Ko Pha Ngan

Travel Guide Asia Thailand South Thailand Ko Pha Ngan

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Introduction

Ko Pha Ngan - Had Yao beach

Ko Pha Ngan - Had Yao beach

© All Rights Reserved JimmyHill


Ko Pha Ngan (also spelt Koh Phangan) was originally one of the primary backpacker islands in all of Thailand and famous for its monthly Full Moon Party. This place has everything many budget travellers want; cheap booze, cheap western food, cheap lodging and lots of crazy all night parties. For the kind of traveller that just wants to sit on a beach, get wasted and hopefully get laid this is their dream location.

The island has changed over the years and now attracts travellers of all ages. Many are the first generation of tourists now come back with their families. There is much more to do on Ko Pha Ngan than just get wasted and party. There are stunning waterfalls, beautiful hikes and a few cute temples to explore. Also every little cove and beach is very different and any kind of traveller, including the ones that just want a hammock to kick back and relax in, can find a place the fits them. Don't just spend the entire time sitting on a beach binge drinking buckets and looking at cute girls and boys, go explore!

There are numerous resorts and fantastic beaches away from Hat Rin on the southern side. For example, moving north from the port of Thongsala along the west coast are beaches such as Hat Yao and Hat Son that offer excellent entertainment and beautiful views. Mae Hat beach is simply stunning. Moving south from Thong Sala are beaches such as Baan Kai and Baan Tai with amazing views of Ko Samui in the near distance. When the lightening storms highlight the bigger island it is light show that one cannot miss. The eastern side of the island is more remote and the roads to reach it are hard but upon reaching your final destination there are beauties to behold. For example, Thong Nai Pan Noi has been listed as one the most beautiful beaches in Asia. And Sadet has an amazing waterfall that was visited by a past King of Thailand and has his initials burned into the rocks.

One of the quieter spots on the island is Ao Chalok Lam in the north of the island about 15 minutes from the port of Thong Sala and 30 minutes from the party beach of Hat Rin. Many people choose to party hard in the south and then relax in the less developed north.

So depending on what you like, Ko Pha Ngan can be the perfect spot or exactly the place to avoid. Make sure you plan your trip with that in mind.

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Geography

This small island has great beaches and reefs on its coasts and steep mountain from 400 metres to 600 metres in the centre. It is located about 100 kilometres from Surat Thani and 15 kilometres north of Ko Samui. There are no bridges connecting to the island and not airport on the island. Making it that the only way to access the island is by boat.

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Beaches

Chalok Lam Bay West

Chalok Lam Bay West

© All Rights Reserved fish4

South Part of the Island

West Part of the Island

  • Hat Yao is a long beach with many nice budget guesthouses and a few smaller bars and has a chill vibe.
  • Ao Mae Hat

North Part of the Island

East Part of the Island

  • Hat Khuat is an amazing beach only reachable by boat.

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Sights and Activities

  • Nam Tok Than Sadet is an excellent set of waterfalls that countless Thai kings have visited.
  • Snorkelling - Enjoy great snorkelling at the beaches of Hat Thian and Ao Thong Nai.
  • Wat Khao Tham is a nice Buddhist meditation retreat centre in the hills of the island.
  • Elephant Trekking Camp - Experience some eco tourism with this group providing elephant trips and hikes near the beach of Ao Chalok Lam.

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Events and Festivals

Full Moon Party

Started in the 90s the Full Moon Party has grown in epic proportions. Some months have more visitors than others, but even on average over 10,000 people attend this all night beach party! Live it up and drink some buckets at the largest monthly beach party in the world.

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Weather

Like much of Thailand, Ko Pha Ngan has a warm tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity. Temperatures during the day average between 29 and 32 °C (May - September being the warmest time) while nights are mostly around 24 or 25 °C. Unlike much of Thailand though, there is not a very dry or very wet season. Rain is possible during most of the year and most of this falls during October (300mm) and especially November (400mm). Then from December to March, there are still heavy rainshowers possible, while from April it becomes drier regarding the amount of rain, but there are more days with rain (around 20 versus 12-14 during December to March), meaning less intense rain.

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Getting There

Ko Pha Ngan is 100 kilometres from Surat Thani and 15 kilometres north of Ko Samui, making it easy to travel to and from.

