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“Stunning location, but...”
Review of Koh Ra Ecolodge

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Koh Ra Ecolodge
Reviewed April 25, 2010

The big plus regarding Ko Ra Ecolodge is the stunning location, and the peace and relaxed feel of the place. The facilities are quite spartan and the lack of water was a little irritating at times (the shower only worked once in the 5 days we were there); although water shortage is, apparently, a problem across Thailand at present.

Should we have expected more of an ecolodge, other than very basic amenities? It would have been nice to have felt that Ko Ra was more than a very simple place to stay on a beautiful island; but any sense of promoting the enterprise as something more than a relatively expensive accommodation resource, by Thai standards, didn't come across. Apart from the publicity info on the web-site, there was little evidence of Ko Ra being part of a philosophy of sustainable living, or of any particular interpretation of what an ecolodge is (or could be), apart from being very economic in terms of facilities.

The optional extras seemed quite pricey: 3200 Baht (£64 / $99) each for a snorkelling trip to the Surin islands; 500 Baht (£10 / $15) for a relatively short guided walk. The American owner, Kim, appeared relaxed to the point of somnolence and was not particularly forthcoming with information, and seemed somewhat disinterested in building relationships with his guests. The food was OK, but not as good as others have reported.

Pros: Stunning location
Cons: Little sense of the ecolodge being much more than a very basic, if not particularly cheap, place to stay.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Dweasle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Management response:Responded July 28, 2010

Thanks for the comments. In response to your points, the water shortages (after nearly 6 months with no rain ) that affect Thailand at the end of the dry season should be solved now, with increased storage capacity and reconfiguration of piping- apologies for that. Similarly, to the last review I responded too, we were also faced with staff shortages between Song Kran (mid-April) and the end of the season (end of April) and yes, I was somnolent, or more specifically, very tired. We now recognize this issue and hope to have it solved for our coming third season of operation. I have also recognized the issue of explaining/promoting our sustainability activities or "what makes us an ecolodge" to guests more actively and we are making educational materials for next season. The fact is that we do take steps that increase or sustainability like composting, solar energy use, grey water filtration and the seemingly obvious use of septic tanks for EACH toilet, something that most/many small scale accommodations (and some large) do not do in Thailand. We also run a long term conservation project and community project with our local village. All these things combined with the fact that we are self-contained on a semi-remote island (transportation, supplying) and have a large piece of protected land to manage does not allow us to charge the lowest rates for a beach bungalow in Thailand, but we feel like what we do has a lot of value. The accommodations are basic, but the bungalows were built and maintained using green building practices have the necessities and are clean.

Finally, the prices for snorkeling trips to Surin that we charge (baht 3200) are below average compared to tour operators in the area (range from baht 2900- 4700). I would challenge the reviewer to find another guided half day jungle/village tour (3+ hours) for under baht 500 (US$15).

In summary, a "stunning location" that includes a protected area, conservation, community benefits and sustainable operation, costs more to operate and we hope responsible ecotourism clients understand that.

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21 - 27 of 29 reviews

Reviewed February 16, 2010

My wife and I spent a very enjoyable few days at the Ecolodge which is a great "back to nature" experience. The buffet-style food is excellent, the staff welcoming and the location is secondary forest on the edge of the beach.
The bungalows are roomy but possibly a little too close to nature for some! We had a gorgeous tree frog, helping the gekko eat the ants in our bathroom! There were very few mosquitoes around (in mid Feb) though do be aware that there are some fairly 'bitey' sand flies on the local beach.
There are good snorkelling and diving opportunities both off the beach and to the neighbouring islets of Koh Kai, though visibility can be an issue if the tides aren't right. But DON'T miss out on snorkelling or diving at the Surin National Park. Surin ranks as one of the top reefs in the world with a staggeringly good range of pristine corals and multitudinous marine life.
We enjoyed meeting and comparing notes with the other guests in the stilted dining area and found that they were of a similar mindset to us!

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank hillbillyStroud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2010

We (4 adults and our 2-yr-old daughter) spent a week, including new years, at Koh Ra Ecolodge and found it to be a wonderfully peaceful and relaxing place. The lodge only has about six bungalows, so even when full, there are not too many people. Despite peak season, we had no trouble finding beautiful deserted beaches and coral reefs. The owners, Kim and Awe, were very laid-back and took great care of us and the other guests, joining us all for dinner and cocktails every evening. The food was authentic and delicious, but buffet style, no menus. The bungalows were very basic, but clean and functional. This is not a luxury resort, but a place for those who like to get away from the crowds and relax and play outdoors. Birding was fantastic. Snorkeling at Koh Ra was okay and Sirin Island, with some of the best reefs in Thailand, is only an hour boat-ride away.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with family
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4  Thank tiger372
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2009

Koh Ra Ecolodge is a fantastic place to stay if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature, both “jungle” and sea. Although I didn’t get to stay long enough to hike the trails around the island, go kayaking or do some of the many other activities they have to offer, I will definitely go back. The atmosphere is very relaxed and quiet, the staff is extremely friendly, and the food was the best I have had in Thailand. Fresh, wholesome and simply delicious!

