The best thing to do in Koh Phangan is simply to lie on a white sandy beach and take in the breath taking scenery. However, once you unwind the chances are that you will be looking to see something of Koh Phangan, to take a few pictures and to store up a few precious memories of your holiday on the tropical paradise island. Below are my suggestions for the 5 best things to do in Koh Phangan
1) Go to a Party
Koh Phangan is wrongly called a party island. It is only Bantai and Haad Rin in the south that regularly stage big parties. The biggest party is the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin. It is a must-do for many South-East Asian backpackers and regularly pulls in crowds of over 20,000 people. It is an eye-opening party that has a carnival atmosphere. Just go easy on the buckets. The next biggest party is the Half Moon Party. It is held twice a month. The line-up at the Half Moon Party often includes Moscow Fish – a live band based on the island.
Other big techno / trance gatherings are the Black Moon Party, Jungle Experience and the Shiva Moon Party.
The parties cost a few hundred Thai Baht to enter and usually include a free drink. There is an all-night bar and plenty of food options at all the outdoor venues. The parties usually finish early the following morning. Most go to bed before then but a few get second wind and go on to an after-party.
2) Snorkeling at Koh Ma
Koh Ma is located in the north-west corner of the island. It is Koh Phangan’s only marine park. The beach is called Mae Haad. There is a sand bank that joins the beach to a small island. Near the sand bank there is a coral reef system rich in marine life that is easy to swim to.
You can expect to spot a variety of corals and fish that includes bannerfish, barracuda and grouper. If you are lucky you might spot a turtle.
There are tours of Koh Phangan that normally include Koh Ma. Alternatively you can pick up a cheap snorkel and mask at Thongsala and make your own way over to Mae Haad.
3) Experience the Jungle at Than Sadet
90% of Koh Phangan remains virgin rainforest. It thus makes sense to experience the jungle to get a better feel for the island. You can do this at a party or, alternatively, you can visit the waterfalls at Than Sadet. It is a famous national park that has been visited by a number of Kings of Thailand including the much-loved King Rama V.
It is a series of waterfalls set in a beautiful forest. You can sit in some of the rock pools and cool off and you can follow the waterfall. There is also a trail to follow out to a view point over the bay.
The best way to get to Than Sadet is to catch a boat to the small beach of Haad Than Sadet on the east coast, just below Thong Nai Pan. From the beach it is a short walk to the waterfalls. The alternative is a bumpy road. The turning to Than Sadet is on the road between Thong Nai Pan and Bantai.
4) The Chinese Temple
Legend has it that Mrs. Malawan visited the island and had a dream that she had to build a temple on the island. She raised the money and the result is the Chinese Temple in the northern hills of Koh Phangan. The temple is just off the main Thongsala to Chaloklum road. You climb a series of steps up giant granite rocks and then are rewarded with a stone courtyard flanked by temple buildings and a long view of unbroken jungle.
It is possible to visit the temple in the afternoon and have the whole place to yourself. It is a great way to get a feel for the religious atmosphere of Koh Phangan – serene and meditative.
5) Night Market in Thongsala
Since Thailand is so hot the night market up and down the country offers a place where people can take a stroll, have a snack and browse market stalls. It is a good place to catch Thais at play. It is also a great place to eat great cheap street food.
The night market in Koh Phangan is held in an open area just off the main road in Thongsala. There are a series of food stalls and a covered market next door. The market is open all day but it is most fun to visit at night and enjoy a few cheap cold beers and a curry.
Naturally seasoned Koh Phangan visitors and residents have their own personal favourite spots and activities. There are plenty more great scenic spots, temples, bars, restaurants and parties to enjoy.