Phangan Island is to the northeast of Surat Thani, about 20 kilometers
from Koh Samui. Its area of 170 square kilometers, or 106,250 rai, is
surrounded by several minor islands such as Koh Tao, Koh Tae Nok, Koh
Tae Nai, and Koh Ma.
Vast plains stretch out on the west coast of the
island, while steep cliffs drip to the sea in the east. It is encircled
by charming beaches, beautiful bays, and clear waters, with an abundance
of coral reefs and marine life.
The island is a district
(Amphoe) of the Surat Thani Province in the Southern Region of Thailand.
Koh Phangan enjoys
a warm climate around the year, but the best time for a visit is from December
to March or June to September.
The island has 9.2
sq. km of coral reef, which is 100 to 1000 meters wide, with its widest
part in the Wok Tum area.
50-70% of the reef is alive with 300-500 meters
covered in seaweed. The most abundant fish is the Mackerel.
Koh Phangan is full
of undeveloped bays and coves and some of the remote beaches are only
accessible by trekking through jungle paths or by taking a boat. The Island
attracts many popular activities one being snorkeling at many of the island
beaches; one beach in particular is in the northeastern tip at Koh Maa.
Other activities now include kite surfing, kayaking and trekking.
Phangan has now become
synonymous with the full-moon parties on Haad Rin. These monster raves
take place every month and have become world famous, attacting up to ten
thousand revelers each time. However, it should be remembered that Haad
Rin is just one small slice of island's shoreline.
You can take a songtail to this part of Kohphangan or if you tavel Chaloklum in the northern part of the island you can travel by long tail boat, you can also get longtail boats from Haad Rin beach.
The beautiful natural beauty of the area with a mix of mountains and beautiful beaches and coral is why some of the first bungalows for back packers where built on the northwestern part of Koh Panghan.
I have to own up that the rugged north eastern area of Koh Phangan does have some of the most undeveploped sandy beaches on the island, which also make them having the best beaches for swimming.
Koh Phangan 360° Panorama Photos
15 years ago the most common way of getting from one side of the island
to the other was by boat or foot, but these days now new roads have been
built everywhere, making it much easier to access to allmost all parts
of the island.
Full Moon Party at Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan's montly Fullmoon Party is worldwide famous. Please note that the date of the party is not always exactly on the lunar fullmoon date, because of buddist holidays.
The name of the island
is often written as 'ko pangan' or 'koh pha ngan' and also as 'panghan'.
'Koh' in thai language means island.
Koh = island
Pha = meet or find
Ngan = sandy beach which can be seen at low tide
Things to do on
National parks & waterfalls
Koh Phangan has has large National Parks with a lot of waterfalls and and deep jungle:
Phaeng Waterfall in the centre of the island and Than Sadet Waterfall National Park on the east side of the island. Best time to visit the waterfalls is during or after the wet season or right after rain, otherwise there is not that much water.
Phaeng Waterfall National Park is located in the village of Madua Wan. The Park has a nice waterfall close to the entrance and some trekking routes to mountaintop viewpoints, including a long winding foot trail leading up to Koh Phangan's highest mountain peak Khao Ra (630m).
The trail is steep at some places and difficult to follow at times, so it is recommended to hire a guide at the entrance of the park.
Than Sadet waterfall is the largest waterfall on the island, a 3 km run of rock pools and streams with a royal emblem, since it was visited by several Kings of Thailand, including the reigning monarch, H.M. King Bhumibol (Rama IX). There are inscriptions on boulders near the river bed made by each of the Kings. The park has several nice jungle trekking paths as well.
Massage & Meditation
At most towns, resorts and beaches you can get a traditional Thai or oil massage. Koh Phangan also has a few retreat centers offering various courses in Thai massage, meditation, cleansing programs, Reiki and reflexology.
Wat Pho Herbal Sauna
This traditional herbal steam sauna is run by monks at the Wat Pho temple in Ban Thai (on the road to Thong Nai Pan). The sauna uses traditional methods by heating natural herbs such as lemongrass and tamarind leaves on a big log fire. The herbs have many health and skin benefits. It is run on donations, so please don't forget to make a donation after using the sauna. It should be remembered that ladies have to wear a sarong outside the sauna and men their shorts.
On the road between Thong Sala and Chaloklum the Chinese Temple is located. The temple is the result of the dream an american woman had in 1990 in which the (Chinese) Buddha spoke to her and asked her to build a firelight for the people.
