by Giulia Smith | November 1, 2015 8:17 am
During my time travelling around South East Asia with my best friend, we explored all of the well trodden areas on the popular backpacker routes; bumping into friends from England and visiting those unexplored beaches of thailand and temples that we had seen a thousand times before on our friends’ facebook pages. We strolled along the famous Koh San Road in Bangkok and tried fried insects, bought fake designer handbags and took in the sights at a Ping Pong show.
We took an old rubber ring and lazed down the river in Laos, tubing through the water with friends, stopping at makeshift bars along the way for some Singha beer. In Cambodia, we visited the killing fields, the reality of the horror that took place there less than 50 years ago, sobering us.
In Vietnam we hired mopeds and travelled the length of the country, zipping through the bustling traffic. We drove in awe of the luscious green landscape that invaded our eyes, stopping to visit the lantern filled Hue and the party filled Nha Trang.
However, my best experience in Asia was on the island of Koh Phangan. And before you say it, no, it wasn’t for the Full Moon party, this place was very much off the beaten track. Through a tip off from a friend from home, we’d heard of a beach called ‘Bottle Beach.’ It was visited by tourists during the day, but very few people actually stayed on that part of the island, preferring to stay in Haad Rin with all the other western tourists.
I have been reluctant to talk about Bottle Beach, as I consider it my haven – a place not many are aware of when they visit the island of Koh Phangan, and it is a place that is often overlooked and could be considered as one of the unexplored beaches of thailand. It is located in the north part of the island and has only three beach bungalow companies and three restaurants that double up as bars. The cost and quality of the accommodation varies as you go further along the beach, I have actually stayed in all three types of beach bungalows.
The bungalows to the left of the beach are very basic, with a thatched roof, a basic double bed, and a hose pipe for a shower, they are best suited for those on a budget or wanting to experience life as a local. The next set of bungalows are made entirely of wood and span across two floors, with double beds and balconies overlooking the sea. The final set of bungalows have two types of rooms – those set back slightly amongst the woodland area, or ( and these are my favourite) the rooms that are set right on the beach front with large balconies overlooking the sea. Nothing quite compares to waking up to the sound of the waves lapping the shore.
The island is reached mostly via long tail boat, however I visited once where the owner of the hotel ( who always pick you up from the port) collected us in her 4×4 and proceeded to drive us along the roughest, bumpiest terrain we had ever been on to reach the resort. We didn’t pass a single car on the way, so I’m presuming that isn’t the most common route to take.
What I love most about Bottle Beach is that you can literally switch off from the world. We had no wifi, no internet, no TV, no radio. We woke up in the mornings, went for an early morning swim in the warm shallow waters before drying off and indulging in some breakfast. Our days were spent sunbathing, reading and relaxing, with the occasional kayaking trip or trek through the beautiful mountainous landscape that is set behind the beach. If you are a fan of diving there is a very friendly dive instructor that works on the beach that will teach you the basics in an afternoon before taking you out on 12metre dives nearby where you can often spot whales.
As the beach is still not very well known it isn’t very busy. I would always make sure to wake up early and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, feeling truly at one with nature before the day trippers arrived who would stay until the late afternoon. I could truly relax again when they left around 5pm and the beach felt like it was mine again, with only a handful of locals and tourists remaining on the beach.
I have been back three times to this beach and it has never failed to impress me and make me feel truly at peace. Whenever I am back in the UK and feeling stressed or tired, I think back to my safe haven of Bottle Beach and instantly feel more relaxed.
The Travel Trail
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