State of the road
In 2014 the road was completed, and is one of the best on the island.
The road was for several years what kept all but the most devoted fan of Thong Nai Pan away from the area. The road between Bantai village and Thong Nai Pan used to be notoriously bad. It was considered the most treacherous road on the island, and no doubt put off many people choosing TNP as a holiday destination.
For Thong Nai Pan regulars the road was a blessing. It meant the masses stayed away, and Thong Nai Pan remained a place not overwhelmed with tourists. This seemed essential to keep the prices down and the ambience ‘chilled’.
Panviman tried to neutralize the road affect by ferrying guests to and from the ferry port in their own minivan. They were also the first to offer speed boat transfers. This was an idea that was copied by first Santhiya and then Rasananda. Speed boat transfers are also a profitable side line.
In the early 2000s the worst hill was concreted along with a small stretch near the beach. In 2007-2008 parts of the road were widened and paved. At the same time the power lines were re-done so the electricity supply became more constant. As in the past work stopped suddenly and somewhat inexplicably.
While many welcomed the improved road, others thought that the ad hoc nature of the road building revealed a token attitude to development.
For those riding bikes, especially the less experienced, any improvement to the road was welcome. Those renting out bikes and secretly hoping for a big pay day when somebody damaged a bike must have regretted improvements to the road.
In 2011 Koh Phangan authorities got a decent contractor and a sizeable budget and made massive inroads into concreting the Thong Nai Pan road. At its present state it is entirely concreted from Than Sadet to Thong Nai Pan. The road has crash barriers and drainage. It is well made and not likely to start crumbling and cracking in a few years.
It is also expected that Koh Phangan’s airport will be located on this stretch of new road. Thong Nai Pan will no longer enjoy splendid isolation. This means less package tourists will be put off by the inaccessible nature of Thong Nai Pan.
Indeed Thong Nai Pan now trades on the fact that it is remote enough to retain a pristine nature while not being inconveniently hard to get to. It is a winning combination.
Please look at the YouTube video I filmed in December 2012. It shows both the mud road and the new concrete road. The concrete road starts about three quarters through the video. While the mud is compact and not too dry it is easy to drive on.
Personally, I have always loved the jungle scenery along the road. Nothing there but nature. I recognize every bend and bump and note every natural land mark. It is in stark contrast to the ring road around Koh Samui which is littered with commercial enterprises. Perhaps, it is this fear of Thong Nai Pan and Koh Phangan being ruined, of being turned into a Koh Samui-like tourist destination that makes people prefer the rough road. Whatever your point of view, the road remains very much part of the unique identity of Thong Nai Pan.
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