What Do We Do All Day? Haad Salad, Ko Phangan

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One of our readers wrote: I’d love to simply hear more about your day-to-day lives. What do your kids do all day? How does one spend six weeks in a remote place….I honestly have no idea. Don’t you (and the kids) run out of things to do? I just can’t fathom how you pass each day! Six weeks spent in random villages enjoying yourselves no less blows my mind  I’m your student now, I’ve subscribed and look forward to learning more. So what do we find to do on Haad Salad, a little beach on paradise island, Ko, Phangan, Thailand, for 6 long weeks without the distractions of work, school and chores? I’ll tell you.

 Haad Salad Ko Phangan What is there to do?
My view from the breakfast table, D (9) paddling out to Coral Island, seen behind.

Well that’s exactly the sort of question I like to answer, feel free to ask more, anybody, I will reply.

We’re talking about the six weeks we spent at Haad Salad Villas  on Haad Salad beach on Ko Phangan, Thailand.

It was a very relaxed, lazy time. The quieter life is, the more school work I do with the boys, we got through a lot.

There were a few busy days. We had our big day out in Haad Rin for the Full Moon Party and a few days where we’d hire mopeds ( we had a few issues!) and explore the island, maybe only 5 days, the rest of the time Haad Salad Villas was our home.

Finding Things to Do on Ko Phangan, for 6 Weeks

There is a Japanese guy called Kaz who lives on Haad Salad, he has his own  kids’ Pirate Ship anchored off the beach, we spent one day playing on that. Unexpected things would happen, like the day the monkeys came to pick the coconuts, we could just observe life and be interested in it.

We wouldn’t normally sit tight for so long, particularly in a place that worked out as fairly expensive, but Chef and his hernia forced our hand a bit. We were stuck.

Yes, I had bored days and fed up days and stressed out days. This is life, not a fairy tale, but mostly it was WONDERFUL!  We were really sad to leave this morning, we’ve left a piece of our hearts there with those lovely people ( although we’re delighted to be in Surat Thani, it’s surprisingly great to be in “real” Thailand, not a tourist area). There are a bunch of things to do on Ko Phangan, most of them are pretty touristy so we didn’t check them out, we just quietly got on with our lives and explored our end of the island. It’s pretty, quiet, sleepy even away from Haad Rin and time moved slowly

So this is what we did, mostly.

Around 4.00am I wake up, switch on the computer and start working on the blog, answering emails, contacting people, writing posts, trying to redesign and pimp up the thing. It’s a lot of work. I’ve been working really hard on Pinterest lately, I’ve put a lot of hours in on that and it’s paying off. This is my me-time, I enjoy the quiet hours while everybody sleeps.

There is also a lot of trip planning that needs to be done, flights, finding accommodation, booking *ahem* cruises! I could spend all day on the computer and never be finished.

6.00am to 7.00am The boys wake up. We have big cuddles and I realise how lucky I am. We just hang out ’till breakfast time. Sometimes D will read on the Kindle, he’s been re-reading all the Harry Potters. Sometimes they’ll put the tablet on and play games, sometimes they’ll get dressed straight away and go outside, our room is almost right on the beach and it’s perfectly safe. There is an amazing swing on the sand, I go and give them a push if that’s what they want. They’re boys, they like playing with sticks, making man traps, practicing stick fighting or pretend fire twirling or checking on the dogs and cats.

8.00am The restaurant opens. I like to go first by myself and have 5 mins with my coffee looking at the bay and patting my friend “old dog” before the boys come and disturb the peace. The restaurant is our living space, we like just being there. It’s social, there are people to talk to, workers and sometimes other guests. Once the boys arrive we order. Omelettes, porridge, pad thai, whatever we fancy. It usually takes over an hour for breakfast to be done with.

Haad Salad Ko Phangan. What is there to do?
2 octopus in a bucket. 3 fascinated small boys.

