Healthy Days on Koh Phangan: Detox in Paradise

It’s usually the hedonistic parties of Haad Rin that get the tongues wagging when it comes to Koh Phangan but those looking for health and vitality will find there is also much to talk about here. Here are some ideas for spending your time healthily on the island.

Healthy ‘day in the life’ on Koh Phangan

koh phangan healthy

Mega healthy juices at Orion Café

Start your day in paradise slowly at breakfast time by sipping down a super-charged smoothie from the menu at Orion Café on Sri Thanu beach.

If waking up on this beautiful beach wasn’t enough to get you going you can get your daily vitamin fix at the café, which serves a variety of healthy superfoods and whole foods as well as offering you the chance to take part in raw food workshops to brush up your dietary knowledge and open up a new world of possibilities in nutrition.

Staying on Sri Thanu (why not, it’s a lovely calm beach!) you could then indulge yourself in some pilates as you seek to energise the body and build tone, stength and flexibility.

Pilates on the beach at Sri Thanu

Pilates on the beach at Sri Thanu

The beauty of taking part in Pilates sessions on Koh Phangan island are the unbeatable views out to the ocean that you can enjoy from your mat on the beach. Seriously.. could you imagine a more beautiful setting than this for your Pilates?!

Also on Sri Thanu beach is Agama Yoga who are dedicated to promoting a pure and genuine yoga discipline among participants.

Clients here can take part in daily drop-in Hatha yoga classes as well as more intensive courses, detox’s and meditation retreats.

koh phangan healthy days

Phangan waterfalls [by matteo]

After a healthy snack for your lunch (head back to Orion Café or try Karma Cafe on the same beach with their froZEN coconut ice-creams) you could do some exercise by way of heading into the interior forested and jungle area of the island to hike for views and to take refreshing dips in cooling waterfall pools.

Feeling less energetic now? Not a problem.. why not visit one of the island’s many stunning bays for a swim or a snorkel. There are so many gorgeous beaches on Koh Phangan that you’ll probably struggle to choose one straight away. If so, use our handy beach guide or top 10 to help you decide.

Alternatively, you could hire a bicycle from Funbike Shop in the main town of Thong Sala and explore the island’s hidden areas by yourself or alternatively by way of joining a tour organised by the shop.

If you’re feeling a little tired by this point and need to soothe your aches and pains then you could get your body pampered by way of a massage. The Thai islands are known for their many beachside massage huts where lucky recipients have their muscles and joints rejuvenated by this ancient and invigorating practice. A variety of massage treatments are available around Koh Phangan with particular specialism available in Thong Sala at practices such as the Kamala and Siam healing centres.

Fruit cocktails at sunset on Haad Salad
[by daverugby83]

By this time of the day you’ll be nicely refreshed and probably feeling a million dollars so why not cap it all off by watching the sun set with an ice cold smoothie or fruit cocktail in hand at one of Koh Phangan’s many funky beachside bars. Ideally you’ll want to be on a west coast beach so you can watch the sun dip into the ocean on the horizon.

How does this kind of itinerary grab you for a healthy day in paradise?

3 Stunning Koh Phangan Sunsets to Salivate Over

Something for the sunset lovers out there. Here are a few belting Koh Phangan sunsets to salivate over.

Haad Salad sunset

This gorgeous image was taken by someone who had just arrived on Koh Phangan and had been looking around for somewhere to stay. They settled on Haad Salad on the west coast and were very glad they did when this sunset unfolded whilst they watched from their bungalow. That’s how to get a trip off on the right foot! It’s a great beach by day too, very calm and tranquil.. perfect for some hammock time.

Haad Rin sunset

This one was taken from Haad Rin Nai, the sunset beach on the southern peninsula of Koh Phangan. It cuts a far more serene picture than the kind of sights you’d see on the night of a full moon party.. What better way to calm your banging head the night after a good session! I love the silhouette of the boat, very symbolic of Koh Phangan and the Thai islands in general.

