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“Lovely vibe” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Sanctuary Thailand

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #21 of 89 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
london
Level Contributor
21 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Lovely vibe”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 17, 2012

The Sanctuary is very rare in having rooms at all price levels, from cheap shared dorms to lovely private houses. This creates a levelling, democratic feel to the place. It's compounded by the staff - known as 'crew' - acting as if they're on a par with the guests. They make friends with you, have a chat when they take your order, remember your name. There's no sense of servility, just of warm friendliness.

The atmosphere encourages guests to be friendly to each other too and to start conversations in a way that often wouldn't happen in other hotels. For this reason, it's a good place to go to if you're travelling alone.

Most guests seem at ease with the alternative vibe, and because everyone's dressed in similar scruffy, slightly hippy clothing, you don't know if you're talking to a film star or an impoverished student. This is rather refreshing.

We stayed in Star House, which is wonderfully private and has its own bathtub on the sunbathing terrace, with lovely views. The downside of the privacy is that it's a veeery long climb up the hill in the heat. We thought it was worth it; others might not.

The food was generally delicious, and if you're not vegetarian, you can always have fish or seafood. Evenings can be fun. There's an open mic night on Thursdays, and one night we watched a movie on the beach, lying on sun loungers. Bring earplugs for the Friday night party, though.

The main problem with The Sanctuary is how hard it is to get to. I flew from London overnight on a Friday and didn't get there till lunchtime on Sunday. The last ferry from Koh Samui to Ko Pha Ngan leaves at 1800, so I had to spend a night on Koh Samui and wait till the next morning. It can also be quite hard to get from Haad Rin, where the ferry stops, to Haad Thian, where the hotel is. If there aren't other people also wanting to go, the taxi boat driver will charge you a fortune. The Sanctuary pretty much shrugs and leaves transport up to you, which is quite nerve-wracking if the seas are rough, the boats aren't running and you have a plane to catch.

The only other gripe is you have to pay in cash, and if you don't arrive with enough, you have to make an annoying and expensive trip to Haad Rin to get some more. My advice is to take out more than you think you need at the ATMs at Koh Samui airport when you arrive.

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank columnist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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511 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (98)
Date | Rating
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  • Dutch first
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English first
Busan, South Korea
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 3, 2012

This review starts out negative, but turns positive, so please at least skim the whole thing if you want the full picture of the sanctuary.

I should preface this by saying that I am a person who likes the comforts of home. I hate camping and "roughing it." So if you are like me, be aware -- this place is rustic! That goes for the whole of Haad Tien, to be honest. I didn't stay in this area for long because it was difficult to find a place with hot water and a flushing toilet. For 2200 bhat a night (about $60US), I got hot water and a flushing toilet at the sanctuary, but I also got a bungalow with no air con and big open spaces in the walls and floor for critters to crawl in. Sure, there's a mosquito net, but I'm a city girl -- I don't want to hear bugs flapping around my head whlle I'm trying to sleep at night. I wasn't prepared for this. After the very difficult journey to this island (see other reviews about taxi boats and jungle treks), I was exhausted and already a little freaked out, but I had signed up for a yoga course nearby and wanted to make the best of it. So...

After settling in, I had dinner at the sanctuary's restuarant, which was excellent. I have to say that the food at this place is great. Then I headed back to my bungalow to get some sleep. I was nervous because I was basically walking through the jungle in the dark to get back to my room. As soon as I opened my door and turned on the light, a huge moth came flying out at me from inside my room. Not cool! After the long day I'd had, this sent me into a panic. I actually had a panic attack. I ran back to the restaurant. My semi-calm request for wi-fi quickly turned into hysterical sobs.

I talked to a man named Crispin, I think he is one of the managers. He was so wonderful. He helped me connect my iphone to reception's computer so that it could charge up and i could use wifi to call my family on skype. After I calmed down, the owner came and talked to me. I didn't get her name, but she was also wonderful and so understanding. It would have been easy to be judgemental and dismissive of a person who just didn't like bugs, but she wasn't like that at all. She upgraded me to a concrete suite with air con and TV and no bugs of any kind! I was so grateful for this. I was able to at least get some rest over night, and then i immediately left for the more modern and touristy Koh Samui the next morning.

