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A Guide to Koh Phangan


I'm rarely NOT daydreaming about a beach vacation, and more often than not, I'm on the white sandy beaches of Thailand in one of these reveries. If you've been to Thailand, you know what I'm talking about; the food and drinks are amazing and affordable, the locals are friendly and easy-going, the beaches and scenery are breathtaking, and the vibe is just absolute paradise! Since living in Taiwan I've been fortunate to visit Thailand a few times, and the laid-back island of Koh Phangan is one of my absolute favorite destinations for an unforgettable and relaxing beach vacation.


If you're planning on traveling to Thailand, I'd highly recommend adding Koh Phangan to your list. If you're into partying and a vibrant nightlife, make sure to book your stay on the day of (and leading up to) a full moon, for the world famous Full Moon Party on Haad Rin beach. (I attended one when I was still a spry twenty-something and it was legendary!). But, don't write off Koh Phangan if you're not a party animal; Koh Phangan is as low-key and chill as it comes when it's not the Full Moon Party week. And you can also opt to stay on the other side of the island if you don't want to be close to the ruckus.

In this guide I'll cover everything you need to know about getting to Koh Phangan, places I recommend you to stay, some things to do, and a few places you should grab a bite or a beverage. Also, find a handy map at the end of this post with exact locations of each place mentioned in this guide.



GETTING THERE & AROUND


There is no working airports on Koh Phangan, so the fastest way to get there is to fly into nearby Koh Samui's airport and take a ferry or speedboat from there to Koh Phangan. Most hotels offer a complimentary transfer from the pier to your hotel in a van, but there's also the option to take a taxi.


BANGKOK to KOH SAMUI


Airplane - There are frequent flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Koh Samui's Airport (USM) daily. The flight duration can be anything from 1h05m to 1h30m, and Bangkok Airways is a good choice. Koh Samui's airport is tiny and easy to navigate; here you can easily purchase a SIM card (very affordable!) and your ferry or speedboat tickets.


KOH SAMUI to KOH PHANGAN


Ferry or Speed Boat - Purchase your ferry or speedboat tickets at Koh Samui's airport. (No need to buy them online before your trip, although you can check out the timetables and prices here.) This ticket will include a van transfer to the ferry pier where they depart. Before buying your tickets, establish whether you should arrive into the Haad Rin Pier or the Thong Sala Pier in Koh Phangan. (This will depend on the location of your accommodation. Ask your hotel or check on Google Maps.) The Thong Sala Pier is on the southwest side of Koh Phangan, and Haad Rin Pier on the southeast side. The ferry will take roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes and a speedboat around 30 minutes.


PIER to HOTEL


Hotel Shuttle Transfer - Contact your hotel before your trip to arrange your pickup (this is a complimentary service of most hotels). You will have to tell them your estimated time of departure from Koh Samui's pier, and a representative will meet you when you arrive at the pier in Koh Phangan.


Shared or Private Taxis - If you can't organize pickup beforehand, you can also just get a taxi at the pier. Make sure you have the name of the hotel on you to show the driver. You can get in a shuttle taxi that stops at a few other hotels, or a private one that takes you straight to your hotel.

Arriving at Haad Rin Pier on Koh Phangan from Koh Samui


WHERE TO STAY


When looking for accommodation for our first four days in Koh Phangan, we wanted to be at a quiet place that had a nice beach and a pool, and that was still in walking distance to the restaurants, bars and shops of Haad Rin. Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa, on Leela Beach, was exactly what we were looking for! The resort is beautiful with a huge private beach, and is a quick 5-minute walk to the lively area of Haad Rin. (There wasn't a Full Moon Party during our stay, so I can't tell you 100% that you won't be able to hear music from the resort on those nights.)


The resort has a big selection of room types, a very nice restaurant, two bars, a lovely (and affordable) spa and a well-equipped fitness room. We stayed in the Cliff Bungalow room, which offers lots of privacy, has a balcony, and is spacious and comfortable. We absolutely LOVED our stay here and highly recommend it! It's one of our personal favorite places we've ever stayed at in Thailand. I'd definitely stay at Cocohut again next time I go to Koh Phangan.

Cliff Bungalow rooms at Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

The Cocohut Spa at Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

Gorgeous sunset at Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

Watch the sunset from the floating pier at Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa

We wanted to mix things up a bit and also stayed at the beautiful Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa which is located in the North Eastern side of the island at the popular Thong Nai Pan Noi area. This luxurious 5-star resort has excellent reviews, and boasts panoramic sea views, two swimming pools, a private beach, a spa, fitness center and three restaurants. The service at this resort is impeccable, and we stayed in one of their Hideaway Pool Villas. They have plenty of room options, but we were obsessed with this amazing private villa.


