East Coast

Volcanic hills, cliffs and hidden beaches

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.

view from Kung Bungalow
view from Kung Bungalow
Than Prapad Resort
Than Prapad Resort

Kan Air

About Kan Air

Kan Airways is a shortened version of the full company title which is Kannithi Aviation Co. Ltd. The company was founded in 2010. The CEO for Kan Air is Mrs. Saychon Sibmong. She is the wife of Mr. Somphong Sooksanguan who is president of Kannithi Group and owner of Kan Air.

The Kannithi Group initially made their money in the debt recovery business but since 2010 has diverted much of its financial attention to the aviation business.

At present Kan Airways serves 8 destinations in the north of Thailand. They are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang, Mae Sot, Nan, Pai, Phitsanulok, and Khon Kaen. These air routes are served by one Cessna Grand Caravan 208B. All the routes are scheduled except for the Mae Sariang one. The airport lacks infrastructure and so Kan Air is only able to offer chartered flights to and from this airport.

Part of the reason that Kan Air was able to secure the use of a Cessna airplane from America is that the company agreed to make the craft available for emergency medical evacuations from remote areas in the north of Thailand.

The main travel hub for these northern chartered and scheduled flights is Chiang Mai. Kan Air’s head office is located at 100/519 Moo 2, Chaeng-Wattana Rd. Thungsonghong Laksi in Bangkok. The telephone numbers for Kan Air are +66 (0)2-551-6111 and +66 (0)2-576-0844. The email address is center@kanairlines.com. The Kan Air website address is www.kanairlines.com

It is interesting to note that the Laksi area is close to Don Muang Airport. This airport was initially disused when Suvarnabhumi Airport opened. However, in the past couple of years pressure has been put on the government to open the airport again. This has been done and a number of budget carriers such as Air Asia have chosen to move to the old airport.

Kan Air is keen to move from its current travel hub in Chiang Mai to Don Muang in Bangkok. It is not only the capital city but also a more important travel hub with larger volumes of air traffic.

The lynchpin to Kan Air’s plan for the future is to establish itself as a major player in the lucrative flight business between Bangkok and the Samui Archipelago. While Bangkok Airways dominate the Samui to Bangkok route the Phangan to Bangkok is the next best thing. Not only does Koh Phangan attract tens of thousands of visitors a month, it also has a growing high-end in tourism that has long been expecting the establishment of an airport.

Kan Air is going to lease turbo props to run the route between Don Muang and Koh Phangan. It hopes to build on this success and also offer flights between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

It could be only a matter of time before Kan Air posts record profits while Bangkok Airways start to post lower profits. They will potentially lose many customers who are only using Koh Samui as a transfer point to get to Koh Phangan.

Kan Air has announced that Koh Phangan Airport will open in the second half of 2013.

Cessna

Media and Koh Phangan Airport

First published in June 2012

What the media and those who comment say about the airport

Below is a sample of media stories concerning Koh Phangan Airport. They are taken from the internet. I have chosen a forum, a blog and two major news providers. The aim of this post is to first establish that the airport is not a fiction, and secondly to show how the story is presented and how people have reacted to the story.

Lonely Planet Thread

The Lonely Planet forums are a good place to gauge traveler opinions. The thread was started in May 26th, 2012. It is longer on the LP website. As with many threads on Lonely Planet it is dominated by people who want to prove that they are right, that they have a monopoly on common sense and cultural insight. What is interesting is that there are two clear reactions to the airport. One is shock and disappointment. It is assumed that the airport will turn Koh Phangan into ‘another Koh Samui’. The other is denial. The deniers make statements about the geography of the island with the certainty of land surveyors.

Am i right in thinking that an Airport is about to be built or has been built on Ko Phangan?? please tell me it isnt true.

Another fucked up Island like Samui, developers, and sky high prices for mediocre propertys, at the moment the only thing that stains the island is the fullmoon ( lets rape a western woman) parties but thats once a month, this will kill it…..i can see all the bent coppers and mafia with there Yaba lining the airstrip waiting to fleece the unsuspecting flier to the island already…..hoards more women and trashy bars like Samui…what a crying shame..

