Thursday, April 2, 2015

Travel :: Koh Phangan, Thailand

Today I wanted to share with you photos from my happy place - Koh Phangan. This idyllic island is located in the Gulf of Thailand and can only be accessed by ferry or speedboat. Upon arrival into Koh Samui we were were greeted by our resort and after being given fresh water and lemongrass infused cold towels we were driven to the pier. A quick speedboat ride later we arrived to the beautiful Santhiya Koh Phangan.

While we were excited about every leg of our trip, we were definitely most looking forward to our stay at the Santhiya. Partly because the island looked so amazing. Partly because we were going to be within a five minute walk from our friends Scott and Sara who were traveling with us and staying at a resort just steps down the beach. And partly because of the private infinity pool villa that we looked really nice! The second we stepped foot onto Koh Phangan we knew that our {very high} expectations were going to be exceeded.

The Santhiya itself is a gorgeous resort. It is built up a cliff so nearly everywhere you are - from breakfast to pool to the spa - has phenomenal views. Because the hotel is so steep there are the most adorable little wooden tuktuks that are waiting to drive you up to your room or down to the beach at a moment's notice. As we rode the tuktuk up to our room our ears actually popped because we were that high up on the mountain. But, our villa...oh my goodness! We were completely speechless the moment we stepped foot into it. The villa itself consisted of a large open living room and bedroom, with three of the four walls being completely covered in windows allowing us to truly soak in the views. The decor was traditional Thai with hand-carved teak wood from floor to ceiling and lovely details like fresh flowers everywhere and small camphor salt burners strategically placed throughout the villa. The bathroom was outdoor and featured an open-air shower, one of my favorite things on earth! But...the best part? The pool!

We had our own private infinity pool and as beautiful as it had looked in the website photos, it was even more amazing in person! It was big enough to do laps in and we spent hours upon hours floating in the pool high above the bay. The views were absolutely unbelievable and it's safe to say I have never experienced a more beautiful sunrise than laying in our canopy bed and watching the sun come up over the sea, reflecting it's golden rays onto our infinity pool. I happily woke up every morning at dawn just to soak it all in.

One of the most amazing parts about the Santhiya was that it was incredibly secluded, but at the same time it was a two minute walk to one of the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen and a 10 minute walk into an adorable little town. The town was home to several restaurants ranging from dirt floor shacks to upscale, but all with amazing food and insanely good prices! We went to the nicest restaurant in town and ordered nearly a dozen different dishes and several drinks, and it ended up being about $35 per couple. There were tiny shops, tiki bars, even a place to do laundry. It was great in the fact that we were able to save money and experience much more authentic cuisine and culture than we would have if we were at an isolated resort.

Another amazing perk was being able to spend time with our good friends Scott and Sara who stayed at the equally beautiful Anantara Rasananda down the beach. While their beach villa didn't offer the views that ours did it was located on the stunning Thong Nai Pan Noi beach and literally a fifteen foot walk into the ocean. We were able to spend the morning swimming together in our infinity pool and the afternoon swimming in the crystal clear bay and lounging at their villa. Their hotel had a wonderful restaurant on the beach where we ate some of the best dinners of our trips and released floating lanterns on two separate occasions. It was pure magic.

Most of our time was spent basking in the sun, but we did take a day trip through H20 Scuba to Koh Tao for some fabulous scuba diving - highly recommended! The first day I was a bit under the weather but Scott, Sara and Ryan went diving at Sail Rock and saw a whale shark! Two days later we dove at Koh Tao and were able to explore the most beautiful coral garden I had ever seen. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Santhiya's amazing spa - I got a body scrub, body wrap and a 90 minute massage, it was pure bliss.

But, the best part of our time on Koh Phangan? We got engaged there! But more on that later :)