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“The Sanctuary Resort” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Sanctuary Thailand

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The Sanctuary Thailand
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Had Tien Bay, Ko Phangan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)   |  
Hotel website
Hotel amenities
Ranked #22 of 90 Hotels in Ko Phangan
Certificate of Excellence
Rugby, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
29 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“The Sanctuary Resort”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2013

The Sanctuary was recommended to me early on in my trip to Thailand by a new friend who happened to be a regular guest, as the best place to stay whilst on Koh Phangan; perfect for relaxing, enjoying the beauty of the island and great for trying some yoga or spa treatments. Myself and a friend only ended up staying for one night but from what I experienced I found the Sanctuary to be very unique in what it has to offer. The place has a chilled out vibe and is great for taking some time out and relaxing - we met some interesting people on our only night who were on intensive fasts or yoga courses, something I will be interested to try when I next visit.

However with a tight backpacker budget and with one eye on the full moon celebrations we only stayed one night. This was partly due to price, partly due to my friend not enjoying the sanctuary as much as me and partly down to the travel options to and from the beach. You can take a water taxi to and from the sanctuary which really adds up and becomes inconvenient if you do want to occasionally leave, but for most people when you arrive you'll more than likely be happy to stay and indulge in what the Sanctuary has to offer.

The basic dorm room was well priced for what it was and I enjoyed my nights stay there - being woken up by a cat playing with my feet through a mosquito net was a definite highlight! However I felt that the restaurant was a bit pricey for what I was looking for, but I can't deny the dishes I had were very good. It is your only real option for eating whilst there so perhaps for those on a tighter budget this is not the place to stay for an extended period of time.

Had a good impression of the staff, helpful and friendly, especially a guy called Chard who was a cool guy. The setting is beautiful so I would definitely recommend taking atleast a few days out to relax here, but the beach isn't the best for swimming like others have mentioned. Overall had a great nights stay and will definitely come back to immerse myself properly when I have the money to spend.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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407 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (78)
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Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

My boyfriend and I spent 8 days at the Sanctuary but most certainly could have stayed for longer. It takes a few days to get settled and into the rhythm and spirit of the resort but when you do you feel right at home.

We did not fast on this trip and indulged in the food food. The restaurant has a great selection of foods at all hours of the day and although the service can be slow and they do tend to miss orders at times, they staff are v friendly and courteous. There is a good family, hospitable atmosphere. Try the breakfast mueslis, maki rolls, Hot n Raw soup. The seafood BBQ restaurant, Spices, near the Tea Temple is not to miss. Duck curry, Banana flower salad, thai prawn & pomelo salads are all delicious.

If possible sit in on the talk sessions to get a sampling of different alternative and holistic practices - its a great place for a gateway into a plethora of subjects. We were fortunate to have consultations on Rolfing with Sarah, Ayurveda with Kimmana. We took part in the complimentary sessions of Tai Qi with Greg, and Ayurveda with Kimmana which usually don't have more than 10 people in a group.

Yoga at 8am with Ushma was a great start to the day. The levels is basic from a physical point of view - it is not asana heavy but was a wonderful introduction to the fundamental principals of yoga in theory and as a lifestyle. It is also a flexible class where you can also take any variations you please. There is ashtanga at an adjacent beach for those familiar with the primary series. Blooming Lotus yoga at the next bay has also been highly recommended for those who are looking for a Vinyasa flow.

Pilates with Victoria is a must - fundamentals of pilates which will leave you wondering how you never had it part of your life in the first place. Victoria's class is able to cater to all levels. There is an area for weights and boxing at Horizon boxing next to the Sanctuary.

The beach itself is not great for swimming. It is small and rocky and small boats come and go. Try the next bay over and enjoy the food at Bamboo Hut, a restaurant built into the boulders along the beach. We actually spent a lot of time at this larger bay and the food at Bamboo is equally fantastic.

Although we came as a couple, The Sanctuary is v conducive to all travelers and has a great community vibe. Altogether, good value for money, if you are looking to enjoy some down time and find some peace and beauty in simplicity, you will enjoy the Sanctuary.

Room Tip: Beach bungalow is an excellent location next to the restaurant and overlooking the beach. However yo...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Level Contributor
62 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2013

I tagged along with my girlfriend who was really keen on a 5 day fasting detox. Personally I was really keen on doing shrooms on near-by Haad Rin, but I decided to bite the bullet and join her.

I was rather shocked when Mr Moon explained that we wouldn't eat for 5 days: I understood detox to mean no beer or dope with lots of water and yoga. And colonic irrigations? There's no way i'm sticking that up there!

After lightening up and losing my preconceptions, I discovered another side of life. This was stress-free, worry-free, healthy living!

Not only did my girlfriend and I have a wonderfully unique experience , where we bonded really well and discovered more about each other, we also met some rather cool people along the way (Dan, Ian!).

