Updated: May 9, 2018
Top-notch pool, top-class beach, convenient and affordable. Boasting an excellent downtown and beachside location, this is one of the first and still one of the best. Rooms are in motel-style blocks and (like most resorts on the island) close together, so it would be noisy during party time at full moon. Rooms face the pool, which is always boisterous, or another block with balconies barely 10 metres apart. Worth a splurge are those facing the beach, with full-length windows overlooking the sandy path, and only 5 metres from the pool. Suites also offer a Jacuzzi. The pool stretches from the lobby to the beach, which is not, despite claims to the contrary, ‘private’. And there’s a playground and swing on the palm-peppered lawns. A little lost among the lanes in the scruffy village of Haad Rin, it faces the northern and quieter end of the infamous Sunrise Beach, epicentre for full-moon parties.
Newly built, contemporary design, secluded but not isolated. Renovated in 2017, a range of ultra-modern accommodation is lined along the beach and up a rocky hill in a secluded cove. However, the overall design of the rooms and lobby/café – square and grey, with extended flat roofs – may not appeal to some. The Deluxe Bungalows are likeably chic, with a thoughtful décor and Thai arts. The balcony with a swinging egg chair and wooden decking may face the back of another bungalow, while those alongside the beach are spacious and airy, with fashionable furnishings, a private pool and plenty of windows. Others being built further up the hill for enhanced views involve some steep steps. Facing an extended bay of powdery sands and boardwalks, the resort is along the tranquil southern end of Seekantang (Leela) beach, 10 minutes on foot from the more renowned Sunset and Sunrise beaches.
Peaceful, distant, uber-chic and adults only. With patches of greenery and an enchanting beachside setting, the overall layout is agreeable; less so the industrial-style décor. All accommodation features polished concrete walls and floors, with the overwhelming greyness interrupted by splashes of bright orange. Villas contain 2 bedrooms and an extra-long balcony, while some directly face the inviting beachside pool and sea. The Deluxe Rooms are truly minimalist – e.g. no desk and only 1 bedside table – and the frosted sliding doors ensure privacy but affect views. At the far northern end of Sunset Beach, the sands in front are far cleaner and shadier than areas to the south where full-moon parties erupt. While a handful of simple cafés are dotted along the road nearby, the main village of Haad Rin is about 10 minutes on foot or by hotel shuttle bus.
Vast grounds, glorious beach, superb facilities and ideal for families. Spread expansively along the coast and up a hill either side of the access road, this resort faces Seekantang (Leela) Beach, which is about 10 minutes’ walk from Haad Rin village and little further from the infamous Sunset and Sunrise beaches. A variety of villas and bungalows are offered, including the circular Cliff Bungalows, perched up a steep hill for maximum views (mostly blocked by trees), and remarkably built around immovable granite boulders. Better are the villas barely 5 metres from the sand. With two bedrooms and a private plunge pool, these are secluded behind colourful walls that significantly affect the views. However, the modern design is instantly likeable, with an airy lounge and bedroom with wood panelling and a high ceiling. The main pool is dazzling and faces the beach, which is extended, shady and virtually private.
Downtown, beachside, unpretentious and unhurried. In two wings across both sides of the village street, this is a cut above the run-of-the-mill options nearby. It offers 13 types of rooms, starting with simple but comfortable wooden huts facing the garden path leading to the beach. More modern and spacious, but less character-filled, are the motel-style rooms in a block facing the long sparkling pool. Best of all, and certainly worth seeking out, are those almost on top of the sand. So bright and airy, these offer unparalleled sea views that western resorts would charge quadruple for. Although along the famous Sunset Beach, centre for full-moon parties, the beach is surprisingly scruffy and likely to disappear at high tide, but still better than beaches in front of neighbouring resorts. It’s also very handy to the Haad Rin pier, with infrequent and competitively-priced ferries to Koh Samui.
