Koh Phangan beyond the Full Moon Party: A paradise island for yogis, digital nomads and party people
I’d seen alot of Thailand but it took me till my 4th visit to visit the island of Koh Phangan. To be honest, I’d kind of been avoiding it on previous trips as I imagined it just to be an island full of gap year backpackers getting trashed at the Full Moon Party but I discovered that there is so, so much more to Koh Phangan than the Full Moon Party and I really feel in love with the magical island and even ended up moving here for a while!
Why I came to Koh Phangan
You might find this a strange thing for a travel blogger to say but it was never really my goal to travel to every country in the world, I travel to be free and to learn more about myself, the world and other people and really all I’ve ever wanted to do is just to find my happy place, and a place that I can call home. (More about why I travel here)
At the moment, home for me is Goa. I love Goa but there’s several things that make living there difficult – my main problem with Goa is that the internet sucks, which is a huge problem when you work online. See more here about the reality of being a digital nomad in Goa )
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I also hate rain, (that’s one of the reasons why I left the UK) and so I don’t like to stay in Goa during monsoon as most things are closed, the power is off a lot and most of my friends leave.
So I need another ‘home’ for monsoon at least. I have been looking for another place like Goa for a while. I went to Bali for a month and although I loved the island it didn’t really feel like home – I missed the party scene and I still missed Goa so when one of my friends from Goa moved to Koh Phangan I thought it was about time I checked it out for myself.
I actually timed my first visit not to coincide with the full moon party as the island is busy and accommodation is more expensive and even though it was low season and sometimes rainy there were still plenty of people to met, yoga classes to attend and parties to go to. 6 months later I returned and rented a house on Koh Phangan and did attend the full moon party but I thought it was overrated, and enjoyed the numerous other parties more.
Why I Loved Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is really a gorgeous island and my photos really don’t do it justice. The beaches have soft white squeaky clean sand, the ocean is clear, turquoise and teeming with tropical sealife and great diving and snorkeling and the interior of the island is jungly, mountainous, magical and mysterious dotted with mesmerising golden temples and waterfalls. Driving around the island on a motorbike if fun and a bit like being on a roller coaster with all the ups and downs and curving corners.
Something that I look for in a place is a mixture of hedonism and spirituality. It also has to be warm with beautiful nature, affordable, easy to rent a house and have an expat community (it gets so tiring getting to know new people every couple of days who then move on – not that there’s anything wrong with that but I feel I’m at a stage now where I want to build meaningful, lasting friendships and relationships which is impossible if you are traveling to a new place every few days)
I just loved Koh Phangan – it was exactly what I was looking for.
Even though Koh Phangan is a beautiful, tropical paradise island there’s still plenty to do and explore. I avoided Haad Rin where the full moon party is held and stayed by the beach in Sri Thanu (a popular place for yogis) I stayed at Laemson Resort (one of the nicest and cheapest options right on the beach but the beds were a bit hard) so I preferred See Thanu Bungalows. I also stayed near Thong Sala, the island’s main town, which has a great food market and is a good base to explore the island. If you like to party Baan Tai is a good choice.
I also really liked the beaches in the North, especially Secret Beach, Haad Yao and Haad Salad, Malibu, Bottle Beach, Than Sadet and the 2 beaches up at Thong Nai Pan are probably my favourite. Haad Yuan, Just around the corner from Haad Rin, is also lovely and is home to The Sanctuary yoga retreat as well as some of the best parties on the island.
The Thai people, other travellers and expats are really friendly, there’s plenty of yoga, meditation and workshops as well as good parties pretty much every night. It’s easy and affordable to rent a nice house and motorbike, most houses come with wifi, it’s easy to get a sim card and the network is consistently strong and the power doesn’t go off all the time.
Traveling Thailand is so much easier, cleaner and less hassle than India. There are a couple of options to reach Koh Phangan. You can take a flight to the neighbouring island of Koh Samui or a cheaper option is to take a train or bus and ferry combination. You can book transport through Thailand easily online at Bookaway. Of course I still miss the magic of India and of Goa but it’s nice to relax and have an easier life from time to time!
Koh Phangan has something for everyone – yogis, digital nomads and party people will all feel at home here. Even families and honeymooners would enjoy the island’s serene beaches in the North. Koh Phangan also has an incredible, magical energy – I can’t really describe it on here so you’ll just have to visit to feel it for yourself. Apparently is has something to do with the island being made from a giant powerful rose quartz crystal. Read more about that here.
I spent a month here on my first visit and a couple of months when I returned only 6 months later. The time just flew by and I only left due to visa and as I had a mediation retreat in Nepal booked, I left feeling like Koh Phangan is one of my 2nd homes now. There’s still so much for me to explore on Koh Phangan so it’s not goodbye – I have a feeling I’ll be back!
For the latest entry requirements for Thailand and more info go to Fan Club Thailand In July 2021 Thailand is expected to open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine. Phuket will be the first destination to open followed by Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Krabi, Pattaya and Phang Nga. See more details here Those without the vaccine will need to have a negative test and quarantine for 10 days at an ASQ hotel in Bangkok.
Have you spent time on Koh Phangan? How was your experience?