The island of Koh Phangan is perfectly sized to be explored in a few days. If you follow the main roads, you can ride from one end of the island to the other end in less than an hour. But if you want to experience the real island gems, you must get off the main roads: Up to the majestic viewpoints, down to the hidden bays, and into the depths of the Koh Phangan jungle.
In this Koh Phangan Guide, we share with you both: Some of the famous main attractions, but we also reveal some of the secret hidden places you don´t want to miss out on.
For many visitors, Koh Phangan is just the ultimate party island. If that is your expectation, you won´t need to confine yourself to the full moon party, because there is always nightlife – and even lots of daytime parties. If you want to follow the moon cycle and can stick around for a week after the full moon, you can attend one of the Halfmoon festivals, which always take place on weekends and are pricier and more boutique than the full moon party.
To complete the moon cycle, there are also new moon-themed parties such as the black moon parties. All these parties were stopped during 2020 and 2021 so make sure you verify the exact dates. But no worries, once you arrive in Koh Phangan, you will see announcements and you will be offered flyers that inform you about upcoming parties.
When you have danced through the full moon party, and when you have gone through all the after-parties, maybe it´s time for a Thai massage? All along the main roads, you can find small massage studios. Staff is trained in different techniques and can help you sober up. If you want something fancier, there are some more premium massage options in some of the detox centers or spas.
The west side of the island offers some of the world’s most spectacular sunsets. There are some great viewpoints competing for the best sundown experience. At the northwest tip of the island, there is the 360 Bar. After a dramatic ride up a steep mountain trail, it offers a spectacular view over the northwestern island bays.
Another legendary place is Zen beach, close to Sri Thanu. Every night, a crowd of sunset addicts gathers on the public beach and dances around the drum circle. For many, this is the heart of Sri Thanu’s “conscious” hippie culture.
Hike to Bottle Beach
In the tropical island climate, it is very tempting to just stay on the beach all day and just go for refreshing swims. But there are also some places best explored on foot. If you drive to some of the waterfalls or remote beaches, you often must do the last stretch on foot. But there are also some proper hikes through the Koh Phangan hills.
A famous hiking trail you don´t want to miss out on is the bottle beach hike. On the way, you may meet monkeys. Bring enough water. The trail is partially shady, but make sure you apply enough sun protection. Starting just north of Chaloklum, you can hike for 1-2 hours, then rest on bottle beach and take a boat back to where you started the trail.
While the neighboring island Koh Tao is the most famous spot for diving in the region, Koh Phangan also offers some possibilities for water sports. There are some diving schools and tour operators that take you out to some of the nearby diving spots and there are some great snorkeling spots you can discover by yourself.
Best Koh Phangan Beaches
Depending on who is counting there are anywhere between 30 and 100 beaches on Koh Phangan. In short: Something for everyone. Big beaches, small beaches, Shaded beach stretches, family-friendly resort beaches, beaches for snorkeling and water sports, and even some unofficial hidden nude beaches. We have compiled a list of the best beach experiences.
Watch Muay Thai Fights or try a Gym
While there are some experiences where visitors to the island stay amongst themselves, there are also some great opportunities to dive into the fascinating Thai culture. One opportunity is to dive into Muay Thai Kickboxing. This unique Thai martial art can be experienced in various. There are public box nights which give allow you to mingle with the most diverse crowd – or you can visit several Muay Thai gyms and do a beginner´s class.
Buzzing Street Markets and Thai Food Lover’s Night Markets
Every day there is a big food market in Thong Sala, just a few hundred meters from the central pier. There are open-air food stands with a wide variety of affordable local and international food options. You can grab something to eat right there or for takeaway. Also, parts of the market are covered so can enjoy the food even if it´s raining. Recently, there is also an open-air food market opened in the center of Sri Thanu.
Discover the spiritual side of Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan has long time been home to a Buddhist temple. Since the 1980s, western Hippies started to discover the island. The famous trace of western tourists is the Full Moon Party, the other unique trace is the sparkling “conscious” community, which competes with the likes of Goa and Bali.
The flocking of a spiritual-seeking tribe led to the establishment of a wide variety of wellness offerings, such as Yoga or Wellness Spas.