This wonderful island was our favourite! We spent almost two weeks on the famously dubbed “party island” and we want to go back, like, now! It’s on this slice of paradise you can celebrate EVERY phase of the moon, even when there is no moon!
A BUMPY RIDE
Our ride to Koh Phangan from Phuket started with a manic minivan driver at 8am, but we’re getting used to the fast bumpy rides now! We booked our ride through our hostel, The Wire Hostel Patong, and it cost 130 Baht ($5NZ) each. We got dropped at a restaurant on the side of the road at 12.30pm. We had to sign in and the owners kept asking if we wanted to eat – we’d bought snacks the night before so were already sorted. We sat here until 2pm when we were told to walk down the road and around the corner to the actual bus stop. The classic 1.5 hours early to make ’em buy our food trick, good Ol’ Asia. Luckily there were cute dogs here.
The next bus was comfortable and only took an hour until we got to Don Sak Pier, we had to sit in another cafe for another hour waiting for the boat – which was on time. Again we were encouraged to eat at the cafe. It’s all about money, we could have caught the bus three hours later and been there on time, oh well.
Finally, the ferry arrived and we had a smooth trip to Koh Phangan via Koh Sumai, I even had a go at taking photos of the calm ocean while the sun set. It was beautiful. We arrived at 8pm, 12 hours later and caught a taxi car (a Hilux with seats in the tray) for 100 Baht ($4NZ) each.
A NICE GHOST HOUSE vs A BUZZING BED ROOM
Our first hostel was called Magic Wave Hostel and it was lovely, except there was no one there. After two nights we moved to the Phangan Arena which was super busy, a total contrast.
Magic Wave Hostel:
- 100 Baht ($4NZ) each per night
- Nice quiet big dorm rooms, newly renovated, with an ensuite
- Comfortable bunk beds
- Good aircon
- Lovely pool
- Average wifi
- Run by a welcoming French lady who had recently renovated he entire place and was starting to get it up and running
- A massive downside to this otherwise ideal place was that there was no one else around, not even staff. After we checked in we hardly saw the owner and the bar was never maned, nor the reception area.
- 100 Baht ($4NZ) each per night
- Your average dorm room, some were underground and the noise from the rest of the hostel could be heard until 12am when the music got shut off.
- The beds were okay, not what you’d call super comfortable, but not terrible either
- Good aircon
- Nice pool
- Average wifi (seems to be the case everywhere except Internet cafes on the island)
- The staff weren’t the friendliest, some were more helpful than others and at least we could find them when we wanted them
- Two computers up for use
- It was super easy to make friends here as they had a nice social area, a football field, a mini basketball court, a couple of pool tables, a movie area and a beer pong tournament every night – not to mention they held a pre party before any of the “moon” parties
Overall we preferred the Arena because it was more social and there were staff present, even though the Magic Wave had a lovely set up – hopefully they can get it running better soon!
Accommodation rose in price all over the island during the three days over the half/full moon periods. At arena it went from 100 Baht ($4NZ) to 200 Baht ($8NZ) per night for the half moon and for the full moon it was 450 Baht ($18NZ) each per night! You must book well in advance too as the hostels book out very fast!
PARTY AND CHILL ISLAND ALL IN ONE!
The Half Moon Party:
Fluorescent paint, crazy dancers, world class DJs, high on ‘life’ travellers, drunk tourists and good vibes all set in the middle of the jungle – welcome to the Half Moon Party! We had an absolute blast here. Neil had a huge bit of pizza stuffed down his throat in order to get a free feed, and we met the coolest island dog who escorted us 2 long drunken kilometres home at 4am!? This night was packed with shenanigans from the most amazing party we have ever been to. Read more here.
The Sunset Walk:
One night we went for a casual stroll to find a night cap before bed and stumbled upon a sign to a “Sunset Walk”. This awesome spot is down a long driveway that leads to a large area lined with fairy lights and lots of areas to sit or lounge.
There were also a bunch of games like ping pong, pool tables and more. It was empty when we went because of low season and it looked very new. The staff were really nice and the cocktails were on point – a lovely place for a quiet night cap.
That infinity pool though?!
The heat of Thailand was starting to get to us big time and we were in dire need of a cold pool day – most of the pools on the island are warm because it’s such a hot place! One day we were scootering around and we saw a sign for the Saaree Seaview Resort infinity pool. There was a steep road leading up and we thought even though it’d probably be out of our budget to swim we may as well have a look!
It was amazing and only 100 Baht each to come and go as we please for the day. We spent an hour there before exploring a little more and coming back for sunset, this was magical. Honestly, just have a look at the photos.
The beautiful beaches
Oh so many lovely beaches can be found on this wonderful island, here’s what we thought of a few of our favourites. See more pictures and detail here.
The main full moon beach is beautiful. I can see why they hold the main party here, the water is clear and warm, the sand is soft and golden and it’s huge! More here.
Just around the corner from Haad Rim this little private slice of paradise is worth spending time at. We hung out here sunbathing, jumping off the floating pier and swinging on the swings. More here.
The best beach we went to on Koh Phangan. A true slice of undisturbed paradise. We met a huge pig named Duk Dig, who has claimed the beach as his own, but is happy to go for a beach stroll if he isn’t napping. The coral and sea life was beautiful making this out favourite beach. More here.
Koh Ma & Mae Haad Beach:
These two beaches are connected by a sandbar you can walk across to get to the little island, Koh Ma. Neil, Ella and I went here to watch the sunset, it was a wonderful spot to swim and chill before the sun went down. Again, there was good snorkelling just off the shore. More here.
The chilled out bars:
Some of our favourite spots to chill in Koh Phangan were the funky bars with wicked views, these were our top three.
This popular spot is always busy, but totally chilled. We’d been told about this spot by so many travellers that we had to check it out, it didn’t end up being our favourite but it was still worth the look! It has a pool (only open during the day) and is high up in the jungle with a wicked view. There’s a balcony over looking the sea and at night it provides you with a wonderful view of the stars and, like the name suggests, you can buy more than just alcohol here if you’re into that kind of thing. But even if you’re not, it’s a lovely spot to star gaze and enjoy a cold Chang.
Top Rock Bar:
This was our favourite! While scootering around the island we saw a sign for this place and although it was the middle of the day we thought we’d stop and take a look. It was a bit of a hike up! But totally worth the view! This was a lovely spot with not many people, lots of nature and monkeys roaming around.
This cool spot was just off Secret Beach (not so secret) and had some of the most awesome beach swings to play in! It had funky lights everywhere and a snorkelling spot right off the edge. We absolutely loved this bar, definitely worth the stop.
A rubbish day:
In a few of our other blog posts we’ve mention how much rubbish we’ve noticed in Southeast Asia. On one of our lazy days one of our lovely new friends, Madz said her and her partner, Chris, were going to get rubbish bags and clean up one of the local beaches in Koh Phangan. We figured it was time to put some action behind our words and joined in! Ella also thought it was a great idea and joined in.
The five of us spent two hours collecting 15 bags full of rubbish. We started with 12, but a local man saw us and brought another three down along with his jeep, which we filled up and he drove to the dump. It turns out he was a local councillor! He took photos and was so excited to show them in the next meeting. He gave us all a can of coke to say thanks and a ride back to the hostel. What a rewarding experience!
- Get a scooter! The roads are easy enough to drive on, even I did it, and there’s so much to see that a scooter is vital.
- Bring snorkel gear if you’ve got it – almost every beach has snorkelling spots
- GO for a “moon” party, STAY for some chilled out exploring
- Don’t rush, give yourself about a week to get a real feel for the place and then stay longer!