DESTINATION GUIDE

Koh Phangan: a complete guide

Sander & MariskaKoh Phangan is known as a party island and particularly famous for its Full Moon Party: a huge party that’s held every full moon on Haad Rin beach. But… it’s so much more than that! Few people know Koh Phangan as a hippie island, where you can simply enjoy the beach, the sun, and some nice reggae beats. In between the parties the atmosphere on Koh Phangan is surprisingly easygoing. At times it can even be quite peaceful, which makes it perfect for long trips on the motorbike or lazy days spent at the beach!

– Sander & Mariska

Sights in Koh Phangan

Visit Koh Phangan if you love beaches, huge parties or if you want to mellow out and be “zen” through yoga, meditation or a detox. Though the island doesn’t have any landmarks to speak of, that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored! Here are some suggestions of things you can do and see, plus an overview of the best parties.

1. Riding a motorbike

Driving to Than Sadet

Riding along the coast on a motorbike and discovering the nicest spots is (we believe) one the best things to do on Koh Phangan!

2. Phaeng Waterfall

Phaeng Waterfall at Koh Phangan

The largest waterfall on Koh Phangan, complete with a viewpoint (± 20-minute hike) that looks out over the island and Koh Samui.

4. Than Sadet Waterfall

Than Sadet Waterfall in Koh Phangan

Three smaller waterfalls in the middle of the jungle. You can climb down 3 kilometers over large boulders, although using a motorbike is a lot easier!

4. Koh Mae

You can walk to Koh Mae

A small deserted island that can only be reached by crossing a sandbank. The best place on the island to go snorkeling.

5. Walking Street

Thong Sala Market in Koh Phangan

Every Saturday the street near Thong Sala Pier is closed for traffic and transforms into a really nice evening market with souvenirs, clothing, and plenty of eating stands. Saturdays 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM.

6. Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple in Koh Phangan

Temple with many Chinese influences and a beautiful viewpoint that looks out over the dense jungle and Chaloklum Beach.

Ang Thong National Marine Park

Imagine dozens of small tropical islands, clear blue water, pearly white beaches and viewpoints that will take your breath away. You HAVE to see this!

8. Yoga & wellness

Beach yoga

For yoga, meditation and healthy food go to the western part of the island, where you’ll find the ORION Healing Centre, Agama Yoga, and Blooming Lotus Yoga.

Phangan Bicycle Tours

A fun cycling tour through the heart of the island, where you’ll see the true Phangan and learn more about the culture and daily life of the island.

The Challenge Phangan

A wipeout course on water and surrounded by jungle, with all kinds of obstacles to jump over, dive off, swing from and climb onto.

Parties in Koh Phangan

Besides the Full Moon Party, there are a lot of other (big) festivals and events on Koh Phangan. These are the most famous ones.

Koh Phangan’s main party held every full moon on Haad Rin Beach and good for between 10,000 to 30,000 partygoers.

2. Halfmoon Festival

Techno party with a similar feel to the FMP, held in the jungle one week before and one week after the Full Moon Party.

3. Jungle Experience

Mainly techno and house FMP pre-party held 10 days before and one day after the FMP.

4. Black Moon Culture

The perfect party if you missed the FMP, but still want to party. Expect a mix of progressive, tech, and trance.

5. Waterfall Party

Party in the jungle on a spot where there used to be a waterfall. Every 2 days before and after the FMP with a mix of techno, trance, and deep house.

6. Shiva Moon

Small psytrance party in the jungle with three dance floors in a little valley. Perfect for lovers of trance.

Beaches in Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is absolutely perfect for a beach holiday because options are plentiful! From long stretches of beach with a pleasant atmosphere to secluded little bays, so intimate they would be perfect for a marriage proposal.  These are the most popular and most beautiful beaches and bays of Koh Phangan.

Secret Beach Koh Phangan

This hip little beach, unfortunately, isn’t much of a “secret” anymore, but it’s still a great place to relax and it has a really nice beach bar. The beach is perfect for families with small children as the seabed slopes gently, leaving the water shallow for long periods of time.

White Sand Beaches at Haad Salad

A beautiful, calm little beach with white sand, a few bungalows on the edges and a pleasant atmosphere. A good place to spend part of the day and go for a swim, snorkeling or enjoy the beach barbecue during sunset.

Rent a kayak and explore Koh Mae Island

Just try and not to get lost in the oldest and largest Chinatown in the world! It’s a maze of small, narrow streets with bustling markets, little street restaurants, auto repair shops, medicine shops and hidden temples.

