Lying just north of the high-end beach resort island of Koh Samui and laidback diver’s paradise of Koh Tao, what draws travelers to Koh Phangan is spirituality and wellbeing; Buddhist temples, yoga and meditation retreats, on top of holistic spa treatments and tranquility. Thailand’s fifth largest island, Koh Phangan is probably best known for its monthly Full Moon Party, held at the southeastern beach of Haad Rin. However, don’t let this put you off, as outside of the backpacker enclave Phangan offers quiet, white-powder beaches, lush inland jungle prime for hiking, and excellent diving opportunities. If you’re very lucky, you may even spot pink dolphins jumping through the waves just offshore.
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A popular day-trip from Koh Phangan as well as neighboring Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Ang Thong is a stunning collection of over 40 islands, two hours by wooden boat or 45 minutes by speedboat off the west coast of Phangan. Enjoy kayaking, snorkelling and swimming in its crystal blue waters, with hikes through caves and to spectacular viewpoints.
Located on the island’s north shore, Chaloklum is a picture-perfect version of a Thai fishing village, complete with a beach dotted with longtail boats and seafood restaurants adorning its few streets. Here is also a great place to grab a taxi boat to the secluded Bottle Beach, located on the northernmost tip of the island.
Neighboring Koh Tao may be better-known as a diving destination than Koh Phangan, but the dive destination - Sail Rock - actually exists between the two islands. As such, it is just as easy to get to this world-class reef from Koh Phangan as it is from Koh Tao, the bonus being that Koh Phangan boasts more diversity as a travel base. Here, divers swim amongst massive schools of fish, and whale sharks are a common sighting. Other popular dive spots on Phangan include Koh Ma, a small island just off the coast, connected to Haad Mae by a picturesque sandbar, which is also great for snorkeling.
The west coast of Phangan is a mecca of perfect beachside spots to take in a spectacular sunset. Enjoy some small bites and live music at ™Alcove as the sun sets over Hinkong beach, or take a seat at the beachside bars and restaurants up the coast on Secret Beach, Haad Yao or Haad Salad. For an extra special view, head up to the 360° bar at Utopia Resort for a stunning panoramic sunset view.
Than Sadet Koh Phangan National Park
An expansive area of jungle and mountain close by the eastern shore of the island, this protected area is the perfect spot for a daylong hike, with natural spots to stop for a refreshing break at the beautiful Phaeng and Than Sadet waterfalls. If you can make it, the two-hour trek to Khao Raa - with its summit at over 2,000 feet - offers the best views on the island.
A mecca of detox and wellness retreats, Koh Phangan offers several picturesque spots to perfect your dancer’s pose and engage in some mindfulness training. In the northwest corner of the island near the town of Srithanu, stop into The Yoga Retreat, Agama or Samma Karuna; down on the south shore in Baan Tai, Siam Healing Centre also offers challenging hatha, vinyasa and ashtanga classes.
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