Loaded with nature’s bounty and enthralling adventure trips, there’s a lot more to Koh Phangan than the crazy full moon parties packed with excitement and vigor.
Koh Phangan is a natural paradise island located halfway between the islands of Ko Tao and Ko Samui, in the Southern Gulf of Thailand. It serves as a perfect getaway to honeymooners, backpackers as well as to families looking for an enjoyable vacation. Koh Phangan is flanked by several islands and beaches that form the perfect destination for travelers to revel in the natural beauty of the place, soak in the excitement, relax in the quiet beaches, and enjoy a plethora of water sports and activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, wind rafting and so on.
Apart from the notorious full moon parties that Koh Phangan is famous for, there are several other attractions that you would like to explore and enjoy here. Koh Phangan boasts some really spectacular fishing villages, towns, and beaches that are worth exploring. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Koh Phangan are:
- Thong Sala, the main ferry port
- Chalok Lam, a scenic fishing village
- Thonglang Bay, a quiet retreat
- Bottle Beach, a relaxed beach
- Haad Rin, famous for fullmoon parties
- Thong Nai Pan, a scenic island
- Haad Salad, a tranquil cove
Best Time to Visit Koh Phangan:
If you are planning a Koh Phangan vacation then the best time to visit the island is from December to March. This is also the high season, and the water is clean and good for swimming. During this time, there are no rains and the temperature is mostly pleasant. Another good time to visit Phangan Island is July/August, just after the dry season when the water is rising again. You should avoid visit this place during the dry season April-June when the beaches have shallow water and not good for swimming.
How To Get In And Around?
The airport that serves the island of Koh Phangan is the Ko Samui (USM) airport. It has weekly and daily direct flights from Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao. Another easily accessible airport is the Surat Thani (URT) situated on the mainland. From the airport, visitors can take ferries to the various parts of the Koh Phangan Island. You can buy the combo tickets online which includes air tickets, boat and bus travel combined.
You can also take the overnight direct train from Bangkok which arrives at Surat Thani or Chumphon, and from there travelers can get transfer by bus and then boat. To avoid any hassles while traveling, you may consider buying the combined train-bus-boat tickets available at the official reservation counter at Hualamphong station, Bangkok.
With so many exotic islands and beaches to explore, you may feel the urge to move around the place. Getting around the island is easy as there are several 100-125cc motorbikes available for hire. There are many motorbike rental shops available, or you may ask at the reception of your resort. You should be really careful while driving a motorbike in the area and be cautious of scammers. If you don’t prefer bike rentals, you can take the pick-up truck taxis that will take you around for 100 baht for a single ride.
What to See:
While you are in the scenic Koh Phagan, you can spend your time enjoying the various natural attractions in the region. Although most people across the world know Phagan essentially for its famous full moon parties, there are many other things to see and do in this beautiful island. Here are some attractions you can visit during your stay:
Than Sadet National Park: Named after the beautiful Than Sadet river, this preserve park is full of nature’s bounty. It is home to the largest waterfall that was visited by Thai kings. This was the favorite place of Rama V who visited it about 14 times. There are several other waterfalls and island interiors worth exploring. You can also visit the Phaeng waterfall situated in the Phaeng National park.
Take a trip to the rocky viewpoint located above the valleys boasting awe-inspiring views over the northeastern part of the island. The Wat Khao Tam viewpoint is another striking place to see, located on the road between Haad Rin and Thong Sala. Another attractive viewpoint is Chaloklum located on the road which leads to Haad Khom.
Things to Do:
Koh Phagan presents a variety of things to do for both the old and the young. People of diverse ages and tastes will find something that will attract their attention and make them want to stay here forever. You can explore the beauty of the island though exciting tours and trips throughout the day and spend the evening enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Apart from the full moon parties, the various beaches host a lot of other parties for the young crowd.
You may enjoy an excursion to the Ang Thong National Marine Park which provides a plethora of interesting activities including fishing trips, Muay Thai, elephant riding, and cultural tours. You can also enjoy a plethora of water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. With so many places to see and things to do, you are sure to have a whale of a time in the island.
Excursions from Koh Phagan:
While you are in Koh Phagan, you will never fall short of exciting things to do. You can take excursions to the nearby destinations that are popular for their natural attractions. Some of the sites include Ang Thong National Marine Park, situated 2 hours from the island. It is good for water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Other popular destinations are Sail Rock, situated between Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan; Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand; Surat Thani, closest city to the island; and Ko Samui, one of the biggest tourist attractions.
Koh Phangan offers lovely diving sites for both the beginners as well as the trained divers. There are really interesting sites where you will find clear waters, beautiful corals, and a wide range of colorful reefs. While diving under the waters, you can enjoy watching the colorful tropical/ pelagic fish and the breathtaking aquatic life beneath the waters. There are some incredible diving sites located between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, which can be explored by divers of all levels.