One of the best beaches of Koh Phangan: Haad Khom

Coral Bay is actually prettier than Bottle Beach – it’s located in a small bay with white sand, boulders, palm trees and an unparalleled view of green hills. Expect an empty beach with a handful of good bungalows and restaurants.

Having lunch at Bottle Beach

Hard to reach Bottle Beach is heavenly, beautiful and known as “the most beautiful beach on Koh Phangan”. Though that might not be entirely true, it still is a gorgeous and peaceful beach.

Relaxed vibe on Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach

Thong Nai Pan Noi is a small beach resort that offers the opportunity to have a romantic dinner on the beach. Also, Thong Nai Pan Yai is excellent for swimming as the sea is nice and cool and the water shelves slowly.

Overview of Than Sadet beach

A calm and small little beach located in a stunning bay. The sea here is not crystal clear, but it is very refreshing and deep enough to swim all year round. At the right end of the beach, you can spot Komodo dragons.

Empty tropical beaches

This pretty, small bay is very calm and fairly unspoiled. This is where you’ll find the Sanctuary, a great place for doing detox & yoga retreat on the beach. Activities include doing yoga, meditation and eating healthily. Be sure to check the two beaches that border it as well!

9. Haad Rin (Sunrise Beach)

Haad Rin in Koh Phangan

Thong Nai Pan Noi is a small beach resort that offers the opportunity to have a romantic dinner on the beach. Also, Thong Nai Pan Yai is excellent for swimming as the sea is nice and cool and the water shelves slowly.

A romantic swing on Leela Beach

An unbelievably beautiful and quiet beach with small-scale resorts within walking distance of Haad Rin. Many websites and tour guides have declared Leela Beach as the island’s most beautiful.

11. Ao Ban Tai

Ao Ban Thai in Koh Phangan

Although not the prettiest beach on Koh Phangan, it is, because of its length, great for beach walks. The water is low (ideal if you have small children) and there are lots of nice places to eat.

Hotels in Koh Phangan

There are a surprising number of top quality guest houses and hotels on Koh Phangan. Expect to get your money’s worth, especially when staying away from Haad Rin.

Do bear in mind that around the time of the Full Moon Party (click here for dates) everything will be fully booked, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance. During the Full Moon Party, most accommodations will apply minimum stays of 3-7 nights.

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

1. Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

Stunning beach Nice and quiet Great breakfast

$$ – Cocohut is a nice and quiet hotel with beautiful rooms and a private strip of sand on Leela Beach. There’s a lovely swimming pool, a nice restaurant, and a small gym as well. And if it’s all a bit too quiet for you, Haad Rin is only a fifteen-minute walk away.

Castaway Beach Bungalows

2. Castaway Beach Bungalows

Idyllic Your own hammock On the beach

$$ – When we picture sleeping on a tropical island, Castaway Beach Bungalows is the image that comes to mind. The four bungalows aren’t exactly luxurious, but they are new, clean and right on the beach. The owner’s really kind and the chilled out Free Way Bar is right next door.

The Nidhra Boutique Resort

3. The Nidhra Boutique Resort

Amazing swimming pool Money’s worth Near the beach

$$ – Only a few steps removed from Baan Tai Beach is small-scale and wonderful Nidhra Boutique Resort. It offers many extras, like a swimming pool, fantastic rooms with a balcony, air conditioning and a wifi connection.

Buri Rasa Village

4. Buri Rasa Village

Gorgeous beach Excellent service Amazing spa

$$$ – Treat yourself and get pampered in this boutique resort! Buri Rasa lies on a quiet beach, near a small village. The atmosphere is very relaxed, the rooms are new with modern interiors and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Everything is AWESOME!

V-View Beach Resort

5. V-View Beach Resort

On the beach Hammocks Nice bungalows

$$ – V-View bungalows might be small, but they come with everything you need. The location is fantastic, with hammocks and swings right on the beach. There’s also a really nice swimming pool. The only downside is the beach, which isn’t the island’s prettiest.

High Life Bungalow

6. High Life Bungalow

Fantastic view Small-scale Child friendly

$$ – This small-scale hotel is very popular because of its friendly atmosphere and excellent location, near the beach. But the best thing about it is the infinity pool with sea view. Perfect for couples and families with children.

