Back to Basics, Koh Phayam Island, Thailand



Thailand’s stunning palm fringed islands are something of a rarity these days.  Commercialism has spoilt many of the ‘go to islands’ with their large beach front resorts that oh so often  replace the shady trees and their wild life or cause sandy beaches to wash away.  Small family run businesses are squeezed out, prices rocket, girlie bar, seven elevens, jet skis and pollution proliferates.    Full, half, quarter, harvest moon parties thump out music to dawn not giving much respite to those wanting to sleep.  So where can a traveller find a place to chill from today’s  excesses?  Koh Phayam.  A small island that has no cars, runs on solar power and generators, contains unspoilt beaches with family owned restaurants and  accommodation that blends into the surrounding lush forest behind the shore line.   It takes a while to reach this island which is why it has remained relatively unknown to many but the effort is worth it.

We book into the Hornbill – a favourite of ours – owned by T and her husband.  Half way down the 3 mile beach it sits behind the treeline and blends in – just like all the other hostels on the beach.   It is supposed to be rainy season but Thailand is having a drought.  The sky is blue, the sun is hot and the beach is practically deserted.

From the hammock on the balcony  of my wooden traditional hut I count at least 30 different types of bird including hornbills.  I share my bathroom with huge gekos, skinks, tree frogs and a large spider – all of which keep the mossies and gnats at bay.   Since my last visit several new small places have opened up offering good coffee and amazing food.

20160415_170059 20160416_142513


However the island is threatened.  A Korean electricity company KPU wants to make the island the first SMART off the grid island in the thailand or maybe the world.  Seems like a good idea until you realise that they want to put the turbines at the end of the beaches as well as inland, widen the concrete road that now only accommodates bikes to 12 ft wide, build a gold course and korean holiday resort and bring in a seven eleven.  Most of the locals are opposed but it seems to be a given thing and that they have very little say.  I attended the second meeting between the company and the locals.   Representatives for the scheme refused to give specifics about amount of land required, how many people would loose their business due to the road widening  how much forest would be destroyed, what impact it would have on the environment and wildlife, how much it would cost the locals for the electricity and so on.

20160419_101736 20160419_105606 20160419_105631


Meeting between locals and kpu electric company – locals air their concerns.

Only last year Ian Lloyd Neubauer’s wrote an article on the island extolling its virtues.   or

According the the islands committee attempts to contact ministers and newspapers to highlight their plights have been stonewalled and no they have had no response.  Social Media is their next step – hopefully someone out there take notice and write a story on the first SMART of the grid island scheme that is not so green as it seems.




10 thoughts on “Back to Basics, Koh Phayam Island, Thailand

  1. How can I contact the locals committee? It would have been nice if you had included contact info for those would want more info or would like to support the cause.

  2. Thanks for sharing, me and some friends are also trying to help Tee and the island by sending press releases around and making more people sign the petition ‘Save Koh Payham’ via

    As I known Koh Phayam is a National Park, under Forestry Department, for which the project owner needs to get a permission for by means of a license. Do you know if also the local administrative and provincial governor agree on this project? As they are key players, they would also need to approve this project for their community.

    In case they are ignoring these things, we should inform Tee to move further by collecting strong evidence about the approval of the project and sue them in court.

    Please let me know what you think?

    • Thanks, Mitch, for writing this article. We just left the island yesterday and already miss the waves, birdsong and our own private gecko ! I agree that social media is going to be very helpful, however I worry that the decision has already been made. Safe travels in Greece. Katherine and Peter.

  3. Oh dear sounds like another paradise lost. With a small community they will not have enough people power to fight the over powering big guys. So sad.

  4. I hope the local people prevail. I never ‘like’ stories where big corporations railroad the local people. Sad that so much beauty will probably be destroyed in search of even more profits (for a few0.

  5. Enjoyed reaching a few posts on your blog — Glad I came across it — Dreaming about more traveling!

  6. Aahrr, your fine photos bring back so many happy memories of Thailand. I was touring South East Asia for many months in the 80s and enjoyed tremendously. Many changes have taken place since then.

I wold love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: