungalows my favourite place on the island! First, our magnificent chef, also speaks English well and is equally eager to help. He’s also a great cooking instructor, which I’ll share about on a later post.
The other thing I loved about my bungalow resort was the community feel, it felt you were all part of the “Rabbit Family”. Having breakfast at the gazebo or spending the rainy afternoons chatting with the other guests became a highlight of each day. I met the most wonderful people and enjoyed being able to connect, share stories and laugh when I wanted the company. I also had the alone time whenever I wanted it. Best of both worlds for this solo traveller!
Most of the resorts on the island are located right on the main beaches, for good reason! The views are stunning. My bungalows were a short 5 minute walk to the beach, to the exact location in the above photo. For me, I preferred this. It really is a quiet oasis. Surrounded by tropical plants, listening to the birds chirping all day… I had the relaxation I was hoping for – in spades!
As with any travel, I recommend booking one or two nights somewhere online, and then extending your stay once you’re here. You will often get a deal because the owners don’t have to pay the online booking fee. For my private, basic bungalow it was 500 baht ($18 CDN) per night. Not the cheapest on the island, but for me well worth the stay! You will pay around 200-1000 baht ($7-$37 CDN) for bungalows right on the beach. I believe it used to be cheaper, but as the popularity of the island grows, so do the prices.
As you can probably tell, I highly recommend Rabbit Bungalows to anyone who wants to stay on Koh Phayam. I loved it there, and can’t wait to go back!