By Plane

The nearest airport is Samui Airport (USM) on the island of Ko Samui. From there, you can catch the ferry to reach the island of Ko Pha Ngan. Samui Airport has domestic flights to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and U-Tapao. There are also limited international flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The airlines that fly in and out of Samui Airport are:

The airport is not far from Big Buddha Pier, which is where most ferries to and from Ko Pha Ngan depart from. There are frequent transfers from the airport to the pier by minivan during the day.

By Boat

The only way to actually reach the island is by ferry. Almost all the ferries arrive in the south-west corner of the island at the port of Thong Sala, which is really only a jumping point to other beaches and there will be plenty of people trying to convince you to go to their resort. When leaving the island it is best to buy tickets for the ferry at the port and not from travel agents, because some travellers have been sold fake tickets in the past by travel agents. At the port it is possible to arrange a ferry, bus or train ticket combo back to Bangkok. There is also regular ferries to Ko Samui and the neighbouring island national park of Ko Tao.

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Getting Around

By Car

The best way to get around the island is to rent a motor bike or to jump in the back of a share truck. The roads can be bit rough making the driving slow at times.

By Boat

Many of the beaches on the northern part of the island will provide boat transport to and from the Full Moon Party on Hat Rin

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Eat

All of the beaches have a full selection of Western and Asian cuisine.

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Drink

Drinking is a big part of the tourist culture at many of the beaches on the island.

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Sleep

  • Coconut Beach Bungalows. - These are on a secluded beach on Koh Phangan. The European owner Joe speaks fluent English, and will help, with just about anything. He will pick you up, at the pier, on your arrival at Koh Phangan.

He also provides transport, to the full moon parties, for 200 Bahts. For information, booking and photos use the following link. Website: Coconut Beach Bungalows.

Finding lodging can be difficult a few days before a Full Moon Party, especially at Hat Rin. It is recommended to show up a few days before the full moon party to secure some lodging. The beaches further from Hat Rin almost always have lodging of some kind.

View our map of accommodation in Koh Phangan

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are countless internet bars across the country in big and small towns. Internet cafés are widespread and most are inexpensive. Prices as low as 15 baht/hour are commonplace, and speed of connection is generally reasonable, but many cafes close at midnight. Higher prices prevail in major package-tourist destinations (60 baht/hour is typical, 120 baht/hour is not unusual). Keyloggers are all too often installed on the computers in cheap cafes, so be on your guard if using online banking, stock broking or even PayPal. Remember that in the smaller towns and more traditional areas the owners and staff of internet bars prefer if customers take off their shoes at the entrance and leave them outside. This might seem strange although this gesture goes a far way to make friends and give a positive image of foreigners to Thai people.

Outside the most competitive tourist areas, free Wi-Fi is not as common as in neighbouring countries in many budget hotels and guesthouses and they may charge small fee for Internet by LAN or Wi-Fi even if you bring your own laptop. Wi-Fi is commonly available in cafes and restaurants serving Westerners.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international code for Thailand is 66. 999 connects to all emergency services. Standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. 911 for Tourist Police Department, English available.

For mobile phone users, Thailand has three GSM mobile service providers - AIS, DTAC and Truemove - which may be useful if you have a mobile phone that will work on either one or both of the GSM 900 or 1800 frequency bands (consult your phone's technical specifications). If you have one, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for any of the Thai carriers in any convenience store for as little as 50-200 baht and charge it up as you go. Using your own mobile phone while on holiday with a Thai pre-paid SIM card can save a lot of money and lets you give your number to family back home, so they can have an emergency contact number.

Post

Thailand Post is the Thai postal service that deals with all local and international mail in Thailand. The business is operated from local post offices. Post offices are easy to recognise with their red white and blue motifs and the words 'Thailand Post' in English and Thai above the entrance. They are open from Monday to Saturday, usually 8:30am to 4:30pm (main ones until around 8:00pm), though keeping shorter hours on Saturdays (usually until 1:00pm). They are generally closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Each post office offers a comprehensive service which includes an Express Mail Service (EMS) and parcel post. They also have a price calculator for letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. They also have a track and trace system and money transfer services. If you want to send packages, it might be a good idea to check with private courier companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and generally quite competitively priced.

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Accommodation in Ko Pha Ngan

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Ko Pha Ngan searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Ko Pha Ngan and areas nearby.

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