Florenz Kittel, who has a business taking aerial videos, visited the site of Koh Phangan Airport in January 2015 to fly his drone over the site. He has kindly put his video footage on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZtDDlhsc64).
You can see the footage above. It clearly shows the area that has been cleared for the airport. If you look at the render published by Kan Air below you get an idea of how the airport will be laid out. Judging by the size of the trucks and builders’ huts on the ground, the area cleared clearly looks large enough to hold a runway as well as airport buildings.
The video clip also shows that alot of work has been done levelling the ground to make it suitable for building. As yet, it looks like little concrete has been poured. This obviously indicates that the airport completion is clearly at least 12 months away, if not longer.
The comments to the original YouTube video are mostly cynical about the new airport. On the other hand, the video does show that work is on-going, and that the airport is feasible as an engineering project.
Koh Phangan Airport is being built on the east coast of the island on a spot near Than Sadet, and not far from the famous twin beaches of Thong Nai Pan. The average tourist to the region is probably familiar with Thong Nai Pan and its luxury hotels; they have probably heard about Than Sadet and its royal connections; but probably much of the rest of the area is an unknown quantity. This post will look at the east coast region where Koh Phangan Airport is located.
The east coast of Koh Phangan is the most mountainous part of the island. It is a rugged coastline dominated by volcanic hills that run down to sheer cliffs that are battered by waves. Storms coming in from the South China Sea hit the east side of Koh Phangan. There are no coral reefs on this side of the island to break up the waves. The few beaches on this side of the island have been formed by rivers eroding the volcanic rock and creating deep coves.
The largest beaches on the east coast are Thong Nai Pan Yai and Thong Nai Pan Noi. Following the coast down from these beaches there are a series of rocky outcrops until a small island is reached that is called Koh Kong Than Sadet. It is a deserted island. South of this island is the famous beach of Haad Sadet. It is located in a national park. Just back from the beach is a famous waterfall that runs all year round and flows over 3km down a series of basins. It is here that several Kings of Thailand have visited and the signature of King Rama V can be seen carved into a rock.
Haad Sadet is reached by boat or by a rough jungle road that joins on to the main Bantai to Thong Nai Pan Road. Work is under way to improve this road. Than Sadet used to have really cheap and basic fan bungalows on the beach, but recently the accommodation has improved and the prices have gone up.
At the southern end of Haad Sadet a river flows out to the sea. There is a small rocky outcrop and to the south of this is another smaller beach called Haad Thong Reng. Haad Sadet is a quiet beach and its neighbor Haad Thong Reng is even quieter with just two bungalow resorts.
Further south is another small sandy beach. It too has a nearby water fall. The beach is called Haad Nam Tok and the nearby waterfall is called Than Prapad. It is near here that the new airport is being built. As with Haad Sadet there is a very rough road to this area. It is only for 4 wheel drives and for experienced drivers. There is one beachfront resort. There is also Kung Bungalows about 20 minutes walk away up a trail. Also about 20 minutes walk from Haad Nam Tok is Than Prapard Resort. Both are remote sea view resorts that few people know about. They are also both currently available for rent. They are not on the power grid and so use diesel generators. Water comes from Than Prapard Waterfall. There is a jungle footpath connecting Haad Thong Reng with Haad Nam Tok. It is not a well marked trail and few foreigners have done the hike.
Continuing south the beaches are in order Haad Yang, Haad Yao East, Haad Wai Nam, Haad Thian, Haad Yuan, Haad Khontee and finally Haad Rin Nok.
All the beaches on the east coast are spectacular, all have great mountain backdrops, all have year round swimming, and all are (with the exception of Haad Rin Nok) hard to get to.
No doubt the introduction of a fully functioning airport on the east coast will go a long way to making some of these great and largely unknown beaches more popular. However, the untamed geography of the region will deter developers from building large hotels for several years to come.
Airport to maximize profits by proximity to Thong Nai Pan Noi
It is interesting when you consider the geography of Koh Phangan and the location of Koh Phangan airport. There is plenty of flat land near the southern coast in the Ban Tai area. There are also plenty of potential sites to the west of the island and to the west of Khao Ra Mountain.
Moreover the chosen spot for the new airport is on the mountainous east coast, a part of the island that is famous for its inaccessible beaches such as Haad Yuan East, Haad Thian East and Than Sadet. The road from Ban Tai that goes up the east coast all the way to Thong Nai Pan in the corner was once the worst on the island.
When the news first came out that Koh Phangan was going to get an airport near Thong Nai Pan many doubted the story. It is an area with thick jungle wedged next to the highest mountain on the island covered in huge granite boulders. It led to the belief that the airport was actually going to be in Chaloklum in the north. It also led to talk of using very small planes that would only be able to make the hop from Koh Phangan to Suratthani.
The rationale behind placing the airport was obviously commercial. Firstly, 10 minutes down the road is Ban Tai. It is an area expanding all the time as it adds more rooms with every new party added to the monthly roster. The parties and after-parties come almost unbroken in Ban Tai. In the jungle are Jungle Experience, the Half Moon Party, Ban Sabai, Shiva Moon Party, and Blue and Green Sramanora Waterfall Party. On the beach there is the Black Moon Party and Rhythm and Sands Kiwi Party. And of course, the Full Moon Party is in Haad Rin, just over the hill on the south-east peninsula.
Secondly, and more importantly, Thong Nai Pan is just a few kilometers from the airport site at Than Prapas.
The 3 best hotels on the island are easily Rasananda, Santhiya and Panviman. They are all located on the small beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi. Buri Rasa is just being finished and is expected to offer a 4 star on-the-beach experience. Thong Nai Pan Noi is one of the best beaches in the Gulf of Thailand and was once a Mecca for backpackers and long-stay visitors. Developers started realizing the potential of Thong Nai Pan Noi in the early 2000s. Thong Nai Pan Noi now rivals the up-market resort areas of Koh Samui. Many high-end tourists prefer the more rustic and less sleazy atmosphere of Thong Nai Pan Noi to other more traditional destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui.
It is clearly believed that the flights between Bangkok and Than Prapas in Koh Phangan will be fully booked most of the year by those looking for a few days in a hotel or private villa in Thong Nai Pan.