Things to do in Koh Phangan
Practical tips for Koh Phangan
There are so many things to do in Koh Phangan but first of all I will give you the practical tips. From Chiang Mai we flew with AirAsia to Surat Thani which took 1 hour 50 minutes. Similarly to Bangkok to Chiang Mai, if you book far enough in advance, the fare should only be around £30.
We booked our ferry tickets in advance through Ferry Samui. I checked that they were a legitimate company by emailing them beforehand and they were very helpful and responsive. We booked a return ferry and coach ticket from the airport combined which was around £40. I definitely recommend you book in advance as the spaces sell out quickly
There is a smooth transition through the airport after checking in at the ferry desk. They gave us a sticker which determined which boat we were going on and which destination (either Koh Phangan or Koh Samui). The coach took around 40 minutes to reach the pier where we waited for about 20 minutes for the ferry. There was an announcement to say they were ready to board, the ferry was spacious and we managed to sit upstairs on the top deck (very windy!).
Make sure you take note of the type of ferry as I was caught out. I thoroughly recommend Lomprayah ferry, which takes you to Thong Sala Pier in 3 hours. On the way back we made the mistake of booking with Raja ferries which essentially is a large public transport boat(including cars) billowing black smoke and with limited seating. Not a comfortable experience the day after the full moon party I can tell you. Also, when we arrived at Donsak pier for our coach to Surat Thani arirport, it was chaotic. No one was helpful and we were worried about missing our flight. Please book Lomprayah!
When we arrived at Thong Sala Pier there were a number of minibuses taking people to different destinations for 200 baht per person. However, I was unsure if they would drop us off at our hotel and so I asked for a private transfer. We were told it would be 1000 baht and I started walking away to get a tuk tuk in Thong Sala but a genetlman followed us and offered a private transfer for 400 baht. Tip: Don’t be afraid to just walk away!
The journey from Thong Sala to Sarikantang took around 30 minutes.
Things to do in Koh Phangan
If you have read my Things to do in Bangkok and Things to do in Chiang Mai blogs, then you will know what a busy bee I was. So my time in Koh Phangan was a lot more chilled out, so sadly I do not have a whole host of things to do in Koh Phangan to share with you!
Day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park
One of the best things to do in Koh Phangan is a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park which we booked through Orion Tours. We were picked up at 8:20 from Sarikantang and taken with a few others to Ban Thai Pier where the boat departed at 9am.
There was plenty of space at the front and back of the boat (for you sun worshippers like me!) as well as seating inside. We started off with a breakfast consisting of cereals and fruit, water coffee and tea.
Our first stop at around 10.30 was at Koh Wao where we were given 45 minutes to snorkel. If you are brave, there was a diving board and a slide for entering the water. Life jackets were provided (optional) as well as snorkelling gear. We were left free to try and find fish – I managed to spot a lovely black and white and blue fish. I am not a strong swimmer so I was delighted with my lifejacket bobbing along and felt very safe – they also have a rope from the boat to hold on to if needed.
After snorkelling we were presented with lunch on the boat whilst we travelled to our next destination. I thought this was a great idea as it did not eat into any of our time. We were greeted with huge bowls of green curry (vegetarian) rice, vegetables and chicken in breadcrumbs which was pretty tasty.
At the next destination, the visitors who had decided to kayak (extra 200 baht) were let off the boat and taken on a long tail boat to an island to get in there kayaks. The rest of the group (including me) travelled to Mae Koh where we embarked on a short 15 minute hike up to the top of the viewing point to see the beautiful Emerald Lake of Talay Nai surrounded by steep limestone cliffs where there are absolutely stunning views of the lagoon and Marine Park. After the hike, we had 20 minutes for swimming in the sea (so refreshing after the hike) and grabbing a well deserved ice cream.
Our final stop was to Koh Wua Talap Island (the National Park). The entrance fee of 300 baht was included in our tickets but beware with other tour companies that they do not include this in their price.
Here we were given the choice of hiking to the top for views over the islands or viewing the caves with beautiful limestone formations. I love climbing so I had to opt for the hike but I am not going to lie – it was difficult so make sure you take good footwear! Luckily it was shady as it was a steep 500 metre climb (take water!) but there were five resting points along the way all with beautiful views. The views of Ang Thong islands were absolutely worth the hike at the top!
We departed the national park at around 4:30. Tuna rolls were served on board with salad and we made our way back to the pier at Koh Phangan, which took around two hours.
It was absolutely worth a day trip to the Ang Thong National Park. At 1700 baht (without the kayaks) including the entrance fee it was a bargain – definitely recommend this for things to do in Koh Phangan.
View Point in Haad Rin
We visited a lovely view point from Sarikantang which was a 15-20 minute walk away along the private beach to the East. We came across so many swings and hammocks which made for gorgeous pictures. With the area being so remote it was a lovely afternoon exploring the far south east side of Koh Phangan.
Thong Sala Night Market
After Amsterdam Bar we went to Thong Sala Night Market (also called Pantip Market) which is about 5 minutes drive away. It was actually quite a bit smaller than some of the night markets in Bangkok but there were some really great stalls ranging from local Thai cuisine to Indian to Italian.
Make sure you don’t miss the 100 different fruit shakes available for just 30 baht – there are literally all the flavours you could want!
We also had skewers of beef and chicken (around 20-30 baht each), these AMAZING potatoes with paprika (make sure you get one each!), a daal and naan bread and a fluffy light custard doughnut.
Make sure you go there hungry as there is so much great food to choose from – we were gutted that we did not have room for the ice cream rolls!
Full Moon Party
How can you go to Koh Phangan and not check out the Full Moon Party! Definitely the most epic party I have been to, the beach and roads are surrounded by people in neon colours, smiling and dancing. There is such a great atmosphere and you can bar and club hop as much as you want!
Things we missed to do in Koh Phangan
As I mentioned above, we needed our time at Koh Phangan to be more chilled given the busyness of Bangkok and Chiang Mai! That came at a cost given there were a few things that we sadly had to miss:
- Khoa Ra – hike up to the top for awesome viewpoints. I decided against it in the hot weather but for those slightly more physically fit than me, definitely check it out!
- Waterfalls: We were told that due to the season there wouldn’t actually be any water in the waterfalls so we quite rightly gave that a miss!
- Hire a scooter: If you feel brave, hire a scooter and explore the island for 250 baht a day. Be warned about being scammed though!
- Group tour taxis: There were several advertisements around town for taxis to take you to four different beaches for 500 baht which is pretty good value!
- Koh Samui: A day trip to Koh Samui will only cost around 300 baht return and take 40 minutes.
- Other parties: If the full moon party isn’t enough for you there are number of parties to entertain yourself with including a half moon jungle party and a waterfall party!
- Thai boxing: Usually the night before the full moon party there is Thai boxing in Haad Rin arena for 500 baht
East London Girl: Things to do in Koh Phangan