Cheap, old school bungalows right by the beach are becoming increasingly rare in Thailand, as more and more destinations are moving up-market, but don’t worry: rustic beach huts are still found in abundance on Ko Lanta and Ko Phangan. A far less known alternative island is Ko Phayam. All three are places that island dreams are made of.
You can easily find 800 baht beach side bungalows in these islands, often with hot water and even air-condition. But to go cheaper than that, you might need to look hard.
Have a look at our Thailand Map to see the locations of the best islands for cheap beach bungalows.
Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan – Which One Should I Choose?
Ko Lanta and Ko Phangan both have beautiful sandy beaches and cozy bungalow guesthouses. Both islands have a couple of beaches that have retained their original backpacker atmosphere even if some of the other beaches have developed more towards the mainstream travel.
Although Ko Phangan is best known for its monthly Full Moon Parties, the island is not at all as busy and party orientated as you might think. Quite the contrary: The Full Moon Parties gather huge crowds, but only for a few days each month. The rest of the time Ko Phangan can feel almost sleepy.
And even during the full moon, the raving takes hold of only one of Ko Phangan’s many beaches, Had Rin, and the rest of the island remains calm.
Ko Lanta is a very different breed. The island is always more or less mellow. Even if Ko Lanta has become one of Thailand’s most popular family destinations, some of the beaches, most notably Khlong Khong, have kept its original backpacker vibe with some of the nicest bungalow guesthouses in the whole Thailand.
While choosing between the two islands, it is also worth taking into consideration the season. Since Ko Phangan is located on the Gulf of Siam and Ko Lanta on the Andaman Sea, the rainy season hits the islands at different times.
Ko Lanta becomes eerily empty during the rainy season from June to October, whereas Ko Phangan has a good climate until November. The rainy season on Ko Phangan lasts from November to late December.
Which one of the islands is better for you? Read more: Beach Battle: Ko Phangan VS Ko Lanta
Hippie Atmosphere on Ko Phayam
If you are looking for a less-known island, you should go to Ko Phayam, which is still largely a secret among the Thai islands.
On Ko Phayam you will find low-cost bungalows on almost deserted beaches. The atmosphere is like in the other parts of Thailand some 30 years ago: very laid-back and hippie.