If you are new to scuba diving then you can get training from the various training schools situated in the island. There are many PADI dive-schools that will provide guided tours and help you enjoy a memorable diving experience beneath the sea. Many resorts offer scuba diving training facilities to the guests. Some of these resorts are Lotus Dive Resort, Reefers Dive Resort, and PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort.
Full Moon Parties:
The full moon parties need no introduction as they are popular across the world for good and bad reasons. This party mainly takes place in the Haad Rin beach, and some of the highlights of the party are fireworks, bucket beers, figure-hugging outfits, glowing body paint, cheap chicken burgers, beach bars, trance music, live DJs, and other suspicious substances. If you have missed the full moon party then you can be a part of the other parties such as Black Moon, Jungle Parties, and the Shiva Moon party.
Although full moon parties are basically meant for fun and entertainment, some people also indulge in passing illegal drugs so be careful. Thailand laws are strict about drugs, which are considered illegal, and if you are caught taking drugs or dealing with it then you may end up in jail. There are many plain clothed policemen who do the rounds in these parties so stay clean and have fun, don’t indulge in anything illegal.
You will meet many new people in the party and while it is good to make friends women should be cautious as some unscrupulous people are out there trying to take advantage and young vulnerable women become easy victims. So don’t get too drunk and avoid taking drinks from strangers. Use the public toilet and don’t go to the sea. There’s a reason why the water feels warm and not because you are in a tropical place. So stay hygienic, don’t go off the guard and have fun.
What to Buy:
The markets at Haad Rin and Thong Sala sell almost anything that you could think of. You may try bargaining but most often the prices are too high at the ferry piers. As you get into the city, you will have better chances for bargaining and getting a good deal. Some of the main purchases that you might make in Koh Phangan are hammocks and art works made by the local artists. Tesco-Lotus is the largest supermarket in the island where you will find everything from clothes, slippers, cheap microwaveable dishes to delicious Thai food.
Where to Eat and Drink:
When you are in Thailand, you of course cannot do without savoring the spicy and delicious local food. You will get fresh and yummy seafood in almost every local restaurant that serve you the catch of the day. There are several well furnished restaurants and cafes in Haad Rin where you will find some really delicious and cheap food. There are several food carts in Thong Sala where you will find affordable meals starting from 40Baht per meal, soups starting from 30B, and pancakes from 20B.
Some of the good places to eat in Koh Phangan are Umi Vegetarian in Thongsala; Me’n'u, the signature restaurant at Rasananda resort in Tong Nai Pan Noi; Fellini and Srithanu, Italian restaurants in Haad Rin; Ando Loco, a Mexican restaurant in Thongsala; Little House, cafe-style restaurant; and Nira’s home bakery in Thongsala.
After you are done with the seafood barbeques, Thai curries, noodles, fried rice or the Italian/ European styled food, try some exotic drinks at the various bars situated across the island. Some of the beach bars are Club 9, the largest indoor club in Koh Phangan known for its crowd, live music, themed parties, drinks and reputable DJ’s; Sheesha, a classy Thai bar; and the Livin’ Room, a spacious bar with laid back ambience, movies, drinks, and food.
Finding an accommodation in Koh Phangan is much easier than you think as the island has a variety of hotels, resorts, and bungalows meeting diverse accommodation needs of the individuals. Whether you are planning a honeymoon, a family holiday or planning to come here alone, you will find a suitable place to stay in the island. The sea or beach facing accommodations are expensive, and if you look for resorts or hotels within the city you may get some cheaper options.
Most of the Koh Phangan resorts or bungalows offer air conditioned and well furnished guestrooms, equipped with attaché modern bath and a plethora of modern amenities. There are single rooms, double rooms, and bungalow style accommodation available with swimming pool, full kitchenette etc. You can share the bungalows with friends or other families.
Some of the popular accommodation options available in Koh Phangan are Black & white bungalows, Chantaramas resort, Cookies salad resort, Viva on the beach hotel, Mai pen rai bungalows, Thongtapan resort, Bottle beach 1 resort, Fairyland club resort, Mae haad bay resort, and Morning star resort.
Whether you are here for a vacation or to participate in the crazy beach parties, be careful and stay away from anything suspicious. The Full Moon Party is full of illegal drugs, so keep away from it or you may end up paying hefty fines or going to the jail. Don’t get too drunk because after all you are in a foreign land. Be careful of scammers who may try to extract money from you. For any emergency, contact the nearest police station. The number for tourist police is 1155, and for fire it is 199. So, stay safe and enjoy your visit to the breathtaking Koh Phangan to the fullest!