After Breakfast Sometimes D takes off on a kayak by himself. He’s grown up with kayaks. He paddles out to “coral island” and looks for shells. Sometimes I go too and we paddle further around the headland and look at the fish and the coral. The boys will dive down and grab sea cucumbers and put them on my lap. Nice!

A few times D went out with one of the workers, he kept the kayak steady while the young man dived down hunting crabs to eat. Boo isn’t much of a paddler yet, he’s not strong enough, but if somebody else is doing the work he’s happy to come for a ride.

Sometimes we play frisbee or bat and ball in the shade outside our villa. The boys’ skills have really improved. Sometimes they surprised me by building sand castles, we lived on a beach, they were never interested in sand castles.

Sometimes I go for my walk, either because we need something from the 7-11 in Haad Yao or just for exercise. There is a very steep hill to climb, the trip takes over an hour. One or both of the boys comes with me. I love talking to them as we walk, a lot of “school” happens this way. We find cool things like snake skins and interesting plants. We pick up rocks to protect ourselves from vicious dogs. We buy ourselves an ice cream or a yoghurt from the 7-11 and walk back.

After that we need a shower or a jump in the sea.

After going in the sea I have to shower the kids, rinse their rashies and shorts, hang them out to dry and get us all dressed again. Sometimes I do some hand washing, sometimes I organise laundry to be done for us.

If it’s not lunch time yet we can spend more time on the computers.

12am-1pm We’re thinking about lunch. We like to go to My Way, the restaurant next door, for lunch, the view is nicer and we sit at bamboo tables under shady trees, toes in the sand. I got into the habit of taking a book to lunch, our Explorers book. I’d read a bit to them or we’d flick through, look at pictures and chat. Sometimes we’d play Uno, Boo adores Uno. Lunch at My Way would take at least 2 hours, they were very slow! There was a little boy next door, his mum runs My Way, my kids played with him, running around playing cops and robbers. We have tom ka gai or green curry or massaman curry. We normally share a main dish between two. The kids have fruit shakes, sometimes I have a white wine if I’m feeling decadent.

Homescooling in action! Reading over a long lunch at Haad Salad’s My Way Restaurant.

After Lunch. Some days I’d read The Hobbit to them, a chapter at a time. One or both of them would be in the hammock on our balcony, I’d sit in a chair with my feet up. Some days we’d do a bit of school work, maybe half an hour each of written work or online learning. The boys also do things like computer animation or programming or just play a game like Zoo Tycoon, that really helps Boo with his reading. Some days we’d watch a movie or a documentary on You Tube as we sit outside. Some days I’d work and they’d use tablets or play with whatever friend was around. Some days I’d get all enthusiastic about cleaning and sweeping our room to get rid of the sand. Some days I’d ask for a room change and have to tidy everything up. Some days I’d go off and buy water, big heavy bulk packs. Some days we’d swim and snorkel. Some days we’d watch the workers fishing, they caught two octopus one day, that was cool!

Haad Salad Ko Phangan
Sunset cuddles.

5-6pm Dinner time! Chef and I liked to sit in the restaurant in the evening. Before he had surgery, Chef would play Thai volleyball or football with the boys and the young Burmese workers just outside in a shady spot. Post surgery, I’d do it! Dashing back in to our table for a slurp of beer or wine. Sometimes we’d play more Uno. Sometimes the boys had a sunset massage, 100Baht for half an hour, but the massage ladies liked the kids so they’d always keep massaging and chatting for longer. Sunsets are spectacular on Haad Salad, we always watched the light show. Dinner was long and leisurely. From time to time we’d have friends to sit and chat with. Sometimes the boys would play with the poodles, Pepsi and Cola, and their young Thai owner. They’d all laugh like crazy as the little dogs raced up and down the beach digging holes and the boys copied them. Boo said they ran like little aeroplanes, you couldn’t see their legs moving. If the tide was in, the Burmese workers would fish from the restaurant deck straight into the sea. The boys would watch or join in.

Haad Salad Ko Phangan
Playing, running and being free. On this day it was cops and robbers with two Thai friends.

