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Your Insider's Guide: 13 Must-Know Koh Phangan Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Stay (2024)

Koh Phangan was my home for ten weeks, and I fell in love. The tropical island with its spiritual touch has more to offer than the commercial full moon party.

This blog post should be used as a useful travel guide. It's for those, who want to visit Koh Phangan and like to experience the charm of the island deeply. Here you find all the necessary "insider" tips that make your stay even more comfortable. In total, you find 13 tips on how to make the best out of your time while on the island.

Table of Contents:

Why You Should Visit Koh Phangan

As already mentioned in the introduction of this post, this tropical island is known for its monthly full moon party and attracts thousands of tourists.

However, Koh Phangan has so much more to offer and there's a reason why expats choose to move to this island. For me, the island was a great mix between being a tropical island and a place that has everything you need. You can go swimming, explore remote places, and be far away from the bustling world but still have access to international restaurants, good cafés, reliable internet, and the accessibility to buy daily goods you need. In my opinion, it's what makes the island a paradise for digital nomads.

Additionally, for those interested, Koh Phangan is an island that attracts people from the conscious community around the world and therefore, offers great opportunities to dive into your mind, connect with nature, or learn more about spirituality in general.

To answer the question; the island is full of possibilities, where every day can be filled with amazing things to do. You're in charge of doing whatever you like and transforming into another version of yourself.

Tip 1: It's Not A Scam, Taxis Are Expensive

A big downside for the island is the price of "public" transportation. Sadly, there is no Grab or Uber available and you’re dependent on taking a (shared) taxi from one place to another. The price for a short-distance drive is ridiculously expensive and can easily cost 200 Bath ($5) or even more! Friends of mine, who stayed in the north, paid over 1,500 Bath ($50) for a 30-minute drive.

No, you're not about to get scammed (or are you?) the prices are the same for all tourists. Think twice before hailing a taxi for your short walk to the next 7/11, it might cost more than your dinner.

Tip 2: Organize a Scooter Beforehand!

Before heading to Koh Phangan, look for a trustworthy scooter rental and arrange the scooter rental via WhatsApp. Why? Most scooter rentals provide a pick-up at the ferry station. With that, there's no need for overpriced taxis, you're independent right from the start, and ready to explore the island.

🤫 I can highly recommend Mangkorn Scooter Rental. A trustworthy Thai-owned scooter rental where weekly and monthly prices can be negotiated. The rental fee for a Scoopy for one day is 250 Bath ($8,50).

Koh Phangan Travel Tips

Tip 3: Drive Carefully!

The downside of overpriced taxis is that people who can't drive scooters are somehow forced to drive. It doesn't make sense to pay 200 Bath for a short-distance drive or rent a scooter for a full day for 250 Bath. Young backpackers often choose to drive a scooter to save money. Sadly, many accidents happen.

You have no idea how many bandaged people walk around Koh Phangan, how many times the ambulance raced past me to transport an accident victim to the next hospital, or how I saw traces of accidents on the streets.

Don’t be stupid. Please drive carefully. Be aware of sandy roads, keep a distance, and drive on the left side. Be aware, that drunk or drugged people are on the road during the evening.

Tip 4: The Bigger The Ship, The More Comfortable The Ride to Koh Phangan.

Many ferry companies are operating daily from Koh Samui or Surat Thani to Koh Phangan. If you’re lucky the sea is quiet, if not, you must choose your ferry company wisely.

If you get seasick easily, this tip is an important one. I went back and forth from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan six times and also exchanged experiences with fellow travelers.

The sea crossing can be tough when the sea conditions are bad. It's something you can't influence. What you can influence is the type of transportation you choose. The company "Seatran" is not the fastest way to cross the sea, but the most comfortable. The ship is big, which makes the waves more bearable.

Tip 5: Book A Combined Ticket

I already mentioned the overpriced taxis. The need for them can be avoided by booking shared transportation. The best and most comfortable way to do that is by booking a combined ticket which will transfer you from Koh Samui airport to the pier or vice versa.

Just ask for additional transportation to your desired location when booking the ferry and you will save lots of money and the juggling of finding an overpriced taxi.

The transportation for a one-way drive to Koh Samui to a pier costs around 150 Bath.