An added bonus is that the ecolodge has an abundant supply of good water from a well and although, they have a filter, you can drink straight from the tap without getting sick and it tastes great. And I drank a lot of it.

I did not experience any geckos or spiders in my bathroom and no mosquitoes in my room (didn’t even need the mosquito net), but the mosquitoes were definitely out in the woods. It’s a good idea to bring a headlamp (a necessity) since the electricity is only on in the evening hours. The bungalows are really charming, built right into the forest. My room was just a few feet from the beach, so I could hear the surf all night long. Not fancy, but has everything you need, although I found my bed to be a bit uncomfortable. Apparently, they do have mats you can use on the beds, which I found out about later. Also, there is a really nice built-in picnic or dining area on the balcony of the bungalow, where I sat and watched the morning sunrises. All in all, a wonderful place to visit!

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled solo
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3  Thank bluemoonadventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 19, 2009

We stayed four nights at the Koh Ra Ecolodge in late March and early April (2009). Koh Ra is a hilly, forested island just off the coast at Kuraburi Pier (i.e., NOT in Ao Phang Nga National Park), and the Ecolodge (as far as we know) is the only place to stay on the island.
If you want to escape the crowds, this is just the place. And there are plenty of things to do. You can arrange a guided hike into the jungle, buy diving and snorkelling trips to Koh Surin and Richelieu Rock, as well as snorkelling trips off Koh Ra itself and nearby Egg Island (this island is visited by longtail boat, app. 30 min). You can reach the Koh Ra reef by kayak – it is just on the other side of a rocky bluff.
We visited reefs off Koh Ra and Egg Island. Truth be told, they aren't comparable to what you find at the Surin and Similan Islands, and visibility was sometimes rather poor. On the other hand, there was plenty of fish around and, in sharp contrast to Surin and Similan, we literally had the reefs all to ourselves! Plus, the friendly American manager of the Ecolodge, Kim, is a marine biologist who was a great source of information on local flora and fauna.
As for the accommodation itself, we found it to be pretty basic. If you want to get closer to nature, this is the place for you. There is only electricity between 6 and 10 pm (so one must bring a flashlight), and the bungalows are literally situated on the edge of the jungle. The only thing that interfered with the otherwise perfect jungle experience was the noise created by the fishing boats leaving or returning to Kuraburi pier (especially in the hours before sunrise).
Our bungalow had two ensuite bathrooms, but as these opened up to the jungle, going to the toilet at night was rather exciting -- a bit too exciting for our tastes, but others may like it. Apart from the ubiquitous geckos and mosquitoes (the latter were quite aggressive, so we were glad we had brought repellent; fortunately the bed had a mosquito net), we encountered huge spiders, tree frogs, and even a scorpion in our bathroom (again, bring a flashlight!).
Full board is included when you stay at the Ecolodge (including drinking water and coffee/tea, but you pay extra for soft drinks and beer), and the food we had there was simply excellent. Plenty of fresh seafood and deliciously spicy Thai dishes. The atmosphere was great and very relaxed, with staff and guests eating together in the Sala on the beach. (But if one is not in the mood for socializing, it’s no problem to sit by oneself at one of the tables.)
Finally, it was quite easy to get to the Ecolodge. They arranged pickup at Phuket Airport and accommodation in Kuraburi on the mainland (which we needed, as we arrived in Phuket after dark).

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank SorenBeverley_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2014 via mobile
Google Translation

Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Julie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kimo914, Manager at Koh Ra Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 20, 2017

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Reviewed January 19, 2014
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Room Tip: Die zwei Einzelbungalows am Strand sind sehr zu empfehlen, ev auch noch die Dreiereinheit direkt dan...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank igro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Koh Ra Ecolodge

Address: Koh Ra, Phang Nga 82150, Thailand
Location: Thailand > Phang Nga Province > Phang Nga
Hotel Style:
Ranked #17 of 44 Specialty Lodging in Phang Nga
Price Range: $23 - $35 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Koh Ra Ecolodge is located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand (2.5 hr. drive north of Phuket airport). If you are looking for a truly unique nature experience in Thailand, then we invite you to stay with us on Koh Ra and explore the pristine jungle, private beach, coral reefs and hidden bays of this amazing island. Our goal is to offer guests a simple yet comfortable place to stay in the heart of the most natural stretch of coastline remaining in Thailand, and the closest island to world-renowned Surin National Park. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Koh Ra Ecolodge Hotel Phang Nga

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