  1. Progress baby, progress.
    I once had useful links here about medical tourism to Thailand and Thai airlines. That was before mods started destroying the usefulness of TT.
  2. As far as I know there is no airport (or at least not operational as yet)in Koh Phangan but there is defiantly one in Samui.
  3. Gotta love those defiant airports.
  4. Don’t worry, Koh Pan Gnan is a fucked up waste with or without an airport.
  5. Yes, that started to built it a few months ago, but they need a long time because they built it in the highlands near Thong Nai Pan. Now they cut many trees there and make the street.
  6. Another fucked up Island like Samui.
  7. Ko Pha Ngan in 2033, a prediction I originally made in 2008 but it sounds like Doomsday might be coming to KPN earlier than I expected 🙁
  8. Too late, they already have Tesco Lotus 😉
  9. Too late, they already have Tesco Lotus 😉
    and that’s always a nail in the coffin! 😉
  10. #6 has hit the nail on the head. Development rolls on.
  11. Apparently, East Timor is the place to be these days.
  12. ^^Read #6 post again and re-think your post!
    How many friggin airports have you seen in the highlands?
  13. Some folks on KP without doubt would be delighted with an airport so it can become the place the OP troller thinks Samui is, but it ain’t going to happen due to the mountains. KP just doesn’t really have the space for an airport.
    Now let’s have this post settle dust so in a few months we can have the same discussion again.
  14. Too right, topography presents a real obstacle to it ever happening on KPG (and by the way there is an award-winning airport 20km away by ferry). Still the idea of landing at Thong Sala International is amusing.
  15. it will never happen.
    simply not enough room.
    TELL EM THEYRE DREAMing

Phangan Blog

www.phanganaccommodation.net

The comments found on Koh Phangan Blog are in a similar vein. They bemoan the fact and they deny the fact.

  • jimcogan
    May 18, 2012 at 2:08 amWhere near Chaloklam?! Can’t imagine any place near there flat enough for a long runway!
    Reply
    Duwe
  • May 18, 2012 at 2:16 amTo get at the pearl, you first have to KILL the oyster, this is a grand mistake, and will bring about the ‘Ko Samuisation’ of fair KPN, the full moon and weekly parties were bad enough, but this is the coffin lid nail….sad to see the last ‘paradise’ finally becoming another Spanish Costa style ruination, degradation, and utter despoilment….this is a sad day, and will be the end of Beautiful KPN…oh, by the way, isn’t the WHOLE ISLAND supposed to be a national park..oh yes it is ….right!
    Reply
    Stephen
  • May 18, 2012 at 10:50 amAbsolutely disgusting. Within 5 years Koh Phangan will be another Samui, fat old westerners fighting for a spot on the beach. I guess money has won again. Bye bye Koh Phangan, you were a magical island. RIP
    Reply
    Philipp
  • May 18, 2012 at 6:14 pmThis makes me really sad. ;-(Isn’t it just unbelievable how fast things are changing? It was such an amazing great place just a couple of years ago… So thankful that I experienced this special place a lot of beautiful months… and so sad I never will again :-/
    Reply
    Thomas
  • September 24, 2012 at 11:18 pmI know now more or less where i can think that place will be, Did talk of this in both i also talk about it in 2008 we said nah man aint gonna happen never cheers, then again 2009 same spot at KHP dude did you get this they plan a air port ! nah man they cant where the fuc are they gonna put it mate ? eh . back again 2010 hey thomas they do talk of it know but may be in 5 years or so maybe and now look at it airport on the way to Chaloklam wow that earea is so nice what of kah ra? and dont forget the bloody oil drilling they oush at the north side of khp and around kho tao, this is now soon the place i cant go back to stay loong time eny more. last trip i do this winter so i guess this will be good bye for me also to the jem:-(

CNN

CNN

If anyone is still in doubt here is a screen shot from the CNN website announcing the arrival of an airport to Koh Phangan. The article links the airport to the Full Moon Party. As discussed in a previous article, the Full Moon Party has made the island famous, but it seems likely that it is Thong Nai Pan that is more important in the decision to build an airport on Koh Phangan.

