Koh Phangan – Calmer than Samui, cheaper than Tao
Koh Phangan was one of the first destinations we visited on our year of travelling. Getting there is easy: from Bangkok, fly to Koh Samui and take a 20 minute ferry to Koh Phangan or take a night train to Surat Thani and a 2 hour ferry to Koh Phangan. An easy way to find your way around Thailand is 12go.asia. Just fill in departure and destination and book your tickets. Very trustworthy. Click here for an example or to book! We’re sure there are even more options. It’s a relatively big island at about 168 km² but driving a scooter from one end of the island to the other takes no more than an hour. It’s located in the Gulf of Thailand in between better known islands Koh Samui and Koh Tao.
Koh Phangan: Full moon
The island is mostly known for 1 thing: its Full Moon Party’s, when the island can get very crowded. As there’s a full moon only once a month this means the island is rather calm the rest of the time. There are some other party’s to go to (which supposedly are of much better quality) but nothing on the scale of the full moon party’s.
Koh Phangan: The island
Koh Phangan can easily be divided in 4 parts: Southwest (Thong Sala), Northwest, Southeast (Had Rin) and the East. For diving, snorkeling and a laid back attitude, go Northwest. Night markets, shops, restaurants, hotels and leaving the island, go to Than Sadet. Quiet beaches, luxury resorts and exploring, go East. For partying go to Had Rin. Except for making a good party location, Koh Phangan has a lot to offer: diving on some of the world’s best dive spots, like Sail Rock (for cheaper prices than on Koh Tao), yoga retreats, relaxing on tropical beaches, hiking to beautiful waterfalls, climbing to a 620m high lookout, ziplining through rainforest and so much more. Restaurants are abundant (and the food is delicious) as are bars and hotels. Koh Phangan can really cater to everyone’s needs without necessarily letting the one disturb the other.
7 Days of exploring Koh Phangan
We stayed for a total of 6 nights, leaving us enough time for exploring the island, diving, snorkeling, drinking, eating, meeting people, … So what do we recommend:
Place to stay: Gary’s room (AirBnB). Big, clean room with the best hosts we’ve ever met! They go out of their way to make you feel ever comfortable. Or try Milky Bay Resort if you want a nice swimming pool next to the Beach.
Diving: Haad Yao Divers. 5* IDC Dive Resort who make sure you have the dive of a lifetime. Our trip included 2 dives, food, modern dive equipment and most of all a very professional instructor. This all comes at a very reasonable price, especially to some of Asia’s prime diving locations.
Beach: Had Sadet Beach. A small beach with only one hut where you can count the people on 2 hands.
Snorkeling: Koh Ma. We found the best place for snorkeling was at the back (seaside) of Koh Ma, but as long as you stay in the Northwest, almost every beach has a reef.
Party: Half moon party. Although we didn’t visit ourselves it is supposed to be the best party on the island (quality music, good setting and much less drunk kids).
Sunset: ThreeSixtyBar. Although a bit more difficult to get to, this nice bar gives magnificent views on the sun setting and Koh Ma while listening to some chill music and having a beer.
Market: The night market at Than Sadet. Held every Saturday, attracts mostly tourists but it’s also nice to see the locals buying the same food you’re having.
Bar: BM bar. Especially on mondays for some 80’s music.
Before coming to Koh Phangan we were wondering if we should’ve picked Koh Tao or even Koh Samui. To be honest we didn’t go to the latter 2 so we have no right to compare. We are however convinced that anyone coming to this beautiful island will have a great time. No wonder a lot of its inhabitants are tourists who never left.