Tip 6: Every Day is Party Day

Yes, the island is known for the full moon party, but don’t worry, the island doesn’t get boring on any other day. There are many weekly parties to attend.

I concluded that some days are reserved for special parties that occur weekly. If you're lucky to be around the island on those days, ensure you won't miss it.

Here’s a list of a few of them:

  • The first day of the week is reserved for Apple Bar. A bar that can only be reached using a free shuttle from the main road. If you’re there before sunset, the entry is mostly free.

  • On Tuesday head to Why Nam Beach. This is probably the best party you can be part of. At a remote beach, which only can be reached on foot or by boat, there’s this party with its unique vibe.

  • Wednesday is reserved for Seaboard Resort’s Art Market. An art market that happens every Wednesday and turns into a chill party at night. A party that often starts quite chill and gets fun the later it gets.

  • I had the pleasure, of staying at Sabaii Bay and found their Friday parties quite fun, therefore I recommend paying Sabaii Bay on Friday a visit. If you head early enough, the entry is mostly free.

  • On the weekend you must visit Eden. The party starts on Saturday but gets best around 5 am on Sunday. Eden is located in the same area as Why Nam and can only be reached by boat or hiking trail.

Best Beaches in Koh Phangan

Tip 7: Stay Informed through Group Chats

Entering group chats on the island is like becoming part of the island’s community. Thanks to the work of the organizers of those group chats, you won’t miss any events.

The Koh Phangan Party Mafia is a group chat on Telegram for the latest parties only.

I also find the website Phangan Events quite useful to have all events at a glance.

Become part of Phangan Today via WhatsApp and stay informed about spiritual events, yoga flows, events, and selected parties. The schedule of the day will be posted in the morning and looks like this:

Tip 8: Don’t Miss The Night Markets

On weekends, two night markets are happening on the island you can’t miss. Night markets are popular among tourists and locals for a good reason. Here you find cheap clothes, nice souvenirs, delicious finger food, and it’s a nice stroll through the area.

On Saturday there is the night market at the Thong Sala Pier.

On Sunday another market takes place in the north of the island. It's around the same size but is not as busy as the Saturday night market. You find it here.

Once a month, a beautiful Art Market at Siam Healing Center takes place. It’s my favorite market on the island, where you can buy unique jewelry from local artists, and enjoy the live music. I loved the unique and loving vibe.

Tip 9: There Are Many Vegetarian Restaurants

Thanks to the conscious community, Koh Phangan is a vegetarian heaven. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant that can’t do their dishes not vegetarian. Don’t worry, if there are no vegetarian options available on the menu, just ask for an alternative.

If you want to eat in vegetarian cafés with vegetarian options available, you can read my recent blog post for vegetarian-friendly cafés here.

Looking for a spot for lunch or dinner? Here are my favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurants.

Delicious Thai Food:

You can't go wrong by visiting Pantip's Food Market located in Thong Sala. It's best whenever you can't choose what to eat and get inspired by walking around the market or just eating whatever you're in the mood for (🤫 I highly recommend eating at Madame Pam's food stall inside the market!)

Also located in Thong Sala there's this Thai-owned restaurant called No Name. They serve delicious and freshly-made Thai food and every dish can be made vegetarian-friendly. The downside is, that it takes a very long time until you receive your food, especially when the restaurant is full. Be aware, that it sometimes takes over an hour until you get your food. A secret tip of mine, check how many tables are busy. Only one table waiting for food? You're good to go.

Another food market with a different and more chill vibe is called Café Vintage. A more quiet food market where the food is served to your table. The market has a delicious-looking pizza stall and offers different kinds of Chinese dumplings. Of course, you can indulge in Thai food as well.

Western Cuisine:

Basilico serves Napoletana Pizza. The pizza is fluffy but not as rich in taste. Unfortunately, the pizza sizes are smaller. However, still a decent pizza place near the Thong Sala area.

The Sun Salad Bar is located in the Pantip food market. Here you can create your buddha bowl and add 10 ingredients into your salad for only 120 Bath. An affordable way to have a healthy and nutrient-rich dish.

Pure Vegan Heaven is open until 9 pm. The variety of the menu makes the restaurant a no-brainer for all occasions. I highly recommend trying their burritos, Buddha bowls, or rice paper rolls.