Bangkok Post

Bangkok Post

The Bangkok Post also covers the story. It makes the financial sector of the newspaper which I find an odd decision as the financial section of news media often attracts little attention. You would have thought that the story deserved more exposure.

The Bangkok Post article focuses on Kan Air or Kannithi Aviation that was founded in 2010. It reveals that the company has made a quick fortune since 2010 collecting debts, and that Koh Phangan Airport is part of an ambitious plan to become a major budget carrier. The Bangkok Post article is in many ways the source of other articles – CNN repeats the facts from the Bangkok Post, and adds very little of its own.

Conclusion

The story of Koh Phangan Airport is not a fabrication. While the main media has not made much of the story those who regard themselves as travelers and who are compulsive comment makers generally disapprove of the airport. Those who approve of the airport obviously do not feel the need to add their two pence worth.

The angry reaction is partly due to the way people have a habit of appropriating places they love. Koh Phangan becomes their island; and so what happens to the island becomes a personal matter. Also ex-pats who stay in a place for a few months or a few years are fond of parading their expert status. It becomes so much a part of their psychological make-up that they are unaware they are doing it.

Video of Koh Phangan Airport

First YouTube video of construction site uploaded

First published September 2012

The first YouTube video of the construction site of Koh Phangan Airport has been released. As of 28th November, 2012 the video has had 978 views. The video was uploaded 3 months ago.

That is a slow uptake for an interesting piece of footage. It could be that there is not much to see other than cleared and flattened jungle. It could also be that many of the potential new customers for the airport simply haven’t heard that an airport is being constructed. It could be the lack of quality listings that certain search engines put out nowadays.

If you watch the video above you will see that the airport is in an amazing location. It is on the side of a cliff, surrounded by thick jungle. Than Prapas is famous for its beauty and for its waterfall.

It is also noticeable how short the runway looks. The plan is for a runway 1,100 meters long. Distances can appear deceptive in the tropical light through a camera, so it is hard to tell whether the strip of land indicated on the video is indeed over 1,000 meters long.

Kan Air plans to build what it describes as a thatch roof check-in building. Like, we imagine the original Koh Samui Airport before it was upgraded and moved. The idea seems entirely appropriate to the location. People are going to be amazed by the location and facilities at Koh Phangan Airport. In short it is going to be considered a very ‘cool’ airport.

Finally, comment should be made about the video itself. I suspect it was taken by tourists who stumbled on the site when all the workers were away. The site is empty. It is not an official site. The authors clearly have a point to make when they state how lucky the landowners are in that area.

They are clearly right in thinking the airport will change that part of Koh Phangan. As with all these developments there are winners and losers. Discussing whether this right or wrong is politics. It is going to be the quality businesses and the people who have land in the right place that are going to do well. Not all land is valuable or sellable in Thailand.

Thong Nai Pan and Koh Phangan Airport

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.

thongnaipan

Schedule Plans for Koh Phangan Airport

Kan Air seeks to become a major carrier in the region

Kan Air are not just planning to lay on a few flights between Koh Phangan and Bangkok; rather they hope to become a major carrier in the Samui Archipelago. Currently the only major carrier is Bangkok Airways. It runs flights from Koh Samui airport to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket as well as international destinations. Until a few years ago Bangkok Airways had a monopoly on Koh Samui Airport.

Now a few other carriers can use Koh Samui Airport. For the consumer this is great because Bangkok Airways that styles itself as a ‘boutique airline’ over-charges by about 30% for its flights.

For years people wanting to get to Koh Phangan quickly had to take an early flight to Koh Samui and then spend another 500 Thai Baht and hour getting from the airport to Big Buddha or Maenam ferry port and then taking a ferry to Thongsala, Haad Rin or Thong Nai Pan.

