Freedom beach resort is the new name of the 2 resorts formerly know as Taatoh Lagoon and Freedom beach resort united together and recently relaunched.
INFO: THE DIVE SHOP IS NO MORE!
located at the end of the main road in Koh tao , it is easily accessible but still far enough from the 3 main shopping\nighlife hotspots that are chalok ban kao / ban mae haad / haad sairee
to be a quiet and relaxing place to stay
contrarely to most of the beaches in tao where diferrent resorts operates and share the same strip of golden sandy beaches ( which sometimes leads to the landscape being overcrowed by numerous bungalows/restaurants/bars/diveshops/ massages and so on) taatoh lagoon and freedom beach are singlely privately owned . this in one way limits the amount of amenities ( 1 main restaurant / 1 beach bar that serves food/ 1 internet cafe) so not a lot of choice to have but on the other way allow for a more successfull atempt to integrate the resort nicely in the surrounding ( not too sure about the 4 new (2008) bungalows right on the tip of the taatoh bay on the left side that sits right on massive barren boulders . no integration there just brute force3 building.
so what new? what gone ?
well freedom is trying to go upmarket from it's past but this was long due and with 2 amazing private beaches it has the potential to go all the way to be up to be the most expensive and best resort on koh tao ( in the sense of stars rating of course as i personnaly miss taatoh lagoon simplicity and conviviality so much )
freedom beach is unchanged in itself, the waterfront is amazing withfine sandy beach , row of wild trees right where the sea breaks. back beach is not so good with coarser sand, but nature is left to run its own course there and the all beach area still has got this look of untouched wilderness. on the downside there is quiet a bit of litter left around for years ( old plastic bottle/ washed up pieces of wood and so on) a serious cleaning would get freedom beach to go a long way . snorkeling there is not good as the bottom past the few meters of sand is comprised of ... well ...dead corals ( same and even worse for taatoh lagoon). descent snorkelling can be found along the lovely pathway that goes from the right side of the beach , along the boulders stricken boulders cape leading to taatoh lagon/ beach
Tatooh beach WILL be amazing as soon as nature get it's course back on track and get over the scars left by the rescent redevelopement .
the beach used to be very small there with the former restaurant being very close to the shoreline . so the beach surface as been probably expanded by 2 to 3 time with the restaurant/diveshop/ equipment shack gone. gone as well are the 2 massive trees that use to provide shadow and relax time with about 10 fishnet hamoc. i use to love hanging in one of those relaxing after a dive! will miss them dearly. instead of those are now 4 or five adults palm trees or coconuts trees planted along the shore line in a neat row and still suported by wooden planks ( will take a bit of time for their roots to implent themself in the salty water and for the leaves to stand properly )
sand is very fine there for about 3 meters from the shore line and sweeped free of rubbish every morning. lovely place to get yourself all tanned and healthy again ! unfortunately the newly reclaimed area of beachat the bach sti l looks unnatural with sand that.s still looks straight out of the quarry, with flatened tracks made by construction vehicle. the hill where the new hip restaurant stands still sports the scars left by the recent development. but i guess this is for the better in the longer run even thought i am still dwelling on the past.
on the right end of the beach a rustic but soooo charming wooden pathway leadds you among the boulders stricken shoreline some of the bungalows.
RESTAURANT \ BAR\ DIVESHOP\AMENITIES
FREEDOM BEACH . the restaurant on top of the hill at freedom doesnot operate any more , not sure what will happend to the building now. used to be a lovely up the hill place with amazing view on he bay. freedom bar still operates and serve food by the beach on the left side . sitting half on the hill and half over the water this is still an amazing place to go for lunch , have a drink or enjoy the relax atmosphere at night laying down on thai cushion or the polished by years of people walking wooden floor . you got to respect that freemanagement/owner dom kept if as before it was as it provides a more down to earth place and traditional place than the new main restaurant in taatoh.
TAATOH LAGOON. THE BIG CHANGE .
gone are the lovely beach restaurant , the friendly dive shop and the rustic looking dive equipment shack, this is what made people like me to always come back there to live and dive, asking for more. dont take it as a bad thing it is just that when you get used to something and it is suddenly taken away form you nostalgia is most certainly due to kick in ! if you didnot know it before you wont miss it i guess. (personaly i am crying my eyes out!!! )
there is now an amazing multilevel terrace building overlooking taatoh lagoon , very nicely designed . with bare wooden sun deck at the bottom level . on the second level there is a sea view area and in a corner a cluster of units around a small plaza , one is a cyber cafe with internet , wifi and so on ( 20 baht a minute, that is bloody harsh that this looks to be the new unbielievable standard rate on the rock now) , i would suggest guest on a longer stay (if you got a laptop) you can buy an 800bhat CAT usb dongle that got you 1.5mb unlimited internet access or pop too 7/11 and get a 150bhat DTAC sim card with the 100bhat internetoption( no contract) that will give you 20hours internet access per month at a speed good enough for mail/facebook/browsing ( just use your mobile phone as a cabled or bluetooth modem with your laptop). there is 2 to 3 for now empty units where the dive shop should have been , maybe a massage latter on ? the 3rd terrace is where you will have dinned or lunch looking at the sunset sitting on proper and expensive looking chairs and table
the 4th terrace is where you will find the office, reception area, travel booking office and more dining facilities . . quiet an upgrade from before , but prices a creeping upward as everywhere on koh tao . koh tao used to be an exclusively diving backpackers destination , well... not any more. backpackers can forget about 300baht bungalows ans 50 baht meal i am afraid unless you are ready to loose the so cherished sea front wooden bungalows and head inland.
