Home » THINGS TO DO IN KOH PHANGAN – The Ultimate Guide
THINGS TO DO IN KOH PHANGAN – The Ultimate Guide
The moment we set foot on Koh Phangan, we felt the tropical paradise island vibes! This is our most favorite Thai island because of many reasons. The beaches, nature and overall vibes are so chill. Please don’t only go to this island because of its famous Full Moon party. But also don’t skip this island because you think it’s only party people who come here. Koh Phangan has things to offer for everyone!
We lived for more than 5 months on Koh Phangan during the COVID-19 lockdown and felt very safe and happy on this paradise island with lovely locals. Before and after the lockdown we’ve explored everything on the island. So now we share with you this complete guide with all the 25 best things to do in Koh Phangan!
How to get to Koh Phangan
You can reach Koh Phangan only by ferry as it doesn’t have an airport. You can catch the ferry from Samui to Koh Phangan or from Surat Thani on the mainland. It depends where you’re coming from and what the easiest way for your circumstances is to travel to the islands.
Because we also stayed for a few days on Koh Samui, we took the ferry from there.
Best time to go to Koh Phangan
You can visit Koh Phangan year-round, although there is a rainy season which lasts from September until November. The dry season is from late December to March and this is also the peak season. The weather is hot, bright and not too humid, just the perfect circumstances for lounging on the island’s fantastic beaches. We spent two weeks in June on Koh Phangan which is shoulder season, and had perfect sunny weather every day!
How to get around in Koh Phangan
The best way to explore the island is by motorbike. For around 200 baht per day you can rent a motorbike and go wherever you want. But take into account that the roads on the island can get pretty steep. If you’re not feeling safe on the motorbike, you can also go by Songthaew which is a shared taxi pick up.
Where to stay on Koh Phangan
This always depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a party animal and you’re only coming for the parties, the best option is to stay in the south near Haad Rin beach. But if you’re more a nature lover and you’re going to Koh Phangan to relax, eat healthy, do some yoga and connect with nature, you’re better of at the north west coast. Especially Sri Thanu village is the perfect place to stay for vegan food and yoga lovers. There are many hotels and beach resorts you can choose from in different price categories. And of course the price of the accommodation also depends on if you’re going in high or low season!
25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KOH PHANGAN
Relax at the beautiful beaches
If you’re heading to the Thai islands, one of the best things to do is relaxing on the beautiful paradise beaches. There are some beautiful hidden gems spread around the island. In the south of the island you will find the famous and busy Haad Rin beach where the Full Moon party is held every month. But if you’re more into relaxing and quiet beaches, then head to Bottle beach in the North, or Zen beach in the West of the island. Those two beaches are our favorites as we prefer the more hidden gems.
Tired of relaxing on one of the beautiful Koh Phangan beaches? Or do you want to work out after one of the many parties on the island? There are a few great hikes to do on the island. You can choose to hike to viewpoints or one of the hidden beaches such as Bottle beach and Haad Yuan beach. Hiking up to the viewpoint Khao Ra is absolutely a must-do. The path is well maintained, although it’s not marked very well. The round trip up and down takes about 3 hours, depending on your pace.
There are some cool waterfalls to explore in the jungle of the island. They are easy to get to, so this is one of the best things to do to cool off after a day of exploring. Phaeng waterfall is the most well known waterfall of the island, but Paradise waterfall, Wangsai Waterfall and Than Sadet waterfall are also definitely worth a visit! One thing you have to keep in mind is that these waterfalls won’t have any water during the dry season. Only Than Sadet will flow throughout the year.
Depending on the tide, you will see a beautiful sandbank appearing in front of Hin Kong Bay. You can easily walk from the beach to the sandbank, but be aware of jellyfish during certain seasons. If you have a drone you can make some awesome aerial footage here. You will see people walking their dog here, or do a little run, or just enjoying their time on this deserted sandbank. This was definitely one of our favourite things to do in Koh Phangan. Make sure to put sunscreen on because there is no shade around and you will burn easily while enjoying this piece of paradise. You can find another sandbank connected to Koh Ma island in north Koh Phangan.
Watch the sunset at Amsterdam Bar
Watching the sunset is one of those magical things to do in Koh Phangan. We always take the time to watch the sunset and it is together with sunrise our favorite time of the day to film or take photos. On the west side of the island are some awesome cafes & bars and beaches from where you can watch the sunset. Amsterdam bar is one of them, with an incredible 180 degrees view on the ocean and surrounding islands. They only have low tables with cushions on the ground to sit which gives that extra chill vibe of this bar. Order a drink and enjoy the sunset!
If you haven’t been to the Thong Sala night market, also known as Pantip Food Market, you haven’t been to Koh Phangan! No, but seriously, this streetfood market is sooo good!! There are many different food stalls with lots of options for delicious Thai food including vegan options. You can get a great fresh meal for around 100 Baht. A must visit and one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan!
