Koh Pha Ngan is, along with Koh samui and Koh Tao, one of the 3 most famous islands in the Gulf of Thailand, and it is known mainly for the Full Moon Party, a huge and wild party that takes place every full moon night. However, this small and beautiful tropical paradise has much more to show you: white sand beaches lined by palm trees and transparent waters, and a mountainous interior region covered with thick jungle vegetation to explore.
Formerly this island was inhabited by the so-called Chao Le –also known as sea gypsies. Nowadays it is a tourist destination that still retains its charming atmosphere and attracts many tourists, thanks to its beautiful beaches, great sunset and jungles that, all together, make it a wonderful tropical paradise.
ℹ️ Top Things to Do in Koh Pha Ngan
Full Moon Party
The famous Full Moon Party is a kind of huge and crazy backpacker rave that has made Koh Phangan known all over the world. It is celebrated every full moon night on Haad Rin Nok beach, in the southeast extreme point of the island. The party begins at nightfall, it gathers lot of people, alcohol and the beach becomes a wide dance floor with different areas with music for all tastes, between jugglers, fire shows and fireworks.
Ang Thong National Park
Ang Thong Marine National Park, (Mu Ko Ang Thong) is a natural reserve park composed by 42 charming small virgin islands where you will find some of the best beaches in Thailand. In the islands of the marine parks it cannot be built, so its beaches have not been victims of the real estate boom. You can go there by speedboat or boat tours that offer you to visit some islands, do snorkel, and they include meals.
Although much less popular than its neighbor Koh Tao, in Koh Pha Ngan you can see corals and colorful fish as well. Besides, has the advantage that there are much fewer people looking for diving, so the groups trend to be smaller and the diving areas near the island are much less crowded. The surroundings of the islets of Koh Ma and Koh Tae Nok, as well as several points on the west coast between them, are the most popular diving areas on this island.
Sail Around the island beaches
On a full-day boat excursion around the island you will see some of the best beaches, enjoy sunbathe on its sand, swimming in the sea, and go snorkeling. It is an excursion offered by all the small agencies on the island, although in fact it is quite easy to do it on your own, by chartering one of the traditional long-tail boats on Haad Rin beach. Be aware of choosing the beaches well, due to if you pick many of them you may have short time to enjoy each one.
Relax in a bar with nice view
Due to the mountainous orography of the islands of Thailand, one of the most recommended activities on the mainland is to climb up to the top of the best located peaks to enjoy spectacular scenic views. In Koh Pha Ngan there are several options, but also there are plenty of panoramic bars nearby the beach. You can find some of them around the beaches of Haad Plai Laem, Haad Salad and Mae Haad.
Climb Khao Ra Mountain
It is the highest peak on the island and rises to 625 meters above sea level: a good half-day excursion for those nature lovers who want to go hiking and enjoy the magnificent views. The path is narrow, signposted and it only require you to be in acceptable physical condition. The excursion will take you about 2 or 3 hours (round trip) depending on your pace. Don’t forget to bring water, a hat and sunscreen to avoid problems with heat.
Learn a new hobby
If you plan to spend a longer time in Koh Pha Ngan, want to be active and have new exciting experiences, Koh Phangan offers many options to practice or take introductory courses to various sports and activities such as muay thai – Thai wrestling -, kite surfing, wakeboarding , windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, etc. There are many and vaiety options to try!
In Koh Pha Ngan, you can combine your rest with activities aimed at well-being and spirituality. Here you will find several centers and resorts that offer activities such as spa, yoga, meditation, among others dedicated to personal and spiritual development, that can take one morning, day or longer. Be aware that the offer is more like “western style” (don’t look for learning about Buddhism here). Here you have more info about Yoga in Thailand.
Pantit night food market
The Pantip Food Market, also known as Thong Sala Night Market is open from monday to Friday between 4 and 10 pm, and it is located on the main road of Koh Pha Ngan. On saturdays it is move to the road parallel to the Pier, also is bigger and more active. Although visit it is a nice experience and you can find delicious food, for buying goods and souvenir this market here is more expensive, so less convenient, than other markets in Thailand.
🏨 Where to stay in Koh Pha Ngan
Best Areas & Beaches in Koh Pha Ngan:
Almost all of tourist accommodation on Koh Pha Ngan are located in the vicinity of its beaches. The west, south, and western half of the north coast are connected by the main roads of the island, so these areas are the most accessible, developed and busy; besides, they have the largest beaches. On the other hand, the west coast and the eastern half of the north coast are more difficult to access, but they are quiter as well.
Best for: Backpacker and low budget traveler, but everyone can actually enjoy.
Accommodation available: Hostels, Cheap Bungalow and 3 to 4 star hotels.
✔️ Thong Sala has the main pier which conect the island with the rest of Thailand.
✔️ Has some beaches: Ao Ban Tai, Ao Ban Kai, Haad Rin Nai (Sunset Beach) and Haad Saikantang.
✔️ Very well conected with the rest of the island.
✔️ Phantip Night Food Market at Thong Sala.
✔️ You can find cheap accomodation.
Haad Rin Nok
Best for: Party animals! (when Full moon party take place) and backpacker.