More places to stay in Koh Phangan: Sarikantang Resort & Spa, Panviman Resort, Buri Rasa, Anantara Rasananda, The Cabin Beach Resort, Sand In My Shoes Beach Loft

One of the three restaurants at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The private beach at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The Hideaway Pool Villa at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The Hideaway Pool Villa at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The Hideaway Pool Villa at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The Hideaway Pool Villa at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The Hideaway Pool Villa at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

One of the three restaurants at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa

The pool at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa


WHERE TO EAT & DRINK


Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa Restaurant - We ate at our resort's restaurant often, as they offer a wide variety of cuisines. A huge breakfast buffet was included in our room rate and we enjoyed all the options of fruits, baked goods, eggs, fresh juices and lots more in the mornings. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and every single meal we had there was delicious, especially their local fare. They also have a bar on the beach where we got drinks throughout the day, and we especially loved having cocktails there during sunset.


Mamas Schnitzel Chicken Sandwich - This might sound like the most random thing to eat on a Thai island, but these chicken sandwiches are legendary and has been a fixture in the Haad Rin area for many moons. Highly recommend it if you need a little break from all the delicious local food.


OM Ganesh Indian Restaurant - On a friend's recommendation we had to try out this popular Indian food restaurant in Haad Rin. (We love Indian cuisine and didn't need much convincing!). It was fantastic and we had a wonderful meal, and it's not to be missed!


Baan Tapannoi Restaurant - We had a lovely afternoon stroll on the Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, and decided to try this spot for a refreshing drink. Here you can sit with your toes in the sand, enjoy the view and listen to the waves crashing on the beach.


By The Sea Restaurant & Bar - This restaurant is one of Santhiya Resort's eateries, and a great place to get a light lunch and a couple of drinks. The view is beautiful and the vibe is super laid-back. We went there a few times, and were pleasantly surprised at their mouthwatering pizza!


More places to eat and drink: I Sapori Ristorante, My Friends Restaurant, Harbour House, Maddy's Kitchen, House of Hummus, Tukta, That's Amore, Valentino Restaurant & Wine Bar

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa restaurant

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa restaurant

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa beach bar

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa restaurant

Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa beach bar

Mamas Schnitzel Chicken Sandwich

Mamas Schnitzel Chicken Sandwich

OM Ganesh Indian Restaurant

OM Ganesh Indian Restaurant

Baan Tapannoi Restaurant



THINGS TO DO


As little as possible - We were super lazy on this trip and spent most of our time eating, drinking, swimming and reading on the beach under a palm tree. Koh Phangan is perfect for chilling, and like I mentioned before, if you're not there the week leading up to a Full Moon Party, it's really so quiet and relaxed everywhere.


Drinks at sunset - This was one of our favorite activities; from Leela Beach you really get to witness a magical sunset. We loved getting a cocktail (or three) from our resort's beach bar and soak in the beauty of the skies at sunset.


Walking around Haad Rin - Haad Rin has plenty of little shops and boutiques to browse where you can get anything from swimwear and beach ware to accessories and other trinkets. There are also lots of spas, tattoo parlors, bars, restaurants, pharmacies and convenience stores.


Spa treatments and massages - You can't beat a massage in Thailand; FACT! It's affordable, relaxing and SOOOO goooood! You can shop around at different spas which are found all over the island. We booked treatments at our own resort (Cocohut Spa), and enjoyed a couple's massage for what felt like a lifetime (and we didn't want it to end!).

Watching the sunset from Leela Beach

Watching the sunset from Leela Beach

Exploring, shopping and browsing the little streets of Haad Rin

Exploring, shopping and browsing the little streets of Haad Rin

Streets of Haad Rin

Couples massages at Cocohut Spa



GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO


When to go - The high season in Thailand is considered from November to March, but Koh Phangan is good to visit year-round. You might encounter some afternoon showers during the summer months, but it usually only lasts a couple of hours.


Renting a scooter/motorbike - There are MANY places to rent scooters and motorbikes all over Koh Phangan, and it's very affordable. But, keep in mind that Koh Phangan is infamous for its road accidents, so don't rent a scooter or motorbike if you're not familiar with driving one. Always wear a helmet and don't drink and drive.


Get travel insurance - You should ALWAYS get travel insurance anyway. I recommend World Nomads.


SIM Cards and data - Get a SIM card at the airport you fly into (you'll need to show your passport), they cater specifically to tourists. We recommend True, DTAC and AIS.


Cash and credit cards - Cash is king in Thailand, although you can also use your credit card and debit cards. Unfortunately, credit card information theft is common in Thailand, so I recommend you to draw cash at the airport when you arrive, or to even get some Thai Baht before you travel.



A Guide to Koh Phangan MAP

Have fun planning your trip to Thailand, and please contact us at hello@astylealike.com if you have any questions about our guide, we are always happy to help!

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