Asia Thailand Travel

Koh Phangan: An Island Paradise

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!

Haad Salad

Haad Salad

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:

Thai Massage

Image via soma-samui.com

Image via soma-samui.com

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!

Quiet Beaches

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!

Markets

Image via ol'pete

Image via ol’pete

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

A meal with a view

A meal with a view

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

Lomprayah

Lomprayah

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.

"Beautiful

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!

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75 Comments

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    May 11, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I have been to Thailand a few times and never visited Koh Phangan! But I would love to visiti it because it looks nice. Everytime I was on Koh Tao and wanted to go to Koh Phangan, there was a fullmoon party and I did not wanted to go to Koh Phangan during the fullmoonparty.
    Next time I should plan better, so that I will be there a different time of the month. LOL
    x

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 21, 2017 at 2:21 am

      You definitely should. And you can certainly go when it’s full moon season because it’s only one area that the party is held. We stayed in another area, and if we didn’t go and venture over there, we never would have known there was a party going on!

      • Reply
        Stephanie
        May 21, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        Oh that is great, I had no idea! (What is the party side and what is the quiet side?) And how did you go around Koh Phangan? Scooters? Walking?
        x

        • Reply
          Expat and the City
          May 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm

          The full moon parties are typically held near Haad Rin (northern part of the island). I stayed on the east side – Haad Yao – which was chill and quiet. Our bungalow had a bus which took us to the party and back) so we used that. For another day trip we were picked up via the company’s bus. We walked one day but there were lots of hills, so you could rent a scooter to make life easier. Just be safe when on the scooters!!

  • Reply
    neha
    January 31, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Thailand is so tempting and you are making it even more tempting with your lovely post. I am badly wanting to go here as soon as possible. When I do, I will return back to this post for the list of fabulous experiences to have in Thailand

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 1, 2017 at 1:16 am

      That’s awesome! I hope you can go soon!!

  • Reply
    Vidya Purohit
    December 2, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Wonderful beach! Looks you had so much fun there. I truly wish to relax & be away from rush. This would be the perfect place for me & my hubby :). Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      December 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      We all deserve some relaxation once in a while. I hope you and your hubby can enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Soraya @ Hello Raya
    November 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I must admit I have been avoiding visiting Koh Phangan because of its party reputation, but I should really put that thought aside. I love how your post shares all the things you can do beyond the party scene. I’d love a Thai Massage with ocean views!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 4, 2016 at 4:03 am

      I’m sure there’s even MORE things to discover in Koh Phangan; I’ll have to go back to uncover them!

  • Reply
    abcdeghizzy
    November 2, 2016 at 2:43 am

    I was just in Koh Phangan last year but we stayed on the otherside of the island far away from all the noise and ruckus! Luckily the resort provided us a shuttle to enjoy the Full Moon festivities but I think past that stage in my life to properly enjoy it but yes, we stayed out until the break of dawn! I think Thai Massages are way too intense for me, the pain is not good haha but I really really love how cheap they are and they are very physically restorative!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 2, 2016 at 5:15 am

      My bungalow had a shuttle going to the party, too! I’m happy I got to check it out and then return to my quiet beach! πŸ™‚ great combo!

  • Reply
    donandsuji2013on
    November 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I heard there are quite a few islands, and would love to visit some one day. Your lunch looks so good! Everything looks great. It’d skip out on the massage only since I don’t like people touching me. But the rest looks good. This is the first time I’ve heard about Black moon parties. I’m very curious now. Is it just a big party when the full moon is gone?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 2, 2016 at 5:18 am

      Yes there are plenty of other islands in Thailand – Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and more! I believe that’s what the black moon party is for…but they only host it once a month or every so often.

  • Reply
    go-indochine
    November 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Amazing experience. Very inspired for a travel blogger like me. Tks for making this article.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 2, 2016 at 5:19 am

      That’s great. I’m glad you can use this as a reference. Thanks for stopping by my page!

  • Reply
    Wendy Flor
    October 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Love your lunch view! And now I am dreaminh of a Thai massage! This is my first time to hear about Koh Phangan and your post has surely made a great impression.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 1, 2016 at 4:38 am

      The lunch and the view were both amazing! A few people on this post said this is the first time they’ve heard about Koh Phangan…not sure if they’ve heard about full moon parties before, though!

  • Reply
    Rocio Cadena
    October 30, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Thailand is definitely on my list of countries to visit after my teaching contract ends. Thanks for writing such a thorough review and recommendations of what to do on this lovely island!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:22 am

      You’re very welcome! I’m going to be traveling through SEA after my teaching contract ends. Can’t wait!

