Golden Buddha Beach Resort

Koh Phra Thong, Phang Nga, Thailand Book from Book from £84 per night

GIVING BACK GIVING BACK
Stunning, back-to-nature island hideaway with stilted wooden houses, rainforests, snorkelling and endless beaches
If you’re in Thailand looking for utter peace and seclusion in an unspoiled natural environment, this is the place to go. Golden Buddha Beach Resort is the perfect antidote to the high-density tourism and rampant development found on nearby islands like Phuket and Krabi. With 15 kilometres of empty golden beaches and not a jet ski in sight, the island, although large, is totally undeveloped - when you arrive no buildings are visible. Take an early morning walk along the beach, or swim in a sea turned gold by the sunset, and the place is all yours. Go canoeing along a tidal river or snorkelling in the bath-warm lagoon, and you'll have just hornbills, sea eagles and - if you’re lucky - sea turtles for company.

Practise yoga in an open-air pavilion under the coconut palms; blissful Thai massages are on offer in a shady sala next to the sea. Staying on the island is as close as you can come to having your own tropical hideaway in paradise, without having to cater for yourself and your family.

Highs

  • Morning swims on a deserted beach, followed by a gentle massage and a healthy breakfast of exotic fruit
  • A range of spacious, private and well-designed wooden houses that suit couples, singles and families alike
  • The happy, smiley staff - a symbol of the successful training programme that employs 98% of staff from the village
  • Saturday BBQ night is great fun - there's a bonfire on the beach with rum punch and cashew nut roasting
  • Exemplary environmental practices including solar energy, sustainable fishing and water purification

Lows

  • This is a back-to-nature resort: expect geckoes, tree frogs, monkeys, occasional snakes and black flies (if the weather is unnaturally still)
  • There's no pool, but you’ll have miles of beach to yourself
  • Rooms don't have air-con, but beachside houses in particular benefit from a sea breeze
  • Don’t expect much in the way of nightlife
  • The location means travel arrangements need to be planned carefully - worth it once you arrive!

Best time to go

The peak tourist season is November to February, when the weather is slightly cooler (30C) and there is little rain. It's a perfect time for swimming, canoeing and snorkelling, plus there are daily yoga sessions if you want to 'dip your toe in', but are reluctant to sign up to a long course. Sea turtles nest in Dec-Jan and hatch in March and April. The resort closes during monsoon season from 28th April - beginning of November.

Our top tips

Be aware that when you arrive on the island there is no pier so wear shorts or a skirt/trousers that you can roll up - you get off the boat into at least a foot of water.

Yoga guests: no need to bring your own equipment, the platform is fully equipped. But if you would like to bring your own mat, please do.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Foodie
Spa
  • Beach Resort
  • 28 houses for 2-8
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: late April - late October
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Kayaks available
  • Yoga sala
Room:

Rooms

Golden Buddha Beach is less of a resort, more a low-density community for nature lovers. Accommodation is in 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom houses, and built in traditional Thai style, using tropical hardwoods and natural materials with sliding doors and louvered teak shutters. They are very private, and each has a veranda or terrace - all facing the Andaman Sea, located either on the seafront or set back in the jungle garden.

Bathrooms are open-air, with a shower, a washbasin and a toilet. Most have solar-heated water, but if your house lacks this (see Rates for details), the air temperature is generally so warm that this is not really an issue. There are no mod-cons, except for a mini bar with beer and prosecco inside. Mosquito nets and coils are provided, and fans keep the houses cool.

The houses vary hugely, so we recommend letting the reservations staff guide you, although we thought elegant Sea Blue 1 was perfect for a couple, and Bougainvillea was ideal for a beach-loving family with its lateral layout and stylish verandah with day beds. For larger groups we’d recommend spacious Tamarind, which has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, or sprawling Baan Mangorn, which sleeps 6 and is the largest beachfront house affording wonderful sea views.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace

Eating

Meals are eaten in the convivial Clubhouse, a split-level building with idyllic views over the Andaman Sea. The ground-floor dining room opens onto 3 airy terraces, whilst upstairs is a spacious lounge with its own bar - try the fruit shakes, they are as delicious as they are healthy.

A buffet breakfast, served from 7-11am, has a selection of freshly-baked breads and cakes, homemade jams, honey from the savannah, tropical fruit, homemade yoghurt and fresh coconut water. There are also cooked options, including pancakes, organic eggs or French toast.

