John Bassett's Bulon Lae Report - visited January 2011
Beachfront bungalows at Pansand Resort
Koh Bulon is a quieter island yet to have mass tourist development.
Since we were visiting Koh Bulon first we probably should have logically flown to Langkawi first not Phuket. Oh well what we do love about travelling most is when things don’t go according to plan, then the fun begins. Anyhow rather than sit in an aircon bus for 6 – 8 hours we decided to ferry and speed boat down to Bulon via Koh Lanta. This is definitely the more expensive option but is probably more fun, and gets you there quicker if you have limited time especially the speedboat (bring your earplugs against the 4 x 225hp engines).
Typical Satun Pak Bara area speedboats. 4 engined jobs are a bit bigger.
On Lanta we stayed at ‘Time for Lime’ which is pretty much close to everything. Accom is standard fan rooms. It has a cooking school and a restaurant overlooking a very touristy beach. The significant thing about ‘Time for Lime’ is the Norwegian owner runs an animal sanctuary there and there are lots of cats, a couple of dogs and a monkey roaming around the accom area. Running an animal sanctuary in Thailand is a tough job.
On Koh Bulon we booked our accom at Pansand Resort on line through Andaman Island Hopping.de. They were reliable and transparent so there were no problems there. Pansand has the best location, setting and accom on Bulon but that’s about as far as it goes. Service is muted, occasionally sullen, bordering on unfriendly. The food is ordinary for Thailand and a few sun lounges or hammocks wouldn’t go astray. Tezza you’re right bungalow 10 on the beach would be the one to book…next time. The beach at Bulon is easterly facing but excellent white sand and swimming. All accom/resorts are fairly close by... no cars or motorbikes on Bulon.
Second eating area at Pansand Resort
Marina resort restaurant up the beach and inland a bit is pure theatre and at night lit up like a trans-Atlantic liner, the food is better than Pansand.
Accom’ s fairly standard bungalows. The staff are friendly and the food is consistently good, probably the best Thai food we had in Thailand. The big plus is the new beach bar situated under the casuarinas next to the beach. Ex-pat French man Jean Luc is passionate about his drinks and all the drinks at the resort, shakes and cocktails are great and the beer is icy cold. Apart from the standard accom Bulone resort gets the big thumbs up. If you’re into partying forget Koh Bulon.
I modified this Google Earth image to show the places John mentions - Tezza. Might be worth clicking to expand.
straydog's Ko Bulone Trip Report - mid Dec 09
I can confirm what has been said on travel sites and Tezza's blog. Ko Bulone Lae is very nice. There is not much going on - actually nothing. Beautiful clear water and white sand.
I was offered an attractive front row concrete bungalow for 1300 baht including breakfast at Pansand - single use. Double was 1500 baht with breakfasts.
Bulone resort had a similar bungalow for 1200 baht with no breakfast. This was front row, single use, better positioned than Pansand and on a prettier beach.
When there IS a beach - because the tide is eating up the land, right from under the trees. So there are quite a few tree stumps right on the beach including huge trees. Some of them are still standing as above but they are obviously doomed.
Bulone resort also had a brand new wooden hut for 800 baht, front row, with more grass - less beach and very nicely located. I took this and was very happy with it. It comes with sheets, towels, shampoo, soap and was good quality.
Remember though, we are talking wooden hut on the beach, not high or even middle class hotels - so no sheet changing, no room cleaning, nothing of the sort! I say this as I found some mad reviews on Trip Advisor complaining the room hadn't been cleaned! Of course it hadn't been cleaned, it's a hut on the beach!
Erosion is threatening the restaurant as well - it is low tide in the above shot but you can see the high tide mark on this calm day. The restaurant has three menus - breakfast, lunch and dinner unlike those all-in-one menus of most places. Quite expensive, even when compared to other tourist places like KSR with Singhas at 60/120, pat thai 90-100 and fried rice 90-100. However, the reason for the higher prices became evident when the dishes were served. Portions are huge - like I hadn't seen in Thailand for years!
