Koh Phangan, oh man, I love this island!
Having been here for 4 months, I fall in love with it deeper every day. I’ve hosted many friends and showed them the beautiful island my way. Since I’m moving to Taiwan soon, I wanted to jot down all the secrets while it’s still fresh, and share them with you, so you could come check out this magical place like an insider! There’s plenty for everyone to do in Koh Phangan, and this guide documents just my favorites, and would make more sense for someone staying in the Srithanu area (learn more below).
Most travelers know of Koh Phangan as the Full Moon Party island, and they are missing out! The crazy party and gnarly crowds are only on the south side in Haad Rin area. However, the rest of the island is extremely charming, full of amazing beaches, incredible food, and awesome vibes. My favorite area Srithanu is also the center of one of the biggest yogi/spiritual communities in Southeast Asia. Having been to, and lived in many islands, I have to say Koh Phangan is definitely one of my favorites.
The closest and easiest airport is Koh Samui, but flights are very expensive sometimes. The cheaper hack here is you fly to Surat Thani instead, and usually you’d be able to save some money. For both airports, you just get off the plane, and book a shuttle + ferry joint ticket at the airport kiosk. They take you from the airport to the pier, and the ferry arrives in Koh Phangan. No need to book ferry ticket beforehand, but do check timetable online to make sure your flight doesn’t get in too late for the ferry (last ferry time depends on departing pier). Make sure ferry is going to Thong Sala pier, not Haad Rin.
Koh Samui is the biggest and most famous island in the area. It’s also the most touristy and expensive, not my type at all. Koh Tao is a small island that has over 100 scuba diving shops, one of the cheapest places to get your diving license. However, if you’re not planning to get a license there, don’t bother.
Where to Stay
Srithanu – This is where I live, and I honestly think this quiet sanctuary is the best part of the island. You can find the best beaches, food, and people here. The beaches are beautiful, and are not like the sandbars in Thong Sala or Ban Tai. Food here is just jaw-dropping amazing, and full of vegetarian/vegan options. This is also where all the yoga centers are, so people are very yogi as you can imagine, and sometimes uh… quite hippie. Some people love it, some people don’t. I like it.
Thong Sala / Baan Tai– The “downtown” area where the pier is. Things are cheap and location is convenient, good for shopping, but not much to do there. Beaches are not nice.
Haad Rin – The Full Moon Party area, Lots of hostels and party-goers here. Things are more expensive. Beaches are quite nice, but sometimes people get hurt by the box jelly fish (not common).
Chaloklum – The north side, far from everything, but very cheap and tranquil. There are many dive shops and some good fresh seafood restaurants.
Accommodations (Srithanu Area)
I highly recommend staying at one of these places that are right on the Srithanu beach. They are all bungalow style rooms with either fan or A/C, nice but good value (A/C rooms: 1000~3000 Baht/night): Nice Sea, Seaview Rainbow, The Beach
If you want a more resort type of place with a pool, then Loyfa is also very nice, but this side of the beach is not as nice, still great tho. You can find them all on Booking.com
You’ll find scooter rental everywhere. The typical price is 200 Baht / day, but you could bargain and get some older bikes for 150 Baht. day. They’ll either take your passport or 5000 Baht for deposit. Car rental exists, but I’ve never tried it.
Beaches, Snorkeling, Diving
Chilling, Swimming at Srithanu Beach
My favorite beach. On a sunny day, you can see 3 different shades of colors on this beautiful beach. It’s shallow and calm, so very good for swimming and just hanging in the water. The sand is clean and white, great for posting up and chilling. The best part is that not many people know about this beach, I’ve rarely seen more than 10 people at a time here, making it the perfect place for beach photos. Enter from Seaview Rainbow Resort: https://goo.gl/maps/CpctxrWNC342
Snorkeling at Koh Ma Beach
The beautiful postcard beach of Koh Phangan, and the best place to snorkel. Once you get to the beach, swim out to where you feet can’t touch the ground, and that’s where you’ll see all kinds of fish like angel fish, parrot fish, sometimes even small schools of barracudas. My favorite is the giant clams that are the size of your head, extremely colorful and epic! You’ll find your way after getting to Sunset Bar: https://goo.gl/maps/6QpXHEJos7A2
Snorkeling at Koh Raham
This unique restaurant and bar is located right next to the Secret Beach, a pretty solid beach to hang out at. It’s decorated with giant swings and hammocks, great for cool Instagram pictures and tropical chilling. On the lookout side of the restaurant, is this great snorkeling spot that’s full of different types of small fish. Also a great place for a drink while enjoying the sunset. https://goo.gl/maps/fzYJZNUBtyE2
Diving at Sail Rock
Koh Phangan is the closest island (even closer to Koh Tao) to Sail Rock, the most incredible dive site in the region. If you have your dive license, you have to do it. You’ll see amazing corals, LOTS of fishes, and occasionally whale shark! Most dive shops here offer a 1-day trip to the site, boat leaves in the morning, and comes back at around 5-6pm, breakfast and lunch included. All the dive shops are pretty good, but Haad Yao Divers has the most stable boat if you tend to get sea sick.