The new airport situated between Than Sadet and Thong Nai Pan in Koh Phangan intends to eventually establish a full schedule of flights to Koh Tao, Koh Samui as well as Bangkok.

Koh Phangan has frequently more than 30,000 visitors during Full Moon Parties and peak seasons. This is a massive market for flights. People often want to go to the Full Moon Party or a hotel in Thong Nai Pan for a short stay or a last-minute break. Having a convenient airport will be a good plus for Koh Phangan, and will draw in more tourists.

This will of course give Kan Air the financial ability to improve services and the number of scheduled flights.

Construction Continues

Work on the new Koh Phangan airport progresses

In 2011 work began on the process of building Koh Phangan airport. Permission had been given but the engineers had difficulty finding the best location for the runway and airport buildings. A site in Chaloklum seemed also under consideration.

Now the site in the north-east of Koh Phangan between Thong Nai Pan and Than Sadet has been developed, and work is well advanced to prepare the land and start building. The budget for the project has been revealed via the Bangkok Post as being $22 million dollars. This is an ambitious move from a relatively small budget carrier. Kan Air has told the press that the airport will be finished in the second half of 2013. That gives them about 6 months to complete.

The plans are for a runway that is 1,100 meters long. Koh Samui runway is much bigger – 2,060 meters. The short length of the runway is due to the mountainous terrain. Kan Air will lease 2 turboprops that can hold 50 people to run 3 80-minute flights to Don Muang Airport in Bangkok. Kan Air went into business in 2010 and has currently 1 Cessna that holds 12 people and goes between cities in the north. The hub for the carrier is Chiang Mai. Kan Air is hoping to move its hub to Bangkok’s newly booming Don Muang Airport and offer flights in the south of Thailand.

The future business health of Kan Air seems to have been staked on Koh Phangan Airport’s speedy completion and success as a travel hub.

airport1

Airport2

Airport Announced

As is so often the case in Thailand major decisions are not so much announced as allowed to escape into the public domain. For most of the residents of Koh Phangan it was when they saw the following sign dotted around the island that they began to think that the rumors about Koh Phangan getting an airport were not just empty rumors.

airport announced

For those who don’t read Thai, the sign basically indicates Kan Air’s sincere thanks for being given permission to build a runway on Koh Phangan.

The announcement surprised lots of people. Those who are familiar with the island know that it is an island covered in mountains in the center and along the east and west coasts. There are, of course, flat areas suitable for an airport but for years it seemed that nearby Koh Samui Airport would suffice to service Koh Phangan. The island was somewhat defined as Koh Samui’s ‘little brother’ that was not as developed and that drew many backpackers and low-end tourists looking for more pristine nature as well as cheaper prices.

This perception has changed over the last 10 years with the boom in the Full Moon Party industry. The Full Moon Party in Haad Rin as well as the other parties in Haad Rin and Ban Tai draw thousands of visitors to Koh Phangan every month.

Another change is the creation of an up-market enclave in Thong Nai Pan Noi that has 4 luxury hotels to choose from.

It seemed time that Koh Phangan stepped out of the shadow of its big brother and demanded its own independence. Kan Air with its successful bid to gain permission to build Koh Phangan Airport has judged the situation carefully.

Moreover, at the same time the government has identified 100 tourist locations in Thailand that should be developed. Koh Phangan is among the first 29 locations to receive funding. The projects for Koh Phangan include building a reservoir near Thong Nai Pan , further improving the roads on the island and laying underwater electric and telecommunication wires between Koh Phangan and the mainland. This will greatly improve the electricity supply and internet speeds as currently both are routed through Koh Samui.

It really is time for Koh Phangan to come out from Koh Samui’s shadow. The announcement of an airport for Koh Phangan should be seen in such a context. Whether the consequences of this action prove good or bad for the inhabitants of the island we will have to wait and see.