Haad Yuan is a secluded beach on Koh Phangan, an island off the east coast of Thailand. The book turned movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio was written about this very lawless land where a unique culture lives. There is one dirt road that is sometimes accessible to get to this beach. Otherwise it is only accessible by long tail boat, weather permitting. It is one of the most remote places on this earth.
Detox and let go
You are truly connected with nature here with no ATM's (cash only everywhere), limited wifi, and only a handful of restaurants and lodges. What is abundant on the other hand are beach coves, yoga, full moon parties, vegan food, hikes, and yes - every drug you can imagine. The island is run by the Thai mafia so it is truly lawless. There is an interesting mix of people that make up the population of expats and travelers: hard core hippies, extreme partiers, and detoxing yogis (myself being the latter of course). If you look past the party scene you can enjoy the true beauty of this natural paradise and experience the authentic joy of reconnecting with yourself and nature.
There is something so freeing about walking everywhere barefoot without a care of how you look. In Haad Yuan there is no concern for where you came from, how you look, or what you do. It is a place where you can truly be yourself without having to think about it. Thus you can focus on mindfully eating healthy foods, your yoga practice, and writing (not to mention get your tan on).
Where to stay
Haad Tien is part of a trio of beaches in this secluded part of Koh Phangan. A short walk through the jungle from Haad Yuan will take you here. The Sanctuary is a health food restaurant and lodge on Haad Tien. It has the cutest beach and jungle bungalows, a mostly vegan restaurant, yoga classes, a wellness center and tea temple with holistic healing, and free mediation. A true sanctuary it is.
Our beach bungalow was quite heavenly.
The island itself has all kinds of yoga retreats which really are not my style. I'd rather be on my own yoga schedule practicing on my own or taking classes here and there at my leisure. This isn't really the place for a strict regimen of prepaid schedules which is why the Sanctuary was perfect for me. You can get by cheaply on the island if you avoid these overpriced retreats as well.
The Sanctuary had an amazing menu with vegetarian nori wraps, a vegan chia parfait made with coconut milk, and tons of salads and veggies. There is even a huge miso soup loaded with wakame. I loved how many sea vegetables they used as well as vegan proteins like lentils and tempeh. The best part? You can eat raw food because they use filtered water which is also accessible to you at any time so you can refill your bottles.
How to get here
Getting to Haad Yuan is a bit of trek - but well worth it. You must fly into Koh Samui, another island on the east coast of Thailand. From here you take the Haad Rin Queen ferry which takes you from Samui to the Haad Rin port in KPN. From here you must hire a long tail boat which is like a water taxi. Be sure to where sandals and be prepared to lift your bag over head because there is no dock. When you arrive to Haad Yuan you have to jump out onto the beach in ankle deep water. I had no idea and like a fool I was in tennis shoes and long pants from the plane! Not to mention I was guarding my laptop for dear life on the way over because we were getting so splashed by the waves. Keep your electronics wrapped in plastic for this boat ride. Remember to get as much cash out as you think you will need in Samui or Haad Rin as there are no ATM's in Haad Yuan. Other than that you will have not a care in the world once you step foot in this secluded land.