Koh Phangan Thailand Top Things To Do (excluding the Full Moon Party)

Want to know what to do in Koh Phangan?

The first thing that comes to mind when anyone mentions Koh Phangan is “ok, the full moon party island”. While this is true, it isn’t the overview of such an amazing island.

Koh Phangan sit in the middle of neighboring islands Koh Tao and Koh Samui. It is the middle sized island out the trio and has loads of things to do despite many travelers and backpackers only experiencing the full moon party.

“Unfortunately many backpackers don’t even manage to experience the full moon party let anyone know what Koh Phangan really offers as many are already hammered half way through the night. Don’t be one of them”

This guide covers all the things to do in Koh Phangan. At least let’s say this guide covers the tourist spots and activities that are worthwhile doing in Koh Phangan.

Just in case you want to know more about the full party, you can always →click here.

Things to do in Koh Phangan

Gorgeous tropical beaches (with palm trees for some shade), amazing sunsets, sweeping viewpoints, a laid back vibe, great food, affordability and a decent nightlife scene. While it’s a lot to ask for, Koh Phangan truly has it all. Regardless of your travel style, the things to do in Koh Phangan are appealing for anyone that wants to visit an amazing tropical island in Thailand.

Getting to Koh Phangan

Below are the best affordable travel options to reach Koh Phangan from other popular destinations.

Bangkokbest Bangkok to Koh Phangan transport (combo)
Phuketbest Phuket to Koh Phangan transport (combo)
Krabibest Krabi to Koh Phangan (combo)
Koh Samui30 minute ferry to Koh Phangan (direct)
Koh Tao1 hour ferry to Koh Phangan (direct)

1. Koh Phangan’s Beaches

Mae Haad Beach

Great for swimming, snorkeling and sunsets, this beach really has it all. An island close to the bay is reached by walking along a narrow sand bar that forms during low tide.

The reef just a few meters from the shore offers a good snorkeling experience with its underwater life and colourful coral reef. Also with the sun descending from beside the little island the views from here are spectacular.

Things To Do Koh Phangan Mae Haad beach

Haad Rin Beach

While mostly know for it’s monthly chaos during the full moon party dates, Haad Rin is (in our opinion) the most gorgeous beach in Koh Phangan. It’s every you’d expect from tropical paradise. A beach with powdery white sand spilling into the clearest water and lush greenery framing the bay on each ends. Although the full moon party is held here every 4 weeks, the beach is well maintained and cleaned regularly.

Things To Do Koh Phangan Haad Rin The Travel Deck

Bottle beach

If you manage to reach bottle beach, it’s going to be the most rewarding thing once you finally reach it. The name bottle beach refers to the path that leads to this secluded bay. There’s a path through the jungle and the marking are made with bottles attached to trees by a chord. If you want to reach this bay you’ll need to follow that path.

This trek through the jungle is apparently a highlight of getting here. Because it’s so hot and humid walking through the jungle everyone is so happy once they spot the beach. We heard so much about this trail that we almost knew what to expect. So we decided to get here by scooter. Very, very bad decision!!

There is no actual road to get here, hence the trail through the jungle. However, there is a steep, sandy road with ruts all the way down where the rain flows through. Getting down here with a dirt bike is dangerous, let alone using a banged up scooter with tiny wheels and 2 dumb tourists at the wheel.

Bottle beach itself is gorgeous and extremely rewarding to take a dip in the cool clear water after a tiring ride or trek to get here. There’s also big trees providing much needed shade. Make sure to pack cold water with you as there may be nowehere to buy any here.

Swing hanging from a tree at Bottle beach
Thailand Koh Phangan Bottle beach

2. Koh Phangan’s Views

Zen beach

Zen beach is one of the best beaches to enjoy a great sunset with a lively vibe. Every evening just before sunset the beach shifts from a tranquil spot for meditating to a more lively atmosphere. Expats and foreigners alike join in, all playing different instruments and practicing all kinds of skills and hobbies.

Things To Do Koh Phangan Zen beach sunset The Travel Deck

Three Sixty bar

This bar is close to Mae Haad beach, actually above the hills of the beach. Three Sixty bar is a laid back lounge overlooking the ocean and the small Ko Ma island. Arriving well before sunset is the best option for getting a good spot on the deck area. From here you get one of the best sunset spots in Koh Phangan.

Things To Do Koh Phangan sunset at 360 bar The Travel Deck

Explore Koh Phangan lesser known spots

As most other trips, while on Koh Phangan we had left a free day which we hadn’t planned. With a bit of creativeness these days usually end up some of the best. This day was spent just exploring the island and stopping at various places for a drink, food, a swim or to soak in a beautiful view.

Although Koh Phangan isn’t such a big island, the beautiful landscapes and scenery along with the different lifestyles are all unique in their own way. The mountainous parts of the island are cooler than the lower areas and offer some good views of the ocean and nearby islands. Riding along the lush green jungle and beautiful landscape can be an activity in itself. 

Koh Phangan Haad Sadet beach The Travel Deck

Koh Phangan Waterfalls

Waterfalls are found all around the island. Some of them are easy to reach by scooter, others a little harder to reach and others might not be found.