Superbly conveniently, uniquely designed and fine for families. Centrally located in Haad Rin village, and alongside the terminal for infrequent ferries to Koh Samui, this resort also faces a scenic cove that is virtually private. All sorts of brightly-coloured accommodation are provided, and most are significantly different to anything offered elsewhere on the island. Bungalows perched on rocks above the sea, or lining a hillside path, are simply furnished, but the balcony and abundant windows offer priceless views and refreshing breezes. Worth a splurge (or at least a peek) are the four extraordinary Boathouse rooms built above a lagoon and facing the sea. Shaped like gigantic tugboats, and painted pink, purple or mustard, they are on three levels, crafted from dark wood, and feature a spa bathroom and bed-head shaped like a boat wheel. The design ensures that it’s dark inside, but that adds to the charm. And with a larger-than-expected pool, it caters well for families.
Pleasant beach, old and new, secluded but not isolated. Close to the full-moon party action but not among it, there are blocks of functional motel-style rooms, old-fashioned huts cascading down a hill, and budget-priced accommodation in rows. With a swaying hammock on the veranda, the Deluxe (standard) Rooms are pleasingly spacious, but a bit dark inside. The Superior Rooms facing a second shared pool are new, elegant and airy. And the romantic suites are almost within touching distance of the sand (although it’s unclear why they need to be renovated). The main pool is alongside the narrow beach, which is likely to partially disappear at high tide, but is particularly clean and shady. Plenty of activities are also offered such as cooking, yoga and archery. It faces the quiet and scenic Seekantang (Leela) beach, only five minutes’ walk from Haad Rin village; a little further to the infamous Sunset and Sunrise beaches
Functional and beachside – let’s party! Perfect for partygoers, the rooms are compact, practical and comfortable, but in rather charmless square blocks. Undoubtedly, the best feature is the extensive uninterrupted sea views from rooms not on the ground floor. The beachside Infinity-edged pool is long and narrow, and guests can also use the more inviting pool – and gardens and playground – at the Sunset Beach Villas next door. But be warned: do not book either place for three days before or after the full moon if sleep is important at night. At other times, both resorts are delightfully laidback. Not nearly as attractive as Sunrise Beach, this part of Sunset Beach is disappointingly gravelly, sprinkled with unattractive mangroves, and likely to partially disappear at high tide – but the views are still heavenly. Although it does feel a little isolated, downtown is only a few minutes’ walk if cutting through the grounds of the adjacent villas.
Convenient beachside location and party atmosphere. The ‘villas’ are glorified huts, priced according to views. With swaying hammocks on sizeable verandas setting the mood, most overlook the gardens, with some facing another villa just across the path. Those with ‘mountain views’ are slightly uphill and more distant from the noisy pool. All villas are newish, functional, separated by a few metres and angled for possible sea glimpses, although inexcusably, those facing the beach are not slanted directly towards the sea for maximum views. The large lagoon-shaped pool is alongside the beach, which is surprisingly scruffy, with gravelly sand and ugly mangroves. And there’s a playground on a patch of grass. But it’s all about proximity to the full-moon party scene, although Sunset Beach is far less appealing than Sunrise Beach. With plenty of facilities along the lanes near the lobby, it’s also convenient to the Haad Rin pier, with infrequent ferries to Koh Samui.
Iconic, spacious, downtown and beachside. One of the first and still one of the best, most bungalows face a garden path lined with trickling waterfalls and goldfish ponds. With a dark wooden design and full-frontal windows, they are separated, often by up to 10 metres. Those facing the pool may be noisy, especially during full-moon parties, and a few are almost perched on the sand. The budget-priced rooms above the breakfast café would be noisy; otherwise, the spacious villas boast a private Jacuzzi. The long saltwater pool is dazzling but separated from the beach by lawns that serve no obvious purpose. A little hard to find among the laneways in Haad Rin village, it faces a superb stretch of golden sands, with a volleyball court indicating the perennial party mood. This northern end of Sunrise Beach is comparatively quiet, but within staggering distance of the party scene.