10 THINGS TO DO IN KOH PHANGAN | THAILAND
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Koh Phangan is a beautiful tropical paradise island in the Gulf of Thailand. The name of Koh Phangan comes from the word ‘Ngan’, the southern dialect meaning ‘sand bar’, because there are many sandbars offshore around the island.
It is famous for its Full Moon parties, but in my opinion it is the least reason to visit this island, because there is so much more that Koh Phangan can offer.
Most of the island's activities are closely related to nature, from picture book beaches to waterfalls to viewpoints so it is a good vacation destination for those who are keen for exploration.
We have lived here now for 3 months, felt happy and never been bored. We have been here during the pandemic and I have no clue what this beautiful island looks like during the normal season, I guess it is as full as all the other places in Thailand but right now it’s perfect, not so crowded and not empty as well. It reminds me of Changgu in Bali, where many digital nomads, yogis, art lovers etc live throughout the year, but much more relaxed…
Koh Phangan has turned out to be our favourite island in Thailand – friendly and kind people, beautiful nature, beautiful beaches, enough infrastructure, good internet and it is not expensive as well. We have explored the island a lot and written down 10 best things to do here.
1. Explore the island with scooter
Renting a scooter on the island is kind of essential to seeing most of the island's hidden treasures. Being quite small in size, it is possible to ride the majority of the island in a day, stopping to admire and cool-off at the various beaches on the coast, or beautiful waterfalls if you travel inland.
You can rent a scooter for 250 THB a day or you can even have it cheaper when renting longer term - I rented it for 2500 THB for a month (January 2022).
Outside of Thong Sala there is hardly any traffic and it is easy to cruise around, but Koh Phangan is a mountainous island and some roads can get pretty steep. So wearing a helmet and checking that your scooter brakes works correctly is a good idea.
First scooter I rented had so bad breaks I slide down a hill and could have ended badly, I went to the salon immediately and they replaced my scooter.
2. Have a beach day at Haad Yao
Haad Yao beach has become my favourite beach on this island. There is a long enough strip of beach to walk and sunbathe.
What I like most about this beach is that there are a couple of beach bars where you can have lunch or a cocktail after sunbathing, or if you don't want to get sandy, you can sunbathe on the beach chairs. One is CocoLocco Beach Bar with a pool and the other is Vagga Bar.
Walking to the beginning of the beach, there are stairs carved into rock that leads from the beach to the High Life Bungalow Resort. There is a great view over the bay of Haad Yao and a restaurant with Thai and western menu, local beers and cocktails. You can use their infinity-edged swimming pool also when ordering something.
It is the perfect place to relax and watch the sunset.
Also read '5 POOL BARS IN KOH PHANGAN WITH STUNNING VIEWS'
3. Learn Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a national sport in Thailand, so it is no wonder that you can see so many Muay Thai outdoor gyms on the island.
In the morning and again in the evening, there are normally two training sessions every day at most gyms. Training normally lasts about 2 hours with an average price of 300 THB. If you have ever thought about starting this training or been interested in it, then here is the best place to start with it.
We attended Muay Thai Chinnarach class where we took private sessions, because we did not have any experience before. It is recommended to do a few private sessions before going to group training but I have seen many first timers attending group class also and trainers teach them all the essential movements of Thai boxing.
So if you want to get active and burn a lot of calories (because the whole body works out) while on the island then try something totally different and get to know Thailand’s favourite activity. It will be very intensive but very worthwhile.
4. Visit the Ang Thong Marine park
Angthong Marine Park can only be described as stunning. A protected reserve that comprises 42 Islands. It is about 40 km from Koh Phangan and it takes one hour by speedboat to get there.
There are many boat operators in Koh Phangan who make Ang Thong Marine Park tours every day - It depends what you prefer. You can choose for a completely organised tour on bigger boats or when you’re with a bigger group, about 7 – 10 persons, you can also arrange a private speed boat trip. Make clear before booking with your agent which activities are included and which not.
We took a tour that cost 2000 THB, spent the day snorkelling, kayaking, climbed the top of Mae Koh island for panoramic views of the surrounding islands and overlooking the Emerald Lagoon – which was the highlight of the tour in my opinion. All the sweat and effort in climbing the steep stairway are definitely worth it when you take in the beauty of the still and calm waters of the lake.
Ended the tour with Thai lunch and headed back to Koh Phangan.
5. Take a Yoga Class
Koh Phangan is spiritual, tropical island in Thailand with some amazing teachers and surrounded by a great community of like-minded yogis.
The island is a mecca for yoga and healthy living. The Koh Phangan Conscious Community is strong and they maintain the chilled atmosphere.
