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Koh Phangan, Bild: Matej Kastelic / shutterstock

Koh Phangan – the pearl in the Gulf of Thailand

The Gulf of Thailand is famous for its picturesque landscapes. Dreamlike beaches, thundering waterfalls, untouched jungle paired with the infectious carefree attitude and joie de vivre of the locals ensure that the area in the south of the country has been one of the most popular holiday destinations for years. First and foremost is the Samui archipelago, whose second largest island Koh Phangan was once considered an insider tip and true backpacker’s paradise.

Known for the legendary fullmoon parties, the island was long in the tourist shadow of its larger neighbor Koh Samui. However, it is no less attractive as a travel destination. On the contrary, mass tourism has not yet arrived here and everything seems a little more original.

Koh Phangan – Multifaceted landscapes

Koh Phangan Beach
Romantic atmosphere in Koh Phangan, Image: Anna Ewa Bieniek / shutterstock

Koh Phangan is located about 60 kilometers northeast of the mainland. Long sandy beaches, picturesque bays and almost untouched jungle extend over around 125 square kilometres. The interior of the island is mostly hilly and surprises with many natural spectacles such as the numerous waterfalls in the middle of the rainforest.

The most famous of them, the Than Sadet in the national park of the same name, has already captivated several kings of Thailand. The network of paths is relatively well developed and offers opportunities to explore nature in all its facets by mountain bike or scooter. But be careful – due to the sometimes difficult to see curves and the often risky driving style of the locals, extreme caution is required here.

At 627 meters, Khao Ra is the highest mountain on the island and is also ideal for a trekking tour for inexperienced hikers. The paths to the summit are well signposted and once there you have a fantastic view of the bay of Koh Ma and Chaloklum.

Dream beaches as far as the eye can see

Koh Phangan is best known for its beaches. There are more than 30 – from deserted dream beaches to lively party beaches. The most famous is undoubtedly the Haad Rin Nok, where thousands of partygoers regularly make a pilgrimage to the Full Moon Party. On these days, undisturbed idleness is certainly out of the question here, but apart from Full Moon, the Haad Rin is quite a charming spot of sand that invites you to relax.

Meanwhile, things are less turbulent further north at Bottle Beach, which is best reached by one of the traditional longtail boats that serve as water taxis on the island. Haad Salad Beach with its countless coconut palms or the fine sandy Haad Yao Beach also attract visitors to the north of the island. However, most of the beaches can be found on the west side, of which the Haad Mae Haad with the offshore island of Koh Ma and the Haad Chao Pao are among the must-see destinations of a Koh Phangan holiday.

In the northeast, the small village of Thong Nai Pan with its two picturesque bays Thong Nai Pan Yai and Thong Nai Pan Noi is worth a detour. Most of Koh Phangan’s beaches are characterized by white powder sand and gently sloping, turquoise water, which also makes them attractive for families with children. In addition, off the west coast of the island there is a true paradise for snorkelers and divers. Between Srithanu Beach and the island of Koh Ma stretches a coral reef about ten kilometers long with a great diversity of species under water. Numerous diving schools also offer courses or one-time diving excursions.

Koh Phangan – From insider tip to popular holiday destination

Image: SenSeHi / shutterstock

Over the years, Koh Phangan has developed from a former insider tip for backpackers and hippies to a popular holiday island. The tourist infrastructure is now well developed, although the island has largely retained its original character. In contrast to its “bigger sister” Koh Samui , Koh Phangan does not have an airport and can only be reached by ferry. However, these run regularly from the provincial capital Surat Thani from the mainland or from Bo Phut on Koh Samui. In addition, there are fixed ferry connections to the northern neighboring island of Koh Tao. The main town of the island is called Thong Sala, where a good half of the local population lives. Due to its port, Thong Sala is an arrival and departure destination for tourists. There are some travel agencies, restaurants and hotels.

Most of the accommodations, however, are spread over the numerous beaches of the island. There you can find the right thing for practically every budget. From purpose-built bamboo huts without electricity and running water to luxurious resorts, Koh Phangan manages the balancing act between spartan backpacking and the highest standards of comfort.

Legendary party nights

Nevertheless, the island has been almost spared from mass tourism and is still very popular with backpackers from all over the world. Of course, this is not least due to the infamous Full Moon Parties, which attract up to 30,000 techno and trance fans as well as party-goers from all over the world to Haad Rin Beach every full moon night – depending on the season. Due to the success of the event, real party tourism has developed in and around Haad Rin, so that Half-Moon and Black-Moon parties are now also held. But no matter whether you are a hyperactive techno disciple, a backpacker on a tight budget or a family with high demands – Koh Phangan has the perfect dream beach ready for every visitor.

The months between March and October are the best time to visit Koh Phangan. April and May are usually the hottest months, monsoon season is from November to January.