I had high hopes for this visit to the Sanctuary, on Koh Phangan. I think it might be one of the oldest and most famous yoga and detox retreats on this island and in Thailand!
I have visited the Sanctuary some 5-6 years ago but was only doing some yoga lessons here then and not staying on the premises. This time, I was lucky enough to be hosted by them, nevertheless, all opinions are my own, as always.
How to Get to the Sanctuary (Koh Phangan)?
You can arrive here by a longtail boat from Haad Rin or if the sea is just too rough, there is the jeep also. Part of Sanctuary’s charm is its remoteness though the trip here can be somewhat arduous (and even wet). There are no 7/11:s here either even though they have managed to conquer pretty much the whole Koh Phangan, and Thailand in general.
The Sanctuary is situated at the Tri-Bay area as many affectionately call it, in the middle of it, at Haad Tien. I decided to hike here from Haad Rin because it’s good exercise and I know the way (and I get to save 3-400b which is a typical taxi boat fare). I was a bit late when I embarked so kept the pace up. I was exhausted when I arrived at the Sanctuary.
I have actually written the Ultimate Koh Phangan Guide which explains how to get on the island (and pretty much everything else there is to know about it). So can whole-heartedly recommend reading it 😉
My First Day at The Sanctuary
The check-in process was very fast and I was served a glass of refreshing and tasty juice while waiting for the formalities to be done. May I add also, that the staff here is super friendly and they make you feel welcome straight away. There was not much time to lose though because I wanted to do a Yin yoga class 4pm.
The Yin yoga class was just perfect, may I say. After rushing here and being a bit stressed out, the grounding 90-minute class was exactly what I needed. All my worries and haste disappeared and I could completely relax. After the class, I met Nolan, the jovial manager and we had a short chat about this quirky yet lovely place.
Nourish Your Body
The restaurant here is fantastic! It’s really hard to choose what to eat because everything is delicious and healthy. In the end, I decided to go for a raw burger (250b). It was tasty and filling. The dishes are mostly vegetarian, vegan and/or raw but you can get good seafood also.
Despite the fact that it’s a yoga & detox center, you have the option of ordering wine or beer at the restaurant which I think is just fine. Other Tri-Bay inhabitants like eating here, too, and it would be boring if you couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine if you are on holidays.
In addition to the normal and breakfast menus, there are a plethora of raw cakes, bliss balls et cetera to satisfy your cravings for something sweet. Before I hiked back to Haad Rin, I went for the mint chocolate raw cake (150b) with a cafe macchiato and was very pleased with my choice.
When talking about healthy and nutritious food the prices are understandably a bit higher. Then again, the Tri-Bay area is more expensive anyhow because everything needs to be brought in either by boat or with the jeep (it’s a very bumpy 45-minute ride). Oh, and if you are a raw food aficionado, check out this post on Raw Food Cooking on Koh Phangan.
Lovely Bungalows in the Jungle
There are a variety of bungalows, houses, and a dorm to cater for different tastes and budgets. I was staying in one of the beautiful jungle bungalows, able to hear the jungle sounds and waves in the distance. The bungalow has a rustic yet stylish feel and I found it super cozy. The king size bed is certainly nice but what I liked most was perhaps the small balcony with a hammock and views to the jungle.
I believe that life here in the jungle with its remoteness can be very simple, and partly because of that you are better able to connect with yourself: no modern amenities and gadgets bothering you constantly, nor cars, loud motorbikes and so forth.
It’s just a very simple life in the tropics, connecting with yourself and using this opportunity for relaxing, improving your asanas or even fasting and detoxing yourself. Whatever the purpose of your visit, you are bound to do good to your body and your soul.
The next morning I woke up to do a yoga class 8am which was a relatively slow-paced Hatha class. There are 3 classes daily: this 8am (anahata) Hatha yoga, 10.30am slow/detox yoga and the yin class is 4pm. The yoga shala is spacious and tucked inside the jungle. After just having had dengue, I was very happy that the yoga shala had mosquito nets.
By the way, take my advice and use the spray and wear long pants after sunset if possible. The Sanctuary is situated in the jungle anyway so you are very likely to meet different jungle inhabitants, such as geckos, ants and so forth. Don’t worry though, you should have nothing to worry about. They want to lead their peaceful life in their home, the jungle, so let’s respect that and remind ourselves that they also belong here.
There are plenty of different detox and purification processes you can do here; fasting, colon cleansing, weight loss package, candida/parasite cleanse etc. If time is of the essence, you could do just one day cleanse, though I certainly would recommend digging deeper.
You could also choose to get health counseling or try one of the natural or healing therapies, such as Chinese cupping, Reiki, Acupuncture, Tarot reading and so forth. Then again, if you feel that all this would be a bit too much, you could enjoy different kinds of massages or have for instance a wonderful body scrub or a raw cacao facial.
Then there is the steam room and infrared sauna. I’m from Finland so I’m sauna crazy by birth but to be honest, I like the infrared sauna even more. It’s supposed to have many health benefits, such as detoxifying and stress-relieving your body, increased circulation an so on. So next time when you have the opportunity, please give it a go. Just remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after.
Overall, I wish I could’ve stayed at the Sanctuary, (Koh Phangan) much longer. It certainly has character and is unique even though the trip to the destination can be a bit challenging. Keep up the good work and many thanks for letting me get to know this magical yoga and detox retreat in Thailand! More info on the Sanctuary here: https://www.thesanctuarythailand.com/
By the way, Koh Phangan has plenty of yoga teacher trainings and yoga schools in general if you decide to deepen your practice here. This island is pure yogic heaven. Another good option would be Bali which has some cool surf & yoga retreats. They are definitely on my list!
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