7pm-8pm Bed. Boo liked to read and perform his favourite book to us at bed time. So cute! We got into the habit of watching an episode of Dr Who in bed, or a kids’ movie. Not always, sometimes Chef and D would read and Boo and I would be out like lights. D reads until he falls asleep, Chef switches the light off when he’s ready.

Sunset massage on Haad Salad beach

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Chef much. Post op he spent a lot of time lying down reading, he couldn’t swim or even stand up for long, but them’s the breaks. Before he was laid up he would run for an hour or so almost every day and go for long swims. Luckily he managed to go scuba diving to Sail Rock just before his hernia, it was a brilliant dive.

So does that answer the question? Thank YOU for asking.

It’s not much different to how we spent our days at home, minus work, cooking and housework. The days just disappeared, it was really lovely.

We’re back on the road now, we’re on our way to Malacca and from there to Legoland Malaysia, so there will be more exploring, some busy days and less relaxing, it’s good to mix things up.

So, just a reminder, if you’re heading to Haad Salad, Ko Phangan, we highly recommend Haad Salad Villas. We looked at everywhere else on the beach including a couple of self catering apartments and still prefered the villas. It was also the cheapest place on the beach for the 4 of us. Great memories, great times. We have posts on costs of staying on Ko Phangan and some of the dangers and annoyances we encountered there. Please be aware that this post is a good few years old now and things may have changed.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

32 thoughts on “What Do We Do All Day? Haad Salad, Ko Phangan”

  1. Hi

    We are planning a 10 day trip to thailand and planning to spend 4 days in Ko phangan. we missed finding accomodation in Haad salad villa and Haad Salad resorts. Can you please suggest some other resorts. Are these resorts all – inclusive ?


    • Sorry I can’t publish your 2nd comment here as it will negatively impact my website. I think your itinerary is way too busy, even 2 very active and enthusiastic adults would struggle to fit in so much in 1 day in Bangkok – especially Amphawa – on the 2 days after a pretty taxing flight. You would be rushing around like crazy. Maybe if you booked an organised tour or driver to take some of the logistical problems out of your day.

  2. Hi,

    just came across your blog, and loving it! Thanks so much for the practical info on Haad Salad. We are staying there this July for 2.5-3 weeks with our kids aged 6 and 8, and so looking forward to doing nothing in particular for the duration.

    I’m sure it has changed a little since, but wondering what’s available in local shops? E.g any fresh produce, eggs etc for making simple snacks/brekkies at our bungalow where we’ll have a kitchenette.



    • There is ( was) a sort of a warehouse type shop with some fresh produce, canned food. I think maybe meat. I really can’t remember very well. Other than that you’ll be walking to the 7-11 in the next bay . Or there is a Tesco in the main town, but as with most Tesco in Thailand they don’t stock a huge amount.

  3. H i Alyson!
    WOW just 2 days ago i found your site( through a post of a friend) and now I am reading thirstily your sharing.
    This post made me miss HAAD SALAD VILLA. We spent there 2 month this year and were heartbroken to leave.. the lazy routine was so good for us:)
    just to let you know that Pepsi and Cola are still young and beautiful and the water is still gorgeously blue.
    Thank you for this blog. I found it very useful and helpful to me.
    We are now in Hoi an . A family with 2 kids(5’8), started our year journey in the end of August, 2017.

  4. Wonderful reading about your family adventures. My husband and our son, who is only 4, are planning a RTW trip in two years leaving from New Brunswick Canada. It seems as though SE Asia will be the cheaper portion of our trip and we will want to take our time with it. Do you mostly bus between towns? Or fly perhaps? Keep up the great work!

    • Buses, train, fly, whichever works out best and cheapest. A few backpacker mini buses too. There are heaps of options. We really enjoy the trains in Thailand, particularly the sleeper trains. Good luck!

