Southern Thailand is overfilled with exotic islands to choose from, each one as ravishingly beautiful as the next. But Koh Phangan is undoubtedly one of the most special.
Koh Phangan’s highlights are unquestionable: beautiful beaches, peaceful landscapes, powder-soft sand along with a dense jungle are the aces in the island’s pack of cards. Along with these natural beauties, the spiritual side of the island is manifested through its 20 temples, and small fishing villages breath their own serene and unique atmosphere.
Underneath you find our selection of 10 sightseeing that absolutely cannot be missed when you are visiting Koh Phangan.
1. Haad Rin
The most well-known beach on Koh Phangan is Haad Rin and it actually consists of two beaches. Haad Rin Nok is situated in the southeast of the island. This wide beach with white, fine sand has become very popular over the years and a large number of restaurants, bars and resorts are located nowadays next to the beach. The famous Full Moon Party is celebrated here every month by more than 10,000 people.
Haad Rin Nai is situated in the southwest of the island and is also called “The Sunset Beach”, it is the arrival point of the ferries that come from Koh Samui.
2. Thong Nai Pan
Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai are two popular beaches at the East side of the island and form together a panoramic double bay. Both beaches have the image of a paradise with nicely rounded white sand bays bordered by mountains covered by a dense tropical rainforest.
The surrounding mountains make these beaches fairly inaccessible. The way to reach the Thong Nai Pan beaches overland is via a steep and bumpy dirt road; however it is definitely worth the “hassle”.
3. Haad Khuat
At a short walk from Chaloklum you find the stunning beach Haad Khuat (“Bottle Beach”). The beach is wonderful, the lush tropical surroundings are spectacular and the water is smooth and crystal clear. This is a beach to sit back, relax and read a book…
If you want to avoid the short trek through the jungle, you can hop on a small boats that operates between the beach and Haad Rin or Chaloklum.
4. Haad Yao and Haad Salad Beach
Koh Phangan’s northwest is famous for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and the best snorkeling and diving spots. It is a great option if you look for a more quiet area. From Chaloklum down along the Northwest coast you find coral reefs that are in good condition, and it is even possible to dive directly off the beach.
The popular Haad Yao Beach (“long beach”) is often described as one of the most attractive beaches of Koh Phangan thanks to its fine white sand, shady coconut trees and most of all its spectacular sunsets. Haad Salad Beach (which means “Pirate Beach”) is well known for its excellent coral reefs.
Baan Chaloklum — located on the quieter northern end of Koh Phangan — is one of the last active fishing villages of Koh Phangan ad its surrounding islands. It is outlined by its old wooden buildings and low seafront shops. An endless lineup of fishing boats make their way every day into the Gulf of Thailand to catch small squid (called ‘plamuk’ in Thai language) and dry them on racks next to the pier and jetty.
6. Khao Ra
Koh Phangan’s almost unexploited inland is ideal for trekking tours of one day. Khao Ra is the highest mountain peak (627 meter) on the island. A long winding trail leads up to the top and offers a spectacular view of Koh Phangan. Don’t forget to visit the Phaeng Waterfall on the way up.
7. Kuan Yin Chinese Temple
On the road from Thong Sala to Chaloklum stands the Kuan Yin Chinese temple. This temple is made up of seven different buildings – each of them attractive and with endless views over the countryside and nearby Chaloklum Bay.
There is an impressive ‘dragon drum’, several colorful pagodas, a large golden Buddha statue and wind chimes throughout. The grounds are dotted with bougainvillea and several golden warriors guard the inside entrance.
8. Wat Pho
Wat Pho is a traditional sauna runned by monks in Baan Tai on the road to Thong Nai Pan. In this herbal steam sauna natural herbs like lemongrass are heated by a log wood fire to create the steam that is filtered into the sauna. The herbal steam has many health benefits for the body and skin.
On the road to Thong Nai Pan you find one of Koh Phangan’s most unusual tourist attractions: the biggest Yang Na Yai tree of the island. You will recognize it from the ribbons tied around trunk and the sign that says ‘Biggest Yang Na’ tree.
The sap of the tree is a thick wax mainly used for wood coating and boat building and as a traditional herbal medicine. The Yang Na Yai in Koh Phangan is said to be 400 years old.
9. Wat Phu Khao Noi
Wat Phu Khao Noi which name means “The temple of the small mountain” is the oldest temple on the island, established around 1400 by Buddha monks that discovered Koh Phangan and found it a spiritual place.
It is an attractive, shaded place with a devoted atmosphere, where you can observe the monks in their daily life. Wat Phu Khao Noi is located in the hills of Koh Phangan near Wok Tum and offers one of the most magnificent views on the whole island.
10. Than Sadet Waterfall
The largest waterfall of Koh Phangan is the Than Sadet Waterfall, which is also named Than Sadej which means “Royal Stream”. It is located on the East coast, in between Ban Tai and Thong Nai Pan. Than Sadet is a 3 kilometer stretch of rock pools and cool streams with a royal touch, since it was visited by several Kings of Thailand, including the reigning monarch who engraved its signature in the nearby cliff.
Getting to Koh Phangan
Ferry boats leave from Surat Thani to Koh Phangan, you can reach Surat Thani by train or bus from Bangkok. You can also fly to Koh Samui and take from there a boat. Organized trips to Koh Phangan are often combined with (one of) its neighboring islands.