Bottle Beach, or Haad Khuad, is the next beach north-west of Thong Nai Pan Yai. It is a crescent of white sand backed by palm trees and a handful of small bungalow resorts. It is quite undeveloped and was laid back and quiet when we visited. I think this may be helped by the many websites that claim the only way to get to the beach is by longtail boat. That was the case for many years, but the road is now passable by motorbike or 4×4 if you are a confident driver (it is pretty rough and steep in parts). Or you can of course hike. Which is what we did. There is only so much sitting on a beach we can handle. So it was on with the trusty Tula carrier and off hiking on Koh Phangan with a toddler…
Hiking on Koh Phangan with a Toddler: Thong Nai Pan Yai to Bottle Beach
What goes up…
The first stretch of the hike is the least interesting. You follow the road out of Thong Nai Pan Yai, past the turning to Thong Nai Pan Noi. All an uphill drag of a kilometre or so, which for some reason seems more of a slog on a road. You don’t pass any shops so make sure to take plenty of water and sunblock. The road takes an eventual turn for the worse into a very steep track so definitely wear trainers. Especially if you are carrying a toddler.
Keep an eye out for the right turn to Bottle Beach. There are a number of signs identifying the dirt road, which dips down across a bridge over a small stream and through a small settlement of houses.
There is then a kilometre or so of good sandy road. Although it is constantly heading up, the conditions make it mostly straightforward. The total climb up is about 160 metres.
You need to take the turning off to the left about 500 metres along this track. Again, there are a number of signs pointing the way, so you can’t get lost.
…Must come down
Just after the turning is where the road gets steeper, with ruts, sand and large stones making the way much more difficult. The worst stretch was for about 200 metres. Definitely time for Daddy to do some carrying on the way down, as he is much more sure-footed than I am! The picture is of me heading back up on the way home. For some reason, I find walking back up much easier. And this picture doesn’t do it justice at all. It felt much steeper and rougher…
Once you are down the bottom of a few steep sections, the way is easier from there on. The dirt track more steadily descends through a coconut grove for about 1.5km. At the fork, it doesn’t really matter which one you take unless you want to go to a specific resort. Whichever way you go, you will reach the back of a resort; just head through to get to the beach.
Bottle Beach has white sand and clear water, which shelves gently enough for a toddler. A few people arrived by longtail boat and motorbike when we were there and there were a few people staying in each resort. But it was not at all crowded, although perhaps not quite as off-the-beaten track as some of the stuff I read implied. We seemed to be the only idiots getting there on foot carrying a toddler. A huge added bonus are the little play areas at two of the beach bars. Perfect for keeping your toddler entertained while you have a well-earned beer. And prepare for the walk back… We did enquire about getting a ride back on a longtail boat. But they wanted something crazy like 900 THB for the three of us. And we asked about getting a taxi from a couple of the resorts, but none were available. So walk back it was. Actually, I found walking back much easier because you are going up the steepest stretches rather than down.