Ko Pha-Ngan Travel Guide

Koh Phangan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, most famous for its full moon party, which attracts thousands of revelers every month to party the night away on a long expanse of beach.

There are also many quiet and idyllic spots to retreat from the madness of the full moon party dotted around this fairly untouched island. The beaches are some of the most beautiful in Thailand and edge the coastline, with the heart of the island covered in dense jungle and unexplored forest.

The main tourist hub is Had Rin and the capital of Koh Phangan is the fishing port of Thong Sala, which boasts a docking area for boats traveling to and from Koh Tao, Koh Samui and mainland Thailand. With Had Rin in the southeast and Thong Sala further west, there are many less frequented villages and towns that are set on quiet beaches, fringed by jungle and local restaurants.

Out of the full moon party week, Had Rin is peaceful and far quieter than many would expect. There is a wide choice of bars and restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world as well as beach bars offering nightly fire shows and a lively nightlife. The restaurants show movies throughout the day and night, which are best enjoyed on the Thai cushioned floors and there are plenty of internet caf├ęs, beaches and swimming to enjoy.

There are two beaches; the full moon beach is also known as Sunrise Beach and the quieter beach on the east is known as Sunset Beach. The island as a whole is a backpacker’s paradise, with rustic accommodation set on the beach, complete with hammocks and a lack of electricity - all at cheap prices.

Aging hippies and budget tourists are being accompanied by more families and mainstream tourists as the island becomes more developed. There are now a scattering of plush resorts set on the coast that boast private beaches and five-star restaurants as well as health farms and spas. Ban Tai and Ban Khai are small fishing villages that sit on the unbroken stretch of palm-fringed white sand that runs all the way to Thong Sala.

Getting There & Away

There have been talks about building an airport on the island but currently Koh Samui is where the closest airport resides. Boats run from Koh Samui’s Big Buddha Pier to Koh Phangan every day, with the ferry taking 50 minutes and the fast boat taking just 12 minutes. There is a daily catamaran that runs from Chumphon on the mainland to Thong Sala and various other boat routes that serve the likes of Koh Tao and Donsak. From the mainland transport to Bangkok, where the main air gateway to the country resides, is readily available.

Koh Phangan attractions

  • Full moon party: this monthly party is held on Had Rin beach and brings together people from all walks of life.
  • Ang Thong National Park: an archipelago of 42 islands easily reached from Koh Phangan.