as stated before there is no more diving services at freedom for now and the foreseable future ( please update your website as too not mislead peoples please) plenty of dive shop available at chalok ban kao which is by road about 15 min walk ( used to be able to walk there by the sea front knee deep in water in 5 minutes but thanks too the chalok beach restaurant wooden pier it is now a right pain.)
in a nutshell
300 baht wooden fan bungalows are gone.
400 baht seafront wooden fan bungalows in taatoh . only a few of them left and now 500 bhat
uphill 400 bhat bungalows in taatoh and freedom are now 500bhat
for all the previously stated options please expect the bare minimum with a double matress sitting on a wooden box , a wooden terrace with bench , cold water in the bathroom ( although you get free hot water when the pipes running down the hill gets warm under the sun !! )
thanks for keeping those cheaper option bungalows that made taatoh and freedom so famous among backpackers / guests who dont mind keeping it easy and relax!
600 bhat concrete bungalows fan and hot water are now 800
with a large tiled terrace overlooking the sea with table and chairs , brand new windows ,
1000 baht concrete fan hot water 15 inches tv large bungalows are now 1500
2 new large sets of 2 bungalows that can be used independantly or used as one 2 bedroom family house at 1500bhat a night with fan hot water tv.
add 500bhat a day if you want ac that is available in all accomodation past the 1000 bhat marks
all bungalows have amazing sea view , large terrace with table and chairs, . if you can make sure you try to book in the taatoh lagoon part as the grounds are far more nicely kept with nice wooden pathway , large variety of trees , coloured flowers, a little gem . freedom bungalows grounds are a bit more wild, less vegetation , concrete patway .
so a bit of a price hike justified by the resort going a bit uprange with the new reception , restaurant , "shopping plaza", larger beach , refurbishing of the mid/upper range bungalows , english channel tv, general upcomming of kohtao as an uprange destination .. a bit of a harsh reality that doesnot go well with the fact that the thai bhat is staying on a high exchange rate.
well i read so many bad reviews, personaly had many bad experiences, heard so many stories from fellow traveller regarding the bad attitude , arrogance of staff on koh tao ( NOT ESPECIALY AT FREEDOM )
unfortunately this is true
mass tourism is a lot to blame for one . so many people comming in and out, that it is getting maybe too easy to make money without having a good attitude. "natives" gets as well pissed of by seing so many farang around which is fair enough( but then farang provides 90per cent of Tao income). there is as well the inherent problem of "class and respect "in thailand .10 years ago you were renting a beach bungalow from a local fisherman family , this same family is now a multimillion baht resort owner. this changes a lot in thai social hierarchy where tourists status stands now lower in the ladder.
there is also the fact that tourist are getting more and more demanding ( rightly so considering the price hike) and more and more people come around expecting occidental standard of service without looking into thai culture background and considering thailand as their little cancoon or costa brava.
a few years ago at 150 bhat a night travellers were not expecting so called "service" and were more respectuous and incline to blend in the family that hosted you,
at 1500 baht a night yes people are rightly a lot more demanding and expect their room to be cleaned daily and staff to be over polite and deferent . but staff are still on the same standards as 7 years ago , are not trained in hospitality and respond to tourist demands with a lot of agressivness.
a lot of training to be done and understanding to take place or before soon thailand will loose her title of Land Of Smile .
So quiet a long review.
to sum up
I would recommend travellers from all financial background comming to koh tao to stay at Freedom as a large range of rates is available, the beaches are just amazing , this is certainly the up and comming resort on tao with a very bright future ( too bright for my simple taste) , all problems you might find there ( continual building work taking place, problem with staff, price hike and so on ) are not specific to Freedom but are widespread on koh tao and more generally any over developped touristic place in thailand. you want to find what made thailand a famous destination ( sense of hospitality, cheap food and hotel, amazing natural grounds) go somewhere that is not listed as a main destination on the lonelyplanet ,
all comment welcome
have a nice one, sun is shinning i am off for a swim among tropical fish on a very quiet beach that i wont tell you about ;-)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- One of the last quiet beaches on Koh Tao. Friendly family atmosphere. Two private bays. Reasonable priced accommodation. well maintained, comfortable bungalows and friendly and attentive staff hopes to make your holiday an unforgettable and carefree time. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Freedom Beach Hotel Koh Tao