This list of the best things to do in Koh Phangan will certainly keep you busy during your holiday at this charming, barely developed island lying some 12 kilometres north of Koh Samui. Covering an area of about 125 km2, Koh Phangan has all the assets of a tropical paradise: white powdery sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters and fringed by coconut tree groves, hilly hinterland covered with lush vegetation, and small villages which have had to adapt to the growth of visitors.
Most of Koh Phangan’s must-see attractions and must-do activities are in a close relationship with nature. From beaches to waterfalls to viewpoints, Koh Phangan offers a great holiday destination for all wannabe explorers. The expansion of tourism also brought some new opportunities to have fun on the island. See below the 10 best things to do in Koh Phangan.
Dance till You Drop at the Moon Parties
The moon phase parties are the main claim to fame of Koh Phangan. Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party, and now Black Moon Party set the beat on the island every month. Held on the east side of Haad Rin Beach, the southernmost beach in Koh Phangan, the Full Moon Party is one of the best parties in Thailand, with visitors raving it up from dusk till down with your toes in the sand. Half and Black Moon parties are of a slightly lower importance, yet they attract more and more bass heads. Both of them are held are around Baan Tai Beach, just north of Haad Rin.
Explore the island from One Beach to the Other
Beach-hopping is a must do if you stay in Koh Phangan. With a perimeter of about 40km, the island is not that big, yet has about 30 beaches of various sizes and shapes. It’s fairly cheap to rent a motorbike – about 200-300 baht per day, then go explore all these beaches. Some of the tiniest ones cannot be reached by road easily; Haad Nam Tok (Waterfall Beach) for instance. In this case, you may want to hire a long-tail boat for the day, and cruise along the beautiful Koh Phangan shore to get there.
Enjoy the Activities at Hand in Haad Rin
Even though Haad Rin is not the capital town of Koh Phangan, it certainly is the busiest destination on the island, thanks to the Full Moon Parties which attract plenty of young people and backpackers every month. To keep those crowds entertained in between two binge drinking sessions, Haad Rin offers a good choice of activities such as beach football, beach volleyball, and bikini contests, as well as a good list of water sports including jet skiing, sea kayaking, and more.
Snorkel and Dive around Koh Phangan
The waters around Koh Phangan offer great snorkelling and scuba diving sites. Less reputed than Koh Tao, the Mecca of submarine activities in the Gulf of Thailand located some 35 km north, Koh Phangan however features all that’s necessary to explore the underwater world. Snorkelling can be enjoyed at almost any beach along the west and north coasts. The best spots use to be toward the beach ends. Beach diving can also be organised, but the dive centres based on Koh Phangan usually go further at sea, in the direction of Koh Tao. Sail Rock is one of the most beautiful dive sites in the vicinity (15 km north) of Koh Phangan.
Hike to the Waterfalls
There are several waterfalls to discover in Koh Phangan. The most notable ones are Than Sadet Waterfall (off the road to Thong Nai Pan beaches); Paradise Waterfall, located off the road to Chaloklum Bay; Than Prawet Waterfall, also near Thong Nai Pan beaches; and last but not least, Than Praphet, which leads directly in the sea at Waterfall Beach on the southeast coast of the island. If you are ready for challenging hikes, a visit to any of these waterfalls will surely please you. Just note that it’s often best to see them right after high season, when the weather starts to get better.
Challenge Yourself at The Challenge Phangan Park
The Challenge Phangan is a water park located at Sweet Water Lake, between Sri Thanu and Chao Phao bays on the west coast of the island. It offers a fun and exhilarating water obstacle course that you need to make in the shortest time as possible. This challenging course features rolling barrels, monkey bars, rope swing, stepping stones, climbing mountain, balance beams, swinging shapes, and much more. In between two races, you can restore yourself at the bar/restaurant. Safety first, all participants under 18 must wear a life-jacket, and children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult at all time in the water.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
- Tel: +66 (0)89 730 0081
Relax Yourself at a Yoga Centre
Yoga centres and retreats are particularly trendy in Koh Phangan. Originating in India, Yoga blends physical and spiritual exercises close to meditation, which are believed to have positive impact on both mind and body. Koh Phangan hosts a good choice of Yoga centres such as Orion Healing Centre in Sri Thanu, Agama Yoga Retreat also in Sri Thanu, and Blooming Lotus Yoga just northeast of Haad Rin. You can book single sessions or stay at a yoga retreat for several sessions.
Discover Koh Phangan Viewpoints
The mountainous landscapes of Koh Phangan offer visitors a good choice of stunning viewpoints. The highest spot of the island is Khao Ra, a 627 m tall mountain situated in the north central part of the island. The best way to get to the summit is to hire a guide at the base of the trail. It costs 500 baht, and you are sure to not get lost in the jungle or endanger your life unnecessary as the trek is arduous. Besides Khao Ra, there are good viewpoints all around the island in Haad Yao, Haad Rin, between Haad Maehaad and Chaloklum Bay, and more. Some of them are simply on the roadside, some other require a bit of an effort to get reached.
Go Shopping at Thong Sala Night Market
Locally called Panthip Market, Thong Sala Night Market is an experience you shouldn’t miss if you’re gourmand. Hosted on a parking lot in front of a 7-Eleven in the centre of Thong Sala, Koh Phangan’s capital town and main shopping hub, you’ll find a vast assortment of street food sold at rock-bottom prices. From grilled fish and meat to crusty pizza, and from sushi to pad Thai, it’s the perfect place to discover the richness of street food culture in Thailand. Panthip Market is open every day from 16:00 till late.
Learn Thai Cooking
Thai cuisine is renowned all around the world, and one of the best ‘souvenirs’ you could bring back home after a holiday in Thailand, is the ability to cook delicious Thai dishes to impress your friends and family. Koh Phangan features a good choice of cooking schools at which you can learn the basics of Thai cuisine, and the ingredients necessary to successfully prepare some of the favourite dishes such as pad Thai, tom kha kai, and more. Schools such as C&M Culture Centre in Sri Thanu, The Phangan Cooking Class in Thong Sala, and My Wok and Me also in Thong Sala, just to name a few, will give you all the tips and tricks to become a Thai chef.