Back to my little Thai paradise at Than Sadet, Koh Phangan
After 14 years I finally returned to one of my dearest travel locations – Than Sadet beach at Koh Phangan, Thailand. This little Thai paradise is what I always refer to as my ‘The Beach experience’, from the popular movie. But my time there was only fun and games, no troubles at all. Let’s go back to how I found this hidden gem.
Finding my Thai paradise
May 2004, during my first backpacking trip, I found myself on the night-boat to Koh Phangan to experience a full moon party, like pretty much every other traveler in Thailand. I was traveling with Chad, a Canadian guy who I met in Malaysia. We decided to travel together for a bit and spend a few days at Koh Phangan. We weren’t really interested in staying in a busy place for too long, so figured a few days would be enough here. Along the way we met Lee from England, today still one of my best buddies.
Upon arrival at Koh Phangan he asked where we were planning to stay. We had absolutely no idea and answered we just wanted a nice quiet place, somewhere. ‘Then you should come with me’, he said with a smile. He was on his way back to the beach he stayed at for a month already, after doing a visa-run. He explained how a friend took him to the unknown Than Sadet beach, a true hidden gem that was almost impossible to reach due to horribly bad roads. There were only 2 ways to get there, by boat or return from the main town with the restaurant-owners’ 4WD. We opted for the last.
Those planned ‘few days’ turned into a month, one of the best months ever. Than Sadet was, and still is, one of the most incredible hidden gems I’ve ever visited, a wonderful little beach with nothing more than a bunch of simple huts and a few restaurants. With roughly 10 people staying there at a time, we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. A hut for $3 with a view to die for and some of the best people you can wish for, made these weeks some of the best of my life. Chilling in a hammock also has never been better 🙂
A few years later I heard of plans to build a huge hotel/resort on the beach. It broke my heart to know that the place would never be the same.
Returning to my Thai paradise
After 14 years my buddy Lee and I made plans to go back to Than Sadet. When doing research we were delighted to find out the hotel was never built. Yet we expected the beach to have changed a lot in those 14 years. With tourism booming everywhere, places change so quickly and nothing remains the way it once was. And Koh Phangan being as popular as it is, surely that would be the case here.
Imagine the surprise when we arrived there, having taken our motorbikes along the now cemented road, that almost nothing had changed! Time had stood still here, we couldn’t believe it. Yes, there were more people (mostly day trippers) thanks to the new two-year-old road. But otherwise the place was pretty much the same. It was so great to be back and a few months later and I decided to take Jen here and do a movie project at this gorgeous beach.
This time we stayed at Mai Pen Rai bungalows (before at Silver Cliff), one of the first accommodations at the island. They have been there for 25 years now and own most bungalows at Than Sadet. Their wonderful restaurant is right on the beach and is the place to go if you need anything, rentals, tickets, a boat ride to the full moon party, whatever.
My Thai Paradise movie
The timelapse/drone movie shows Than Sadet from the land and sky, throughout all times of day. This awesome beach with its popular little hidden beach and many rocks is such a great place with so many interesting angles and views. Shooting didn’t come very easy, as the first week we barely saw the sun. But hey, what’s new. Every project I do comes with those challenges and in the end things came together pretty well.
So, sit down, enjoy the movie and plan your next beach holiday here!
‘Trip to Eternity’’ by SCORE SQUAD, www.score-squad.com
- DSLR cameras/lenses: Nikon D850/D750, 16-35/f4, 28-300/3,5-5.6, 20/1.4 with B&W ND filters
- Compact camera: Sony RX100iv
- Motion control: Syrp Genie Mini Pan-Tilt
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro with PolarPro filters
Read more about the gear I use for these movies at the Gear section!