So in conclusion, the sanctuary is a beautiful place with a great restaurant and incredibly warm-hearted staff, but you will pay top-dollar for the comforts of home. If you don't mind roughing it a bit, then I highly recommend it. But if you want air-conditioning and no bugs in your room, you're better off skipping koh Phagnan all together! Stick with Koh Samui instead.

Finally, I'd like to say a big thanks to Crispin and the other people at the sanctuary who helped me through my city girl crisis!

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank jensekat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United Kingdom
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 26, 2012

Thoroughly enjoyed my two week stay here and it really made a difference. Have been finding it impossible to lose weight for months - yet since doing the detox programme, I have lost weight and that has continued since going back home. Feel much healthier, in general.
It's been a combination of the fast, advice from Sarah and Kimmana and the information available.
It's a lovely, laid back place - delicious food, friendly staff - Bow, Sam, William etc. Didn't expect to socialise so much with the other guests - came alone - but spent many happy afternoons and evenings chatting away in the hammocks or swimming in the sea.
Felt better than I have in years after my stay here - mentally, physically and emotionally. It's a wonderful present to give to yourself.
Did yoga for the first time with Ben and loved that. Ben was incredible - he paid attention to everyone in his class, whether we were 'good' at yoga or not. I only wish he had a dvd.
Yes, the party was really loud on the Friday night, but I amazed myself by getting up at dawn and going to it. Had plenty of time to sleep and rest, so I actually quite enjoyed it.
Was pleased that I was able to stay in a dorm, for 200 bahts a night, as I went here at the end of a long trip around the world, so it was nice not to have to pay too much.

Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank Becca19_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 15, 2012

Highly recommend if you are looking for a chill out place with awesome food, great people and a stellar level of service! Staff always happy specially Sam at the restaurant who is a super star!)

My experience at the Wellness Center was wonderful. Mr Moon and Bow exceed my expectations with their outstanding level of services, care and understanding during my detox.
They made me feel very welcome and special. It was a truly healing time.

I will definitely be coming back and telling all my friends about it.

  • Stayed December 2011
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Projector79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California, United States
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 9, 2012

We've stayed a lot at The Sanctuary over the years. We were sorely disappointed with our stay over the Christmas/New Year holidays. The place is looking extra-shabby. Rooms are not well kept. The shared space is dirty. The food has become mediocre, and it takes forever to arrive. The people who show up and hang out between Haad Tian and Haad Yuan tend to be stoned most of the time, and there's this adolescent feel in the air. Guests who go seem to only care about when and where the next party is happening, so they can take ecstasy, mushrooms, or get drunk.

Speaking of parties, a bar adjacent to The Sanctuary had a party with loud house music that went on for three nights straight. We couldn't sleep. And when we complained to the manager of The Sanctuary, he said he could do nothing about it given the fact that the bar was owned by someone else. Totally helpless.

If you're looking for a stoner, druggy hang-out spot, this is the place for you. If you're actually looking for a vacation, go somewhere else.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Chad H
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, January 27, 2012
Hi Chad .I am sorry that you felt this way & agree with much of your thoughts .The extended xmas and new year noise along with this vibe is not what the sanctuary wants either and we are working on these issues ., Added to this the weather at the time made for difficult conditions.
Thank you for your feedback , Mike
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ko Samui, Thailand
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 8, 2012

The Wellness Center staff, led by trustworthy Moon, couldn't be more welcoming if they tried. From the moment you slip off your flip-flops, climb the wooden stairs and enter the open air Wellness Center - you are transported to feelings of a healthier lifestyle and detoxification even before you start the cleanse. Thanks to Mister Moon and staff - these initial feelings are quickly substantiated once on the detox - by daily clay shakes, what feels like a billion supplemental pills, nightly family dinners around the cushion friendly wooden dining table and the ol' daily colonic. If even a daily self-administered colonic can be enjoyable - then they must be doing something right over there!!

My boyfriend and I are both still glowing from the experience: lovely people, fabulous international new friends to keep in touch with, and healthy insides.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank DanyaAnthony G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 6, 2012

I stayed here for 15 days last summer. I would return again in a second!! I did the detox program. AMAZING staff, beautiful location. It can't get better than this. You do have to take a boat to get to it. Don't attempt the road, I did in a rental car and nearly got stuck. Also a great place to meet other travelers. Until next time..

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank thedrifter8616
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

Property: The Sanctuary Thailand
Address: Had Tien Bay, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)
Phone Number:
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Pha Ngan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
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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