Although Koh Phangan is commonly associated with non-stop crazy parties, what a lot of people don’t know is that there is an equally lovely quiet side to the island that is totally underrated. When Tom and I first went, we purposely stayed away from the craziness of the full moon parties and opted to skip it altogether. Instead, we spent our days exploring in our motorbike, finding hidden beaches and viewpoints. So for those of you who don’t want to party like there’s no tomorrow, here are 10 awesome things to do in Koh Phangan.
1. Go Diving
I know that most people associate diving with Koh Phangan’s neighbouring island, Koh Tao. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that some of the dive sites that you can reach from Koh Tao are the same sites your visit when in Koh Phangan. Dive sites like the Southwest Pinnacle and Sail Rock are half way in the middle and are great sites to explore. For those that are just looking to go snorkelling, checking out some of the beaches in Haad Salad and Haad Ya.
2. Eat Your Heart out in the Night Market
The Thong Sala Night Market is a must do while you’re in Koh Phangan. Unlike most night markets, the one in Thong Sala is full of food (dream come true for me!) The selection on seafood is pretty good and the meals always come out so fresh and delicious! You will find anything from traditional Thai meals to sushi rolls, fried potatoes, and many more. Don’t let the run down parking lot feel throw you off!
3. Set off on a Boat Trip
Set aside a day and do yourself a favour and explore the many beautiful beaches near Koh Phangan. From Koh Phangan. You can even reach Ang Thong National Marine Park for a day of swimming and snorkelling. There are also boat tours which bring you to the hard to reach places like Thong Nai Pan, Bottle Beach, Ko Ma and Ko Tae. We rented a scooter and tried to reach Bottle Beach whose roads were steep and almost impassable. Although we succeeded, I will forever have that scar on my leg to remember that afternoon by. If you want to take it to the next level, you can also include overnight camping in your boating trip for a minimal fee.
4. Rent a Motorbike and Explore
Although we don’t recommend trying to find Bottle Beach via motorbike, we do recommend renting one and taking it around the island for a spin. Riding bikes is simple the cheapest and best way to see a place! Koh Phangan itself is very steep and hilly so experienced riders are recommended. One of the best viewpoints? A hill with a lovely view of Haad Son. If you’re coming from Ai Chaophao, head towards Haad Yao. Keep riding down and soon you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the island.
5. Take a Cooking Class
Hi, I am Anna and I love Thai food. In fact, I am almost obsessed with it. It is by far my favourite cuisine within the South East Asian region. Since I love it so much, what better way to spend a couple of hours than by learning how to cook (and eat) delicious Thai food. Koh Phangan has no shortage of cooking schools but schools like Same Same in Haad Rin, C&M Study Center as well as Jang’s Thai cooking school come well recommended.
6. Go Chasing Waterfalls
Contrary to what TLC wold you, do go chasing waterfalls while you’re in Koh Phangan (God, I hope you’ll got that reference!) There are about 7 different waterfalls in Koh Phangan, all relatively close to the main towns. Please do note that a lot of the waterfalls dry up during rainy season. However, if you are up for a nature trip, do check out Sramanora waterfalls, Phaeng, Thaan Prapaad, Thaan Sadet, Wangsai, Paradise and Thaan Prawes waterfalls.
7. Take the Challenge Phangan
Do you know the TV show wipeout? Well the Challenge Phangan waterpark allows you to experience exactly that. The course is located in Seetanu and is a combination of fun, adrenaline pumping, and possibly humiliating belly flops and falls. One of our adventure junkies tried this for himself and had a blast! After a few jumps and tries on the obstacle course, you feel invincible-at least before you fall.
8. Go Trekking in Koh Phangan
If for some reason you are tired of lounging around in the beach, there are some great trekking trails by the Eastern coastline of the island. You can head up to the tallest mountain in Khao Ra or head into the Phaeng Waterfall National Park. If you decided to head up Khao Ra, on a really clear day, you can even see the neighbouring island of Koh Tao.
Insider Tip: Only trek by yourself if you are experienced in navigating as it is quite easy to get lost. Also, don’t forget to bring snacks and water with you to keep you hydrated. For those that want a guide to accompany them, you can easily find guides by the National Park.
9.Get Your Ohm On
It’s pretty ironic that after a crazy few days of binge drinking, people immediately look for some peace and quiet, opting to spend a couple of days meditating. Due to the hippie vibe that Koh Phangan has, there are many yoga centers and retreats happening on the island. Get your ohm on by attending a few yoga classes. Yoga Retreat is in Haad Salad comes well recommended. If you’re looking for something more intense, we’ve heard great things about the detox programs in The Sanctuary.
10.Watch the Sunset
Because I naturally gravitate towards the sun, watching sunsets in different parts of the world is sort of like a past time of mine. So believe me when I say that Koh Phangan has no shortage of beautiful sunsets. One of our favourite spots is by Amsterdam Bar by Ao Playlaaem. The view from the restaurant area is out of this world! Relax in their many floor cushions as you enjoy the colors of the sunset unfold in front of you.