Koh Phangan Information

Travel and Local Information Guide

World famous due to its Full Moon, Half Moon and many other hedonistic parties, Koh Phangan, ‘Samui’s Little Sister’ actually only has about 10,000 fulltime inhabitants yet up to 30,000 visitors have been known to flock to the island for the New Year’s Full Moon Party. The island is highly reminiscent of Koh Samui some 20 years back and its beaches nothing short of idyllic. Getting around can be a problem as some roads are extremely dangerous while some beaches can only be reached by boat but this works in their favour because as a result overdevelopment has not yet encroached on Nature on Koh Phangan.

Koh Phangan is 100km northeast of Suratthani and 12km from Koh Samui. Some boats dock and depart from Haad Rin but most ferries steam to the island’s main town, Thongsala where modern conveniences are easily found. From Thongsala, a 10km coastal road runs southeast to Haad Rin and branching off this road a dirt road (soon to be tarmac) heads over the island’s spine to sleepy beaches such as Thong Nai Paan Yai and Noi. A northward road leads to Ao Chaloklum while a third road runs west along the coast to Haad Yao, Haad Salad and Ao Mae Haad.

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Climate and Weather

Koh Phangan has a tropical, highly humid climate with two main seasons: The hot season from January – April and the rainy season from May – January. From May to September expect occasional rain and sunshine and from October – December heavy monsoonal rain is experienced.

The temperature on Koh Phangan generally fluctuates between 24 and 32 C but can dip as low as 20 C and rise to 36 C on occasion. In spite of the high temperatures sea breezes keep things cool and enjoyable.

How to Get There

Koh Phangan is about 700km south of Bangkok, 100km northeast of Suratthani, and some 12km from Koh Samui. Overnight buses and trains connect land travellers to the ports at Suratthani and further south at Don Sak for ferries to Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Koh Phangan has no airport so passengers flying into Samui transfer to nearby Maenam Pier for the ‘catamaran’ ferry and Bohput Pier for more costly speedboat crossings. Ferries from the mainland will also stop at Samui’s Nathon and carry on to Phangan. They depart at 09:00 and 11:00 daily and the traverse takes 45 minutes.

Good to Know

  • If planning to attend a Full Moon party, then try to arrive at the very least two or three days beforehand as all island accommodation is booked out on the day of the party.
  • If arriving by speedboat, insist on wearing a lifejacket. Boats are overcrowded and ‘captains’ are well known for their lack of regard for their passengers. Do not bring unprotected electronic devices: snap-shut, waterproof camera bags are available in the shops.
  • Beware of pickpockets. On the night of the Full Moon party leave your valuables at your hotel reception. Thieves operate on this specific night.
  • Inexperienced drivers and motorcycle riders should note that the road just north of Haad Rin heading for Thongsala is extremely dangerous and precipitous. Stalled cars have been the cause of some bad accidents. The track over the spine of the island from Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan is downright dangerous and scary and should not be attempted on a motorcycle while inebriated or at night.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. It’s a common sight to see bandaged and limping foreigners on Koh Phangan so wear sensible, protective clothing, too.
  • Life conducts itself at a slow pace on the island. It’s futile to expect express service in restaurants and bars. Generally speaking, Koh Phangan inhabitants drive slowly so try to fit in.
  • Wear shoes at beach parties. With the amount of people attending these events and copious amounts of alcohol consumed broken glass is pretty much inevitable.
  • Penalties for illegal drug consumption are steep and westerners are regarded as prime targets by undercover and local police. Enough said.
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