Koh Phangan is most widely known for its monthly Full Moon party that takes place on Haad Rin beach, but there are so many amazing things you have to see when you visit this idyllic island.
I’ve put together this blog post to show you my top tips for visiting Koh Phangan, as I feel like this is one of the places you need to be prepared for. From arranging your travel to the island, to organising day trips, this post should help you feel more confident about your trip to Koh Phangan.
Full moon party
Firstly, if you’re heading to Koh Phangan because you want to go to the Full Moon party, then you’ll need to check in advance when the parties will be held. Because, obviously, they are aligned to the lunar cycle.
You can check the Full Moon party schedule on their website.
The Full Moon party was something we knew we wanted to do when we visited Thailand, but I think we both knew it wouldn’t be 100% up our street. We’re both up for drinking, but all night long until 6am… I don’t think so!
It was extremely busy, as expected, and the roads are all closed off as there are so many people on the streets and on the beach. At each entrance to the strip there are one way systems put in place, and before you reach the beach you’re given a wristband that grants you entry, costing 100THB per person (about £2.50).
Getting a drink can be hard because of the sheer volume of people at each bar and each club, and the music is questionable… We went early, and we left early. But at least we can say we went!
How to get to Koh Phangan
So now you know when the Full Moon party will be, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to get there. As you can imagine, lots of tourists flock to the island for this event and the travel can become extremely busy due to it being an island, and the only way in is a boat!
Koh Phangan sits between the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui, so most ferries will have come from the mainland, to the other islands and then to Koh Phangan. This is why I would highly recommend booking your travel in advance, especially if you’re looking to travel to the island either the day of, or the day before the party.
When we were visiting we booked our transport in advance on the 12goAsia website and this cost just 300THB (around £7) per person.
Travel from the port to your destination
When you arrive on Koh Phangan you’ll come into a port called Thong Sala, and this isn’t anywhere near Haad Rin beach where the party takes place. Depending on where you’re staying I’d recommend catching a Songthaew (basically a shared open back taxi).
We found that the easiest way to organise this was actually on the ferry, as there was a guy from a taxi company coming round and taking payments in advance for bookings. He simply gave you a sticker and sent you to the taxi rank when you got there, grouped you with people going to similar areas, and you were on your way! Tickets were just 100THB (less than £2.50) per person and they dropped you off at your desired location.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan
If you want to be close to the party, then you’re best off staying in or near Haad Rin beach. This means you’ll be walking distance to the party. This part of the island is very secluded, so if you don’t stay here, you’ll need to catch a taxi to the event. What’s more, they close the main road into the beach on the evening of the Full Moon to prevent vehicular traffic, so I’d say it’s probably just easier to stay in Haad Rin.
There’s plenty of hostels in Haad Rin, and unexpectedly, some beach resorts if you’re looking for a bit more luxury. My first top tip for accommodation is to consider how long you want to be on the island, as most accommodation providers on Koh Phangan will require a 3 night minimum stay around the time of the Full Moon party. This proved to be a real problem for us as we had such a limited time for all our travels that we had only allowed for 2 nights on Koh Phangan… which meant we had very limited choice on where to stay.
My second top tip for accommodation is that if you’re going to stay in a hostel, try and find one with smaller dorm sizes. My reasoning for this is that the party goes on all night long, so if you are staying in a 12 person dorm, you really won’t get any sleep if you decide to come back to the hostel at a reasonable time. I’d say this as well because of safety and security, that you would be better off in a smaller dorm if you’re a solo traveller going to the Full Moon party.
Considering all of the above, we ended up at probably one of the worst hostels on the island, ironically named Lucky Hostel. We couldn’t find the hostel at all, until we managed to get someone to help us find it who redirected us to the back of a shop where it turns out the shop owner also owned the hostel above and across the road. We booked two beds in an en-suite four bed dorm and it turned out the room was not en-suite. We were sharing two toilets and two showers with our roommates and 12 people from the dorm next to us… false advertising or what!?
