Ko Pha Ngan is an island located in Surat Thani province. It is also one of the three islands on the gulf coast of Thailand, situated in between the touristy island of Ko Samui and the diving island of Ko Tao. Ko Pha Ngan is very popular on the backpackers map and most commonly known for its famous Full Moon Party held every month. Ko Pha Ngan is more to it than that. It is not only a home to calm waters and beautiful white sand beaches, it also has a lot of wellness centers offering detox and yoga retreats. It is also popular with independent travelers looking to go away from the much developed island of Ko Samui.
I went to Ko Pha Ngan with four friends whom I met while I was living in Chiang Mai. Since I was traveling with friends, I was more on vacation mode rather than backpacking mode. When I got there it was such a surprise. I never thought tha Ko Pha Ngan would be a great place for sun, sand, beach and relaxation. Since I went to the islands of the Andaman coast first before the gulf coast, I didn’t expect much as the islands on the gulf coast. Surprisingly, Ko Pha Ngan was a great vacation spot.
How To Get To Ko Pha Ngan
Getting to any part of Thailand is very easy. When doing the islands, it will be a combination of bus and ferry transport. Since I had to do a visa run to get an additional 30 days in Thailand, I had to fly to another country- Malaysia, then I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Surat Thani. Surat Thani is the major city in Southern Thailand that has bus and ferry connections to the islands on the gulf coast. Ko Samui has its own airport too but tickets it’s more expensive to fly here than Ko Pha Ngan. The bus from Surat Thani airport to the pier takes about 2 hours and then the slow ferry from the pier to Ko Phangan takes another 2 hours.
Thong Sala Beach
(The beach in Pha Ngan Villas restaurant taken from my iPhone)
The ferry lands right in the capital of the island in Thong Sala. Thong Sala is located at the southern part of the island and is where the banks, gasoline stations, Saturday walking street and night market are located. The first four nights that I was there, I stayed at the Phangan Villas. Phangan Villas is a family owned guesthouse located in Thong Sala. I was able to get the THB 500 a night room for THB 350 ($12)since I was staying for 4 nights. I split the room with a friend so it came up to $6 a night. It was a great deal considering it’s a minute walk to the beach. I highly recommend Phangan Villas because of its location and proximity to beach and walking distance to town. It was a great place to relax, sleep on those hammocks and great conversations with friends. The only thing that I didn’t like with their beach is that the water is shallow. You can walk a kilometer and it will still be shallow. But in the morning, it goes high tide. I like morning swims anyway because it’s not too hot yet.
Haad Salad Beach
I stayed in Ko Pha Ngan for two weeks but had to move to Haad Salad during the full moon party since the accommodations in Thong Sala are fully booked. There are some availability but when I was scouting, a regular room that would normally cost THB 500 will be THB 1000 for full moon party week. So my friend and I had to move somewhere else. I chose Haad Salad, which is far from Haad Rin, where the full moon party beach is.
(Haad Salad beach view from Cookies Restaurant)
Haad Salad is a beautiful white sandy beach located on the Northwestern part of the island. There are a lot of fancy accommodations in this area but there are also good accommodations for low budget travelers. My friends and I moved to Haad Salad after checking a couple of bungalows in the area. I always get really good value for money accommodations because I don’t book my accommodations in advance. It’s also a chance for me to negotiate room rate. A lot of good accommodations in South East Asia don’t have its own website so the best bet is always to walk around, get a feel of the area and the place where you want to stay (I’m very very particular with this one- that’s another blog topic). Eventually, we got the best accommodation in the area- Sea Salad Resort.
(Our new home for the full moon party week! We LOVED the hammock!)
This bungalow is not only cozy with big windows and cool hammock. It also has a clean and nicest bathroom! Our place is also about two minute walk to beach. We totally loved our stay here! The guesthouse staff are also very helpful and friendly. I slipped and sprained my ankle while I was walking down the restaurant and a staff member gladly helped me. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!
Miss Annzventures Top Recommendations:
1. Explore the Island with a Motorbike
(Three farangs on a motorbike=One hell of a ride)
Ko Pha Ngan is not a very big island. It is smaller compared to its neighboring island, Ko Samui but bigger than Ko Tao. The best way to explore the island is none other than a moped. Motorbike rate starts at THB 150 per day, while a Songteaw taxi costs THB 100 per way.
2. Swim in Chaloklam Bay
Among the beaches in Ko Pha Ngan, the beach in Chaloklam is my favorite. Chaloklam bay is a picturesque, white sand beach. This beach can be easily reached using the main road going North of the island. The water here is stunning and not as shallow as the waters in Thong Sala and Haad Salad. There’s also a lot of good restaurants to eat and choose from. Overall, this is a great place to just chill, relax and swim!
3. Fruit Shakes!
(The best shakes in Ko Pha Ngan are made by this lady!)
It can be really really hot in the island and shakes from the night market are such a treat! Best of all, shake stalls are also open during the day! Anna’s recommendation: Banana+Passionfruit combo!
4. Eat, eat, eat
(Kay and I enjoying the view and our veggie enchiladas)
Thai food in general is delicious. It is also one of the best tasting food in the whole of South East Asia. I normally eat on streets as they are cheap and even better tasting than the food in restaurants. However, there are times when you do get enough of Thai food and look for “farang” (foreign food). We spent most of our days eating street foods but on our last day in Haad Salad, we opt for Mexican food in Cookies Resort. Not only did they have delicious veggie and cheese enchiladas, they also make terrific lassis! It’s also the place where I took that panoramic shot of Haad Salad Beach from the top.
5. Most of all, relax and have fun!
I couldn’t have chosen any other place for my two week vacation of sun, sand, sea and friends than Ko Pha Ngan!
Because life’s a beach,