One of the waterfalls we tried to hike to was Than Sadet. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see the fall as the path isn’t clear so we opted to head back before getting lost in the humid jungle with just a bottle of water. 

Wang Sai and Phaeng are the best waterfalls on Koh Phangan. Unless you visit during or a couple of months after the rainy season the waterfalls might be dried out.

Koh Phangan Temples

Koh Phangan has some Buddhist temples and a Chinese temple which can be explored whilst touring the island. We had visited Wat Phu Khao Noi which is an old Buddhist temple in a natural quiet setting atop a mountain.

Things To Do Koh Phangan Wat Phu Khao Noi The Travel Deck

Yang Na Yai Tree

Yang Na Yai tree is the largest tree in all of Thailand. This tree is found by doing a short detour on the way to Haad Rin beach.  The tree is huge and is really a sight to see especially the gigantic branches beneath which have fallen off over time.

Yang Na Yai Tree

Take a tour to Mu Koh Angthong National Park

Lush forestry on the limestone cliffs jutting out of the turquoise waters beneath looks like something you would see on a TV documentary. Although this park is not in Koh Phangan, it is very close by. Tours operate regularly but for the best experience a private tour would be best option. 

Personally we didn’t do this attraction but we would surely recommend it. We usually prefer to do tours either in a small group or privately.  This allows the boat driver to choose different time frames than the bigger tours which tend to use the same routes and same time frame therefore each spot is usually crowded and the experience is significantly decreased.

Take a Yoga class

An ever increasing Yoga practice in Koh Phangan which over the years has become part of the island’s culture attracts many travelers from all over the world. To really get into Koh Phangan spiritual vibe, head to the west coast where many yoga and healing centres are found. Zen Beach is also on this side of the island.

Tip: We were told by our host that Samma Karuna holds free yoga classes. If interested checkout the schedule with Samma Karuna directly.

Indulge in some great food

Thongsala night market / Phanthip food market

Yet again the food is on the list and with good reason. The market in Thongsala offers some mouthwatering Thai dishes and cheap eats, one of which is the meats cooked in an Indian style clay oven and which is a must try.

Other food not so common in the Thai market but which you will find here are Italian style pasta, Mexican food, Brazilian food and an Italian panini bar. Smoothies and sweet dishes such as the yummy mango rice are also found here.

Things To Do Koh Phangan Thongsala night market The Travel Deck

Outlaws Saloon

Arguably the best steakhouse on the island. Outlaws Saloon offers a good selection of meat cuts and burgers. As the name suggests this restaurant has a cozy western pub style which gives a nice welcoming touch. Events here such as the Friday live band and the delicious Sunday roast are a hit among many.

Pum Pui

While in Koh Phangan one restaurant you must not miss is Pum Pui. This Thai restaurant is said to serve the best Pad Thai, which we can personally confirm along with loads of other people who suggested this place to us. Getting here before everyone leaves Zen beach is suggested or you might be out of luck on finding a table.  

Anutta (by James)

“No this is me promoting myself but whoever named this guy has good taste”. This traditional Thai restaurant is one of Koh Phangan’s lesser known eateries. We visited Anutta a few times while in Koh Phangan and the food was always very good and tasty. As this restaurant isn’t around the touristy area’s prices are on the low side.

Tip: Restaurants advertising a 50 Baht meal are found throughout Koh Phangan. Our experience in these eateries wasn’t good. With 50 Baht you get a tiny portion that has little to no meat and is also tasteless. Rice is also charged extra for 30 Baht.

Best area to stay in Koh Phangan

The southern part of the island, mainly Haad Rin, is where all the buzz is and is also home to the Full Moon Party. This part of Koh Phangan is popular among backpackers and will be very busy around the full moon days. Restaurants, bars and clubs are found all along the beach and streets in Haad Rin.

West coast is also a touristic hotspot on the isle. Accomodation and restaurants are found all along Hin Kong road. This street is also known for the amount of yoga classes. Also a few of the best beaches are found on this side.

Thongsala is the most popular part in Koh Phangan, the main pier, night markets and a large selection of accommodations, restaurants and bars are found in the area.

Heading further north the island is a lot more traditional and less touristic. A few good beaches are found in the north but depending on the tide these might not be a good option. We were in Koh Phangan mid April and sea level especially at Chalok Lam was very low and murky. 

On the East coast more remote beaches are found therefore are very unspoiled and quiet. Some beaches are accessible either by boat or off road vehicle or by trekking through the jungle. Most accommodations along this coast are very basic beach bungalows. One thing to take note of is that this part of Koh Phangan is limited in amenities.

Getting around Koh Phangan

Songthaews are found along the streets of Thongsala and travel all over the island. Longer distance fares are expensive and go up to around 300 Baht during the day and at night maybe more. Another thing to keep in mind is that songthaews usually leave once the van is full which may take some time.  

Scooters are the cheapest option to get around. Roads are good enough but be aware of the occasional pot and sand on corners. Something to be aware of is the bugs flying around at night which can blind you for a couple of seconds and be a big risk while driving.

HEY, just so you know…

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