Seaview Sunrise Resort

7. Seaview Sunrise Resort

Affordable Stay at Haad Rin Relaxed atmosphere

$ – These affordable bungalows are situated at the end of Haad Rin; which is perfect for the FMP. Because of its location, the noise coming from the party is vastly reduced (though not eliminated). The bungalows themselves are spacious and clean and there’s a restaurant with a sea view.

Phangan Arena Hostel

8. Phangan Arena Hostel

Swimming pool Lots of activities Great fun

$ – Perhaps the most fun hostel on the island, with a nice bar where you can meet travelers from all over the world. In addition, there’s a swimming pool, a pool table, a soccer pitch, a basketball court, plus a different party every night.

Sunset Cove Resort

9. Sunset Cove Resort

Fantastic location Oasis of calm Excellent service

$$ – A small paradise on Koh Phangan’s west coast, with a private beach, an infinity pool, and luxury (family) bungalows. The beach is quiet and it’s possible to rent kayaks and snorkels. The resort is a 15-minute drive from the pier and 40 minutes away from the Full Moon Party.

Seaflower Bungalows

10. Seaflower Bungalows

On the beach Good food Quiet paradise

$$ – A great location with bungalows on the beach. Think beach vibes: hammock on the balcony, the sea nearby and bars and restaurants within walking distance. The family that runs it is incredibly kind and will make your stay unforgettable.

Restaurants in Koh Phangan

On Koh Phangan there’s no shortage of good food! Aside from traditional Thai food stands with their plastic chairs and tables, there are plenty of good (western) diners, restaurants, and culinary hotspots. This is an overview, in alphabetical order, of our favorite bars and restaurants.

1. Amsterdam Bar

Ao Plaay Laem, Wok Tum
This bar is built on a hillside and is a great option for a drink and a magical sunset. Come early so you’ll get a good seat.

2. Bayshore Resort

141 Moo 6, Haad Rin Beach, Bantai
Best. Pad. Thai. EVER! This restaurant on Haad Rin gets it: it’s nicely lit with lovely fresh meals served on little tables in the sand.

3. Bubba’s Coffee Bar

59/4 Moo1, Ban Tai pier
Hot spot for a great breakfast or lunch and an excellent cup of coffee, run by a super nice owner. Simply the BEST!

4. Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar

62/1 Moo1, Ban Tai Pier
One of the best restaurants of the island with a great atmosphere, fresh and excellent food and first class service. Perfect for a romantic dinner.

5. Freeway Bar and Restaurant

18/1 Moo 6, Hin Kong
Awesome hippie bar made completely out of driftwood and with a view over a beautiful sandbank. Often has live music in the evening.

6. Karma Kafe

18/10 Moo 8
For lovers of vegan, raw and/or health food, Karma Kafe is a dream come true. Expect fresh, biological meals with a super healthy twist.

7. Luna Café

1/16 Moo 1, Ban Tai
Small coffee place that serves good sandwiches, amazing fries and has a good wifi connection – a rather welcome feature. The mix of locals and tourists make this a really nice place.

8. Milky Bay Resort

103/4 Moo 1, Bantai
The best place on Koh Phangan to have a divine steak, but also for Thai cuisine, cocktails, Italian dishes or a Thai style seafood barbecue.

9. Pantip Market

Tongsala Rd. (near Thong Sala Pier)
Evening market with tourist-proof street food. Lots of options for ready-made snacks and meals, but there are also plenty of stands where they’ll prepare you some fresh food.

10. Petty’s Place

53 Moo 4 Wok Tum

This Thai/Italian restaurant not only serves the best Thai dishes (grandmother’s recipe), but also amazing Italian classics.

11. The Fat Cat Coffee & More

Walking Street Market, Thongsala
Nice little breakfast place that’s run by an incredibly friendly Portuguese couple. Expect homemade bread, a nice cup of coffee and conversations about cats.

12. Ying Ying’s Kitchen

Haad Salad, Moo 8

Great place if you want to have some authentic Thai food. Great tasting curries, chicken cashew nut, pad see eew… Ying is a great host, making you feel as if you’re about to have dinner at your friend’s house.

Transport in Koh Phangan

From Bangkok

Domestic flight + speedboat

  • Travel time: 2 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 2,900-6,500 pp

A domestic flight is the quickest way to travel to and from Bangkok via Koh Samui, but it’s usually quite expensive (± 2.500 – 6.000 Thai Baht per person, excluding taxi and speedboat costs). After you arrive, you’ll take a taxi to Bangrak Pier, from where a speedboat will take you to the Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan (± 350 Thai Baht) in about half an hour.