Massage, Sauna, Acupuncture, Yoga, Muay Thai
Therapeutic Massage at OK Massage
OK Massage is not just ok. I’ve tried loads of massages, and this is by far the best place on the island. The ladies there are very good at relaxing you and working your knots. Just 250Baht, you get a legit massage with a beachfront view, and feel like a new person after. It’s located right next to Tuk Massage (also a decent place): https://goo.gl/maps/ekzD2pMg99p
Starry Night Outdoor Bonfire Sauna at The Dome
This sauna is a hidden gem with a (strong) hint of hippy vibe. Come here on a clear night, you’ll sweat out all your toxins, and relax next to the calming bonfire, with company of the moon and stars. It’s around 200 Baht to enter, and you can order tea, deserts, and fruits too. https://goo.gl/maps/LzyptpvyuvN2
Acupuncture with Leon
Leon is a good friend who’s been practicing Kungfu, Yoga, and Chinese Medicine for his entire life. As a patient and someone who’s dabbled into TCM, I can guarantee he’s legit. Not only he fixed my chronic back pain, every time my friends come visit me, I always have them book at least a session with him. Amazing acupuncture at an affordable price, why not? You can check out his profile and shoot him a message here, and make sure you say I sent you: https://www.facebook.com/leonkyocenter/?ref=br_rs
Yoga Classes & Retreats
Depends on what style of Yoga you do, there are plenty of good centers and teachers here in Srithanu (e.g. Orion, Samma Karuna, Wonderland, etc). Shop around and try them out yourself. However, beware of culty yoga centers like Agama, which seems legit from the outside, but has been exposed to many sexual scandals. I practice Ashtanga Yoga with Veronica, and she’s absolutely amazing. Make sure you tell her I sent you: https://www.facebook.com/vyyoga/
Muay Thai Lessons at Diamond Muay Thai
You don’t have to be passionate about roundhouse kicks to enjoy traditional Muay Thai training. I checked out almost all the Muay Thai camps on the island, and this place fits my style the best. Trainers here are not only very experienced in teaching, but are also relaxed and funny. I’ve taken quite a few friends here for their 1st time experience, and every one loved it, both guys and girls! Training starts at 4pm Mon-Sat.
This tropical island is vegan paradise. Did you know? 🌴Read the full guide: http://bit.ly/2BVhbcZ
Posted by The Tasty K on Sunday, February 4, 2018
Happiness Restaurant (Thai Seafood)
An amazing beachfront Thai seafood place where you can find Thai people eating here. Must order clam soup and crabs.
Mama Pooh (Thai Seafood)
Another great Thai seafood spot. The environment is more uh…not the type of place for a fancy date, but the food is great and affordable. Has vegan, vegetarian options. Order red curry fried whole fish, garlic fried crab.
Srithanu Corner Food Stands
These are straight up shacks run by this Thai ladies. Great food and super affordable, my go-to everyday place. You’ll be satisfied spending nor more than 100 baht. However, you’ll see some flies lol.
Stand 1 – right across the street from this big hippy jewelry/clothing store. Must order: seafood salad
Stand 2 – next to Pure Vegan. Must order: grilled chicken (ask for sauce)
Stand 3 – fruit shake stand. Recommended: mango + passion fruit shake
My favorite vegan place. Cool environment and tasty vegan food at a reasonable price. Order: jackfruit BBQ bowl, acai bowl
Incredible Italian food with amazing beachfront new age design. Every single guest I’ve brought here have been truly impressed by it. Must order: pizzas, home made egg noodle with mushroom & sausage
Awesome French food with amazing beachfront bar design, right next to Romanzo. Every Friday and Sunday they have performances like fire dancing and belly dance. Must order: ducks confit
Taboon (Middle Eastern)
Really good Middle Eastern food with good ambiance. Must order: mushroom sambusak
Over The Moon (Coffee & Deserts)
One of the few places that offer legit coffee and treats. Owners are from Bangkok. Must order: home made ice cream, hand made almond milk
Amazing Viewpoint Bars
The island has a few chill bars with amazing views. I highly recommend going to at least one, and enjoy the sunset there. The coolest thing is that you can go to the bar and openly order weed (pre-rolled joints) or mushroom shakes to go with the good views. Amsterdam Bar (most famous), Top Rock (more chill), 360 Bar (on the north side, close to Koh Ma beach)
Full Moon Party
The infamous Full Moon Party happens every month during the full moon. Check online for exact dates and details. Though the island is famous for it, I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone to come to Koh Phangan just for this overrated event. It’d be cool if you are 23 and down to get shit faced drunk with mates from your hostel. However, for me, the parties are definitely too young, commercial, and just trashy. If anything, I’d recommend the Jungle Experience parties the day before the Full Moon Party. It’s better put together, incorporating cool new age arts and even legit Muay Thai fight fights! However, it’s still the same crowd.
Have a Drink on the Beach
My most recommended nightlife activity: get some drinks from 7-11s and hang out with friends on the beach. Who needs bars when you can enjoy nature! It’s cheap and fun, especially during full moons when the moonlight lights up the entire ocean. Just make sure to bring your trash with you, and don’t black out in the water.
Have you been to Koh Phangan? Share your favorite spots in the comment!