Nothing beats being whisked away to a tropical paradise; lounging on the soft sand (preferably with a drink in tow) while you feel the ocean breeze. Where can one enjoy such pure bliss? Head to one of Thailand’s many beautiful islands. Here’s one that will have you booking the next flight out: Koh Phangan!
Koh Phangan is a small island southeast of Thailand. Many people often refer to it as a “party island” but there is much more to this beautiful place than drinking liquor out of buckets and dancing until the sun comes up.
Here’s how you can enjoy Koh Phangan:
Treat yourself to a Thai massage right on the beach. Cabanas are set up along the shore where you can pay 200THB for a one-hour massage that works every inch of your body. At the end of the massage, your masseuse will whip you around like rag doll to crack those stubborn knots in your back. But don’t worry! It doesn’t hurt and your body will feel ahhh-mazing!
There are plenty of beaches tucked away on the island that are waiting to be explored. Haad Yao and Haad Salad are favourite beaches that are quiet and peaceful. There are paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkel equipment that can be rented per hour (or sometimes per day) at most resorts. You can also rent an umbrella and lounge chair for the day at a reasonable price. Typically, if you purchase food and/or drinks at a resort, they’ll let you borrow a lounge chair. Just keep the drinks flowin’! Spending a day at these beautiful beaches will make you never want to leave the island.
Day Trips & Excursions
Have some fun by taking a day trip to another part of the island. A favourite is Angthong National Marine Park – an archipalego of 40+ tropical islands. It’s a breath-taking adventure where you can go hiking, snorkeling, diving, and even go camping. Take a high-speed or slow boat and enjoy the high seas. I recommend Orion Boat Tours. For 2,000THB (1,700THB cruise price + 300THB park fee), this full-day cruise takes you to the Marine Park. Beach towels, snorkel equipment, lunch, snacks and beverages are included, too!
If you want to dive into the local culture, visiting a day or night market is the best place to do so. Thong Sala Night Market is a special place to check out! This market has mostly food stalls, with ready to eat delicacies, meat and seafood to prepare at home, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure you eat all the Thai food until your heart’s content!
Thai Food & Drinks
Take advantage of Thailand’s traditional dishes that are super cheap and delicious. Pad Thai (fried noodles), Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), and green curry are some of the favourites. Want to cook your own meals? There are plenty of cooking classes you can take where you can get the full Thai cooking experience. You’ll probably need to wash it down with Chang, Thailand’s popular brand of beer. Or get experimental with your drink choices at the local bars. Try something you’ve never had before, perhaps during happy hour (usually from 4-8pm) when the drinks are exceptionally cheap.
Full, Half or Black Moon Party
Now I know I said that there’s much more to this beautiful island than hitting up the famous moon parties. But, maybe you want to see what the fuss is all about! I happened to be on the island for the August Black Moon party so some friends and I ventured off the resort to Haad Rin and had a great time.
How to get to Koh Phangan
I was coming from Bangkok so I took the overnight bus and high-speed catamaran with a company called Lomprayah. The bus departed Khao San Road area at 7:30pm and arrived at the port at 4:00am. Unfortunately we had to wait for a few hours to take the first catamaran. I made the best of it as I listened to music on a lounge chair and watched the sunrise.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan
My friends and I stayed at the Seaboard Bungalow on Haad Yao. The room has a double + twin bed; making it perfect for three people. It also has a en suite bathroom, where the shower is in the same space as the toilet. This is something I’m used to since living in Korea. The room has a mini fridge (great to chill the bevvies) and a working air conditioner. I really liked that our bungalow had a large porch to hang our wet suits and to have drinks.
We ate at the restaurant frequently, albeit small food options. Some days we would venture to another part of the beach for a meal. I absolutely loved the outdoor space near the restaurant at the bungalow. They had plenty of beach pillows, hammocks and books to chill out and read. I would definitely go back to this beach-side accommodation again!
P.S. Our bungalow is on the same road as Crave Bar and Restaurant. This Canadian-owned lounge has a cool vibe and a wicked menu — that includes poutine!! This place sure satisfied my craving!
Koh Phangan is truly a breathtaking place; and one of my favourite islands. Whether you’re looking for a party, wanting to explore the island, or needing to unwind, there’s something for everyone.
Have you been to Koh Phangan before? What are some things you love to do on the island? Leave a comment below!