“Stunning, back-to-nature island hideaway with stilted wooden houses, rainforests, snorkelling and endless beaches”
Golden Buddha Beach is less of a resort, more a low-density community for nature lovers. Accommodation is in 1- and 2-bedroom houses (though Baan Bua does have 4 bedrooms!), which are all privately owned and therefore vary considerably in terms of style and comfort but overall all have intricate and original design features. All of them are built in traditional Thai style, using tropical hardwoods and other natural materials: thatched or shingled roofs, sliding doors, louvered teak shutters. Most are elevated a couple of metres above the ground. They are very private, and each has a veranda or terrace for sitting outside - all are aligned with the ocean front facing the Andaman Sea.
Bathrooms are open-air, with a shower, a washbasin and a flushing 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 phones and certainly no TVs! Mosquito nets and coils are provided, and the houses are serviced daily. It may be simple but we can tell you from experience that you sleep soundly!
The more desirable houses are the Beach Front variety, tucked 20-30m back into the vegetation. Some of these, although simple, are incredibly stylish and spacious; they are also cooler as they catch the breeze. The Beach Back houses are located a couple of minutes' walk into the rainforest, under a high canopy of trees. The 3 houses in the Bon Temps Complex (which we’re yet to see) are set back from the beach in the tropical foliage, and are ideal for families or groups as they can be booked together.
As the houses vary so much let the reservations staff suggest the best one for your needs. We have seen most of them and the ones which stood out for us were Baan Tamarind which we feel is the loveliest house for a couple wanting more space and style, and Baan Mangorn, which would be perfect for a family of 4-6, with 1 double and 1 twin bedroom, plus an additional loft bedroom, in 2 separate but linked houses.
All meals are eaten in the Clubhouse, a split-level building, covered with hand-made roof tiles, in an elevated position with idyllic views over the Andaman Sea. The ground-floor dining room opens onto 3 airy terraces, whilst upstairs is a spacious lounge, furnished with colonial furniture, with its own bar where friendly staff are always happy to pour you a drink or mix up something in the blender. The fruit shakes are as delicious as they are healthy.
A buffet breakfast (extra charge) is served from 7-11am. Help yourself to a selection of freshly-baked breads and cakes, homemade jams and honeys, tropical fruit, cereals and juices. There are also some cooked options.
Through 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 a stay on the island, and is freshly prepared using seasonal, local ingredients. Expect fresh fish and meat dishes, Thai curries and vegetarian options. On Saturdays a BBQ is held.
The thatched Beach Bar is also open throughout the day, serving stone-baked pizzas with a variety of toppings, as well as snacks, salads, cakes and smoothies.
Some houses have kitchenettes or full kitchens (see Rates for details) though there aren't any shops nearby.
If you enjoy the simple things in life, there's no shortage here…
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2014
Winner: Best Island Escape
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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; and there were a couple of other families with older kids, too. 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.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Beach Back Jai Yen is best for young children, with safety gates and single bedroom linked to the master bedroom by a barn-style door, which is quite fun (there are also 2 sofabeds in the sitting room). It's also close to the clubhouse facilities.
Beach Front Mangorn is our preference for a family of 4-6, with 1 double and 1 twin bedroom, plus an additional loft bedroom, in 2 separate but linked houses. The whole "complex" is on stilts and very near the beach.
Beach Back Dee is also very family-friendly for a larger family. Note that no houses have baths, and whilst most have solar-heated water, some don't.
Babysitting is available, and most babysitting is done by the local chambermaids, who speak no English, but their manner was so beatifically confident that our young son was charmed to bits on their daily beachcombing and sand-digging sessions. If it important to you, an English-speaking sitter may be possible on request. See Rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Food is available all day, and all menus feature child-friendly dishes. There's a discount of 50% for meals for under 12s and under 3s eat free.
It's a remote hideaway with all that entails: the resort suggests that you bring everything you need with you (including nappies, extra baby food, toys 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. Kids need to be good travellers - the airport is 4 hours away.