The headline here has a deliberate double meaning. Bang Saphan is somehow off the beaten track and "undiscovered", even "wild". The hospitality of Ray and his charming wife, meanwhile, is beyond anything we have experienced in years of travelling. This is a little TREASURE of a place, and should be cherished.
We drove up to Bang Saphan from Krabi, though unlike a more daring previous poster, we were actually in a CAR, rather than on a small motorcycle. All the same, it was some hike, and we arrived quite late in the evening (helped by friendly locals for the last kilometre), to the delight and considerable surprise of our hosts, who had probably given up on us as a "no-show". We were royally welcomed, as if we were old family chums who had just dropped in unexpectedly, and to cut a long story short, things only got better and more cordial during the three nights we stayed at Theatre Villa. We were genuinely sad to leave.
Although I would question the use of the rather vague "Prachuap Khiri Khan" in the TA listing (it's actually in Bang Saphan Yai, right on the beach at Suan Luang), the "#1 in specialty lodging" description is spot-on, as this is very very special indeed - way more than a hotel and more like staying with extraordinarily generous friends. We have been fortunate (and also careful and thorough) in our choices of places to stay in the recent past, but I can honestly say that the service here went right off the scale - at the top end.
I am delighted to see from other reviews that ours was not an isolated experience. I can only echo and underline everything that the others have written, and say a heartfelt THANK YOU to the owners for allowing us to share a few days with them.
We never saw a menu, by the way, but were fed like kings throughout. Some of the best dinners we had during five weeks in Thailand, and some of the best coffee, too.
We also had a similar experience to that of the previous poster, with a trip down to the sand-dunes at Bang Berd and the Red Cliffs and to an offshore fish farm, and even to a large Buddha being erected close to the Chinese Temple in Pak Lhlong. Ray stubbornly refused to accept any payment - and we fought bravely and long before we surrendered - for giving up six hours of his time and for guiding us around a good many places we would never in a million years have got to see otherwise. I hope his Isuzu survived the experience.
Bang Saphan itself is something else - a side of Thailand we had not seen before. The weather was fine but quite windy while we were there, and down at Bang Berd the scenery takes on an impressive wildness you do not find on the "deserted but immaculate" smaller islands of the south. Few tourists to be seen, but rather more long-term ex-pats of mature years who have settled into a life revolving around convivial games of petanque in the local bars. They clearly are drawn by something, and we could quite understand the attraction.
The Theatre Villa comes with the highest possible recommendation. Six, even seven stars would not be out of place. Quite magical. Do not expect hectic nightlife, and do not expect warp-speed Wi-Fi. Simply enjoy it for what it is. Please just make sure that if you follow in our footsteps you do not break the spell.
I'd go back in a heartbeat.
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