The staff is great, extremely friendly - the same can be said of Pansand.
After an email tip from Tezza about the good but crowded Marina Resort's restaurant I tried it and it was good... the crowd when at its peak - was of 13...
Bulone's internet is also a bit high in price at 3 baht per minute and fairly slow.
I paid 1100 baht return from Hat Yai using HatYai Tours also called Sukothai Tours, which is right outside the train station. A fair amount of overcharging seems involved - I found out later the return trip for the speed boat is 600 baht. So I was charged 500 return for the 2 hours in the minibus to Pakbara which seems too much. But it relieved me of the problem of finding my way to Pakbara. However if you are short of baht you will probably want to go by yourself and get a boat ticket at the pier. There seem to be two boats a day. The one I took left me at Pansand resort and left around 12:30. There is another leaving earlier getting to Bulone Resort.
There is a 50 baht levy charged by a local boat as you are reaching the island because the speed boat doesn't take you to the beach. It was suggested this money is for the community. That is Pansand's transfer boat in the above shot - was bringing in people for other resorts too.
Rachael's Ko Bulon Lae Trip Report - early Dec 09
Koh Bulon is situated off the South-western peninsula of Thailand, not far from the Malaysian border. There are about 5 resorts on the island but if you’re looking for a good beach view you have a choice of 2 – Bulone Resort or Pansand Resort. We stayed at Pansand and although a little more expensive (still only £30 a night including breakfast) it is located on a nicer stretch of beach - although Bulone's Resort's beach (above) is certainly nice at low tide.
Bulone's beachfront accommodation is right on the sand in full view of any passers-by....
...whilst Pansand's huts were set back in the vegetation so you get more privacy but still with a sea view and only 20 paces to the beach. Pansand offer three types of bungalows and we stayed in the Laolieng style in bungalow #5 which is closest to camera above. This one had in our opinion the best view of the beach (Tezza here - Rachael aint wrong - I arrived around the same time, had #1 which is far background in the shade. Thought to myself - jeez, I bet I booked loonng before these other people! OK - not quite as nice a view, but #1 was still a sweet location).
Both resorts have restaurants and we alternated between the two. They were equally good although Pansand above offers a more traditional Thai menu....
....whilst Bulone's seaside restaurant offered Pasta and Burgers in addition to Thai dishes.
A walk to the north side of the island takes you via a hilly trail to the top of the peak where Bong Hill, a cute Thai rasta bar is found with a small studio attached - one of the chaps who runs it creates and sells stunning canvases and batik prints.
Past Bong Hill is Bulon’s fishing village which is home to about 100 'Chao Lae' or sea gypsy people. We stumbled across the village accidentally and I was concerned that they may be a little annoyed at us invading their home but they seemed hugely curious of us and the children in particular were keen to try out their English.
Although a stunning island there is little in the way of nightlife on Bulon (other than Bong Hill of course!) and after 3 nights we decided to move on in search of somewhere with a bit more buzz to it.But for relaxing it is hard to beat - that shot above is in the camping area to the south of Bulone Resort.
A couple of final things to note about Koh Bulon – there is only electricity from 5pm to 7am (Tezza - Bulone Resort has electricity during the day) and whilst there are a couple of small shops selling drinks and snacks, there is no ATM so make sure you take enough money to cover your accommodation, food and onward travel.
Rachael has more on Muk, plus other islands like Lanta, Kradan and Bulon Lae on her site A DATE AT THE TATE. She also has a section on Bangkok and some good general info on MONEY, FOOD, COSTS, TRANSPORT etc.
You can return to the main Bulon Lae page here.
If you want to submit a trip report on Bulon Lae or any other location please send text and any pix to firstname.lastname@example.org - label it TRIP REPORT to separate from spam. If you have no pix, I can find some.