In this guide we explain what to see and what to do in Koh Pha Ngan so that you understand why it is considered one of the favorite destinations in the Gulf of Thailand. Would you like to know more about Thai beaches? Don’t miss our ultimate guide to Thailand’s beaches
How to get to Koh Phangan?
Although Koh Phangan is not as quiet as it was a few years ago, there is a good thing that the island receives so many visitors, and that is that it is now even easier to go to Koh Phangan. There is no airport on Koh Phangan, but on Koh Samui, the neighboring island, there is an international airport that can be reached from other Asian countries or from Bangkok. There are other airports in nearby areas and it may be worth looking around for better deals. Whichever option you choose to get to the island, you will always have to make a ferry crossing to reach your final destination.
From Koh Samui to Koh Phangan
Whether you decide to stay on Koh Samui for a few days or have flown to the island to continue your journey, getting from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan is very easy, as there are regular ferries operating this crossing. Big Buddha Jetty is a short drive from Koh Samui Airport, and there are always a variety of transportation available to take you to the port. There are several types of boats that go to Koh Phangan. It is best to choose one of the fastest, because they are safe and take around 30 minutes to arrive. Depending on the time of year, the last departure from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan is usually around 18:30. However, during the Full Moon Party there are ferries connecting the two islands throughout the night.
From Bangkok to Koh Phangan
Flying is a good solution to get from Bangkok to Koh Phangan, but it is also more expensive than other transport options. You can fly from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways. The flight takes about an hour. However, there are other options to get to Koh Phangan by plane. For example, you can fly from Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok to Surat Thani Airportor to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Flights take about an hour, but taking these routes will make your trip a little longer, as part of the journey may need to be taken by bus and the ferry crossing will be longer. But if you want to save money, flights to these two airports are cheaper than to Koh Samui. Do a search and you will see the different options available to go to Koh Phangan. You’ll save even more if you travel by bus from Bangkok and then take a ferry. This is the cheapest way to get to Koh Phangan from the capital, but it is also the slowest. Opting for the train can lengthen the trip even more, but by spending the night on board you will save a day of accommodation.
How to get around Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is not a very big island. It is about 125 square kilometers (48 square miles), with a perimeter of about 40 kilometers (25 miles). That means that it is quite easy to go from one town to another on the island. The main town is Thong Sala, and this is where the ferries arrive, so this is where your visit to Koh Phangan will start. There are three means of transport available to get around Koh Phangan: the songthaew, the motorbike and the boat.
Songthaews are basically vans with room for multiple people to get on. They are the only “taxis” on the island, so if you don’t want to rent a scooter to get around on your own, you can only travel by songthaew. The price of a songthaew trip is quite reasonable, but if you use them regularly they can be quite expensive. Don’t forget that one way should cost about 100 baht. If you catch a songthaew at the pier, they will most likely try to charge you more, because they tend to take advantage of tourists. Therefore, when you get off the boat, it is best to go a little further into Thong Sala to get a cheaper songthaew at the taxi stand in the city.
As scooter rental rates are very cheap, many tourists get one to get around Koh Phangan more easily. Also, it can be cheaper than taking songthaews to go anywhere. In Koh Phangan the motorcycle is the predominant means of transport, used by both locals and tourists. As they are not very powerful vehicles, it is easy to learn to drive a motorcycle. Also, if you travel with another person it will be even cheaper, because two people can travel on the same motorcycle. You just have to move with caution. Avoid driving fast, be careful with changes in road conditions (some have many potholes) and always wear a helmet. If possible, avoid driving at night and, of course, do not drive if you have been drinking.
It may sound curious that on an island there is the possibility of moving around by boat, but the truth is that it is a very good way to travel. Some of Koh Phangan’s best beaches can be reached by boat much more easily than by road. Traversing the Haad Rin Hills, for example, can be quite a challenge on a motorcycle, and there are plenty of tricky roads you’ll want to avoid. There are boats that offer taxi service, so you don’t have to worry about hiring a private boat. Taxi boats transport passengers to and from the most popular beaches for a very reasonable price. It is a fantastic option to spend the day on a different beach that is a little further from your accommodation. You can also travel by boat to go around the entire island. It is possible to join a group with other tourists or book a private service to go to the best beaches and diving areas. Traveling by boat is a great way to enjoy the island from another perspective.
What to see in Koh Pha Ngan
Koh Phangan beaches
Without a doubt, the beaches are one of the best attractions of Koh Pha Ngan. These are some of the best beaches that you cannot miss:
- Ao Nai Wok: If you are a lover of water sports you cannot miss Ao Nai Wok, where you will find all the facilities to get to know the seabed of Koh Pha Ngan.
- Haad Rin: It is the most touristic beach and a very famous place thanks to its Full Moon Party.
- Haad Yuan: for those who want to enjoy a quiet beach, away from the crowds.
- Haad Khuat:: a beach for those seeking exclusivity and luxury. It is only accessible by boat or by trekking.
- Mae Haad: an island reached on foot from Haad Salad Island. It can be reached on foot when the tide is low.
- Bottle Beach:: it is a beach only accessible by boat. It is a quiet place where you can enjoy crystal clear waters without crowds.
Wat Khao Tham Temple
This temple is located in the town of Baan Tai. You can make a visit to this temple where the monks will teach you to meditate. It is an internationally recognized place as a meditation center. In addition, from the Wat Khao Tam temple you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views. Watching a sunset from the temple is highly recommended.
Things to do in Ko Pha Ngan
Enjoy a Full Moon Party
If there is a famous activity in Koh Pha Ngan, it is its renowned Full Moon Party. These parties for party and night lovers are held every full moon day. More than 30,000 attendees attend them. It is a festival recognized throughout the planet, which is replicated in other parts of the world. If your visit to Koh Pha Ngan does not coincide with the Full Moon Party, keep in mind that there are many parties on Koh Pha Ngan, practically every day, so there will be no time to get bored!
In contrast to the Full Moon Party, the practice of yoga is an activity for those seeking tranquility. In Koh Pha Ngan you will find schools to learn everything about meditation or yoga. In Koh Pha Ngan alone there are about 50 wellness centers where you can practice yoga or enjoy a spa.
Go hiking in Khao Ra
If you feel like immersing yourself in nature, we recommend an excursion to Khao Ra, the highest point on the island. It is a mountain of about 630 meters high, of great natural beauty. Once at the top you will discover panoramic views of the island and the surrounding islands. An essential place to take a nice photo.
Visit Angthong Marine Park
In addition to climbing Mount Khao Ra, nature lovers cannot miss a visit to the Angthong Marine Park. It is a nature reserve made up of 42 islands where you can do many activities in contact with nature, such as diving or scuba diving. It is also a very suitable activity for those who seek to practice water sports and discover the underwater biodiversity of the island.
Go shopping at the Thong Sala night market
About 10 kilometers from Haad Rin beach is the town of Thong Sala, the main city in the area. If you feel like going shopping, in Thong Sala you can visit the Pantip night market, the most prominent in the city. In fact, in Thong Sala there are several markets, although Pantip is the most notable. During your visit to this night market you can buy souvenirs, textile and electronic products or taste the local food at a good price.
To practice water sports
If you go to Koh Pha Ngan in search of the best beaches to practice water sports, you cannot miss a visit to Ao Nai Wok beach. There you can windsurf, kayak, scuba dive and much more. In addition to having a great time, it will allow you to observe the beauty of the island from another perspective.