Haad Yao (Long Beach) sunset

Yet another cracking sunset on Haad Yao. The beach itself is one of the most popular on the island, in part due to its westerly and therefore sunset-facing orientation. This means you can relax on the sand and watch scenes like this unfold.. night after night. The location of Haad Yao is fairly central in terms of getting up and down the island, so it makes a great base.

So there you have it.. just 3 of an endless supply of killer light-shows from Koh Phangan, where sunsets are like the icing on the cake.. day after day. The beaches are a perfect place to witness the sunsets and luckily there are a plentiful supply to choose from.

Learning to Dive on Koh Phangan was an Amazing Experience

learning to dive on koh phangan

The treasured diving log book!

To this day I look back on learning to dive in 2001 as one of the best and most enjoyable experiences of my life. What made it really special was that I was lucky enough to do it with Koh Phangan as my base. I knew I would be on the island for a couple of months and had planned to make learning to dive one of the first things I did when I got there.

I’d done a bit of research on diving schools beforehand by zipping round the island on a motorbike and checking out the different places I could learn at. I remember stopping at loads of great beaches and speaking to lots of helpful instructors who filled me in on the details of what the course would entail. In the end I opted to learn with Chanchot and his team at ‘Lotus Diving‘ in Chaloklam. I really liked the set up there and it also gave me an excuse to ride my favourite roads on the island twice a day from my base at the time, Moonlight Bungalows which was located just outside Thong Sala on the road to Ban Tai.

Slowly does it!

Slowly does it! image/flickr

It was brilliant to wake up early on each morning of the course and head out on the motorbike for the ride up the western side of the island towards Chaloklam.

I particularly loved the part of the journey that took me past the beautiful west coast beaches and then over the top of the north-west hills before the steep drop down into Chaloklam.. the views of the sea were cracking at certain stages and the feeling of freedom I had has not been matched to this day! Once I arrived it was down to business with learning all about the technical aspects of diving in the classroom sessions.

Great backdrop for learning to dive! Koh Ma from Mae Haad

Koh Ma from Mae Haad beach

After the swotting it was time to head to Mae Haad for the daily lesson in the waters just off the shore of the beach and around Koh Ma.. what an amazing location to be learning to dive!

My instructor Dave taught me the basics at first and then we moved on to fin pivots which I struggled with from memory! When we needed a rest we joined the other member of the Lotus team who had been keeping a watchful eye on us and making sure we were safe. Lunch was had whilst gently swinging in a hammock on the beach before resuming for some more lessons in early afternoon.

I got my PADI open water certification at the end of the week and was thrilled to then go on more dives and be lucky enough to see the following creatures in the waters and dive sites around Koh Phangan over the next few weeks –

  • Lion fish
  • Turtles
  • Angel fish
  • Bat fish
  • Puffer fish
  • Porcupine fish
  • Barracuda
  • Reef sharks
  • Giant clams
  • Goat fish
  • Grouper
  • Rock cod
  • Gobies
  • Tusk fish

At the end of each day I would ride my bike back to Moonlight Bungalows and hang out in the restaurant there to catch up with friends over delicious green curries and a few Changs. A few of my friends were also learning to dive so we caught up on what we’d seen and learnt that day. This was the icing on the cake of wonderful days and unforgettable experiences.

Thank you Lotus Diving and thank you Koh Phangan!

Here are some links to other popular diving schools on Koh Phangan to choose from..

The Pro’s & Con’s of Koh Phangan Airport

koh phangan airportOne of the first things I mention when talking to people about Koh Phangan is that I think the lack of an airport there is a massive plus point for the island because I feel it has helped it keep it’s natural charm intact over the years.

But that’s a pretty selfish point of view as I’m not a local and I don’t live there or run a business there. With the airport currently due to be opened in late 2014 I thought I’d have a think about it in a bit more depth, starting with the negative points as I see them.