Snorkeling & diving
There are many great snorkel and dive spots on the island, especially on the Northwest coast. One of the best spots is around the little island of Koh Ma ('Horse Island'), off Mae Haad beach at the Northwestern tip of Koh Phangan.
There are several diving schools offering PADI courses around the island.
Boat trips / Kayaking
Boat trips around the island or to other islands can be arranged at most resorts and travel agencies. Kayaks can be rented at most resorts and at beaches.
Wakeboarding is offered by Phangan Adventure in Chaloklum. They also offer many other activities like kayaking-, sailing- and big game fishing trips, sunset boat trips and mountain bike trekking.
Kiteboarding or kitesurfing is offered by Cuttlebone Kiteboarding Center near Ban Thai (at Golden Light Resort).
Just outside main town Thong Sala there is a quad racing track.
Although Lumphini Stadium in Bangkok is the place to be for the real Muay Thai match, Koh Phangan also has some small Muay Thai 'stadiums' in Thong Sala and Haad Rin. You can learn the art of Muay Thai yourself at the Jungle Gym in Haad Rin and Thong Sala.
Just outside Chaloklum you can enjoy an elephant ride through Koh Phangan's jungle.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong is an archipelago made up of around 40 small, mostly uninhabited islands with limestone cliffs, caves, beautiful beaches, a giant emerald saltwater lake (also known from the movie The Beach) and dense tropical rainforest. You can either book an organized day- or camping trip or hire a speedboat with a group (usually minimum of 6 people) and plan your own trip.
The waters around Koh Tao offer some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the Gulf of Thailand, both for beginners and the more experienced divers. There are daily boats between Thong Sala and Koh Tao. The trip takes around 2 hours by boat. Organized dive and snorkel trips can be arranged at most travel agencies.
From the days of begining it used to be a prison, through to today's tourism boom, Koh Tao has retained it's sparkle, even it now caters for everyones tastes and costs.
Attracted by the outstanding coral reefs surrounding the island, and the growth in sport scuba diving, quite a few companies have set up diving businesses on the island, these companies in turn developed resorts for their clientele, and over the years several of these resorts have become quite elegant. Now a days, you can get everything from basic simple wooden bungalows with thatched roofs to elegant high class villas with their very own private swimming pool.
It is wierd that such a amazing paradise should have been first setup as a prison island. Being far away from anything, made it impossible to get away by swimming to the shore or nearer Koh Samui. In 1947, then Khun A-Paiwong, Thailands then Prime Minister, requested and got a Royal Pardon for Koh Tao´s prisoners and thanks to a gracious act by His Majesty the King. All the prisoners were all pardoned and transported to Suratthani on the mainland and KoTao was deserted yet again.
Take a half hour boat trip to big sister island Koh Samui to go shopping at touristy Chaweng Beach or to visit the Samui Butterfly Garden, Snake Farm, the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo or the golden Big Buddha statue at Bophut.
People and Culture
are approximately 14,000 people living in Koh Phangan, the majority
of which are Chinese descent. There are also many Thai's from all
over Thailand, who moved here to start a tourism related business.
Most inhabitants live in Thong Sala, the main gateway into the island
The most important
product of Koh Phangan are coconuts. Each month Koh Samui and Koh
Phangan produce more than 1 million coconut exports to Bangkok.
Others prominent island produce is fishing and of course there is
the growing tourism business.
Around 95 per
cent of the island’s population are Buddhists and it plays
as very significant role in their daily life.
involves almost every occasion such as birthdays, marriages, moving
to a new house, funerals, opening business offices and buying new
harmoniously in the east coast on the Gulf of Thailand,
Koh Phangan is the third largest island in Thailand and most of
the island’s area of 168 square km is made up of mountains
and tropical forest. The lowlands are abounding with coconut fields
and sandy white beaches. Koh Phangan stretches 19 kilometres from
north to south and 12 kilometres from west to east.
Due to its proximity
to the equator, Koh Phangan`s temperature remains fairly constant
all year round and the conditions are tropical. Sunshine can be
found even during the monsoon season.
Southwards coming from Ao Mae Hat (but located at the north-west of the island).
The road here is actually a path and it is in a bad state at some places, even
for the experienced drivers.
is one of the best swimming and snorkeling sites of the island and the beachside
is franged with coral.
This place is still remained wild because of the distance from the main roads
and piers. You can access Hat Khuat by walking a steep path or by taxi boat
(around 50 Baht) from Chaloklum. You can take a motorbike on the path if you
are an experienced driver.
