A few years ago I did the classic backpacking trip through South East Asia and my most favourite spot along the way was Koh Phangan, so much so that I stayed there a month and even went to the visa office on Koh Samui to extend my stay. Here are my top ten things that I experienced on this beautiful island that I would happily recommend to my fellow travellers.
An incredibly beautiful secluded beach, only accessible by boat or an intense four-wheel-drive route through the trees. There is a selection of accommodation for different budgets, I stayed in the beach huts without running water which was very humbling. You will get to know your fellow castaways as you are marooned together on this unique and stunning Koh Phangan beach.
My favourite bar on the island, the friendly faces and hippie decor make it feel like you are sitting in someone’s living room. When the tide goes out you can take your drink and walk out onto the sandbanks and chill out in the shallow waters. What makes this bar extra special is that there is a leather works attached, I had the most beautiful Guns n’ Roses leather satchel hand carved.
3.Haad Yao Divers
Any of my avid readers will know that I absolutely hate scuba diving. I have dived in some really beautiful spots and almost completed my PADI before I threw in the towel (literally) for good. That was until Haad Yao Divers convinced me to give it another try. They gave me my own personal instructor who looked after only me and we went at our own pace separate from the group. This customer service was so special to me, plus my instructor was so cool, he had crashed his plane a few days before and arrived on a motorbike – enough said.
4.Haad Khom Beach
In my opinion the best beach on the island, it’s secluded and not too busy so you can really relax and enjoy. You can rent beach bungalows that sit at the edge of the beach, some are minimal without electricity or running water and others are a bit more upmarket. Don’t forget to head down the beach and meet Duk Dik the enormous beach pig.
5.Party until the sun comes up at the Full Moon Party
The Full Moon Party is the main reason why a lot of travellers head to Koh Phangan. Because of this, many often miss the rest of the island. With that being said it is definitely a must-experience. Slide down from a bar, limbo under a flaming pole, drink vodka from a bucket and party until the sun comes up. The Full Moon Party gives you the ultimate sense of freedom!
6.Partake in activities
There are many activities on Koh Phangan to partake in. One of the most popular being yoga (there are retreats available). I personally loved archery, it was cheap to do and the staff helped out so much in teaching me. Having one-on-one training in a sport I had never done before was great. I left with a bullseye – if you know how bad I am at sports is actually pretty impressive. Kudos to the ladies at Bow & Arrow Club!
7.Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter opens many doors on an island like Koh Phangan. It gives you the freedom to explore wherever you want without having to worry about getting a lift or a driver. Some of the roads are unsealed so care should be taken. You can fuel up at any of the shops on the roadside which makes life very easy. Make sure you request a helmet. A lot of backpackers fly around without one but it’s not your driving it’s the others you should worry about. I have seen many crashes and falls and they are not pretty!
8.Visit A Temple
There are more than 20 temples on Koh Phangan. Whether you are looking to soak up the culture, pay your respects or admire the general splendor everyone is welcome. During my trip to one temple on the island, I was invited to talk and have tea with a monk which was such a beautiful experience. Pictured above is Wat Maduea Wan, one of the more extravagant temples of Koh Phangan.
9.Mama Poohs Kitchen
Vegan-friendly and extremely down-to-earth, Mama Poohs Kitchen will have you guessing at first glance. Situated outdoors with a tiny kitchen you can see into, you may wonder if you found the right place. As the name suggests it is like eating at mum’s house, with a bunch of hippies, in a tropical climate…
10.Sunset at Amsterdam Bar
Perched on top of an unfinished hotel sits Amsterdam Bar. You would never know this bar was here and yet once you get up there the atmosphere is buzzing. You can buy rolled splifs from behind the bar and relax with a drink on loungers. Chat with fellow backpackers and watch the sun go down from the treetops. Just one thing to note. Drug penalties are high in Thailand, always be careful and don’t carry any on your person.
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