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Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan

Travel guide

The first thing to spring to mind when you hear the name, 'Koh Phangan' may be the legendary Full Moon parties that take place there every month (and trust us... they are worth the visit). But this island in southeast Thailand offers so much more than crazy nightlife. With its laid-back hippy vibes, inland jungle, and wicked diving just a short boatride away on Koh Tao, it's easy to see why the beaches of this little gem on the Gulf of Thailand have acted like superglue for backpackers for decades.

Koh Phangan Highlights

  • Full Moon and Half Moon
    Don the flouro warpaint, rally up your new travel buddies and head out onto Haad Rin's stretch of beach to dance all night under the moon. There's a mix of music for everyone playing at each bar and heaps of other fun activities. If you're not on the island for Full Moon, there are also the Half Moon parties, held deep in the jungle.
  • Koh Tao
    Koh Tao - the snorkelling and diving capital for backpackers, is just a short ferry ride away. Here you'll find blindingly colourful marine life and get the opportunity to go snorkelling with turtles and reef sharks. Life on land is pretty great too, with a handful of untouched beaches to choose from. Head to Thong Sala Pier and catch a boat to this unmissable little gem.
  • Bottle Beach
    Head to the north of Koh Phangan via taxi or catch a ferry from the main harbour of Thongsala near Haad Rin to this secluded part of the island. You'll be able to laze away the day under the swinging palms and dip in and out of the beach's cafe for food and drink. Don't forget your snorkel!
  • Jungle raves
    If you're heading to Chaing Mai in November, you're in luck. For one night a year during Yi Peng celebrations, Northern Thailand's sky is illuminated by thousands of wish lanterns as they are released by locals (pictured at the top of this guide). On either side of this night, there are lanterns that are released to float down the moats surrounding Chaing Mai's old town. Pure magic! 
  • Total Wipeout
    Based on the gameshow Wipeout, this huge inflatable floating obstacle course is an ideal escape from the beach for you and your travel friends. Those who aren't about such high-energy activities can watch from the sidelines... which probably provides even bigger laughs.
  • Bar Amsterdam
    Based on the gameshow Wipeout, this huge inflatable floating obstacle course is an ideal escape from the beach for you and your travel friends. Those who aren't about such high-energy activities can watch from the sidelines... which probably provides even bigger laughs.
Koh Phangan

Beyond Koh Phangan: Islands nearby

Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Perfect for: Laid-back beach bums, foodies, those who want a bit more action, and anyone craving a some luxury

 

Why? The largest of the southeastern Thailand's three islands, Koh Samui is the most accessible from the mainland. Chaweng Beach has the best hostels, guesthouses, bars and clubs, further along the coast either side are some unreal spas and night spots, and the nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park will give Koh Phi Phi a run for its money. 

Koh Tao
Koh Tao
Perfect for: Diving and snorkeling.

 

Why? This tiny island north of Koh Phangan translates to 'Turtle Island'. Figure it out for yourself. With the clearest waters and the best diving schools, Tao is the go-to destination for your PADI Open Water certification. Back on land, there's a handful of amazing beaches (what? In Thailand? Really?), complete with cool bars and hostels nestled under swaying palms. 

East Coast Island Hopping & Tours

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East Coast Island Hopping & Tours

Dive Koh Tao
Learn to Dive in Koh Tao
Get your PADI Open Water License in Koh Tao, one of the world's best and cheapest places to learn. Complete your dive theory online before you arrive so you can spend more time relaxing in paradise and enjoying the underwater world. Koh Tao features some of the world's best reefs, shipwrecks and a kaliedescope of colourful fish.

2-3 days from £258

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Thai Island Hopping
Thai Island Hopper East
Get ready for long days of sun-kissed swimming, sunbathing and sipping cocktails. You'll relax on the beautiful beaches of Koh Samui and experience Koh Tao's awesome backpacker vibes before topping it all off living it up at the party spots of Koh Phangan.

8 days from £629

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Full Moon Party
Full Moon Experience
Keen to take a walk on the wild side at the world-famous Full Moon Party? Then get involved with this hedonistic package which includes 3 nights' accommodation in Koh Samui and return high-speed ferry transfers to the party. Get your neon paint, Sangsom buckets and beach outfit ready!

4 days from £142

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Koh Samui & Koh Phangan Accommodation

Al's Resort
Al's Resort | Koh Samui
There's nothing old about this favourite of ours. Set onto the white sands of Chaweng Beach, the spa, oceanfront pool and panoramic restaurant of this snazzily renovated resort are welcome retreats on your wild nights off. All room types have air con, cable TV and sea views or pool access.

Privates from £36pppn

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Peace Resort
Peace Resort | Koh Samui
A lifelong favourite of ours, this family run eco-retreat is full of authentic beachfront charm and thoughtful luxury. Spend long days at the pool, with massages in traditional spa pavillions, at a cookery class or check out the beach. The resort also runs yoga sessions and regular barbecue nights.

Privates from £51pppn

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Hacienda Backpackers
Hacienda Backpackers | Koh Phangan
A fave among party revellers, this backpackers is a short stroll from the island's main town centre and only a 15-minute shuttle from Hadd Rin's wild Full Moon parties. It's a budget, no-frills hostel with free use of the Beach Resort Hacienda's facilities.

Dorms from £5pppn

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When is the best time to visit Koh Phangan?

Over the Full Moon, of course! Koh Phangan is beautiful any time of year but its rainiest months are from July to October. During these times you may get caught in sporadic downpours but on the flip-side, accomodation is cheaper and the beaches will be filled with less tourists. The hottest, sunniest months on the island are from March, through to May.

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