Throughout the rest of the day, there’s a single daily menu chalked up on the blackboard. The food, mostly Thai but with some Western offerings, is one of the highlights of the resort, and is freshly prepared using seasonal, local ingredients. Expect fresh fish, Thai curries and vegetarian options. On Saturdays a BBQ is held.

The thatched Beach Bar stays open throughout the day and serves stone-baked pizzas, as well as salads, smoothies and ice creams. Or, if you prefer, Tiffin boxes of crab fried rice, fruit and spring rolls can be delivered to your Baan at lunchtime.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Meal delivery service
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

If you enjoy the simple things in life, there's no shortage here…

  • Swim and sunbathe along 15km of golden sand on 2 different beaches
  • Try one of the twice-daily yoga classes led by certified yoga instructors
  • Have a traditional Thai massage or herbal treatment at the massage sala next to the beach
  • Spot over 400 different species of birds, including horn bills and bee-eaters
  • Climb up Hornbill Hill to visit the lovely airy sala and check out the views
  • Visit the nearby island of Koh Ra to trek through its virgin rainforest, enjoy a picnic lunch and swim on a secluded beach
  • Kayak or SUP at high tide to discover the bay and the mangrove creek
  • Rise early for a jeep safari into the white-sand savannah to spot deer and crane
  • Learn the technique of Batik painting at the village school, whilst the school-children practice their English with you
  • Spend the day snorkelling the azure waters of the Surin islands, 50 km from the resort and a designated National Park

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Kayaking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Scuba diving
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Wildlife
    • Yoga

Kids

i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2014
Winner: Best Island Escape

If you don't mind the long journey, Golden Buddha is an ideal place to bring a family. i-escape's editor spent a very happy fortnight here in 2011, with his 3-year-old son, staying in Beack Back Jai Yen. The Thai staff are very kind and caring to little ones and the chef is always happy to whip up meals for her younger guests. The island is car free, so children can wander about freely without fear of traffic, and the sea and jungle are on your doorstep.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Beach Back Jai Yen is best for young children (under 4s), as it is the only house with safety gates. There's a single bedroom linked to the master bedroom and 2 sofabeds in the sitting room. It's also close to the clubhouse facilities.

The other houses are stilted with stairs/drops so are not suitable for very young children. Baans Mangorn, Marina, Metha, and Dee are our recommendations for families of 4-6, as they all offer plenty of space. Note that no houses have baths, and whilst most have solar-heated water, some don't.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available, and is done by the local staff who have limited English.

Baby equipment:

  • 3 cots available
  • Baby bedding
  • High chair
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Food is available all day, and a special kids menu features spaghetti, egg fried rice and homemade chicken nuggets. There's a discount of 50% for meals for under 12s, and under 3s eat free.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Set right on a long beach (some waves/undertow) with a safe shallow bay a short walk away
  • Great swimming, snorkelling and kayaking (some kayaks seat 2 adults + 1 child; small lifejackets are available)
  • Beach toys, snorkels and masks, and inflatables are available
  • The jungle is on your doorstep, with monkeys, iguanas and hornbills easily visible

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Rainforest trekking
  • Jeep tours
  • Day trips to local villages and schools

Families Should Know:

It's a remote hideaway, we suggests that you bring everything you need with you (including nappies, extra baby food, arm bands etc) as you won't be able to buy it here. The houses are built on stilts above the shoreline so there are unprotected drops in most; you'll also have to be confident with your children in the water and in the jungle. Sandy tracks mean that pushing buggies is difficult, a baby carrier would be a better option. Kids need to be good travellers - the airport is 4 hours away.

Distances:

  • Airport: 4 hours
  • Hospital: 2 hours
  • Doctor: 45 minutes
Kid Friendly: NEW

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 6 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We travelled with a 6 and a 3 year old. The location, beaches and wildlife made for an unbelievable and relaxing setting. The service from Massi and the team was excellent and balanced but most importantly, it felt very authentic - we were made to feel like we were part of the community, which was really great. We will definitely go back as a place to unwind and have great experiences. It was both brilliant and unique - I know my children will have some lovely long term memories from this holiday.

