Ko Pha Ngan is an island off the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand forming part of the Chumphon Archipelago. Located halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao it is known as a land of coconut trees and the world (in) famous full moon parties.
The best time to visit the island and also high season is during December-March when the water is high, clean, and good for swimming. It’s also not rainy and temperatures are pleasant. Another high season time is during July/August after dry season when the water is rising. Avoid visiting the island during dry season, Apr-Jun, when all of the best beaches on the northwest coast (Mae Haad, Haad Yao, Chalok Lam, Haad Khom) are useless for swimming due to shallow water. Swimming in this season is possible only on the north coast on beautiful Bottle Beach , less accessible east coast (Thong Nai Pan, Haad Sadet, Haad Rin), where the only beach with good access and swimming is Haad Rin, which is not as crowded at this time. The south coast should be avoided all year due to bad water and sand.
History of Koh Phangan : Not much is known for certain about the history of Koh Phangan. The oldest structure on the island is Wat Nai Chedi which is believed by the Thai authorities to have been constructed around 1800 by the first Buddhist monks to have settled on the island. Ancient artefacts have been discovered on koh Samui but nothing of the same archaeological significance is known to have been discovered on Koh Phangan. There is much speculation as to the early history of Koh Phangan with the first settlers on the island thought to have been either the Moken People or the Semang People.
Access : Coordinates : 9.75, 100.033333 / By plane : Via Koh Samui Airport : The closest airport is Ko Samui (USM) which has frequent flights from Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore, Hong Kong and several direct flights each week from Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur. Transportation to the ferry dock is easy to find at the airport. Ferries depart several times a day with the last one around dusk. Flights to Ko Samui are much more expensive than to Chumphon or Surat Thani. Alternative , access Via Chumphon Airport , Via Surat Thani Airport .
By boat : From Ko Samui : There are at least 3 ferries a day from Ko Samui’s “Big Buddha” pier directly to Haad Rin. Ferries also leave from Nathon and Mae Nam piers to Thong Sala several times a day. Fast Lomprayah catamaran costs 300 baht (3 times a day), while Songserm Express 200 baht (twice a day).
Watch out for scammers at Ko Samui airport who try to sell you a bus/boat combo for an exorbitant price. Make sure to walk towards the exit of the airport where there is an Information counter and taxi stands.
From Ko Tao and Chumphon : there is fast Lomprayah catamaran operating twice a day to Ko Tao for 450 baht at 08:30 and 13:00 or leaving Ko Tao for Ko Pha Ngan at 09:30. The ride between these islands takes 1.25 hours. A cheaper, but slower ferry operates from Ko Pha Ngan to Ko Tao by Songserm express and costs 350 baht, leaving Ko Pha Ngan at 12:30, and takes 1.5-2 hours.
From Surat Thani : night ferry leaving at 23:00 from Surat Thani city (walking distance from bus stations Talat Kaset 1 and 2) arrives at Thong Sala pier-Ko Pha Ngan at 06:00 and costs 400 baht for a space on a mattress on the boat. The night ferry leaves from Thong Sala-Ko Pha Ngan for Surat Thani at 22:00 for 400 baht arriving around 05:00-06:00. Songserm Express boat from Surat Thani city or train station including bus transfer costs 350 baht and takes around 3.5 hours
By train, boat, and bus : An overnight train from Bangkok is an interesting option. Trains arrive in Surat Thani or Chumphon, and from there you can transfer by bus and then boat. Chumphon is the option if you’re planning to stop at Ko Tao, but if you’re heading straight to Ko Pha Ngan, consider Surat Thani. Both stations are on the southbound Hay Yai line, but arrival times in Chumphon (when using night trains) are annoyingly early in the morning. For example, the (recommended) express train number #85 arrives around 04:00 after which you’ll have to wait about 3 hours for the ferry. On the other hand, if you continue down to Surat Thani you can sleep an extra 3-4 hours plus you will arrive in daylight. Considering the waiting time in Chumphon and the longer ferry trip you will eventually get to Ko Pha Ngan at about the same time.
Combined train-bus-boat tickets can be bought direct from the official Advance Booking Counter at Hualamphong station in Bangkok, although if your train is late, and your boat is already gone then you will have to pay extra for the next boat. Moreover, the ticket bus-boat is sold 550 bath at Hualamphong train station while you can pay it 400bath once arrived at Surat Thani. Thus the joint ticket may not be the best choice.
If e-booking is not available or not suitable to you for some reason, train tickets may be reserved up to 60 days in advance and paid for by email. In reality, the Thai authorities are lax in returning emails and/or will give the runaround, or flat-out refuse to reserve seats for non-Thais during peak travel periods (Dec-Jan and the Songkran holiday in Apr). If your heart is set on going by train, start early, be persistent, and have a backup plan to go by bus or plane
Highlights & beaches :
- Thong Sala ( The island’s “capital” and main ferry port )
- Ao Nai Wok ( Also known as Baan Manali Beach from the hotel of the same name, is a quiet bay with a long white sandbar in front of it )
- Sri Thanu ( A volcanic peninsula to the south of Haad Son and Haad Yao with bays and beaches )
- Haad Son ( A beautiful small bay with a beach and nice wate )
- Haad Chao Phao ( A small quiet beach on the western shore of Ko Pha Ngan. It has some resorts and bungalows offering budget rooms with full facilities )
- Haad Yao ( A long white sandy beach just north of Haad Chao Phao )
- Haad Salad ( An idyllic cove with several high-end resorts on the northwestern part of the island )
- Than Sadet-Ko Pha Ngan National Park ,Visit the beautiful waterfalls and lookouts in the interior of the island ,The herbal sauna at Wat Pho with separated men/women rooms is a great relief after long party nights
- Visit Ko Maa off the northwest coast of Ko Pha Ngan. It offers one of the best snorkeling places on the island , On the road between Thong Sala and Chalok Lam is a beautiful Chinese Temple (40 baht for entrance) overlooking Chalok Lam Bay
- There are elephant camps on the way from Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan , Mae Haad ( Wide sandy beach joined to Koh Mah, a national marine park )
- Thonglang Bay ( Between Chalok Lam and Haad Mae Haad Mae Haad, this almost undiscovered bay offers a delightful and peaceful escape from the crowds )
- Chalok Lam ( Fishing village with a picturesque beach in a long beautiful sandy bay at the northern tip of the island )
- Bottle Beach ( Also called “Haad Khuat”, one of the most isolated beaches on the island ) Thong Nai Pan ( Scenic area on the northeastern part of the island )
- Haad Thien ( Home of the Sanctuary Resort, a hip, up-scale resort with a nice vibe )
- Haad Yuan ( A nice sandy beach on the southeastern corner. A hop away from Haad Rin if you would like to get away from the party crowd )
- Haad Rin ( The most touristy/crowded village )
- Ban Kai ( Between Ban Tai and Haad Rin this beach offers an idyllic setting, just minutes from the Full Moon Party )
- Ban Tai ( Facing Ko Samui, the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach on the entire island.)
Activities : Archery , Explore the beauty of Pha Ngan Island, through exciting day, evening and adventure tour , Freediving , Full Moon Party , Jungle Experience , Hiking can be done all around the island , Muay Thai gyms such as “Jungle Gym” in Haad Rin and Thong Sala , Scuba Diving , Snorkeling , Watersports , Yoga is offered at multiple locations including Agama Yoga ,