Golden Buddha Beach Resort

Koh Phra Thong, Phang Nga, Thailand Book from Book from £43 per night

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, diving in pristine water, 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

  • No better start to the day than a swim on a deserted beach, followed by a gentle massage and healthy breakfast of fresh fruits and exotic juices
  • Spacious, comfortable and well-designed wooden houses positioned widely enough among the coastal woods to feel very private
  • This is quite possibly our favourite spot in Thailand
  • Fabulous diving, this is the closest landfall to the stunning Surin Islands and world famous Richelieu rock
  • This is genuine low-impact tourism. There are no cars on the island and the only “road” is a sandy track - so leave your shoes behind and live in flip-flops

Lows

  • Black flies can be problem if the weather is unnaturally still (usually there is a pleasant breeze). Geckoes are everywhere, and snakes are not unknown. On our most recent visit several tree frogs moved in with us and stayed for the duration
  • It is a good idea to keep your toiletries hidden in a cupboard, as the local monkeys have a habit of dropping into the open-air bathrooms and nicking the soap
  • Don’t expect much in the way of nightlife or mod-cons (though you do get the basics)
  • We're yet to see the most recent baans (Bua and Metha, and those at the Bon Temps Complex), but reports are good
  • 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. From March it warms up (typically around 35C) and then comes the monsoon season, from May to October. The resort usually closes for most of that period. Be aware, if coming at the start of monsoon (April-May) or the end (October), that the seas can get rough (though you can always swim in the protected bay) and there may be heavy afternoon downpours (though usually followed by glistening blue skies).

Our top tips

Pack your bag and then take half of it out. You won’t need much in the way of clothes as the resort is extremely casual and there is a laundry service. Leave in a torch, batteries, insect repellent, sun cream, beach gear and any essential toiletries and medications although there is now a small boutique at the resort plus some good books. And 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: the platform is equipped with heavy duty sticky mats, belts, eye bags, blocks, and a pile of cotton Iyengar-like blankets so you do not need to bring this cumbersome equipment from abroad. 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: 24 May 2017 - 31 Oct 2017
  • 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: Beach Back: Calao I / Calao II

Rooms

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 ground floor bedroom, in 2 separate but linked houses.

Features include:

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

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • 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 daily yoga classes led by certified yoga instructors (1 Nov-30 Apr). Private classes available on demand, too. Additionally there are occasional yoga workshops and fasting retreats

  • Have a traditional Thai massage or herbal treatment at the dedicated massage sala next to the beach
  • Discover the local wildlife, including over 400 different species of birds
; there's a settlement of hornbills at the resort, as well as many bee-eaters
  • Climb up Monkey Mountain to visit the lovely treehouse and check out the views - the treehouse can also be rented for a special night
  • Take a day trip to the nearby island of Koh Ra, and be guided through its ancient rainforest

  • Take a kayak at high tide to discover the bay and the mangrove creek

  • Go on a 15-minute boat ride and go snorkelling through the clear waters above the island’s reef

  • Or a jeep safari into the island’s interior

  • Visit the local stilted village and learn about a traditional Moken Sea Gypsy fishing community 

  • Visit the Surin islands, a national park in the Andaman Sea with some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world (operated by another company, using high-speed-boats for the 60- to 90-minute transfer)
  • Order a mango shake at the Beach Bar and just contemplate life in paradise


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; 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.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

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:

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.

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 all menus feature child-friendly dishes. 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 safe shallow bay a short walk away
  • Great swimming, snorkelling and kayaking (some kayaks seat 2 adults + 1 child; small lifejackets available)
  • Basic beach toys
  • The jungle is on your doorstep, with monkeys, iguanas, hornbills easily visible

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Scuba diving courses
  • Rainforest trekking
  • Jeep tours
  • Day trips to local villages

Families Should Know:

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.

Distances:

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

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 6 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Rooms
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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, , April 2017

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

9/10, , March 2017

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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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, , November 2016

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, , March 2016

Perfect trip to the perfect paradise.

10/10, , March 2015

I can't speak highly enough of this place...one of my favourite places I've ever stayed. Its not for everyone - make sure you read in detail so you know just how open to nature the houses are. For me it was complete bliss, with the most wonderful atmosphere and staff to match the paradise island.

10/10, , December 2014

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Rates for Golden Buddha Beach Resort