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“Idyllic water & sands, some staffing problems” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Smile Bungalow

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Smile Bungalow
74 / 9 Moo 7, Bottle Beach, Ko Phangan 84280, Thailand   |  
Hotel amenities
New York City, New York
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Idyllic water & sands, some staffing problems”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2013

This was my second trip to Bottle Beach but my first staying at Smile (stayed last time at Bottle Beach 2, which has more budget bungalows). The 2-story bungalow set up the hill was perfectly fine - quiet, nice view, nice bathroom, wood floors. The beach itself is so lovely and perfect for swimming with soft sand and clear blue water. Food is decent and in some cases really good. We saw monkeys, large geckos, and an amazing huge spotted jellyfish. The hike up the lookout point is worth the effort. You will get a stunning view of the island and a nice breeze. If you need new towels or toilet paper, just ask. The scene there was a little older than in years past. I'd say the average age was about 30 for guests at Smile and there were many people with young children at Bottle Beach 1.

Smile is currently quite understaffed, so the guy who is there has to pretty much do everything himself. Communication was challenging when we settled out bill after staying for a week. We had prepaid for 2 nights by Western Union, and I had the receipt, and it seemed like everything was settled but as we were leaving to catch the taxi boat we were told we had to pay for the 2 nights that had already been paid - we refused and it got kind of tense. Also, we confirmed to be picked up from the pier upon arrival but no one showed up - normally not a problem as we'd just take the taxi boat, but it was 9pm and the boats weren't running due to high waves, so we had to run around to find a phone and pay to call Smile, and then wait for 2 hours for someone to arrive to get us after 30 hours of travel, which was not ideal. Others staying there had experienced the same. All of this is due to lack of communication between the people in Bangkok who do the booking and the people who live and work at Bottle Beach.

I would definitely recommend staying there but would not pay for any nights in advance again. There is always an open bungalow. Also, you will get a better rate if you do not book in advance. Make sure you bring the phone number of the front desk with you so you can call when they do not show up at the pier. You can't take a taxi there - it must be a 4WD vehicle. Better yet, call the front desk (not the Bangkok people who book by email) yourself the day before you arrive to confirm directly - or even better, arrive earlier in the day so you can take the taxi boat from Chaloklum which is much faster and a nicer way to arrive.

Worth the effort!!

Room Tip: The 2 story bungalows in the back get a nice breeze and are more private and quiet, if you don't...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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43 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Bromley, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

Left booking a resort on this island only a few days before we visited so there were only a few options, the others being in excess of £100 a night but we weren't disappointed with Smile bungalows. If we had our backpacks then it would have been more ideal as its a perfect place for couples or families wanting some chilled out isolation, but we were on a long honeymoon so came armed with large cases - not practical. San, the owner runs a lovely beach bar with the Thai style cushions, western music (think the cd never changed, but I think you can put on your own if everyone else doesn't mind), choice of books, some basic groceries to buy. Food par for the course, though I did fall in love with the Snickers milk shakes they served up! Not sure about the recent bad review regarding male staff as there were clearly female cleaning staff on San's team and the main lady that seemed ever present behind the bar/reception was very nice too. Electricity run off generators so operates after 6pm through to 10am. Room basic but nice for the price with veranda and downstairs shower room. No air con but positioned fan and mosi net.

Room Tip: Try not to arrive at Hat Rin port as we did (not our fault) as you'll then be restricted to an a...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Deutschland
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2012

We stayed in a small fan bungalow (450 B per night). The bungalows lie in a beautiful garden up a small hill. Our bungalow had seaview and was mostly clean. It was small (especially the bathroom) and the wall in the bathroom a bit moody. There was a mosquito net and toilet paper in the room.
The whole place is kept very clean, in the morning you always see the people working in the garden collecting old leaves.
The food is delicious and the restaurant is right on the beach.
The owners are friendly and organise everything for you (f.ex. getting to the next bay with taxiboat).
Bottle Beach is the most beautiful beach we stayed on during our Thailand trip. Swimming is possible at the bay and the sand is white and fine. Perfect to relax and enjoy your time on Koh Phangan!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2012

This place is a gem! The price is right. The bungalows are simple but offer a private bathroom, quite sleep, and the most incredible view off your own private balcony. You are steps from the ocean and their restaurant is simple, yet affordable. The Smile shake was my boyfriend's and my favorite treat in Thailand, aside from the mango and pineapple of course! We even tried to remake it at home, but it couldn't even come close. The staff was super friendly and very helpful when we asked for advice on what to see and do across the island. They sat down with us and explained in English (which is hard to find most of the time in Thailand) where the best beaches and things to do were on a map as well as where to rent from people that wouldn't rip us off. This was my absolute favorite part of my 9 week stay in Thailand. I promised myself I'd be back to Smile and Koh Phangan as soon as I got the chance!

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2012

My GF has been in Bottle Beach 4 times and called it her happy place on earth. I've been there twice myself and we always stayed at Smile Bungalow. We sent them a mail telling them when we would arrive and they arranged a pick up for us at the boat. I really like Smile bungalows, they defenetly have a great staff. It's worth taking a big bungalow as they are much nicer. We had a double level one for our last stay and really enjoyed it, pretty cool view. Just be aware the electricity doesn't go all day. Something like from 6pm to 10am as I remember. They organize fires on the beach wich are cool. I recommend this place, get there and enjoy your stay.
It ended up being cheaper for us to book online (we used agoda for this one) than to pay at reception as they have deals with them.
I found the other accomodation on this beach much busier and not as quite wich is the main reason why we liked smile.
Have fun there people :)

Room Tip: Get some sunscreen and a big towel :) We did a bit of boat fishing in the gulf if you feel like bri...
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Graz, Austria
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2011

we stayed for 3 nights in one of the 2 storey bungalows in the back.

The moskitonet was clean and the huge batchroom is great. It's very clean and you can see that they really made an effort when building the bungalows.

the only problem was that they were burning leaves (and some plastic) behind the bungalows every day. The wind brought the smoke and the smell back to the bungalows.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boulder, CO
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2011 via mobile

Stayed at Smile bungalows for 2 nights and had very pleasant experience. The 2 story bungalows are perched up nicely at tree level and provide nice breeze and very relaxing place to hang out and read (maybe drink a little sang som).

Staff very nice and accommodating and food was descent.

Trekked to view point 2 times. Highly recommend. Sweaty climb up for 30 minutes but quality view and nice breeze await.

  • Stayed August 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Smile Bungalow

Address: 74 / 9 Moo 7, Bottle Beach, Ko Phangan 84280, Thailand
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Phangan
Hotel Style:
Ranked #71 of 226 Specialty Lodging in Ko Phangan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 14
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