And as an animal lover, I was especially pleased to see this is not just a human sanctuary but also a cat sanctuary.

I didn't partake in the yoga but I did swim (yes Swim!) to Haad Rin and back, which I believe is a first.

So a special thanks to Mr Moon for taking great care of us, entertaining us with your numerous anecdotes, and taking the drama out of colonics!

Alex & Elle

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, July 27, 2013
hi alex, and thank you so much for your review which made me laugh out loud today. its one thing attracting the people who are already detox-converts, but to be able to let go of your expectations and discover the pleasures (?!) of detoxing quite by surprise... this is wonderful for you and gives us great satisfaction too.
i hope you continue to enjoy the benefits of your detox for a long time to come -
with best wishes from the crew and the cats,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

How do we define a sanctuary?

According to the Oxford dictionary a sanctuary is a sacred place,  such as a church or temple . Or it can be a a place of refuge from arrest or imprisonment. 
The sanctuary in Thailand has been both for me. 

It is a sacred place that is made special by not only the feminine energy that dominates the lush tropical hill surrounded beach. It is the energy of the people who visit,  and those who wander and stay,  that create this sacred temple. 

Never have I been in a place that has shifted so many people into a state of consciousness in such short periods of time.  People will come with the weight of the western world on their shoulders, their energy carrying the karmic weight of constant battle too repress the true self. 

This place then slowly embraces them with its magical touch and bam! Your heart explodes open and you first feel the ecstatic  feeling of joy. The joy that keeps you dancing all night and all day to the sounds of sweet life. This may leave you, it is an energy that cannot be maintained. Though when it leaves you. You are left in an even sweeter state. That constant state of peace. 

Where you just breathe in the beauty of the air around you and you sigh in content. It is such a sensual pleasure . To stop and look at the pink flower that blooms slowly day by day, changing color and loosening its tight hold on itself, ready to flourish open.  The day you stop to smell it's sweet nectar. How can I describe how nourishing this scent was to my soul?

It is a place of refuge from imprisonment. The imprisonment of society. Societies beliefs and judgement. Here you are free to be you. To truly express every part of who you are. To laugh, to cry, to scream , to sigh. You are free.

So as I sail away to the land I call home, I look back to this bay that has stolen and broken open my heart and I am grateful . For the experience of finding the pure joy that is being and loving me. 

For this I am forever grateful . 

For those who wander lost in this world. Let your heart and feet guide you to this magical place. It is one experience that will show you how amazingly beautiful you and life really is . 

Sal X

Room Tip: The zorba private rooms are really nice. Very clean and new. The beds are comfortable and nice littl...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
191 reviews
103 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 231 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013

I wanted to love this place. I really tried! It started out with a almost capsized boat ride late at night after much bargaining for any kind of ride to get there! I will start off by saying I am a very experienced traveler. This is my 10 time to Thailand, 20th time to southeast Asia, and ive visited 25 islands so far in Thailand alone. So, I know that transportation can be tough, but come on sanctuary...couldn't we at least try to help arrange transportation to your little oasis on the other side of the island? at over $100 a night for some rooms, its still down to a rough boat ride, or getting bumped around in the back of a pickup truck if you get manage to find the one guy with a truck to give you a ride at all?
Okay, so Im there , and Im alive, its a good start.
I was greeted by the nice girl who I was corresponding with in my arrangements. I had to book one of the more expensive bungalows since the cheaper ones are only for the lucky walk up guests. The place has charm, and zen ...right away you will feel the vibe. My first room was right by the restaurant, it was decorated very nicely, and loved the outside bathroom close by, but it didn't have much privacy or quietness which I was seeking on my little Zen getaway, so I moved after two nights to a very cool bungalow up on stilts with a even cooler outdoor bathroom. I loved this bungalow, and it was even less than the first one.
So I will give you my honest opinion of the Sanctuary...good and bad, its only fair! because there were a lot of things I loved about this place! but I really come to trip advisor for honest, fair reviews, and as a frequent traveler, I want this from all my fellow travelers as well! so here goes...lets start with the good :)