One of the best things to do in Koh Phangan is renting an off road motorbike to explore the island off the beaten path. Especially on the east part of the island are many dirt roads in the jungle where you absolutely need an off road bike to be safe. So if you have your motorbike license, plan a day to explore Koh Phangan off the beaten track. There are lots of beautiful dirt roads leading to hidden and deserted beaches along the east coast such as Haad Yuan beach. With an off road bike you can, for example, easily get to Bottle Beach which is otherwise not possible with a normal bike. The whole journey is an adventure in itself. Driving around the island is a true feeling of freedom and a lot of fun for the guys and girls driving the motor!
Visit the biggest Yang Na Tree in Koh Phangan
The biggest tree on Koh Phangan is also one of the island’s most famous natural landmarks. This Yang Na tree stands at an astonishing 54 metres tall and is said to be over 400 years old. The local villagers of Ban Nok consider the beautiful Yang Na tree as sacred which is why the tree is often garlanded with colourful ribbons and there are several small shrines near the foot of the tree. The Yang Na Yai Tree is known as the largest of its kind in Thailand and are generally used to harvest rubber. You can find the majestic tree close to Wat Pho temple in Baan Tai and if you’re close to Phaeng waterfall for example, a visit to the Yang Na Tree is definitely worth a visit!
Full Moon party
Many people know Koh Phangan from the monthly Full Moon party. It was once started as a backpackers beach party who were celebrating the birthday of a friend during Full Moon. But nowadays it has grown into a huge famous monthly recurring party that attracts thousands of backpackers.
If you like to party hard, this is the place to go! But not only Full Moon parties are being held at the island. There is also the Half Moon Koh Phangan party and even a waterfall party! Check the dates for all those parties here.
Rent a jetski for some water fun
On Haad Rin beach you can hire a jetski for some adrenaline water fun. Below a picture of the prices for the different time frames and contact details of the company. If you hire a jetski, make sure to check all the damages before hand with the rental company. It won’t be the first time that a tourist got scammed with damage he didn’t make. This is the same story with motorbike rental, always make sure to check the vehicle you’re renting before with the company.
Feel the sunset vibe at Zen beach
Every day during sunset, a group of spiritual expats come together on Zen Beach to play drums, do acro yoga and connect with others. The sunset vibe at Zen beach is something different which we haven’t really felt before on another beach or island. When the sky turns into a color bomb, a group of people starts to play drums and other instruments. The fairy lights and crickets create that extra special vibe that tickles your senses. Bring a towel, order a coconut or beer at the beach shack, sit down and enjoy the view. It will be a never-to-forget evening an definitely one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan!
One of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand is without a doubt Sail Rock, situated between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The rock is about an hour boat drive from Koh Phangan and suitable for divers of all levels. The species you can see here are manta rays, barracuda and even whale sharks! You can dive here year-round, but the best diving conditions are from April to October. The costs are between 70 – 80 dollars, depending on the dive school you book with.
Eat healthy at the many amazing restaurants in Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan has many amazing restaurants and cafes with a big variation in food choices. The island is a paradise for healthy food lovers, vegans and vegetarians. Smoothie bowls or vegan burgers, salads, delicious steaks, healthy juices and options from Indian food to Middle Eastern food and of course delicious Thai food.. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it on the island! Especially in the Sri Thanu area which is a yoga, Digital Nomad orientated village. So if you’re looking for variation from the delicious Thai food, there are plenty of options. We lived for more than 5 months in Sri Thanu and tested all the amazing healthy cafes and restaurants. Read our complete guide about the best Koh Phangan restaurants and cafes here
Attend a yoga class or retreat
In addition to the above, many yoga classes and retreats are held at Srithanu village. Also known as the most relaxing place to stay on the island and a great spot for Digital Nomads and health & yoga lovers. There are plenty of options to attend a Yoga class or retreat, just find out for yourself what suits you the best! Orion Retreat is one of the examples where you can find Yoga classes and retreats.
Walk on the sandbank to Koh Ma island
Koh Phangan has two sandbanks which appear during low tide. One in front of Hin Kong beach which is mentioned earlier in this blog post. And the other sandbank which is leading to Koh Ma island on the northern tip of the island. It is a fun little morning or afternoon stroll on the sandbank to Koh Ma island and relax there for a few hours. Koh Ma island is attached to Mae Haad beach which is a beautiful and quiet beach with great beach side restaurants and bars. It was one of our favorite beaches on Koh Phangan to relax for a few hours!
Visit Kuan Yin temple
On your way to Phaeng waterfall or to the North side of the island, for example Chaloklum beach or Bottle beach, you will pass the Chinese Kuan Yin temple. It is absolutely worth it to stop here to take a quick visit to this temple. The place of worship consists of three buildings which all have a Chinese influence. The main shrine where a beautiful statue of the Goddess of Mercy is placed, and two lower buildings. One which is used for meditation and sermons and the other as guest rooms. Just outside the main hall is a gigantic Buddha statue that faces Chaloklum Bay and glistens in both sunlight and moonlight.