Con’s

Noise. The whole point of a paradise island (in my opinion) is that it’s quiet. Adding an airport on Koh Phangan will mean that there is a lot more noise pollution in the area, especially around the serene beaches on the north and eastern coast. It will most likely be heard all around the island though, as it’s not particularly large.

Overcrowding. One of my favourite times to visit Koh Phangan is when the Full Moon Party is not happening. This is because I find it too busy and crowded at that time. Will the addition of an airport and the ease of access this will bring mean that it starts to pack out much more during these ‘down times’? That would be a shame although the counter argument to this would be more revenue for local businesses (see below).

The Samui effect. Koh Samui was probably a very different place back in the days before it had an airport. I’d hate to think of Koh Phangan turning into a mini Benidorm with lots of high-rise hotels and shopping centres being built there in future.. that’s a horrible thought!

Pro’s

Increased income for local people & businesses. This is the biggest plus point for me. An airport will bring more people to the island which means greater opportunities for those who inhabit the island to earn more income. As a result the economy of the island would likely be improved and more businesses could both survive and thrive.

Ease of access for emergencies. What if you lived on the island (or were visiting) and needed emergency treatment after an accident? What if you needed to drop everything and be with a loved one elsewhere in Thailand or the world? The presence of an airport would save you a few precious hours in times of need as you wouldn’t have to catch a boat to Samui and a taxi to the airport there before catching your flight.

Neutral’s

Pollution. Would an aeroplane really pollute the environment of Surat Thani any more than the boats which pump out tons of black fumes on each journey to and from the island? I’m no expert on pollution but I think this is a bit of a weak argument for this reason (either for or against). Sure, if you could get to the island by electric powered train then this would be a factor as adding aeroplanes into the mix would definitely increase pollution levels.

I’m glad I thought about this a bit more as it’s made me see things from a few different viewpoints. There’s a website devoted to the airport here which you can get lots more information from.

Do you have an opinion on the matter?

post image by flickr

Salad Buri Resort & Spa, Koh Phangan

salad buri resort & spa koh phangan

Salad Buri Resort & Spa, Koh Phangan

On the north-west of Koh Phangan lies the picture perfect beach of Haad Salad, an idyllic cove that is a dreamy sight for weary eyes.

This beach is one of the island’s best and has the added benefit of being well set for watching those gorgeous Koh Phangan sunsets that you know and love. It’s also the home to a very popular choice of accommodation in the Salad Buri Resort & Spa.

The resort has long been a favourite choice amongst travellers and holiday-makers and it’s the all-round ability of the beach here that adds to its appeal.

Why you should stay at Salad Buri Resort & Spa, Koh Phangan

Location, location, location!!
Everyone loves a beautiful beach and the good news is that the Salad Buri Resort & Spa is located out front on one of Koh Phangan’s best bays. Haad Salad is a cracking beach, with calm clear waters that are hemmed inside a stunning cove and backed by gently swaying palms. It would surely be very difficult indeed to find a better or more relaxing setting for your stay on the island… [read reviews]

salad buri resort and spa koh phanganKiller views form the hot tub!!
Imagine soaking off in that hot tub while you gaze in awe at the view of the bay in front of you. Unwind in style by kicking back and putting your feet up while the sun sets on the ocean horizon in front of you. Life is good! If you fancy this kind of luxury during your stay then be sure to book yourself into a room with these facilities so you’re not disappointed upon arrival… [book a room]

Super stylish accommodation!!
Beautiful, traditional style accommodation awaits you at the Salad Buri Resort & Spa, Koh Phangan. You’ll feel like a million dollars when you go to sleep and wake up in this paradise. Rooms are available with varying degrees of luxury and all are finished to a great standard and offer guests a fantastic place to stay on Haad Salad beach. Some rooms are ocean view whilst others have a garden outlook so be sure to choose the perfect option for your stay… [see reviews]

What’s the Best Beach in Koh Phangan?

Is this the best beach in Koh Phangan?

Is this the best beach in Koh Phangan?

