Is Koh Phangan Safe For Travel?

Koh Phangan is awesome. There’s the famous full-moon party, the golden beaches and turquoise blue waters, breathtaking views at the Secret Mountain, tall palm trees and lush jungle, and a bunch more other things to see and do.

And guess what? Koh Phangan is pretty damn safe. Granted, road safety is questionable (especially around the time of the full-moon party). The island is responsible for a large number of motorbike accidents every day. There’s a small amount of petty theft which occurs, too.

But there is no need to worry. We have created this guide on staying safe in Koh Phangan so you can enjoy your trip safely and enjoyably. We love traveling smart at Journeying The Globe, and think you should too!

We are going to be covering all of your safety concerns for when traveling Koh Phangan. Whether or not it’s safe to ride a motorbike; if you can safely drink the water, and how to stay safe at the full-moon party. Koh Phangan in its whole is covered here.

You might be looking for a safe place to travel as a family, perhaps you’re thinking about going to the famous full moon party – whatever your reasons, our in-depth guide is all about exploring Koh Phangan…safely!

How safe is Koh Phangan? (Our Take)

local man in koh phangan
Photo by Daniel Lerman on Unsplash

Koh Phangan is a popular backpacking destination, most commonly known for its crazy full-moon parties. What most people don’t know is, the island has an equally lovely quiet side that is often underrated.

In our opinion, Koh Phangan is a completely safe place. The island is visited by over one million people each year – and this is constantly growing. Solo backpackers, couples, families: all sorts of people are coming to Koh Phangan.

The island does suffer from petty theft, especially during the full-moon party where it’s easier to target tourists. You may feel like bringing your wallet or passport is safer with you than the hotel, but that is not true. Always try to leave your valuables at the hotel, or even better, in a safety deposit box at the hotel.

Another thing to watch out for in Koh Phangan is the bike rental scam. Just about every bike rental will require your passport or a large cash sum as a security deposit. If you damage the bike, you will likely be charged an outrageous amount for the repairs.

The way to avoid this scam is by not handing over your passport as a deposit (it’s actually a legal requirement for you to be carrying your passport at all times). However, it will be tough to find a rental shop that doesn’t require your passport, but some places may accept a photocopy.

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Another rule of thumb is to always take pictures of the bike beforehand. Renting through your accommodation also tends to provide a better experience, too.

Motor-related accidents are also extremely common here. If you are hiring a scooter, always remember to wear a helmet and to learn how to drive a bike before coming to Koh Phangan.

Is Koh Phangan Safe To Visit? (The Facts)

koh phangan beach
Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

Yes, Koh Phangan is definitely safe to visit – the facts speak for themselves.

Koh Phangan has a small population of about 12,000 people and receives up to 60,000 visitors each month.

The island has become increasingly popular for it’s full-moon parties, which take place once a month at Haad Rin Beach. If you’re curious about the island, looking for a safe place to start a Southeast Asia trip, or it’s your first-time backpacking solo, Koh Phangan is a great first-time destination for all types of travellers.

Motor-related fatalities are more common than anything else on Koh Phangan. In fact, it is reported that an average of 2 people die every week in road accidents on Koh Phangan, most of them being motorbike riders. Most of the island get around on these bikes; trust us, you’ll see A LOT of these in Koh Phangan. Biking can be enjoyable, but it can also be an extremely dangerous way to travel.

Is the tap water safe to drink in Koh Phangan?

tap water koh phangan

Just like the rest of Thailand, the tap water in Koh Phangan is not safe to drink. 

Stick to drinking bottled water which is readily available throughout the island. If you do need to drink the tap water, make sure to boil it first to remove any bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

The tap water is fine to use for general purposes, such as brushing your teeth, showering, and cleaning.  Protect your money from pickpockets!

Keeping your money safe from theft and pickpockets is essential when traveling on the road.

A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.

Is it safe to rent a scooter in Koh Phangan?

By far the biggest threat in Koh Phangan is traffic accidents. There are reportedly at least two deaths per week related to traffic accidents, usually involving scooters and tourists.

We advise you to only rent a scooter if you have the necessary skills and training. The roads are different from those in Europe, so even if you are experienced, we advise you to drive carefully.

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Is Koh Phangan Safe for Families?

Koh Phangan is a popular destination for families, and it’s also extremely safe. Thai locals love children, and you will receive a lot of friendly and positive attention.

If you want to keep your children away from the bustling nightlife and particularly the full moon parties, then try to avoid staying in Haad Rin.

There are plenty of child-friendly places to stay in Koh Phangan, such as Haad Yao and Chaloklum.

Koh Phangan Travel Insurance

Always make sure to get travel insurance! Even if you’re only going for a short time, you should always take out travel insurance. Take our word, travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to get it before you leave.

We highly recommend using Safety Wing, but there are many insurance companies to choose from so make sure to shop around to find the best deal. 

5 Safety Tips for Travelling to Koh Phangan

koh phangan safety tips
  1. Always Wear a Helmet While Riding a Scooter – we’ve listed this at the top as it is probably the most important thing to remember, yet often overlooked. Besides the danger of riding without a helmet, you can also face a fine if caught riding without the correct headgear.
  2. Do Not Use Drugs in Koh Phangan – you will probably be offered drugs at some point during your stay. However, just because they are easy to come by, it doesn’t make using them legal or a good idea. The full-moon party has plenty of undercover police officers who will try to sell you drugs only to catch you.
  3. Know your drinking limits – on average, one person dies at each full-moon party. Most deaths are alcohol-related and can be avoided by knowing when to stop. The drinks come in buckets, and because they are so cheap the tendency is to overdo it. Make sure to keep track of how much you’re drinking.
  4. Do Not Ride The Elephants – Do not ride the elephants in Koh Phangan. Not only can this be dangerous, but they have also been abused. Read more about Elephant Trekking in Koh Phangan here.
  5. Don’t carry all your cash at once – never carry all your cash when you go out. We recommend to only bring what you need, as if something bad does happen it’s a lot smaller of a loss.

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers