Where to stay on Koh Phangan?
Koh Phangan is a fantastic holiday destination with very distinct and unique areas of the island. Each of these areas is suitable for a different types of visitor and tourist. This guide will detail the various regions of Koh Phangan and help to identify the most suitable for your stay. Koh Phangan is wonderful, as even at the height of the tourist season many of the beaches are empty and close to paradise. The only exception to this are the three days around the full moon party when the island transforms into a chaotic and hedonistic destination.
Haad Rin area of Koh Phangan
The first beaches on Koh Phangan to be discovered were to the south east around the peninsular of Haad Rin. Today this is the main tourist centre with the highest density of bars, clubs and tourist facilities. If nightlife, drinking and partying are the main aims of your stay within Thailand then make your base in one of the many hotels on the southern tip of Koh Phangan.
A beautiful sunset over Koh Phangan
The famous full moon party occurs along these beaches and accommodation is extremely difficult to secure or highly inflated during the build up week. The beaches to the northern side of Haad Rin are the best in the area but not great in comparison to others on the island.
The city of Thong Sala
Thong Sala is the Koh Phangan’s primary town and provides the expected services for an island with a population of 12,000. The island's main hospital, banks and Obidos port are located here but few tourists choose to be based in the non-descript town. Thong Sala is located on the coast but the beaches that surround the town are very average.
The Thong Sala Food Market
Generally, the nightlife is better at Haad Rin, the beaches are better to the north and atmosphere better to the west so there is no real point being based close to Thong Sala. The only one exception to Thong Sala’s very average appeal is the nightly food market which sells some of the best food in the region at unbelievable prices; as all roads pass through Thong Sala the night food market is a convenient stop off.
The North West of Koh Phangan
The beaches to the north west of Koh Phangan are much less developed than the area surrounding Haad Rin. The region retains the atmosphere of a remote paradise but amenities and services are that of a much larger resort town. The beaches are palm fringed with white sands and empty even during the height of the tourist season. Nightlife is more chilled than to the southern side of the island and revolves around socialising in the numerous trendy beach bars.
The stunning coastline of Koh Phangan
The north west region is connected to Thong Sala by newly constructed tarmac roads and it possible to explore the entire of the island from this area. The roads are quiet, safe and suitable for even novice scooter riders to drive along. Stand out beaches of the region are Haad Yao or Haad Salad. This side of the island is ideal for travellers who want a paradise location combined with home comforts or are travelling as a family unit.
The North and North East of Koh Phangan
The north and north eastern sides of Koh Phangan hide the best beaches on the island. The quiet secluded bays to the north east are simply described as paradise while the northern beaches are exposed to the seas of the Gulf of Thailand. Amenities and services are much less here than anywhere else on the island but why would you want a loud drunk disco in paradise?
A beautiful beach on Koh Phangan
The main disadvantage of the north and northeastern region is also the same factor that has helped maintain it as an unspoiled paradise - the lack of good roads. The only access road to this entire region passes through the interior of Koh Phangan and is along badly rutted dirt tracks. Competent bike and scooter riders can traverse the route but it is neither a fun nor safe experience while local 4x4 taxis will severely eat into travel budgets. The best beach of this area is Thong Nai Pan Yai a remote secluded paradise. This side of the island is ideal for experience travellers who are seeking paradise but not put off by the difficulties of travel.