Ko Pha Ngan or Koh Phangan is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand in South East Thailand and is one of the most popular destinations for travelers and backpackers who visit Thailand due mainly to it’s world famous full moon party at Had Rin Beach. However, when the party revellers need to find a beautiful beach to recover from their post party hangovers there are no shortage of white sandy beaches to relax, unwind and enjoy this wonderful island. Koh Pha Ngan is not just about the full moon party if you are looking for a holiday away from all the hustle and bustle of Had Rin beach and the younger full moon crowd then Koh Pha Ngan has plenty of secluded beaches which will give you the deserted tropical island experience to totally relax your says away. The majority of the island is mountainous with a covering of lush tropical rain forests with the highest peak being Khao Ra which rises 630 meters above sea level.
BEACHES ON KOH PHANGAN
Koh Phan Ngan is quite a large island with an abundance of beaches to suit the different needs of the holiday maker. With white sandy beaches which are great for swimming and snorkelling you will have no problem finding the perfect beach for you.
The Southern Beaches
Had Rin Nok and Had Rin Nai
The most popular beach on Pha Ngan due mainly to this being the location of the famous full moon party. Had Rin is actually two beaches (Had Rin Nok and Had Rin Nai) and the East side is often considered as the most beautiful beach, but also the more crowded one. Just note that this beach is populated with younger backpackers so if you are looking to chill out in seclusion then I would not recommend this beach for you. If you are after hanging out on a beach with bars lining the shore and no shortage of venues to dance till the sunrise then this is your beach.
Had Yuan, Had Thien and (Eastern) Had Yao
These three beaches are located North of Had Rin Nok. Due to the hazardous roads you are only able to access these beaches by foot or taxi boats which keeps these beaches very relaxed and a great place to chill out. You can also find health retreats here which provide everything from cleansing diets, yoga and meditation.
The Northeastern Beaches
Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi, Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai
These beaches are considered to be two beaches of Koh Pha Ngan where you will find far fewer crowds which and will give you plenty of privacy. They are great for swimming. The road here can be treacherous as the steep hills are commonly described as Koh Pha Ngan’s roller coaster.
Had Kuat (Bottle Beach)
An amazingly beautiful beach in the North West of the island is Had Kuat. Surrounded by luscious tropical mountains and coves making bottle beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Koh Pha Ngan.
All kinds of accommodation can be found on the island of Koh Phangan. From 5 star luxurious resorts to basic beach bungalows, you will find the perfect accommodation to suit you budget.
THINGS TO DO
Koh Pha-Ngan has many dive sites around the island which are great for inexperienced divers and trained divers. From easy dives off the beach to longer trips by boat you can experience the world of tropical diving.
Full Moon Party – if you’re after a party then you can’t go past the full moon party on Had Rin Beach. Full moon is the most popular time of the month with thousands of party revellers converging on Koh Phangan to experience this world famous beach party. Just remember it is a busy night with thousands of people usually in a merry state dancing till the sun rises so if you don’t enjoy the company of happy and slightly drunk people then I would recommend to stay clear. Be warned that the full moon party is a great time for thieves so only take out what you can afford to lose. In addition, be very careful not to accept any drinks from strangers and what ever you do don’t take drugs. For more information check out the official full moon party website.
Hiking can be done all around the island. There are trails that leads between Haad Rin and Haad Tien, which many enjoy however the route can become difficult to discern, and bringing enough water is necessary.
Learn Muay Thai. There are a couple of gyms which offer month courses to train regularly and if you are game, get into the ring and have your own bout.
Yoga is offered at multiple locations and different courses can be taken depending on your experience.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest airport is Ko Samui where you will find frequent flights from Bangkok and Phuket as well as daily flights from U-Tapao and Singapore, and several direct flights each week from Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur. From the airport it is easy to find transportation to the ferry dock to catch a short half hour ferry ride to Koh Pha Ngan.
From Ko Samui: There are at least 3 ferries a day from Ko Samui’s “Big Buddha” pier directly to Haad Rin. Ferries also leave from Nathon and Mae Nam piers to Thong Sala several times a day.
From the Mainland: Ferry’s can be caught from Chumpon or Surat Thani. The trip will take you approximately 3-4hrs from Chumpon stopping first at Koh Tao.
100-125cc motorbikes and scooters can be hired from around 200 baht/day; When hiring bikes you will be expected to leave your passport as a deposit. be warned any damage to the bike will incur exorbitant charges so make sure you check the bike for scratches before you hire the bike and remember you are giving them your passport as a deposit and your passport will not be returned till you pay for the charges that the operators are asking for.
Also keep in mind that some of the roads on Koh Pha Ngan are dangerous and you will need to take care riding.
It is also possible to rent small Suzuki jeeps, however you will find that you can circuit the island in a day.