I met a really cool, chatty Californian guy in the train station on my way out of Ban Krut. Our meeting was notable for two reasons; the first was that he made the surprisingly common mistake of congratulating me on my excellent spoken English after I told him I was from Northern Ireland, and was then charmingly mortified when he caught on and tried to backpedal furiously. The other was for his unexpected reaction when he asked me how I had found out about Ban Krut and I told him I had read about it on the Internet. “Fuuuuuuuuck!!!!” he exploded, then, suddenly remembering the presence of the numerous small people around him, he clapped both his hands over his mouth, just like a naughty child himself, and danced a little jig of penance in front of the ticket window.
I hadn’t really come across Ban Krut randomly on the Internet, I had come across it by using the incredibly old-fashioned method of looking at an actual map before doing a bit more research on the web, but my train was coming and that seemed a bit complicated to explain. The arrival of the monsoon in Thailand had meant that the best weather was most likely to be on the Gulf coast, so after we decided to spend a few weeks travelling up it by train, I looked at a map and identified some likely places to stop off, Ban Krut was penciled in as the first of those. It’s not exactly unheard of in travelling circles, it does get a mention in the fatter guidebooks, and it isn’t hard to get to (you can catch a train from Surat Thani or Bangkok), but for some reason it has remained a staunchly Thai beach resort and for that, I am very thankful. Apart from a few expats floating around there were very, very few non-Thai folks in Ban Krut at the same time as us, to be honest, as it was the low season, there weren’t too many Thai folks around either, it was remarkably quiet.
The whole resort has a kind of down-at-heel atmosphere about it that is very common in British seaside resorts, an atmosphere that I am very fond of, maybe because cracked pavements and crumbling promenades bring back happy childhood memories for me of eating chips in the rain and turning blue in the sea off the Antrim coast. However, the beach is long and lovely and my children were delighted that there were actual waves to play in, instead of the millpond water they had been used to on Koh Phangan.
So what did we do? We rented bikes and cruised around looking for the action. The video below is useful in summing up just how much action we found (as well as how idyllic it was there of course).
We did get chased by a couple of dogs as well, which was quite exciting. Despite the lack of action we happily spent a whole week just hanging out, cycling, swimming and eating more than we needed to. I am not sure what else we did to pass the time really; we didn’t even have Wi-Fi at our guesthouse so we must have been reduced to reading books and having conversations, like in the olden days. Maybe Ban Krut turns into a heaving, frenetic party spot in the high season but I doubt it. I had been warned about the weekend karaoke nights, but if they were happening at all, they were happening in a considerate manner, nowhere near me.
To go back to my American friend, he explained to me after he had finished his dance that he had been travelling the world for over 20 years before he washed up in Ban Krut. He said that a few days after arriving he put his backpack away because he knew that he had found the perfect place for him and he wasn’t ever planning to leave. I am pleased for him, pleased that he has found his home after all these years and I totally understand why he doesn’t want more people like us turning up, but having seen the rate of change on Samui and Koh Phangan over the last decade or so, I am pretty sure it won’t be too long before the hoards descend and he might have to get that old backpack out again after all.
My really useful travel tips for Ban Krut
- If you are heading to the beach and have a heavy bag or short legs you can get a motorbike taxi from outside the train station. It only cost us 40 baht to get to our guesthouse. It is a walkable distance to the central accommodation but I would have only spent the 40 baht I saved on a cooling beer when I got there anyway.
- If you are looking for a budget option then stay in the Siripong Guest House, like we did (300 baht fan double/400 aircon). The wonderful lady who runs it understands a lot more English than she speaks and she also operates an amazing shop across the road that stocks everything that you could ever possibly need under one roof.
- The resort itself is well spread out along the beach and there is hardly any traffic, so if you aren’t a moped lover, hire a bike. The bike hire shop has some interesting models that seat up to four people if you don’t mind people laughing and pointing at you.
- Much of the signage in Ban Krut is solely in Thai, which makes it interesting when you go out to eat. Do not fear, despite having all of their signage in Thai we found that the places we stopped at had a menu translated into English, saving you the awkward chicken impressions and embarrassing misunderstandings.
- For street eats, head up to the area between the opposing Tesco and 7/11 in the evening. You can find kid friendly things like noodle soup and grilled chicken up there before buying an ice-lolly for dessert. Perfect.