Koh Phangan (about 12,000 inhabitants) is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, located between Koh Samui (about 9mi) and Koh Tao (about 22mi) at about 470mi from Bangkok. Koh Phangan has surface of about 65 sq miles. The island is best known for its monthly full moon party which is being held at Haad Rin beach. The period around the full moon party Koh Phangan attracts some 30,000 tourist who are going to party at Haad Rin Beach. But Koh Phangan also lends itself well to come to relax on one of the many beaches. The island consists of for about 60% of nature, mountains and forests. Around Koh Phangan there are beautiful coral reefs which are ideal for snorkeling and diving.
Sights and Tourist Attractions
Than Sadet - Koh Phangan National Park
Location: 10mi from city center - 40 minutes drive | Admission: 200 THB | Category: Nature
Than Sadet (translation: Royal River) - Koh Phangan National Park is park of about a 16,000 acres. The park thanks its name to the many visits which King Rama V brought to Koh Phangan. He has visited this park a total of 15 times, his first visit took place in 1888. The most attractive place is the beautiful waterfall Than Sadet. At this pplace, the river plunges into the sea. In this park you will also find the mountain Khao Ra.
Khao Ra Viewpoint
Location: 10mi from city center - 40 minutes drive | Price: 200 THB | Category: HNature
Khao Ra is with its 2000ft the highest point of Koh Phangan. There are several routes to get to this viewpoint. While its good to do on foot, you have to keep in mind that some parts can be quite difficult because of the rugged nature. Once at the top, the view over Koh Phangan is gorgeous. On clear days it's even possible to see Koh Samui.
Wat Khao Noi
Location: 2mi from city center - 10 minutes drive | Category: Culture and History
Wat Khao Noi Temple (translated temple on small mountain) is the oldest temple of Koh Phangan. From this point you have a beautiful view of Koh Phangan. Various meditation sessions are held at this temple. During these sessions you will be asked to be as quiet as possible.
Location: 8mi from city center - 40 minutes | Category: Nature and Sea
The small island of Koh Ma is located northwest of Koh Phangan and is accessible via a narrow strip of sand. Not only the nature on Koh Ma is beautiful, the sea around this island is also terrific. You'll find beautiful coral reefs and various fish. Therefore Koh Ma is a good location for a day of snorkeling or diving.
Location: 5mi from center - 20 minutes drive | Category: Culture and History
In 1990 Ms. Malawan came to Koh Phangan for a ceremony. During her stay she dreamed about the Chinese Buddha Jaomae Kuanim. In this dream Jaomae Kuanim said that a chinese temple needed to be build on Koh Phangan. She then returned home and raised funds for the construction. The temple was build and opened in 1992.
Location: 3mi from city center - 15 minutes | Price: 200 THB | Category: Nature
The Phaeng Waterfall is one of the largest and most popular waterfalls of Koh Phangan and is located on the eastern part of Koh Phangan. The road to this waterfall is quite steep and difficult. Under the waterfall you can take a refreshing dip in the crystal clear water. During the wet season the waterfall can be pretty wild, making it even more beautiful.
Location: 7mi from city center - 2 hours | Category: Nature and Sea
Bottle Beach thanks its name due to the many bottles that indicate the route to the beach. Bottle Beach is one of the most deserted beaches of Koh Phangan. The white sandy beach is quiet and the sea is very bright. The road to the beach is almost impassible, so it is wiser to take the boat from Chaloklum bay to Bottle Beach. This will cost approximately 150 THB/pp.
Haad Rin Beach
Location: 6mi from city center - 30 minutes drive | Category: Nature and Sea
Haad Rin beach is the most famous beach of Koh Phangan. The world famous full moon party is held each month. But Haad Rin beach is also known for its beauty. Beside the full moon party this beach is perfect to enjoy the sun and sea. In and around Haad Rin beach there are many shops and bars.
Diving and snorkeling
There are many divesites in the area Koh Phangan which makes it a good place for diving. Between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are countless interesting dive and snorkel sites. This is one of the reasons why there are so many divingschools on the island. However, most divers in this region go to Koh Tao.
The wild and rugged nature on Koh Phangan makes this Island an ideal destination for hikers. There are several waterfalls and forests on Koh Phangan. Also, you can go to viewpoints in the parks.
Full Moon Party
What once (in 1985) started as a small party to thank some 20 tourists, has grown into one of the most famous festivals in the world. During the high season about 30,000 travellers go to Koh Phangan to party at the Full moon party. The full moon party takes place primarily on Haad Rin beach. Music styles that run during a full moon party varies from trance to R&B. Due to the great success of the full moon parties, there are now also the half moon party and the black moon party. Traditional elements of a full moon party are (a lot of) alcohol, fire shows and music.
The festivities around a full moon party on Haad Rin beach sometimes start up to 3 days in advance. People go towards Haad Rin beach between 20:00 and 22:00 and party until well after sunrise. Especially the young travelers have a Full moon party on their schedule during their trip to Thailand.
Be aware: During a Full moon party there are relatively many burglaries on Koh Phangan and certainly Haad Rin beach. Make sure your belongings are safely stored. During the party make sure you keep an eye on your properties and be aware of pickpockets.
On Koh Phangan there are many restaurants, but you have to be at Haad Rin beach to have the best choice. Prices on Haad Rin Beach are, because of the popularity of Haad Rin Beach, a bit higher than on the rest of Koh Phangan. If you want to enjoy authentic and cheap meals the night market is a good option. Here you'll find delicious dishes from around 20THB.
As expected of an island which thousands of people visit every month to party, Koh Phangan has an good and vibrant nightlife. Haad Rin Beach is home to the the most pubs and clubs. In and around Haad Rin beach there are clubs and bars for each style of music.
Koh Phangan is only accessible by boat from the following locations:
Out of Surat Thani departs a boat to Koh Phangan at 23:00, the crossing takes about 7 hours. The cost of a single ticket is 400 THB. On this boat you don't need to expect any form of luxury. These are often old cargoships, so it is advisable to take an airobed along with you.
Every day several boats depart from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. Including a catamaran that has a connection between Chumpon, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. The crossing to Koh Phangan takes about half an hour and costs about 300 THB.
Daily boats depart from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan, including the aforementioned catamaran. The journey takes about 2 hours and costs about 300 THB
From Chumpon the aforementioned catamaran departs 2x a day to Koh Phangan, the trip costs about 1000THB and takes almost 4 hours.
If you want to go to Koh Phangan from Bangkok the company which owns the aformentioned catamaran has another option. They own a VIP-bus which departs twice a day to Chumpon. At this point you can take the catamaran to Koh Phangan. The entire trip from Bangkok to Chumpon takes about 10 hours and costs around 1.300THB.
There are many hotels on Koh Phangan. During a Full moon party in the main season Koh Phangan is often fully booked. It is (almost) impossible to get a accommodation at the last minute, especially around Haad Rin beach. The neighboring islands offer no solution, because during a Full moon party they are pretty busy as well.
Besides luxury and middle class hotels on Koh Phangan, there are several other accommodation options. You can stay in a low-budget guesthouse or bungalows up to luxurious villas on the beach.