- the resort is beautiful. Its creatively decorated, and has beautiful carvings, and landscape everywhere, its very clean, and the staff keeps it very nice.
-loved the rooms, all the ones I saw, and the both I stayed in were very nice, all different, and unique, with great balconies with hammocks and attached outdoor, open air bathrooms. ( there are some shared facilities there as well, if you don't mind sharing your space!)
-the restaurant, though pretty pricey, has great food, very healthy and lots of choices, I never had a bad meal here, but over $3 for a cup of coffee, is a little steep even for a trendy place.
-great music in the restaurant, whoever picked that out, gets 5 stars
-the wait staff, is very nice, and really tries to keep up with the very busy restaurant! they do a great job and are very sweet.
-other than the "party" Friday night next door. you would not know you are on a party island on this side . Its very quiet, and you can be sung to night by the sounds of nature. Friday nights party starts at 11 pm, and goes to around 3 pm the next day, its not their fault, but its loud!!, and ridiculous...note taken, avoid staying there on a Friday night,,, unless you like to stay up all night, some do!
Okay...on to the not so good...
- Remember my nice greeting when I got there? that was about it. I was forgotten, ignored, and felt like I was " bothering" the front staff if I came up to ask about anything. Whos even running this place? its very un organized and definitely frustrating for guests. I was able to change my set plan with the girl I checked in with , but I don't think she even remembered me and I just checked in the day before..I didn't feel special to say the least....
-okay, this was maybe why. This is a hipster place. I consider myself to be pretty trendy and not so much a hipster, im just not that cool, lol, but I try to at least know how to dress when im traveling, and look like I know what im doing. but this place has some crazy people watching, and the hipsters aren't even staying there, they live on the island, work on the island, and come over there to hang out and show off their cool looks and are not very friendly, I felt like I was in high school all over again, and its been long time since then. They are served first, and get all the attention from the staff, its quite the show to be honest with you.
-the beach isn't the best for swimming, if you are looking to hang out on the beach in between your yoga and beauty treatments, its not really safe to swim in the water, the waves are rough!
- the spas prices are ridiculous. The massages I got were nothing special, and even though I know resort prices are more, they should at least be worth it, sadly they were not. I would skip the spa.
- the yoga...ahhhh. that's why I came here! I love yoga, and have traveled all over the world trying different yoga classes. These were beginner classes to say the least, and the teachers all had attitude's, and seemed like they hated being there. Bummer! Not very Namaste~
-back to the transportation...at least provide something for your guests! your own boat, your own truck,,come on ! you've been in business for years now, it doesn't seem like too much to ask!

okay, so I obviously wasn't too excited about my stay here. It seems like a lot of people like this place! so Im just one little opinion. But that's why we have these reviews! so you can read them all and gather your own opinion! Happy Traveling!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, General Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, July 22, 2013
Hi and thanks for taking the time to write your balanced and detailed review of The Sanctuary. Glad you liked the vibe, food, location and also got to appreciate a selection of our rooms, half of which can be booked in advance and the others open for walk in guests. In Jan/ Feb (the date of your visit) it can seem like a reunion as so many people return at that time of year both to the Sanctuary and the bay. I would be surprised though if they received preferential treatment (I’m pretty sure they’d be surprised to hear that too!!). Our yoga classes are open to all levels an should be great for up to intermediate levels so I am very sorry that you felt disappointed about the standard of classes we offer . We are currently getting great reviews of our teachers. The transportation services are the auspices of the local community and are, unfortunately, out of our hands.
Many thanks,
Mike Doyle, General Manager
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Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013 via mobile

The Sanctuary is a brilliant location for those who want to quietly get away but also be able to do whatever they want. No hard core yogi's here but more of a hippy and happy environment where being yourself is key. Even the the staff is uncommonly thai as they are very laid back in an not so servant way of doing. Definate like!

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Vientiane, Laos
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2013

I couldn't believe my luck when I arrived at the The Sanctuary after hearing about it by word of mouth. The beach itself is clean, peaceful and has become a home to many interesting and caring people from all over the world with varying reasons as to why they love to stay there for months on end. There is a great mix of things to keep you entertained there aside from jungle trekking (if beach lounging all day isn't your thing) from invigorating yoga classes to optional hang outs in the resort such as the calming Tea Temple where they might demonstrate next weeks Medicinal Herbal Walk. Whilst this place attracts those who want to try their first detox or maintain a strict healthy diet it does cater too for those who just want to have some fun on holiday and eat some fantastic and unforgettable meals. The best get togethers I had were at the weekly open mic night where the entertainment was rife and the talent was most impressive. It's an all rounded well run, thoughtful resort where attention to detail has paid off meaning that the only time you'll want to leave is just to do a quick visa run.

Room Tip: As a solo traveller the dorms are a great option if meeting new people is your thing
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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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 The Sanctuary Thailand

Address: Had Tien Bay, Ko Phangan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)
Phone Number:
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Phangan
Bar / Lounge Kitchenette Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#5 Spa Hotel in Ko Phangan
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1991 The Sanctuary is a unique beach front resort offering beautiful houses, comfortable bungalows and budget dorm beds & boasts a 300 + vegetarian and seafood menu & bakery. Offering a diverse Spa menu & Detox fasting center, day trips, Kayaking, snorkelling and our gym to encourage you out of your beach front hammock. An eclectic mix of guests ensures a special beach holiday. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Sanctuary Island Hotel Koh Phangan
The Sanctuary Island Spa

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