    • Ko Phangan is a big island Heidi, it’s not particularly cheap and public transport costs a fair bit. The songtaw “taxi” drivers know they have you over a barrel. Hiring mopeds is easy and costs little, but if you scratch one you pay through the nose. So..we didn’t see much of the island, just neighbouring bays and that one trip to Haad Rin ( no way, horrible, but we enjoyed seeing the full moon party). All the bays down that way are nice, the one next door (?name), bottle beach is supposedly lovely and very quiet, only reachable by water taxi. We liked being on Haad Salad a lot and the accommodation we used was THE best value on the beach, we know that for sure, we tried them all. There are a couple of very upmaket hotels on the beach, too, if that is your want.

  5. I had a big smile on my face while reading. When we travel the best days are those with a certain lazy routine. We breath in the lifestyle and culture and just live from now to then. It’s great!
    Our days look nearly the same like yours!

    • It’s awesome Amanda, it covers so much history and geography. We actually left that book on Haad Salad, we couldn’t carry so much weight any more, but I wrote the details down so that we could buy it again one day. I’ll find it for you.

  6. We, too, spent 3wks on KPN a couple of years ago–it’s so easy to do. The days just slip away and there’s enough to do, especially with kids! We also negotiated a long-term scooter rate which gave us more mobility with the kids (who were only 4 & 5 then) and plenty more options including going into town for their yummy night market.

  7. I haven’t missed a post yet but don’t always comment, you know how it is. 🙂
    Sounds wonderful and makes me even more determined to get there.

  8. Thanks for sharing this…we are planning to spend a month or two in Thailand -May, June 2014…very interested in your stories and recommendations. How did you find your beach cottage??? We’ll need a place for 4-6 of us. Also do you know anyone that has volunteered in an orphanage in Thailand and if so, where???

    • Hi Beth, we actually booked Haad Salad Villa in advance through booking.com. We payed 800 Baht/night for the first 2 nights. After that we decided to stay and negotiated the price down face to face. We had a villa with 2 double beds, a fridge, our own shower room and balcony. It wasn’t luxury, but it was nice. It was the cheapest place on Haad Salad beach. There are plenty of more upmarket places there, some really expensive. People usually just turn up and look for a room on foot, it was only busy for 3 days before and after the Full Moon Party, no shortage of rooms

  9. Well, that is simply intriguing! Above and beyond the wonder of it all, it is a good case to have a second child, too. The boys have their best friend by their side through it all. I think you are very brave, and I admire and envy this time in your life. My Aussie husband speaks Indonesian, and we’ve visited there twice (and stayed in a small, fairly isolated village)….but I didn’t treat those trips the same way your family probably would have. To me, I felt vulnerable going out on my own, scared of the dogs (well I did get bitten on the last day of the 1st trip and required the series of rabies vaccines back in Oz), scared of the language barrier, and definitely scared of some of the food, etc. It’s been an eye opener reading about your journey. Thanks so much and safe travels!!

    • That’s a shame Lisa! I was nervous of the dogs at first, one bit James, one of the poodles we grew to love. He only got his jeans, luckily. If he had broken the skin we would have had rabies shots too, despite the fact they are pets. I wouldn’t mess about with rabies ( we don’t have the vaccines, I reckon they’re a waste of time unless you’re going somewhere days from any medical care).If I see a dog I don’t like the look of I just pick up a rock, they’re used to that sign and usually shy away straight away. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it hard if they came closer and I always have my day pack ready to swing. A lot of people say Indonesian food is not-so-good. We had great food in Bali, but it’s not as good as Thai, Thai is divine! The food on Haad Salad was geared for tourists and wasn’t very authentic, you could get anything you wanted, even cheese! We had no tummy problems the whole time we were there, or anywhere in Thailand. Haad Salad isn’t a village, it’s an isolated beach full of tourist accommodation, it’s not the same. Our hosts spoke enough English for us to communicate, we didn’t need more than food words and hello, please and thank you. I really hope I can reassure you, it sounds like you’ve had your fingers burnt a bit.