This beach is perfect for those who want to get away from it all. A fine white
sandy beach enclosed by granite rocks that is great for swimming and snorkeling,
it is another beach gaining popularity by families with small children.
Since the beachs is sometimes inaccessibel, because of bad weather conditions,
you can get stranded here for a day or two as the boats can only navigate the
seas here when they are calm.
This is the best diving spot on the north coast, it’s a tiny cove dramatically
tucked in under the headland to the east, with a secluded strip of white sand
and some very interesting coral reefs.
The dirt road from Chaloklum is badly rutted in places and is hard to tackle
on a moped unless you are an experienced rider, better on a dirt bike or a 4WD
vehicle, or you can take a boat taxi from Chaloklum.
Accommodation here is really nice and peaceful; you can expect to be left alone
for most of the time, especially in the low season.
Mae Haad situated in the north-west of Koh Phangan, is a nice fishermen village
at Mae Hat and has an isolated cove at Ao Hat Thong Lang.
From here you can access Koh Maa (thai for 'Horse island') by walking from
the beach to the small island, since Koh Maa is joined to Mae Haad by a sand
bar. Even at high tide the water is low enough to walk. At the west side of
this small island you find a good place for snorkeling. There is a small basic
bungalow resort and restaurant a here for that 'desert island' feeling when
the tide divides the two islands.
The months between Dec and Mar are the best times to visit as the rest of
the year the tides are to low for swimming. Mae Haad provides a long stretch
of beach with views of sunsets over Koh Ma
About 4 km. from Thongsala is a fishing village called Ban Tai. On the opposite
side of the beach, mountains of coconuts are prepared for processing. You can
see how people from the village peel and dry the coconuts for export.
Next to the coconut place is a trail up to WAT KOW THAM, the meditation place
on top of Kow Haeng Hill, where people from all over the world come to do the
10 days Meditation Retreat every month. With shady, serene atmosphere, the place
is ideal for serenity searchers. From here, you can get a sight of the island's
Wat Nai, the 400 years old stupas, located in Ban Nua (near Ban Tai Village)
about 4 km from Thongsala Town on the road to Haad Rin. This old structure was
built in Srivichaiya Architecture (9-13th century).
From Wat Nai, a small dirt road will lead you to join the road to Thong Nai
Pan Beach. At the transaction stands PHANGAN BIGGEST TREE , a giant Rubber Tree
with 14 meters around.
Situated in the north of the island, it is a very quiet fishermen village where
you will find a very genuine atmosphere. There are several family-run groceries,
restaurants, a couple of diving schools and even a '7-Eleven' (or 'seven' in
thai) 24hr. supermarket.
A local fishing community lives and works around this large bay and it is a
great place to buy or eat fresh seafood. Squid can be seen drying on nets in
the sun. When the weather is fine with some 80-100 boats mooring in the bay.
This place is a good start point to explore the northern part of the island.
Swimming here is only available in the high tidal season of Nov to Apr. This isolated
beach is courser with a reef which is in swimming distance.
Located on the NE tip of the island lies a tiny island of Koh Ma, just across
from the beach at Mae Haad. In low tide a sand bar connects the both. The months
between Dec and Mar are the best times to visit as the rest of the year the tides
are to low for swimming. Mae Haad provides a long stretch of beach with views
of sunsets over Koh Ma.
Located in the east of Koh Phangan. About halfway up the road from Ban Tai
Village to Thong Nai Pan Beach there's turn-off heading east at Thong Nang Village.
This trail follows a river along which you'll see a series of waterfalls collectively
known as Than Sadet Waterfall.
The year-round waterfall of Thaan Sadet cascades into the ocean at Haad Sadet
beach. From the twin beaches here you can follow a trail inland along the waterfall
to a series of boulders marking the initials of Kings Rama V,VII & IX of
Thailand, who have all visited the falls over the last century.
Than Sadet is a historical site due to frequent visits there between 1888 and
1909 by Siam's great King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, whose initials are engraved
on many big boulders along this rocky river. King Rama VII also left his initials
on some stones there in 1926 and 1930, and more recently, in 1962 the current
reigning monarch King Bhumipol Aduldej (Rama IX) followed his illustrious predecessor's
footsteps and engraved his own initials on a stone.
The water from Than Sadet was one of the sacred water sources for the blessing
water in King Vachiravuj (Rama VI) and the present King coronation ceremonies.
