Welcome to our Koh Phangan Guide 2019!
Koh Phangan is Thailand’s fifth biggest island, located in the south just 12km north of Koh Samui. The paradise island is notorious amongst backpackers for its extremely popular full moon parties which take place every month on Haad Rin Beach.
The island is home to over 12,000 residents, however, during the Full Moon period there can be anywhere from 10,000 – 30,000 people occupying the small island. People from all across the globe travel to the crescent shaped beach, Haad Rin, to celebrate the night of the full moon.
Besides from the night-life, there exists another more tranquil side to Koh Phangan. It’s very unfortunate that, most travellers never properly experience the islands true beauty. Either they arrive for the full moon party and then leave the following day – or they stay for a few days, but fail to discover the islands true magic.
Koh Phangan is very unique because of its focus towards eco-tourism. Commercial development has been slow, and the respect for the island still persists. The opposite is true for its neighbouring island, Koh Samui – which is commonly referred to as a “concrete jungle”.
I have spent over a year of my life living on Koh Phangan and have put together this Koh Phangan guide to hopefully help new visitors who are planning on coming to the beautiful island.
How to get to Koh Phangan
Koh Samui – Koh Phangan
As there is no airport on Koh Phangan, the only way to get to the island is via ferry. The closest airport is located 12km away, on Koh Samui. The most popular way of getting to the island is by flying to Koh Samui, and then catching the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan.
The ferry duration is roughly 45 minutes using the Songserm service, or 30 minutes with Lomprayah High Speed Ferry service. You can purchase tickets from the airport departure lounge, which include a free shuttle service to the pier.
Surat Thani – Koh Phangan
Flying directly to Koh Samui is by far the quickest way of reaching the island, but also the most expensive. If you’re travelling on a budget then an alternative method is to fly to Surat Thani. Once arriving at Surat Thani airport you are able to take a coach to the main ferry port, Don Sak, which is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) by road.
Once arriving at Don Sak pier, you can catch a ferry directly to the island. Tickets are all-inclusive and are purchasable at the airport. The overall journey time from Surat Thani to Koh Phangan is around 4 hours (depending on if you travel by high speed ferry or slow boat).
How to get around Koh Phangan
There are multiple ways to get around Koh Phangan. Local taxis, motorbike taxis, bicycles and by foot are all viable ways of travel. Our personal recommendation and by far the favourite is scooter hire. The standard day rate for scooter rental is between 200-250 baht, which you can easily spend on just a single taxi fare. Scooter rental shops can be found all throughout the island.
If you decide to hire a scooter, please remember to wear a helmet at all times as accidents are extremely common on the island. There have also been reports of Thai police fining motorists who are not wearing a helmet, although this usually only occurs around the Thong Sala town area.
If you’re not planning to hire a scooter then we would recommend to stay around either the Thong Sala or Haad Rin area.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan
Are you looking for where to stay in Koh Phangan? Well, we have listed a few of our personal favourites below on the best places to stay in Koh Phangan. Note that the island is fairly big. There are various different areas and beaches throughout the island, so don’t forget to consider the location carefully when choosing a resort.
For holiday-goers and travellers who are looking for luxury, then Sunset Hill Boutique is definitely worth considering.
“Sunset Hill Boutique Resort Koh Phangan – Sunset Viewpoint sits atop a tropical hill overlooking Koh Phangan’s west coast and enjoys panoramic sea views. It offers an outdoor infinity pool, free WiFi throughout and spacious accommodations. The property is located 400 yards from Haad Chao Phao and Secret Beach and a free shuttle service is offered to these locations throughout the day. Thongsala Pier is a 15-minute taxi or motorbike ride away.”
Cost: 2000 Baht Per Night (Average)
Sea Breeze Resort is an ideal choice for travellers who are coming for the full moon party. Located in Haad Rin and within walking distance of the full moon party.
“This boutique resort is located at Haad Rin, 5 minutes walking from the famous Full Moon Party area. It is set within landscaped gardens and offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand. The guestrooms of the Sea Breeze are decorated in contemporary Thai style and feature balconies, TVs and a mini-bar. All rooms are air conditioned.”
Cost: 1250 Baht Per Night (Average)
La Casa Tropicana is a wonderful and an affordable place to stay, located in the heart of Ban Tai.
“La Casa Tropicana is a 14-minute walk from Black Moon Culture, La Casa Tropicana is a beachfront property with breathtaking views of sea and sunset. The lodge boasts a restaurant and complimentary WiFi throughout the property. La Casa Tropicana features dormitory rooms with a personal locker and an en suite bathroom including a hot shower.
Cost: 250 Baht Per Night
Popular Things to do in Koh Phangan
Diving in Koh Phangan
Most people associate diving with the island Koh Tao, however, the dive sites from Koh Tao are mostly the same sites you will visit when in Koh Phangan.
If you are more interested in snorkelling, then there are some amazing snorkelling spots around the beaches of Haad Yao and Haad Salad.
Cost: 1000-3000 baht
Slip N Fly Koh Phangan
Slip N Fly Koh Phangan is a great day out for those looking for something a little different on Koh Phangan. Slip n Fly opening times are restricted, so please make sure to check the opening times on their official website before planning your visit.
Cost: 700 baht
Full Moon Party Koh Phangan
Of course, if you are visiting Koh Phangan then the full moon party is a must. Located on the east side of Haad Rin Beach, the Full Moon Party is one of the best parties in Thailand.
Cost: 100 Baht
Bottle Beach Koh Phangan
Arguably one of the best beaches in Koh Phangan, Bottle Beach. The beach is only accessible by a longtail boat or 4×4 due to the very steep and unpaved road conditions. You can access Bottle Beach via a longtail boat for 150 baht which you can catch from Chaloklum village.
Cost: 150 Baht
Amsterdam Bar Koh Phangan
If you are looking for a place with great atmosphere to watch the sun go down over the ocean – this is the place! People flock here each afternoon to come and watch the sunset. They also serve a great selection of food and drink.
Cost: Free Entry
Koh Phangan Thong Sala Night Market
Whether you’re looking to experience the islands culture, or simply looking for a cheap place to eat, then head down to the popular Thong Sala night market.
Open every night; offering steaming bowls of pad thai to fried scorpions, the night market is a foodie paradise.
Cost: Free Entry
Rent A Motorbike And Explore
Renting a motorbike in Koh Phangan is an extremely popular way of travel. Renting a scooter will allow you to explore some of the less-travelled parts of the island, where you will witness some of the most beautiful and breathtaking sights. It takes approximately 45 minutes to ride from the bottom to the top of the island.
Take note: we strongly discourage trying to access Bottle Beach by motorbike. Although it’s possible with a geared bike and an experienced rider, the roads are extremely steep and hilly, and we would not recommend this route to anyone who is inexperienced in riding. We have seen countless amounts of tourists who have got their bikes stuck on route and then had to pay a local to come and rescue them. Please save yourself the time and humiliation and just spend 150 baht for a longtail boat taxi.
Cost: 250 Baht Per Day (Scooter Hire)
Yoga in Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is a very peaceful island and renown for its hippie vibes. If you’re looking for a way to unwind after a heavy night drinking at the full moon party, then there are plenty of yoga retreats located around the island. Yoga Retreat in Haad Salad is a personal favourite of ours.
Cost: 400 Baht per session
And there you have it, guys! We hope you found our Koh Phangan guide useful. Koh Phangan is a magical place and the island has far more to offer than just the Full Moon Party! While there are literally loads more things to do in Koh Phangan, our suggestion is to explore it on your own and find your own little slice of heaven where you can relax and unwind.