Thailand's South

KO PHA-NGAN

Global Mark : 13.53 (down)

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 1 2 1 2 5 5 2 12.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
29 90% (26) 83% (24) 86% (25) 4 to 20 15.07


Description :
The backpacker's heaven of the east coast

Comments : This big island has been popular for a century or so for its full moon parties. Nowadays, it has also replaced over-touristy Ko Samui as the place to relax and forget it all.

What to do ? Select your paradise  / Stop talking for 10 days, the time of a great meditation retreat (see below) / Alternatively (a totally different experience), rave all night with thousands of other backpackers / Splash at waterfalls / Snorkel toward scared colorful fishes /  

What you may not like ?  The size & hills of the island making motorbike the only option to independently travel around / Getting caught by officials with drug during the full moon party / The lack of good choice for food / The lack of choice for diving : only one company (at 3 locations) charging B2000 per day for two dives / The travelers' invasion before each full moon and the logical difficulty to find good accomodation / The popularity of the meditation retreat, making a last minute acceptance very unlikely / 

How long ? At least 3 days. One week is more likely. 

When to go ? April to June is the best time to visit : less tourists and good weather. December to March & summer are crowded. July to late October is humid.


On what beach ? 

  • Laem Hat Rin in the South-East : where the full moon parties take place, those two beaches are the most developed and expensive of the island. Count on B100-150 for a basic bungalow
  • Ban Khai & Ban Tai : just west of the above, cheaper prices and more isolation between two small villages. Wat Khao Tam is also nearby.
  • Ao Mae Hat in the North-West : the beach is nothing special but the tiny opposite island of Ko Mae was recommended and there is some coral
  • Bottle Beach (Hat Khuat) in the North : this small bay was recommended as offering good

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels


Backpacker's Tips :  Sian Roberts, Welsh (Aug ust 05)
We stayed in Haad Salat on the North West coast of Ko Pha Ngan and found ourselves drawn back when we left. Beautiful  beaches, lovely people - look out for My Way bar for happy  hour and the Had Salat Villas for the cheapest and by far the nicest bungalows we found anywhere. Chaloklum is also well worth a visit - Nongnook seafood restaurant serves incredible barbeque fish really cheaply and Sheesha bar, while really really expensive for the island is one of the best anywhere. If you can afford a splurge the cocktails will be remembered for a long long time, and the sheeshas are pretty cool too. Greenpeace in Ban Kai is also a really good alternative accommodation for budget conscious people during the full moon parties as they don't put the prices up - 100B per night - and the food's amazing. 10 minute taxi will get you right into Had Rin. 

Backpacker's Tips : Wim, Holland (Nov 04)
 I visited Koh Phayam in November 2004. They make promotion with the slogan ' We are Koh Samui of the '80's It's true. It is still a paradise with only cheap bungalows. No cars, only motobikes on the island. I stayed in Bamboo Bungalows. They have bungalows for 100-400 Baht. Friendly staff and a top restaurant. But be fast, already 1 more expensive resort and electricity will be available in 6 months

Backpacker's Tips : ohan v/d Berg, Canada (April 03)
 The island is more laid back than Koh Samui and less expensive.The best snorkeling and diving beach is Mae Haad on the northeast side of the island. E-mail is now about 1 baht a min. If you want to learn how to dive it is a better place than Koh Tao because the dive shop I went with has very small classes Max 4 students plus free accommodation and they teach at the resort that you stay. Check it out at www.kohphangandiving.com .

Backpacker's Tips : Tim, Germany (July 02)
 New Bungalows, of the beaten track : Kung Bungalow, 01 8915592 (mobile in Thailand). Call for a Lift one Day in advance or walk from Haad Sadet or the Main Road (1.5 hr/4 km or motorbike (advanced reservation). There is no regular Taxi service. 20 min walk to the beach, only few people, bad road (free taxi). Jungle surrounding, waterfall and view near infinity (30-40miles).

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Harvard, South Africa (March 02)
 Now for heaven where you could spend a life-time but at least a week.... Laem Son Bungalow 1 (01-8566027) in northwest Koh Phangan. "Chai" and "Gar" are wonderful hosts who will look after you. Not pushy but really deserve the business. Warning: their hammocks are very addictive. You will find yourself sleeping day and night with no energy to even read! Log fires, chill out wooden deck, good food...

Internet ? Expensive on the island. 

Motorbike ? B150 per day in most places. 

A Vipassana Meditation Experience ? Steve & Rosemary Weissman have been organizing meditation retreats at nice Wat Kow Tahm since 1988 and those are an excellent reason to visit Ko Pha-Ngan. I did one in 1995 and it changed my life (for the better, of course) ! How could it be otherwise : near complete silence and isolation on a hilltop temple during 10 days, wake up at 4am for more than 9 hours of various meditations techniques, great vegetarian meals, awakening to some of the Buddhism precepts (you do not have to be Buddhist),... This kind of program will obviously not suit all and a few people usually abandon and leave after a few days (for a full moon party ?). But others keep coming back for more and the retreats are now so popular that it is essential to register by writing well in advance. The cost is B2,900 for the 10 days retreat.  Information at the following web site or by writing : Wat Kow Tahm International Meditation Center, PO Box 18, Ko Pah-Ngan, Surat Thani, 84280, Thailand. They have also an email address (watkowtahm@watkowtahm.org) but I don't think the temple is equipped with internet...

  Wat Kow Tam's Retreat


Next destination : Ko Tao / Ko Samui