Find the quirky Koh Phangan beach and cliff bars
There are many fun and quirky bars in Koh Phangan. Most of them are perched on a cliff or tucked away in the jungle with amazing views on the Gulf of Thailand and surrounding small islands. But some are located on the beach giving the real paradise island vibes. You can choose from the more fancy and luxury restaurant bars such as Bluerama and Tomorrow x High Life restaurant. But if you’re looking for a more backpackers vibe with reggae music and cushions on the ground, then there are even more options to choose from! Below a short list of the best bars on the island:
The Jam Bar
Apichada viewpoint bar
Visit the Ang Thong Marine Park
You can visit the Angthong Marine Park by arranging a boat tour at the Thong Sala pier. The archipelago is a national park made of 42 islands scattered in the Gulf of Thailand close to Samui and Phangan. It takes around 45 minutes for a one way boat trip to get to the Angthong Marine Park. The islands cover more than 100 square kilometers and consists of mountains, jungles and white sand beaches. There are also caves, waterfalls and lakes to explore on your trip. The area itself is protected and home to a wide variety of exotic animals. And if you’re into camping, you can even choose to camp the night on one of the islands by hiring a tent!
Our top 3 beaches on Koh Phangan include Bottle beach in the Northern part of the island. This hidden gem is an adventure to get to. But once you’re there you will be rewarded with a beautiful soft white sand (and mostly) empty beach. This spot is perfect for people who want a quiet beach and are in for an adventure to get there. We went all the way to Bottle beach with an off road motorbike which had some challenges involved. The road is very bumby with lots of holes. But Atiba is a very experienced motorbike driver so it was safe for us to choose this option. He has his motorbike and international drivers license and knows what to do with challenging steep unpaved roads. I wouldn’t recommend going down to Bottle beach if you’re not an experienced motorbike driver. So in that case you can hike to Bottle Beach via two different paths. In our complete guide about Bottle Beach, you will find all the information you need about the beach and hikes towards the beach.
The road to Bottle beach is off road but comes with beautiful views along the way
Buy local fruit at a fruit stall
Along the road you will see a lot of food and fruit stalls. Mostly you can find the best quality of fruit here for the cheapest price, but it can differ in which area the stall is located. One thing we love about buying at these stalls is that you know you support the locals. Especially during the hard times for the locals with the COVID lockdown when we lived on Koh Phangan, we preferred to buy our food local and not in the Big C supermarket for example. Of course for the things we couldn’t get anywhere else we did groceries, but buying locals coconuts, fruit and vegetables gives that real island feel.
Get a massage
If you want to relax and treat yourself with a massage, there are plenty of options scattered around the island. Get a Thai massage if you like pressure point therapy, or an oil massage if you’re more into a relaxing massage. Prices vary depending on the salon and massage you choose and start from around 400 Baht per hour. We always went to Amattra massage in Sri Thanu which is specialised in amazing Thai massages or Korrawan massage for the sport massage after a heavy work out. But you have to be ready for a very strong massage there! You can tell them what you prefer beforehand, a strong, medium or soft massage. Taking a Thai massage is definitely one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan!
Go kayaking along the coastline
It is a fun little adventure to explore the beautiful coastline and crystal clear turquoise water of Koh Phangan with a kayak. Most of the beaches on Koh Phangan have kayaks for rent per hour. The best kayak locations are on the calmer west coast such as at Mae Haad beach. But also Bottle beach on the Northern part is a great spot for kayaking. It’s strongly advised not to go kayaking alone around sunset and you always have to take note of the fact that going with a current means fighting it all the way back. So make sure to check with the staff of the kayak rental company about the current conditions out on the sea so you will stay safe. Bring sunscreen, a hat and take plenty of water and a GoPro if you have one!
Attend a Thai cooking class
If you love cooking, taking a Thai cooking class is one of the things you have to do when in Thailand! Discover the secrets of making a mouth-watering Thai curry or some of the many other delicious Thai dishes. If you didn’t know already, Thai food is so amazing and learning how to cook a real Thai dish is a skill you can take home with you forever!
Our recommendation is to book a cooking class with The Pangan Thai Cooking class. The course takes 4 hours and costs 1200 Baht for 3 different dishes and 1500 Baht for 4 different dishes.
Stay fit in one of the Koh Phangan gyms
If you’re traveling for a longer period of time, you might have the urge to stay fit. Luckily there are a few nice indoor and outdoor on the island. In Sri Thanu is Evolve Gym which is has a roof but has no walls which makes it a great open air experience while working out. In Thong Sala we worked out at two other gyms, whereof Podium Gym is an indoor gym with air-conditioning and Phangan Muay Thai & Fitness Gym another half indoor gym with fans but with a huge range of fitness equipment. We enjoyed our work outs at the last mentioned the most because you could find all the equipment you need!
Visit neighbour island Koh Tao
If you’ve made it all the way to Koh Phangan, you have to visit the smaller neighbour island Koh Tao as well. From there you can also explore the beautiful Koh Nang Yuan.Koh Tao is a beautiful tiny island with plenty of options to relax on the beautiful beaches, hike to one of the viewpoints, swim in the crystal clear water, dive or snorkel and more!
More Koh Phangan travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the 25 best things do in Koh Phangan. For more travel tips about Phangan and the other Thai islands, head over to these blog posts: