Koh Phangan, and particularly Haad Rin, may be famous for their rambunctious party scene and Full Moon Parties, however, the island has much more to offer than just buckets and hangovers.
Once you’ve watched the sunrise one too many times on Haad Rin’s party Sunrise Beach, head just a couple beaches over to Haad Thien, home of The Sanctuary and one of Koh Phangan’s secret little niches.
What is The Sanctuary?
The Sanctuary is a health and yoga retreat located only 20 minutes by taxi boat from the Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin. Don’t let the words ‘health’ and ‘retreat’ put you off — The Sanctuary is one of the least pretentious places that you can visit.
Sure, they do offer five-day fasting and cleansing courses for the truly hardcore, but at the same time, they sell beer and cigarettes at the same counter that sells organic fruit drinks. And you’ll never be approached or pressured to join any program or class.
People come to the Sanctuary for a variety of reasons: for yoga, tai chi, meditation, holistic medicine, massage, and sometimes simply to chill out in a beautiful setting with interesting people.
While you will meet a few hardcore ‘new age’ types with dreadlocks, The Sanctuary also attracts families, couples, and single backpackers who just want to hang out away from the party scene.
The Sanctuary is a diverse resort wound throughout a confusing-yet-beautiful garden setting. The accommodation works for all budgets; you’ll find a place to sleep no matter what. Very basic dorms (a mattress on the ground with mozzie net) from 200 baht all the way up to entire villas for 3000 baht per night. The average private bungalow costs between 600 – 800 baht per night.
You only have two choices for eating at the Sanctuary: the main restaurant and common area — which boasts some of the best and healthiest food in Thailand — and the Spice restaurant located on the grounds. Both options are truly amazing and use only fresh and organic ingredients — worth the difference in price compared to the food in Haad Rin.
The Sanctuary operates with a very loose accounting system — you are given a three-digit number to use for food, drinks, and workshops. You simply give you number and your purchase is added to your account. There is no ATM in Haad Thien, so many people have to make money runs back to Haad Rin; you’ll find several daily boats going that way.
The beach at the Sanctuary is decent enough for sunbathing, but it is a bit rocky. Instead, you can climb 15 minutes over the rocks to neighboring Haad Yuan for better sand and a few new eating/drinking options.
The Sanctuary in Koh Phangan, Thailand, is a very unique place and some people return there year after year. You won’t get bored, and can always take a 20-minute boat back to Haad Rin to party. Otherwise, you can relax with a far more sophisticated crowd of travelers, take advantage of the many workshops, and enjoy some of the best food in the islands.
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