To answer this question you first need to have a think about what it is you want from your beach during your stay on Koh Phangan. Is having a flexible location important or are you thinking more along the lines of sunset, party, solitude, sunrise, snorkeling or family-oriented beaches?

Below is a guide to help you choose the best beach to suit your particular requirements. Think carefully about what’s most important to you and then investigate the options available.

Best Sunset Beach

Haad Yao (Long Beach), west coast ==> Hotels <==
If you are a sunset junkie then look no further than Haad Yao, a fine stretch of white sand that faces directly west for those unique sundown moments on Koh Phangan. It is very well located for exploring the rest of the island and is served by a good and reliable road. There are some great beachfront bungalows here which put you in pole position for watching sunsets in your hammock… [read more]

Best Party Beach

best beach in koh phanganHaad Rin, southern peninsula ==> Hotels <==
If you’re looking to party then you should consider staying right in the heart of the action on Haad Rin. There are two beaches here that back on to each other on the southern peninsula of Koh Phangan. You can even choose between a sunset or sunrise view too as there are west and east facing beaches here. There’s a buzzing town in between the beaches so you certainly won’t get bored… [read more]

Best Solitude Beach

Bottle Beach (Haad Khuat), north coast ==> Hotels <==
You can only get to this beach by boat or on foot. Well actually that’s not strictly true as some people try to get here by bike but that’s not an easy task as there’s no roads to Bottle Beach. This is one of Thailand’s most beautiful and secluded coves but that’s not to say it’s totally quiet here all the time as they do like a bit of music in the bars on the beach from time to time… [read more]

Best Sunrise Beach

Haad Sadet, east coast ==> Hotels <==
This beach is a real gem and the bungalows on it are perfectly positioned eastwards for those amazing Koh Phangan sunrises. It’s so chilled out here that you’ll feel like you’re in another world and you’ll feel far, far away from the banging tunes on Haad Rin. Just look at the picture, could you really ask for a more beautiful place to call home for a few days, weeks or months… [read more]

Best Beauty Beach

Thong Nai Pan, north-east coast ==> Hotels <==
The prize for beauty surely goes to the twin crescent bays of Thong Nai Pan. It’s a long way here from Haad Rin and Thong Sala but it’s well worth making the effort for. You get to choose between a long sweeping white sandy bay (Yai) or it’s smaller and more bohemian sister (Noi). They’re so close together that you can wander between them until your heart’s content… [read more]

Best Snorkeling Beach

Mae Haad, west coast ==> Hotels <==
Mae Haad has a gorgeous little island (Koh Ma) joined to it by a sand bar which can be walked across when the tide is at its lowest point. There is some good snorkeling off the beach and around Koh Ma and it’s a great beach for kicking back on. There is a really relaxed vibe to this place and it’s always been popular with Scandinavians who love to swing in their hammocks here… [read more]

Best Family Beach

Haad Salad, west coast ==> Hotels <==
This beach is popular with families and also for those with young children, probably because of the calm waters here and nice secluded feel to the bay. It’s close to Haad Yao for day trips but really comes into its own at night as it’s a sunset beach that is as chilled as you like come the evening. It has lovely white sand and is well suited to some hammock action… [read more]

Do you have any other requirements for a beach during your stay in Koh Phangan? If so, let us know in the comments and we’ll update this post to include one that best meets your needs.

Still not sure..? Check out our Top 10 beaches list.

Koh Phangan Hotel Map

A lot of people who come to stay on Koh Phangan for the first time get a bit paranoid about where to stay. It’s understandable as you don’t want to end up staying somewhere that doesn’t do this island justice.

That’s where our interactive Koh Phangan hotel map comes in very handy. You can click on different beaches on the map and be taken to a page with more information about it along with some ideas about where best to stay. This is a beautiful island and it can be quite difficult to pin down the place you want to stay when you’re here.

It can be a little overwhelming so here’s our guide to help you when choosing the part of the island you want to stay on. Once you’ve picked an area you can then go ahead and book a hotel on that beach.