Domestic flight + bus + ferry

  • Travel time: 5,5 hours
  • Cost: ฿ ± 3,700 pp

A cheaper alternative is to fly via Surat Thani, though you will still have to take a bus to Donsak Pier afterward. Bus tickets are for sale at the ticket offices located next to the airport exit. Buses ride back and forth and the ride will take about 1,5 hours. From Donsak Pier you’ll take the ferry (the bus will drop you off at the ferry company that departs the soonest) and then it’s still at least a 2,5-hour boat ride to Thong Sala Pier.

Sleeper train + bus + ferry

  • Travel time: 15 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 3,000 pp

You can also take the sleeper train to Surat Thani. The first night train departs from Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok at 5:05 PM and arrives in Surat Thani at 4:25 AM. But of course, it’s also possible to take a later night train so that you’ll arrive at a slightly more reasonable hour. Take a left from the train station entrance and along the road, you’ll find several small travel agencies/restaurants (such as Phantip) with buses, where you can buy bus and ferry tickets. The bus ride to Donsak Pier will take about an hour and a half. After that take the ferry to Koh Phangan, which will take you to Thong Sala Pier in about 2,5 hours.

Bus + ferry

  • Travel time: 14 hours
  • Cost: ฿ ± 1,300 pp

Most backpackers travel by bus and boat to and from Bangkok, simply because it’s a cheap and reliable route. At Lomprayah you can buy combined tickets for the bus and the boat, which will take you to or from Bangkok in 14 hours. The buses are comfortable, equipped with a toilet on board and will stop for food along the way – however, bear in mind that it’s still a long trip and you will spend the whole day traveling and not much else.

From other destinations

Khao Sok National Park

  • Travel time: 5,5 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 750 pp

From Donsak Pier ferries leave for Koh Phangan until 6:00 PM. So it is possible to travel straight on after your tour, provided you take the bus from Khao Sok no later than 2:00 PM (3:00 PM in case of light traffic). You will have to change buses in Surat Thani.

Koh Samui

  • Travel time: 20 mins – 3 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 350-400 pp

There’s at least one ferry every hour that leaves from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. The trip can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 3 hours. For the quickest passage, we advise the Lomprayah and the Seatran.

Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 1,5 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 450 pp

Koh Phangan is easy to get to from Koh Tao. Ferries depart from Mae Haad Pier between 6:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Travel time is about an hour and a half, depending on the ferry company that’s taking you.

Krabi

  • Travel time: 5 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 800 pp

Buses leave from Krabi Town to Donsak Pier between 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM. From there, you can take the ferry to Koh Phangan until 6:00 PM. The entire journey will take about 5 hours and will cost you about ฿ 800 per person.

Getting around

Motorbike

Koh Phangan is the perfect island for riding a motorbike. The roads are in good condition – almost all paved – and traffic is calm. The only places where you’ll find steep hills are near Haad Rin and Than Sadet. Do take into account that in Haad Rin you will be required to hand over your passport or to pay a huge deposit. It’s best, therefore, to rent a motorbike through your hotel or at the pier. Rent for 24 hours is about 150 Thai Baht.

Songthaew

The dark blue songthaews are shared taxis that operate on fixed prices, run along the main road. Normally you can only get off on the main road, but for an extra 50 Thai Baht, they’ll usually take you straight to your hotel. When you arrive at the pier, a few songthaews will already be waiting – expect a fair price here as well. A ride will cost you anywhere between 100 to 200 Thai Baht.

Long tail boat

For inaccessible beaches (such as Bottle Beach or the beaches on the east coast) you take the long tail boat. Bear in mind that the boats’ operators can be quite adept at making you part with some extra baths (especially at Haad Rin), so make sure you negotiate well or share the boat with other travelers to pay less. A return ticket will cost about 200 Thai Baht.

Weather in Koh Phangan

The best time to visit Koh Phangan is from April – August.

November – February

Normally the cool season is the best season to travel to Thailand, but that’s not quite the case for Koh Phangan. November, December, and January are dominated by heavy rains.

March – May

The hot season on Koh Phangan means sun, sun and still more sun. Expect little to no rain during these months. It’s incredibly hot, but luckily the wind and the sea are there for some cooling down.

June – October

Surprisingly, the rainy season is the ideal time to visit Koh Phangan. Every day there’s a chance of small and refreshing showers, while the rest of the day is sunny and dry. The sea is calm and clear.

Map of Koh Phangan

Continue your journey to...

Koh Samui
Koh Tao
Krabi