Things To Do in Koh Phangan
Any description of things to do in Koh Phangan has to start with full moon parties really. I mean that’s why people go there.
At least the first time.
There are actually beautiful secluded and calm beaches all around Koh Phangan that people go to to do yoga and chill out on and have healthy lives but that really isn’t why most people go there the first time. Most people go there to party and specifically for the full moon parties and then happen to discover that there are more chilled options of things that they could go back to do in the future. It is one of the best places in Thailand for yoga though.
If you are looking to head straight there for a chilled out time Bottle Beach is supposed to be good for that, I can’t personally vouch though as I’ve been to Koh Phangan twice now and both those times were to party. One of those times was when I went for New Year’s from Koh Samui and the other time I learnt from my previous mistakes and planned enough in advance to actually stay on the correct island for the full moon party. But my motivation for going both times was very much to party.
I can’t help you so much on the yoga retreats there although I did find some good sunset views.
Full Moon Party, Haad Rin, Koh Phangan
This is by far the craziest of the parties in Thailand. It takes place down on the beach in Haad Rin at the bottom tip of Ko Phangan. It is essentially one giant beach party with every bar that lines the beach blaring out music (all of different genres) as people dance on the beach, covered in UV paint drinking from buckets.
I’ve gotten a bit over excited by the UV paint both times I went! Even volunteering to drawn things for other people, like the skeleton hand below, as well as covering every available inch of myself in UV doodles.
It is madness. There are thousands of people crammed onto the beach and if you turn your back for one second you will lose your friends it’s such a massive crowd of people. Unsurprisingly it’s renowned for people getting their phones or cameras stolen out of their pockets and bags , or just losing them through drunkenness, so be careful and try not to take anything valuable with you
We went out with about 20 of us from my hostel for full moon and ended up with 4 within seconds, but you find people again later as they come wandering around.
If you’re likely to be lonely and not have a fun time if you lose your friends keep a close eye on them. It really does happen remarkably quickly and I have friends who have spent hours wandering around full moon on their own as a result.
The party goes all the way through to the morning and there were stragglers still making their way back into our hostel all the way through the afternoon the day after the full moon party having not been to sleep yet.
Going out in Koh Phangan when it’s not full moon
There are parties in Koh Phangan all the time. It’s usually the case that they’re at different locations on different nights, such as the jungle party but when I was there last the military had shut the parties down so the only place which was still allowed to have parties each night was down on Haad Rin beach. The bars all the way along the beach were still rammed and lively even when it wasn’t full moon.
In fact there wasn’t much difference between the parties on the beach when it wasn’t full moon to when it was. The main difference was just that there were more people on full moon and it was therefore easier to lose everyone. I actually preferred the parties on the beach the days either side of full moon.
Wipeout Koh Phangan
I didn’t get to go here as apparently everyone else wasn’t as excited about this as I was, but there is a total wipe out play area in Ko Phangan called Phangan Wipeout. You can run around and bounce off things like people do in total wipe out for the day. Sounds like a pretty awesome way to spend a day to me!
If any of you wanna go hit me up, I’m still so sad I missed out on this.
Top Rock Bar
As the name suggests this bar is right at the top of a rock and perfect for sunset. The view is beautiful, although do expect to see extremely large groups of people taking obnoxious selfies in front of it.
Actually that should be changed to offensively large groups of people taking obnoxious selfies in front of it as when I went last that was about 3 years ago now before #doingitforthegram and all that shit that makes me want to vom was a thing.
No doubt the amount of people taking obnoxious selfies is tenfold now.
The bar has a chilled out vibe and it’s known for selling weed and mushrooms. There is also another bar down on Haad Rin known for the same thing. I don’t remember the name but if you’re on Haad Rin beach looking out at the sea it’s right at the end of the beach on the left up some stairs at the end of the beach. It’s the last place, can’t miss it. Might be called Magic Mountain even for obvious reasons.
We went to the top floor but on the level below there is a pool, as shown in the photo below. I think you’d have to arrive early to get a space there.
Beaches in Ban Tai
Ko Phangan is actually really beautiful and it doesn’t take long to find a picturesque beach there. Just across from my hostel in Ban Tai in fact was this beach, which was stunning and so quiet.
Injuries on Koh Phangan
As with Phi Phi, and anywhere that such a high quantity of alcohol is consumed, there were injuries galore on Ko Phangan. Most were from people falling over when drunk or burning themselves joining in the jump rope or limbo when it’s set alight but doing so when wasted and therefore not doing it quite as well at it as they expected. It’s also rumoured that the guys controlling the jump rope purposefully trip people up with it causing burns and therefore meaning tourists have to spend a lot of money at the medical clinics which the jump rope guys get a kick back for.
I can’t verify the truth of that claim however it certainly didn’t look like the jump rope guys where helping people go over it safely in the way they were turning the rope.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan
I don’t recommend you stay in Haad Rin as it is crazy down there and I just can’t really think why you’d want to hang out there when not at the parties on the beach. Much better to stay a bit further a way. That’s where all the best hostels are too.
I stayed at Blue Dream Hostel as a friend had stayed there before and recommended it. It’s a great hostel. It’s got a swimming pool and bar area which has good happy hours and beer pong contests. It’s also a lovely place to hang out during the day and it’s a really friendly hostel.
It’s no problem being slightly out of the town as when you want to go to the beach parties you all just hop in the back of one of the jeep taxis that go up and down the road all the time. Same on the way back. The rides down to the beach are actually really fun, or at least ours were as they always resulted in a lot of karaoke!
If Blue Dream is booked up check out these other hostels in Koh Phangan that are in a similar area.
How Long to Stay in Koh Phangan
It depends if you’re just going there for the full moon party, or if you want to explore some of the quieter beaches around and activities like Phangan Wipeout. For full moon you’d only need a couple of nights although I would strongly suggest you stay more than one night as the parties go on till the early hours so having to check out of your hostel by 11am and travel the next day would really suck. Better to have a bed for whatever time you do get back to sleep in and travel again the day after.
Getting from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao
It takes an hour by boat to get to Koh Tao from Ko Phangan and you can book tickets through almost any hostel. Again the ferry will be through Lomprayah. The water can get very choppy on those ferry rides but other than that they’re usually enjoyable as you can just sit on the top deck and sunbathe in the breeze.