      • I’ll have to remember the dog/rock thing. That’s a good idea!! I’ll quickly tell my rabies story here for the general learning experience it may provide to anyone reading: The dog that bit me was ‘loosely’ living at the villa we rented, as in the cook fed it all the table scraps every night. It was still a filthy dog, it had visible ticks, fleas, and scars/wounds, and was skinny, no collar…but it ‘hung around’ the villa, often lazing around nearby where we were eating or swimming. I never patted it, but I smiled at it and said nice things towards it. Along came a public holiday and the cook was off duty- the dog didn’t get fed, and that night it crept into our villa somehow. It was crying and whimpering, so i got up at 3am to let it outside, and when i came down the steps in my nightgown, it was so seemingly happy to see me b/c I guess it thought I would feed it, it immediately jumped up and bit me on the thigh/side of my upper leg. It did break the skin, with a scrape and tiny puncture, but it was a minor wound. Quick as I could, I put hand sanitizer on the bite, like within the first minutes after the bite. That day we flew back to Oz as our trip was over, and the doc said I HAD to get the rabies vaccines, no choice in the matter. I HAPPILY obliged, as rabies is present in Indo, and this was a sketchy dog. Once you get rabies, you’re dead. Period. Even in Perth, they didn’t have the vaccine. It had to be ordered from the center of disease control and overnight-ed to my doctor. I got 10 mL injected right into the wound, then had to go back over the next month for about 10 more 1mL injections. I had to cancel a trip to Fiji b/c it meant I would’ve missed two doses of the vaccine, which had to be given on specific days.

        • What was the delay between bite and post-bite therapy? I would have been straight to the nearest clinic, I wouldn’t have waited, you’re supposed to start therapy immediately. The vaccine buys you extra time, you can delay a bit and it’s only 2 post bite shots rather than 5 ( off the top of my head). Scary though. I actually don’t like dogs much, they’ve got to be pretty special for me to trust them.

          • It’s a bit shocking now that I know all about rabies….knowing what I now know I’d do it differently. Bite was Sunday 3AM, we flew home to Perth that morning and I rang the health line. Are you familiar with that? Anyway their recommendation was that I see my GP ASAP the next day. I saw the GP the next morning and he was shell shocked and nervous for me- rang colleagues and the disease control people….still took 24 hours for the immunoglobulin to arrive and treatment to start- and this was in Fremantle, 10 km outside perth CBD- not a remote doctor. So it was 48+ hours!!! Knowing what I know now I’d have gone to the ER from the airport…. I’m lucky that dog probably didn’t have rabies, otherwise I might be dead.

            • Yep, I’d go straight to the local place, they’re far more likely to have the immunoglobulin than in Australia, I’d have thought. I think see your GP in the morning was the worst possible advice they could have given! Go straight to nearest hospital would have been more appropriate.

        • We got our rabies jabs for this main reason–you don’t know how available the vaccine is IF you were to get bitten, keeping in mind you’d need it straight away if you hadn’t been pre-vaccinated. We were going to many smaller places too.

  10. It sounds like a fun time. Is there a school curriculum you have to follow when teaching the kids?

    By the way, what is Thai volleyball and how is it different to normal volleyball?

    • Hi Mr Guy! I haven’t heard from you in ages! Thai volleyball probably has a proper name, I don’t know what it is. It’s like Laos volleyball. Keepy-uppies if you played that as a small Guy, with feet and knees and heads. Sometimes with a woven bamboo ball, sometimes plastic, or even a normal volleyball. Curriculum…too long to answer here! I know the Australian curriculum,it’s very limited, we’re more than covering it.I actually write my own curriculum and have it approved every year. I know what I’m doing!

  11. What a great way of living and learning. I’m very much looking forward to reading about where you’re going next! Love your blog 😀

    • Hi Tam! Thanks for reading and commenting, I love it when people leave a comment so that I know they’ve passed through. We’re in Surat Thani now and LOVINg it, so different.


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