The hedonistic island of Koh Phangan is world renowned for its Full Moon Parties and year-upon-year revellers are drawn to the island. However, in addition to offering some of Thailand’s most vibrant nightlife, the island also offers some beautiful beaches, a range of tourist activities, several historical sites and even some hidden gems off the beaten track.
There are numerous waterfalls offering stunning natural beauty and the perfect place to cool down in the midday sun, some interesting temples for those wanting to get a cultural feel to the island and even some secluded beaches away from the hub of the activity. Whatever you’re looking for, Koh Phangan is sure to have it.
Koh Pha Ngan Beaches
Whether you’re looking to relax with a good book, enjoy a cooling swim in the turquoise waters simply or unwind after a heavy night partying, Koh Phangan boasts some beautiful and under-developed beaches.
The most famous is Haad Rin which can be particularly busy during the high season and in and around the dates of the Full Moon Party, and has lost some of its sheen in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with the beach, however, although others such as Haad Salad and Tong Nai Pan do not have the swarms of tourists, while Haad Sadet is just about as rustic and peaceful as you could dream of.
But there are more than 40 coves and bays around the island that are worth exploring, so be sure to spend some time to experience as many beaches as possible during your Koh Phangan stay.
Pheang Falls and Marble Buddha
The island boasts a number of beautiful waterfalls, many of which are at their most impressive during the rainy season. To reach Pheang falls you must take a short, but somewhat grueling hike up a steep hill. The Marble Buddha is also located at a nearby temple and is open every day offering free admission.
Wat Phu Khao Noi
This is the oldest temple on Koh Phangan which a name that means ‘The temple of the small mountain’. In reality it is nothing more than a small hill towards the southwest of the island and close to the port of Thong Sala. Getting here before lunch gives more chance of bumping into one of the local monks.
Situated along the main route to Chalaoklum Bay, Paradise falls is possibly the pick of all Koh Phangan’s waterfalls. Set in a beautiful tropical landscape with a nature trail leading steeply up to the cascades, the falls are regularly the stage for outdoor parties. However, between December and June, they are often short on water.
Taan Sadet Falls and Beach
Koh Phangan’s most famous falls which King Rama V actually visited over 100 years ago, leaving his name engraved on a rock. The small and deserted beach area is approachable by a steep dirt track through the island’s lush interior and also boasts a scenic hiking trail up a lengthy cascading stream.
Kao Ra Viewpoint and Hikes
Koh Phangan’s highest peak, Kao Ra Mountain, serves up some stunning views across the island and beyond. To reach the summit you must hike through dense rainforest, so it may be worthwhile having a relaxing evening the night before. The Koh Phangan Map marks out a number of other beautiful natural trails along the coast, enabling you to reach secluded and remote beaches from the tourist hub of Haad Rin. The trails are usually fairly easy to stick to although often extremely tiring as they follow the hilly coastline’s steep contours.
The Big Tree and Twin Coconut Palm
This stout tree is one of the island’s well-known landmarks. In truth, there is nothing too remarkable about it, although it does have an unusually large girth and provides a somewhat interesting stopover just off the main road leading from Haad Rin to Thong Sala. Near the tree is the strange twin coconut palm. Both may not be worth going out your way to see, but if in the area could provide an interesting photo opportunity if nothing else.
The Herbal Sauna at Wat Pho
Here the fact that the male and female rooms are separated may come as a huge relief if visiting on the back of one of the island’s famous party nights. Women are required to wear a sarong on top of their bikinis, while men are permitted to wear just shorts. It is important to remember that nudity is offensive in Thai culture and even more so in the grounds of a temple. Admission to the sauna costs 50 Baht and towels are offered at 10 Baht.
Elephant camps are located on the road between Baan Tai and Thong Nai Pan, and near the Chinese temple between Thong Sala and Chaloklum. Both should charge 500 baht for a 30-minute ride, while also offering excellent photo opportunities and jungle treks.