Sunset Seekers

If you’re looking to find somewhere chilled out to stay so you can lay in a hammock and enjoy those signature Koh Phangan sunsets then you need to stay on the West of the island. Our recommendation is to find a hotel on the western beaches of Haad Yao or Haad Salad. These are classic sunset beaches and have a fantastic choice of hotels to suit all budgets.

Castaway Solitude

There’s no doubt about it.. if you’re looking for a more isolated location then you could do worse than find a hotel on the north-east of the island as this is the furthest away from the parties on the southern tip. The best beaches here are the beautiful cove that is Bottle Beach and the twin bay delight of Thong Nai Pan. These beaches are close enough to each other to get to easily so you can frequent them both while you are here.

Party Animals

This is a simple one. If you’re looking to be right in the middle of the party action then you should go for a hotel in Haad Rin, ideally on the beach. It’s pretty full on here though so you have been warned and you may not get a great deal of sleep while you’re here! If you’re looking to be close to the party at Haad Rin but would like to stay nearby then you could go for Ban Tai or Haad Yuan, two great nearby beaches that are far enough away to get some peace.

In Search Of Sunrise

Some of us prefer that amazing point in the day when the sun rises, especially when it’s coming out of the ocean and you happen to be on Koh Phangan at the time! Of course, you could stay on Haad Rin’s sunrise beach with a whole bunch of other people but why not head out to Haad Sadet and do it properly.. this beach is so laid back it’s unbelievable! What better place to be than swinging in your hammock on the bungalow deck as the sun comes up on another day in paradise.

Whichever type of person you are you’ll be sure to find the perfect hotel on Koh Phangan to suit your needs. Check out our Koh Phangan hotel map and narrow down your search..

The No 1 Thailand Party Island

thailand party island

Full Moon Party image from flickr

To be fair there are quite a few islands in Thailand that cater well for party animals.. but what’s the best one?

Well, it’s Koh Phangan that takes the top spot and the reason why is that it’s home to the famous (and infamous!) Full Moon Party at Haad Rin.

So what makes it so special? Is it the buckets of Samsong and Red Bull, the fire dancers, the sheer number of bars, the loud music or the luminescent tattoos? In my opinion it’s none of these things but rather the allure of Koh Phangan itself that has led to this party cult.

Give me a minute to explain..

full moon buckets

Full Moon buckets image by zhaffsky

Imagine the Full Moon Party was on Koh Samui instead. Now that wouldn’t work because the island is too big, less charming and not as chilled out by a very long way. The beauty of Koh Phangan is that it lends itself perfectly to the big party as it is by far the best of the islands for kicking back and relaxing after the event.

Speaking from personal experience I’d have to say that the thought of recovering from a Full Moon Party whilst staying on Samui is not something I would relish. But Phangan offers the solitude you’ll seek when your head is banging the next day.

The laid back vibe of this island is second to none and it is this that sets the scene for the party and it just wouldn’t be the same if it was happening elsewhere. That’s why Koh Phangan is THE No1 Thailand party island and why it will always remain so.

That’s not to say that there aren’t other great party islands in Thailand because there are several. Here are the best of the rest..

Koh Phi Phi – some of the most stunning scenery in the Andaman sea lies on and around this island. But it’s not just easy on the eye as there are plenty of banging bars and clubs around the Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalam areas.

Koh Samui – nowhere near as chilled out as Phangan but Samui can be just as noisy at party time with plenty of bars and nightclubs, especially around Chaweng beach.

How about a trip that encompasses all of the above islands? It’s perfectly do-able by investigating Samui for a couple of days and then spending a few days each side of the Full Moon Party on Phangan. Once you’re done you can then catch the boat, bus and boat again to reach Phi Phi where you can do it all over again. Good times!

Useful information:
How to get to Koh Phangan
Best Beaches in Koh Phangan
Interactive Map of Koh Phangan