10/10,

The Golden Buddha Beach Resort was very restful, easy to walk around, with a great beach nearby. Our cottage was in a great location - just short walking distance to the beach! The food was excellent and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Always wanting to see wildlife during our travels, the resort provided a perfect trip for this too!

10/10,

From the moment Massi waded out to sea to the longtail to greet us with a 'Welcome to Paradise!', to the moment we waved good-bye to him 5 days later, this was a magical experience. Golden Buddha has all the benefits and privacy of a remote desert island but with a super-warm welcome from Massi and the team who are wonderful and gracious hosts; nothing we asked for was too much trouble. This is the opposite of the impersonal, stiff resort-everything about the service and attitude of the team exudes warmth and enthusiasm, both for the guests and the island itself. Our house (Baan Jai Yen) was fantastic-simple and clean and all that we needed-and suited us as it was near the 'hub' of the Clubhouse. The restaurant at the resort is lovely (although guests with little kids might want to bring a few snacks from the mainland as there's no minimart on the island) and the staff are super-sweet to the kids. We were lucky enough to spend Songkran here and we really had a ball- Massi and the gang went out of their way to make it a really fun day for everyone, including our wee 4 year old in the festivities from the get-go and getting him soaked within the first 5 minutes! Great memories! I'd highly recommend Golden Buddha-a very unique experience and one that we won't forget!

10/10,

We've chose the house sabai jai. It was an amazing nature experience with the open rooms and nature sounds. On the next trip we will choose a bigger house a bit more protected and with more kitchen appliances. The food, service, and the experience were all amazing. Massi is always there helping you on everything you need. The food is absolutely delicious, and you have the chance to experience everything about Thai food with the highest quality ingredients, and always fresh.
My decision for a house with a kitchenette is because I have three little kids, on my next trip there, I will bring from Phuket some more snacks and quick easy food that can be cooked to my kids' taste when they are hungry and without waste. Some houses have a full kitchen and if I have known that before I would definitely have brought more food to cook.
Around the hotel you can walk easily to two other resorts and also experience a bit of their kitchen. There's nothing special, but just for a change. For that, you have to carry money, which we usually don't do in this paradise!
Beaches were just perfect for adults to relax and kids play safely on the shallow water even during the high tide. Even the other guests were so friendly and everyday we met different and interesting people, nice and engaging to talk to. And the kids made lots of friends.

It was the best holiday we've had in years with the whole family, and definitely the best surprise of Thailand!

9/10,

Great resort in many respects! Really remote, and it truly does feel like your own little island paradise. It's not developed much beyond the resort, so you've got miles of what is essentially private beaches. The restaurant on site is really fantastic - though expensive (you can easily spend 75% of the cost of your nightly room bill on just eating throughout the day) - but I wouldn't recommend bringing any snacks from the mainland, though. We had a particularly frightening 12-monkey attack and pillage on our stores in our cabin while I was in the room, and as such didn't keep even a crumb in there for the remaining 10 days.

The room quality varies quite a bit, so do a bit of research to find a villa that fits your comfort level & budget. Do keep in mind that the prices quotes for, say, a 3-bedroom villa, is just for 2 people. So if you actually plan on using all 3 bedrooms, be prepared for a hefty add-on fee. We found this out late, after inviting my brother and his fiancee along, that we'd effectively need to pay and additional 50% of the room rate each night for them to stay in what would otherwise be an empty bedroom.

All in all, we loved out time here, and it's a beautiful, untouched splurge - just be prepared for the final bill to be more than the lovely initial price tag! :)

9/10,

Our stay at the Golden Buddha Resort was magnificent, truly magical. We knew getting there was going to be a bit of a trek, but it was really worth it. The location by the sea is great, the beach was vast and empty, each tree-house beautifully furnished and our son liked it too (the pool table, the pizzas at the beach-bar and wifi at the clubhouse especially) It's a place to enjoy nature, where you can reflect, breathe and simply live. With a few added bits of luxury the resort had the perfect balance for us. We spent most of our days at the resort (close to the beach bar) and the club house in the evening, playing pool, cards or reading after food. The staff were ever so friendly. If we would recommend anything, it would be good to offer a few alternative dishes in the evening for kids although saying that we thought the chef was really excellent. Breakfast was a treat too! Thanks to everyone at Golden Buddha for the lovely memories, we enjoyed it immensely.

10/10,

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Rates for Golden Buddha Beach Resort