We actually had a really nice time in Koh Phangan despite the hostel, and we really didn’t spend that much time in the room, but having somewhere comfortable to sleep is really important when you’re travelling and exhausted. The mattresses in this hostel were ridiculously thin, and sleeping on them was a nightmare. I ended up having sleepless nights where my hips were in so much pain from sleeping on the thin mattresses… I had to laugh my way through it really so I didn’t cry!
Haad Rin bars and restaurants
Whilst we were on Koh Phangan we only really got to see the Haad Rin area and so only had the opportunity to eat and drink in restaurants and bars on the main strip, but if you look further afield there are probably much nicer restaurants and drinking spots.
My first recommendation for food in Haad Rin would be the Jungle Cafe on the main strip. This place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves cheap thai food and desserts. If you stay here for dessert you absolutely have to try their banana spring rolls and deep fried ice cream… they are divine!
Another restaurant I’d recommend would be the Italian restaurant located just opposite our hostel called Monnalisa. They have an extensive menu of pizzas and pasta, and they are always busy. They also didn’t mind you bringing in drinks from outside the restaurant so this is a bonus.
In terms of places to drink, you really are spoilt for choice. Up and down the main Haad Rin strip you’ll find lots of bars and even pop up bars that sell buckets of drinks along the streets. If you’re like me and you love a bit of cheesy music and throwback tunes, I’d recommend you head to the Drop-In bar on the beach front.
Things to see in Koh Phangan
When we eventually found our hostel we dumped the bags and headed out to explore the local area. At this point we were about a week into our trip so we wanted to do some washing, and luckily there was a laundrette right next to where we were staying. They did a bag of washing for us for 60 THB (about £1.50) so this was extremely cheap and we were able to pick it up the following day.
It was whilst we were in the laundrette that we found out about day trips around the island by Mingalaba Road Trips. The excursion cost 500THB per person (less than £13) and was a day trip from 10am – 5pm but we didn’t end up getting back from the trip until about 7pm so it was well worth the money. In a small group of just 8 people, you’re escorted round the island to see some of its spectacular beaches, waterfalls and viewpoints.
The first stop on our trip was Thong Nai Pan Yai beach, an absolutely stunning white beach that seemed to go on and on. On this beach there is a small beach bar if you wanted to get food or drink, and a little shop in case you’d prefer to take your snacks on the beach. We grabbed some food here as we weren’t sure if we would be stopping for lunch – I’d recommend you do the same if you’re going to head out on this trip.
Our second stop was a waterfall with multiple levels, but I couldn’t tell you the name of it as I really have no idea… The waterfall was so pretty and a lot of fun but it was quite dangerous. They let you swim in the waterfall and climb into the main bit where you can sit back against the wall and see the water falling in front of you, but it’s not easy to get to and I did injure my leg on the way back down…
After about an hour at the waterfall they then took us high up to a restaurant with a view point, but I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant. The food wasn’t that nice and the views weren’t that great unless you were sat by the windows, but hey ho, we didn’t have control over what we saw or did!
Post the late lunch they drove us down to Mae Haad Beach which looks out onto Koh Ma, and this was also gorgeous. There’s great opportunities here to snorkel, and you can walk through the shallow waters to the island of Koh Ma. We didn’t get the opportunity to do this as we were there late in the day when the tide was coming in, so the water was getting deep! If you want to go here I’d recommend going in the morning.
The last stop on our trip was a 360 bar overlooking Koh Ma and the beach we had just visited. This viewpoint was incredible and such a great way to end our road trip. The sun was going down and it just looked and felt so dreamy paired with the chilled out music coming from the bar.
If you’re looking to do a day trip around the island, I’d highly recommend Mingalaba Road Trips as they are so friendly and accommodating, and take you to the most amazing places.
So, that’s my travel guide to Koh Phangan! I hope you find this guide useful if you’re planning a trip to Koh Phangan and the Full Moon party, and get in touch if you want any other advice!