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Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan

Ko Pha Ngan (or Koh Phangan, Thai: เกาะพะงัน) is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, southeast Thailand. Ko Pha Ngan has two other adjacent islands: Ko Samui and Ko Tao south to the north. This island has an area of approximately 168 km², in the province of Surat Thani.
Koh Phangan Overview
Ko Pha-ngan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand, Surat Thani Province. Ko Pha-ngan is best known for its Full Moon Party at Hat Rin Beach. Ko Pha-ngan has two sister islands: the larger Ko Samui to the south and the smaller Ko Tao to the north.
  • Estimated perimeter: 40 km (estimated 10 hr average walking time)
  • From mainland: about 55 km
  • From Ko Samui: about 15 km
  • From Ko Tao: about 35 km
  • Main town: Thong Sala 
  • Highest Point: Khao Ra, 630 m
Koh Phangan History

The name Ko Pha-ngan derives from the word "ngan", meaning 'sand bar' in southern Thai, for there are many sand bars offshore.

Ko Pha-ngan has been a longtime favorite of past kings of Thailand. Rama V, or Chulalongkorn, for example, visited Ko Pha-ngan 14 times during his reign.

The Bronze Drum of Dongson Culture (500–100 BCE) that was found on Ko Samui in 1977 is evidence that there were settlements of people on Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and their islets more than two thousand years ago. Some historians and archaeologists believe that the first group who migrated to Ko Pha-ngan were Muslim sea gypsies (Pygmy, Semug and Proto-Malay) who travelled by boat from the Malay Peninsula. Today there are few Muslim inhabitants.

Over the last century the island's population has steadily expanded, first living off the sea and the land and farming coconuts. Later, tin mining became part of the economy. In the 1970s the mining industry faltered and finally petered out. Over the next decade tourism took hold. Now the island is primarily a tourist destination. Fishing and coconut farming remain important to the local economy.

Due to its topography, the population hugs the coastline. The mountainous interior is generally inaccessible. More than half the island designated as national park and Ko Pha-ngan has more than 80 km2 (31 sq mi) of relatively unspoiled rain forest with diverse flora and fauna. It is also considered a spiritual place, with numerous Buddhist temples around the island and a thriving spa, retreat, and meditation industry.

Koh Phangan climate and best time to visit

Thailand has three seasons – The Cool Season, The Hot Season, and The Rainy Season. It is suggested you plan a trip to the island in summer. The season is in full swing between March and June, and there is little to no rain to dampen your vacation. You may also plan a visit between December and March when the weather is hot, bright, and yet not too humid – making it ideal for lounging on the fantastic beaches of Koh Phangan Island.

Koh Phangan Transportation

Visitors can reach the island by ferry from the mainland from three ports in Surat Thani and one in Chumphon. There is an option to reach Ko Pha-ngan by ferry from Ko Samui (Raja Ferry Port, which is nine kilometres from Ko Pha-ngan).

Things to do and see in Koh Phangan

1. Shimmering Bays and Secluded Beaches

These beautiful beaches host a number of full moon parties too. Cushions on the beach, beautiful sunsets, fire dancing shows, and clear blue waters, is what makes this beach one of the best places to visit in Koh Phangan Island. This beautiful island is also designated as a National Park and teems with rare flora and fauna.

2. Ban Tai Beach

Ban Tai is a hub for rave and party lovers. When at the beach, you can also indulge in flying kites and some paddling too. Much of this beautiful beach is calm and peaceful with a backdrop of palm trees. There are a number of eateries and bars where you can relish a wide variety of food.

3. Thong Sala Night Market

By now Koh Phangan may sound like a bit of a ‘farang’ haven. But, wait until you have ventured into the night market at Thong Sala. Friendly locals await you, proudly by the side of their freshly made Thai dishes. Do not let the small shops fool you, as the food is more delicious and cheaper than what you will find in most restaurants. Be sure to try their Pad Thai and Sushi. The options are plentiful and you will be lost for choice.

Things To Do In Koh Phangan

1. Full Moon Party in Thailand

Spend the day enjoying a Koh Phangan island tour and unleash your wild side at night. This is what Koh Phangan Island is famous for. If you are on the island during a full moon, be sure to don your best clothes and head out to the wild full moon party in Koh Phangan, on the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin beach. This is a one of its kind party where you will find people from all over the world having a blast.

2. Laze on the beaches

Contrary to common belief, the beaches on this party island aren’t just for booze and music. The island isn’t short on gorgeous beaches. Whilst some of these beaches are harder to reach, they are well worth the effort. Make your way to quiet and secluded beaches such as Wai Nam Beach. This beach is perfect for swimming and some occasional paddling.

Bottle beach is yet another quaint island near Koh Phangan that you will fall in love with. Its powdery soft beach and crystal-clear waters are quite a sight to behold after a treacherous water scooter journey to get to.

3. Go diving

Though most travelers set out to nearby islands for a day of diving, Koh Phangan isn’t too shabby to have some fun. The beauty of Koh Phangan extends well below the waves where the marine life is rich. The waters of Koh Phangan are clear making it ideal for both novices as well as seasoned divers to explore. And, the cheap prices are sure to bring a smile to your face.

4. Sunset Bar Crawl

A couple of thatched-roof bungalows just off the beach makes way for some great fun. Golden Rock is an isolated haven, where you can sip a few cocktails as you watch the sun dip into the oceans in this prime sunset spot. And, if you haven’t had your fill, clamber up the steps on the side of the mountain and get to Amsterdam Bar for a few hours of extended fun and frolic. Round off your bar crawl, with a skinny dip in Blue Rama’s stunning infinity pool.

Koh Phangan Travel Tips
Ko Pha Ngan is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime in Ko Pha Ngan.
During the Full Moon Party, your risks are greater. There are a lot of drugs here. All drugs are illegal in Thailand and punishable by time in some pretty bad prisons. Undercover police might try to sell you drugs, then arrest you. Locals might rat you out for a reward. Bottom line? Don’t do drugs.
Also be careful about your buckets of alcohol. Those things are lethal! I have a hard-and-fast rule that I and other experienced Full Mooners follow: no buckets before midnight. If you want to actually see the sunrise, I’d suggest you follow it too.
Always trust your gut instinct. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it when you’re in Ko Pha Ngan.
This is a notorious party island. The biggest incidents happen when people are being drunk and stupid. Those buckets of booze can be lethal, and unfortunately, travelers do need to stay alert for predators slipping drugs into their drinks. Avoid illegal substances at all cost — Thailand is very, very strict on drugs!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong.
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