Accommodation available: Hostels, Cheap Bungalow and 3 star hotels.
✔️ Full Moon party.
✔️ it is a tranquil beach the rest of the month.
✔️ It is one of the most beautiful beach in the island.
✔️ You can get great sunrise view here.
Best for: Family traveler and people who look for a quiet place to rest.
Accommodation available: Cheap bungalow and 3 to 5 star resort.
✔️ It has beaches like: Haad Rin Nok (Sunrise Beach), Haad Yuan, Haad Thian, Haad Wai Nam, Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai and Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi.
✔️ Calm beaches, good for swimming.
✔️ Nice local food restaurant.
Best for: Backpacker who prefer tranquil place.
Accommodation available: Cheap Bungalow and 3 to 4 star resort
✔️ Beaches you can find here: Haad Kuat (Bottle Beach), Chaloklam, Mae Haad.
✔️ Near Chaloklam there are most of diving related business.
✔️ Chaloklam offers good gastronomic options.
✔️ Haad Kuat is an isolated beach with good and cheap price accomodation.
✔️ Mae haad has one of the best coral area of the island. Very good to practice snorkeling.
Best for: Backpacker and visitors with low or mid budget.
Accommodation available: Cheap Bungalow, 3 and 4 star hotels.
✔️ It has beaches like: Haad Salad and Haad Chao Phao.
✔️ Haad Salad is a white sand beach good for family trip.
✔️ Haad Chao Phao is better for backpacker, good for swimming.
✔️ No mass tourism.
🏖️ Best beaches in Koh Pha Ngan
We’ve been to all of them, these are the best:
1️⃣ Haad Rin Nok (Sunrise Beach)
Wellknown because of its crazy Full Moon Party, this Beautiful beach has a lot of hotels and restaurants offer. When there is no party, it is a peaceful place where you can enjoy charming sunrises.
2️⃣ Haad Rin Nai (Sunset Beach)
Haad Rin Nai it’s very near Haad Rin Nok, if you decide to stay here you will be in a very good location. In this Beach you will enjoy magnificent sunsets from a beautiful swimming pool, like at The Coast Resort.
3️⃣ Leela Beach
Located behind Haad Rin Nok, beyond Haad Rin Nai area, for many visitor this is the best beach of Koh pha Ngan. Impressive and very beautiful, this charming piece of Paradise is an excellent place to relax and enjoy a bath.
4️⃣ Bantai Beach
This is the longest beach of Koh Pha Ngan. Despite being less impressive than the beaches already mentioned, it is very nice, also it is a very good place to get accommodation and stay in, with several option of good resorts.
5️⃣ Haad Chao Phao
It is a quiet beach, 1 km long, which offers several resorts and cheap bungalows backpacker and low budget traveler orientated. This is a very good zone for bath, swimming and relax – with not a lot tourists!
6️⃣ Bottle beach (Haad Kuat)
This is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and maybe the most isolated beach in Koh Pha Ngan. Getting there is a real adventure but it is worth it. You can get here by boat from Chaloklum or, more fun, by walking from Haad Khom Beach.
7️⃣ Haad Salad
This is a pretty White Sand beach, 600 m. long, located in the Northwest of Koh Pha Ngan. It is well conected with the rest of the Island, but still a calm place that is usually chosen for family tourist.
8️⃣ Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai & Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi
These are two of the most appealing beaches of Koh Pha Ngan, located in the most peaceful area of the island. Ideal place for relaxing in a quiet tropical place and going with the family. It has a good Hotels and restaurant offer too.
9️⃣ Mae Haad
It is a White Sand beach and a good place to do snorkelling. In front, the islet of Koh Mah, conected with the beach through a sandband when the tide is low, it has the best corals of the island.
🔟 Haad Yuan, Haad Thian & Haad Wai Nam
These three Little beaches are located to the north of Haad Rin Nok and you can get them by a short trip on boat. It is a quiet place, very good for swimming and relaxing, with different accommodation categories.
✈️ Getting to Koh Pha Ngan
From Bangkok, you can get there by combining plane, bus or train with boat:
Plane + boat
➡️ Easiest, fastest but more expensive option: Fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui Airport (USM) with Bangkok Airways. Then, take a boat to Koh Pha Ngan.
➡️ Cheaper way, but take more time: Flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Then take a bus to the pier and a boat to Koh Pha Ngan.
➡️ Only Bangkok Airways has flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui. If you fly to Surat Thani you will have more airlines available to choose.
Train and boat
➡️ From Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok, to Ban Song Station in Surat Thani takes 12-14 hours. Ticket prices between 300 and 1600 THB.
➡️ Then take a bus to the pier
➡️ At the pier you can get a ferry: you will be in Koh Pha Ngan in about 3 hours.
Bus and boat Station
➡️ From Bangkok, You can take a bus to Surat Thani at Sai Tai Mai bus station or at Khao San Road area, it takes 12-14 hours to get Surat Thani and other 4 hours to get Koh Pha Ngan.
➡️ Bus-ferry combined ticket pricecan cost between 700 and 1.000 THB.
➡️ Better to book your ticket in advance, overall during high season.