  • Reply
    alla0909
    October 30, 2016 at 2:17 am

    I’ve been to Thailand about 5 times, but never to Koh Phangan. Your trip sounds awesome, full of the best things that Thailand has to offer – the food, massages, beaches and lots of sunshine!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Wow 5 times! Where do you visit? I hope you can visit Koh Phangan next time you go! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Emre Kanik
    October 29, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I have never been to Thailand, but if I go this is certainly an option. Thanks for the tip.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:17 am

      I hope you can make it to Thailand some day! Thanks for stopping by my page!

  • Reply
    chasingbleu
    October 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I only know much about the attractions of Thailand around the city. I haven’t read much about the beaches there, and specially this island! It must be exquisite, for sure. Suddenly, I find myself wanting to take a breather and go on a beach camp or something! Haha

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:16 am

      You should totally check out a Thai island. They’re magical! I can’t wait to return!

  • Reply
    Shirgie Scf
    October 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    By the look of it, it is really a party beach, I’m so surprised about a lot of things you can actually do in this beach. I would particularly love the thai massage by the beach.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Yes I wanted to show people there’s more to this island than partying. There are quiet sections!

  • Reply
    Nanie Ali
    October 28, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Great photos! I love Haad Salad <3
    Was in Koh Phangan sometimes ago for the half-moon party. Personally, I don't find it all that interesting. But nice to do though, just so you can tick it off your list πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 30, 2016 at 11:14 am

      I love Haad Salad, too! It was a fun time and I’m glad I went.

  • Reply
    Chasing KM
    October 28, 2016 at 4:44 am

    My boyfriend and I visited Thailand a few years ago as our firts international trip together. I very much regret not going to the smaller islands and only staying in Phuket and Bangkok. Your post inspires me to visit again and head to this place as well as other island! I like to have some quiet but also don’t like being on “honeymoon” beaches so this sounds like a perfect compromise!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:04 am

      The small islands are very relaxing. I do want to go to Phuket though. What are some things to do there?

  • Reply
    Joanna
    October 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    I have never visited Thailand before but if I’ll do in the future I’ll make sure not to miss Koh Phangan. I love that you have so many options of activities to do around the island. I would love to explore those beautiful markets and have traditional Thai food for dinner, at a restaurant on the beach. Looks like a perfect place to relax.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:03 am

      It really is the perfect place to relax and unwind!!

  • Reply
    Stargazer Writes
    October 27, 2016 at 4:36 am

    I haven’t been in Koh Phangan, but I would certainly love to experience the island life I see in your pictures! Everything looks fun. The food looks inviting too!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:02 am

      The island life is the best life!

  • Reply
    generosepomelo
    October 26, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I haven’t been to Thailand but surely will visit and try an authentic “thai” massage. Also the food of course! you wouldn’t want to leave that out.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:01 am

      We can’t leave the precious food behind! lol

  • Reply
    Claire
    October 26, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Sadly I missed out on going to Koh Phangan during my recent trip there but this seems like a good excuse to go back to Thailand! Not sure about the thai massage though. Had one in Bangkok and it certainly was not a treat! My poor back!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:01 am

      I only got the massage on the island. Wanted to wait until I was in paradise! lol. Hope you can make it to Koh Phangan on your next trip to Thailand!

  • Reply
    Mommy Queenelizabeth
    October 26, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Lovely trip! Seemed like you explored so much of Bangkok. The Thai Massage is very tempting! Makes me want to go to the spa now and have a relaxing one! The place is amazing with lots of things to do.. would love to visit someday! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 26, 2016 at 1:47 am

      Oh, this isn’t Bangkok. This is an island IN Thailand. I travelled to here from Bangkok, though. And I also spent 3 days in bangkok as well. It was great! The massages were the best part!

  • Reply
    Johna
    October 26, 2016 at 12:25 am

    I’ve never been! But I hope my plans push through next year Having a massage on the beach would be amazing. Hehe! Can’t wait to visit

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 26, 2016 at 1:46 am

      I hope you can make it here too! The massages are amaaaaaazing!

  • Reply
    Melody & Taylor Pittman
    October 26, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Okay. You sold me with the massages, Thai food, and quiet beaches. Sign me up to visit Koh Phangan, please!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 26, 2016 at 2:34 am

      Haha, woo hoo!!! I like that there are quieter parts to this “party” island. The massages were the best part!

  • Reply
    Teresa Dumadag
    October 26, 2016 at 12:05 am

    I like going to Thailand. But I have not been to this island. Thanks for sharing about your experience here. I like that the bungalows have hammocks. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 26, 2016 at 2:33 am

      I really liked that the bungalows were very chill and relaxing with the hammocks. I would definitely stay there again!