To get here by taxi you must take the turn off on the road between Thong Sala
and Had Rin. Alternatively you can walk there via trails from Had Rin or Thong
Nai Pan Yai, although this will probably take you a good couple of days coming
from the south, or a good 3-4 km hike coming from the north at Thong Nai Pan
Yai. Your best option to get here would be to either take a taxi, or charter
a boat there from wherever you may be on the east coast. And yes, you could
also rent a motorbike and drive by yourself ... but careful ... this is one
of the most dangerous roads on the island.
Had Yuan situated on the south-east of Koh Phangan, is about a ten-minute longtail
boat ride away from Had Rin.
This place is excellent for swimming and several quality bungalow resorts.
Can only reached by boat, or walking a jungle trail (not recommended).
Ban Khai beach is the next bay along from Had Rin Nai heading back towards
Thong Sala. Aswell as there being an abundance of bungalow operations along
this stretch, locals also rent out rooms at very low rates by the month if you
plan to stay that long.
Dark Moon Party's are held on the beach here on the day of the month when there's
no moon as an alternative to Had Rin's infamous Full Moon Party's.
Access to both Thong Sala and Hadrin is easy from here, taking about 10 mins
by taxi (about 30 baht).
Thong Nai Pan
A beautiful bay in the north-east of the island. As beautiful this places is
as dangerous are the roads that lead to it, untarred, sandy and steep. So a
taxi or boat taxi is a good idea for people not so familiar to off road driving.
In the raining season it's sometimes next to impossible to get there with a
The bay is great for snorkelling, swimming and is very popular with families.
It also has plenty of decent accommodation. Thong Nai Pan is a double crescent
bay with a gently sloping beach surrounded by palms. With only a few beach bars,
nightlife is very relaxed and easy going.
Located on the west coast, one of the nicest beaches of Koh Phangan.
is said to be one of the prettiest beaches on Koh Phangan with its stretching
white sand and good drop off for swimming. There is good coral off the rocks
at both ends of the beach. One of Koh Phangan's dive operations is situated
on this beach.
There are many more nearly deserted coves and bays to discover on Koh Phangan,
some housing the odd beach hut and restaurant to provide refreshment, while
others are still left to their natural beauty, as yet untouched.
Srithanu is located in the north-west side of Koh Phangan. A fishermen village
with a few supermarkets, restaurants, internet shops and a pharmarcy. Nearby
is Leam Son Lake, the island's only sweet water lake.
Srithanu is a relative quite place compared to to other bigger villages on
Phangan. Beaches are nice for swimming in the high season, during low seaon
the tide is quite low.
South-east of the island. A narrow peninsular of land that juts out to sea
with beaches on both sides of the cape (east and west had rin).
Rin West on the sunset side is the quieter beach of the two, but shallow corals
at the beach makes swimming difficult there except at high tide. The palm-lined,
boulder-strewn beach here can be extremely beautiful , especially whilst viewing
a famous Koh Phangan sunset. Here is also where the Big Buddha ferry docks.
Haad Rin East on the sunrise side has a beautiful long sandy beach with many
restaurants and bars, mostly catering to the backpacker and party scene. As
the Full Moon approaches Haad Rin get's usually really busy. Watch the beach
change into a fire-twirling open air party play ground.
Rin is Phangan's nightlife central. A 24 hour non-stop party place. Bungalows
and guesthouses are quite expensive in comparison with other places on the island,
and even on a non-Full Moon night, you're likely to be kept up until 2am by
the powerful sound systems of all the bars and clubs.
Koh Pha-Ngan's main town, situated on the west coast. Thongsala has a new build
big pier where all the ferries from mainland and Samui arrive. You will find
here many restaurants, travel agencies, clothes shops and two fresh markets.
is the best place for shopping on Koh Phangan. Beside all the business and government
offices, you can still enjoy the scenery of sunset, see the fishermen loading
fishes and crabs from their boats, and taste home-made food and buy fresh seafood
from the local market.
Near the 7-Eleven are a lot of small food stalls, you can get good meal sometimes
until 02.00 in the morning.
Food in Thailand
Recent studies prove that consuming just a little bit of chilli pepper (dried or fresh) each day will help us fall asleep, and stay asleep longer, in other words, enjoying at least one Thai dish per day is enough to keep you sleeping soundly.
Med riang is very much like a bean sprout but much bigger in size and green in color. It can be eaten after the outer skin is removed. It can be cooked with vegetables and meat or pickled for eating with gang, chili sauce or lon (ground meat or fish in chilli sauce).