Looking for a place to eat at the beach and maybe indulge in Italian food? Romanzo Tropicale is your place. Offering deliciously made pizza, different pasta dishes, and a mouthwatering Tiramisu. The restaurant is pricey, but the view and the atmosphere make it worth it.

A great place for lunch is HEXAGON located in the yoga area of Koh Phangan. They serve a buffet lunch set for 200 Bath and all their food is vegan!

For me, the best Italian in Koh Phangan is That's Amore. An Italian-owned restaurant that makes the best pizzas! The restaurant is located in the north and a 30-minute drive through the jungle away from Thong Sala but worth it! I love the pizza, the huge salad bowls and the pasta is hand-made!

Tip 10: Best Spots to Watch Sunsets

If you're good in geography then you probably know that the best beaches for sunsets are facing west. Nevertheless, I'm going to share three of my favorite spots to watch the sunset and explain why:

The award for best vibe during sunset goes to Zen Beach! Around sunset time yogis meet for a little Acro Yoga session, every Friday a drumming circle takes place, and there's always a DJ playing chill electronic music.

If you feel like sitting in a beanbag while enjoying the view I can recommend you two different places. First, we have Haad Yao. The beautiful, wide sandy beach is best for walking. Additionally, many beach clubs are inviting you to enjoy the sunset with a freshly opened coconut, or any other drink.

Next, we have Hin Kong Beach. It's a great place to watch the sunset from a sandbar or enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants.

Sunset in Koh Phangan

Tip 11: Even More Things to Do

Watching sunsets, visiting night markets, or attending parties/events aren't the only things to do. The island is full of many fun activities. Here's a list of things you can do while on the island:

  • Go Paddling - try out the latest sport. On Koh Phangan are at least three different paddle fields available.

  • Do a jetski tour - rent a jet ski and explore the island or even visit Koh Samui.

  • Discover waterfalls.

  • Try out kitesurfing - the wind conditions and the shallow water are perfect for beginners.

  • Attend a Thai cooking class - expand your cooking skills by learning how to cook Thailand's most famous dishes.

  • Rent a snorkel and explore the underwater world!

  • Scuba Diving - although its neighbor island is more famous for diving, you can explore a beautiful underwater world here too.

  • Do a day tour of Ang Thong National Park

Tip 12: Book Your Accommodation Early Enough!

Surprisingly, finding accommodation for your stay is not the easiest task in Koh Phangan and I recommend booking in advance and determining the length of your stay. Especially during the full moon party, the prices rise drastically and if you won't attend the party I suggest avoiding visiting the island around that time.

🙏🏽 I highly recommend that to you! Friends spent days finding good and affordable accommodation because they thought it would be easy. It's not.

Tip 13: Koh Phangan’s Areas and Where to Stay

A huge challenge while looking for accommodation is to choose where to stay. I somehow ended up dividing Koh Phangan into four different areas that spread different vibes - that’s my opinion but it made recommending the areas for accommodation much easier. To sum up the areas for you, here is how I parted the island:

Best Areas to Stay

  1. The first area, I'd like to introduce you to is "Yoga Town". Most of the yoga centers are located here and you will find many vegetarian-only restaurants. It's the second busiest area in Koh Phangan, perfect for those who'd often like to attend spiritual classes and workshops. The accommodation prices are higher here and if you're last minute, it will be a challenge to find a place to live.

  2. The City Center in Thong Sala is the place where everything is a stone’s thrown away. Whatever you need, you probably find it here. It's a lively place with many bars, restaurants, hotels, hostels, and so much more. This is your place when you'd like to have the action near you.

  3. The next area I'd like to introduce to you is the hotel and resort area. A place to relax, and unwind. Quieter than the other two areas mentioned above. It's best for families, or people who'd like to be far away from the action but appreciate the quiet civilization.

  4. Somewhere in Nowhere: If you'd like to stay in a peaceful surrounding, and maybe get to know yourself deeper in a remote space, I'd recommend the island's east (except Haad Rin*). The only way to get to the east is by boat or by a 2-hour hike. On Tuesday and Saturday/Sunday two parties happening, but besides that, it's very chill and relaxing out there.

*Haad Rin is a little extraordinary and does not belong to any area. During the full moon, it is quite busy, so I would not book a stay here for any relaxation. Except full moon, Haad Rin is more quiet, and there's not much going on there.

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