Whether you want to practise yoga with simple drop-in classes or immerse yourself fully in a retreat, workshop program or training course, this small island caters to all. Many yoga centres will have timetables with weekly offerings to the public.
Because there are so many yoga classes to choose from, it is good to do some research and check that the yoga retreat you plan to go to is in fact a good one. A great site for checking reviews and testimonials is bookyogaretreats.com
Besides yoga you can practice daily meditations, breath work, group workshops, reiki and intensive detox packages – all designed to give your physical, emotional and mental health a serious reboot.
Also read 'ICE BATH & SAUNA IN KOH PHANGAN'
6. Take a hike to the Bottle beach
Bottle beach is said to be the most beautiful beach in Koh Phangan. Maybe because of its remoteness and very wide sandbar compared to other beaches on the island.
There is no road going to the beach, you need to hike, take a boat or drive with 4 wheels on a dirt road. We decided to hike to the beach and come back by boat.
Bottle beach is located north of the island and it is a 2 km hike to the beach. Hike starts from the end of the Haad Khom beach (you drive along the beach until the road ends and there is a car park with map), where we left our scooter and started hiking.
Hike is quite challenging and it doesn’t seem at all like 2 km, because half of the journey you go uphill and other downhill. Definitely bring water, sunglasses and proper shoes. The road is marked and took us an hour and half to pass, I also used Maps.me app, because it showed the way, even with no mobile data.
When we finally arrived at our destination it was all worth it - bright turquoise sea, a white sand beach and there was hardly anything going on. There are few restaurants where you can have fresh coconut and a nice lunch after a tiring hike.
Getting back from Bottle beach, unless you are a serious hiker, simply walk to the boats parked on the beach and search for their captains. They are usually just chilling in the nearby shade. You can take a taxi boat back to the Chaloklum pier or to Haad Khom Beach. A one-way boat ride will cost you 150 THB and you pay the captain. From Haad Khom it’s easy to walk back to the start of the Bottle beach hike, i.e. the parking lot where you parked your scooter earlier.
When you are looking for an adventurous and active day then trek to the Bottle beach is a great experience!
7. Pool day and cocktails at Bluerama rooftop bar
Bluerama Hotel is set on top of a hill with a panoramic view of the Gulf of Thailand. It is 2 km from Thong Sala Pier and on the west side of the island. It is one of the best ways to spend the afternoon - The rooftop bar welcomes you with an infinity pool, drinks, cocktails, snacks and dinner.
I think Bluerama has the most beautiful sunset views and cocktails on the island. Everything looks super luxurious and it is also affordable.
8. Visit the night market
There are many night markets in Koh Phangan, which are open every night. One is very popular Thong Sala Night Market, also known as Pantip Market, which is located directly in front of the Thong Sala Pier and it is open every day 12PM – 10PM.
You can buy from the market all different kinds of delicious food at a very good price. There are also plenty of desserts and shakes. My go to meal from Thong Sala night market is chicken kebab wrap 120 THB and watermelon-dragon fruit-coconut smoothie 40 THB.
Also read 'KOH PHANGAN BEST RESTAURANTS & CAFES'
9. Watch the sunset at Amsterdam bar
Amsterdam bar is the most popular Koh Phangan sunset spot. Facing West and perched on a cliff, you will have an amazing 180 degrees view of the ocean.
Bar has two floors and makes plenty of space to lounge and even a pool to take a tip in. There are no real seats but both levels have cushions where you can sit or lay on while enjoying the sunset.
It’s a really laid back and chill place for backpackers but also family friendly. With reggae music and good vibes you will feel completely chill on a true paradise island.
Because it is one of the most popular bars on the island then I recommend that you arrive about an hour, if not earlier, before sunset to find yourself a spot.
10. Get a massage
What is a better way to finish your long day than getting a massage? There are plenty of options scattered around the island.
Get an oil massage if you are into more relaxing massage and if you like a strong massage then I recommend Thai massage.
If you’ve never had a Thai massage you may be in for a shock, but in a good way. The massage starts with putting on an odd pair of pyjamas, you will be pulled, stretched, and rocked at the hands of your Thai massage therapist. They will use every part of their body in order to do this, including their thumbs, elbows, and knees. Some masseuses might even walk on you. This approach is completely different from massages that Westerners are used to. Once you get off the table, feeling more relaxed and refreshed than after a usual massage.
Massages are very affordable: prices start from 300 THB for one hour.
Very good and recommended massages are in Pure Relax in Thong Sala.
Check also things to do and tours at Phuket and Bangkok from YOUR TOUR DESK.