  • Reply
    Sydney Fashion Hunter
    October 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Thailand is such an amazing country and the islands are sublime. I have been three time but never to Koh Phangan. I usually go to Koh Phi Phi as it’s easier from Phuket. I’m not a fan of the overnight bus from Bangkok but I guess if that’s the only way to get there I would do it. The food looks amazing.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      I would love to check out other islands when I go back to Thailand1 I’ve heard great things about Koh Phi Phi. An overnight bus was the best option because we are able to sleep on the bus and it maximizes our time to actually be doing things as opposed to being in transit. You kill two birds with one stone when you do the overnight bus (transit AND sleeping!).

      • Reply
        Sydney Fashion Hunter
        October 26, 2016 at 6:42 am

        I get that and I’ve done overnight trains before and saved a nights accommodation in the process lol

  • Reply
    Amae Guerrero
    October 25, 2016 at 10:54 am

    It looks relaxing and serene. I look forward to visit it when I visit Thailand. But have you been to the Philippines? There are kinds of beaches like that found in Philippines esp in Cebu, Boracay, and Palawan. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 11:30 am

      It was very relaxing and fun! Yes, I’ve been to the Philippines! Manila and Boracay! I loved Boracay and would totally go back! I also want to visit Cebu and Palawan, too!!

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    October 25, 2016 at 7:24 am

    This shows the other side of Thailand. I as well love being at the beach and just enjoy the sea breeze kissing my surface. I love the colorful market, it speaks about the beauty of Thailanders in their rich culture. I’ll surely penned this on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

      Thailand truly is magical. I loved visiting and I hope to visit soon again! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Vyjay Rao
    October 25, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Koh-Phangan is so lovely. Unfortunately we missed it on our last trip there due to time constraints. I hope to get there next time. Loved your post and can see you had a great time in the island.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:59 am

      Yes sometimes time doesn’t allow to visit certain places. I did have a great time and thanks for stopping by!!

  • Reply
    Travelog with Jem
    October 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I missed touring this island when I went to Phuket in December last year. I hope I get to visit it on my next trip.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:58 am

      I hope so too! Try and island hop if you can, too! Something I didn’t get to do..but next time I go, I’ll island hop!

  • Reply
    Dang Travelers
    October 23, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Everything sounds great, but the Thai massage on the beach would be my #1 go to! It sounds wonderful!!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:57 am

      I got about 3 while I was there! haha

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    October 23, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Thailand is the place for a laid-back holiday, just to be yourself, sit by the beach and sip cool drinks. We have only been to Phuket but I guess there are innumerable beautiful places like Koh Phangan where one can lose touch with reality πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:57 am

      I really want to visit Phuket next time! Anything you can suggest?

  • Reply
    corinnevail
    October 23, 2016 at 6:36 am

    It’s about time to head back to Thailand, maybe even Koh Phangan. It looks serene and beautiful!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:57 am

      Doesn’t it? I’m going to go to another island next time I go!

  • Reply
    kidsandcompass
    October 22, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve been to Thailand twice but have never made it to Koh Phangan sadly. I’d love to visit. Good to know that there’s a variety of things to do here and quiet beaches as well as the party ones. My raving days are behind me now.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:55 am

      You should check out Koh Phangan next time you go! My raving days are slowly dwindling too…haha

  • Reply
    Nerdventurists
    October 22, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I always feel like I can’t go to a lot of beaches because I’m not a party person, but I’m excited to see there’s quiet beaches here! A place to just relax and enjoy the water would be amazing. I definitely will add this to my list!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 5:17 am

      Yes there are tons of quiet beaches that are perfect for someone who doens’t party too much. I like to have a good time but I don’t think I’d ever want to stay on Haad Rin (the party beach where the full moon parties are!).

  • Reply
    MakeTime2SeeTheWorld (@VickiLouise86)
    October 22, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I LOVED Koh Phangan – and I mean all the parts you mentioned and not the ‘party island’! We stayed in Haad Salad and had an amazing week relaxing and diving. Thanks for taking me back to this incredible place πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:57 am

      Awesome!! That sounds like a very relaxing week. I was able to check out Haad Rin for a party (wanted to see what it was like) but then it was nice to know we were going back to our quiet beach πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sab
    October 22, 2016 at 7:47 am

    It’s been almost 10 years since I visited Koh Phangan. I was always hesitate to go back because all I remembered was crazy parties and drunk backpackers. But that was probably because I spent most time in Haad Rin. If I ever go back, I would try to explore the Northern side of the island. Your article definitely makes me curious, maybe I should give it a try again? Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:56 am

      Yes Haad Rin is where the parties are, hence there will be drunk backpackers everywhere. I think you should give it a go again! There are so many more beaches to stay on πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sarah Stierch
    October 22, 2016 at 4:07 am

    Wow, the view for those massages (and lunch) are amazing. Can’t wait to visit Thailand someday. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:55 am

      Aren’t the views just gorgeous? Thanks for stopping by my page!!

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