Koh Phangan island useful info
Location and History
Koh Phangan island is one of the Thai islands that form Samui archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. It is situated in the province of Surat Thani (sometimes spelled as one word of Suratthani). Located about 70 km from the main port and capital of Surat Thani province, Surat Thani town, and about 20 km North from Koh Samui island which is the biggest island of the Samui archipelago.
With its 168 square kilometres Koh Phangan is the 5th biggest island of Thailand and has less than 13,000 inhabitants. 90% of the island is still the rainforest which gives you a lot of possibilities for trekking, camping or just exploring the unspoilt wild life among other things you can do on Koh Phangan.
Koh Phangan island was inhabited until about 600 years ago when the first people came here. It were the monks who saw its tranquility and they built there the temple Wat Phu Khao Noi. Since then, Koh Phangan has been a very important spiritual place and at least four Thai kings have visited it.
It is said that Great Rama V came to Koh Phangan more than 10 times and on a rock of Thaan Sadet Waterfall he engraved his royal seal. Even the current king Bhumibol has visited beautiful Koh Phangan so there must be something special about the island.
The minimum temperatures on Koh Phangan are around 23 Celsius degrees, going up to until 33 degrees. The sea is usually from 26 degrees to 28 degrees so warm to swim in all the year long. The most rainy days you will usually get in October and November when it is the rainy season, and the hottest days from December to March but sometimes with the weather you cannot be sure enough so do not count on it and check out the weather forecast before you plan your holidays.
How to Get to Koh Phangan
Koh Samui is usually the place to get to Koh Phangan, or by the plane as there is an airport (USM) and daily flights with Bangkok Airways, or by a ferry/speedboat.
There are more ports in Ko Samui from which the ferries go but all end up in one of the two main ports of Koh Phangan – Haad Rin where the insane famous Full Moon party takes place, or majority of the ferries go to Thongsala. The companies that provide the ferries are Songserm, Raja Ferry and the speed catamaran Lomprayah which is a bit more expensive but takes half time. The last ferry from Ko Samui leaves at 6.30 pm.
The second closest airport to Koh Phangan is the one on the mainland in Surat Thani (URT) where Thai Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia fly. If flying is not good for you, then you can take a train from Bangkok or Southern Thailand to Surat Thani and then a ferry.
The best way is the night train as in both 1st and 2nd class you will get a bed to sleep and a table. It is better to book the ticket in advance. Bus is another possibility to go to Koh Phangan, there are buses going from all the main towns to Surat Thani, and then the ferry to Ko Phangan as no matter if you choose airplane, train or bus, you will have to take the ferry then anyway.
The easiest way is to book combo joint tickets in a travel agency or train/bus station which will consist of the train/bus ticket plus the ferry and all the transfers between the stations and the pier. There are ferries from Koh Tao island that is located in the North of Koh Phangan.
How to Get around Koh Phangan
There are no public buses running around the island. Very few taxis can be found on the island, but there are some in the towns of Thongsala and Haad Rin, and at the pier waiting for the tourists. The taxis songthaews/songteows are huge dark-blue pick-up cars. Always agree on the price in advance. There are no tuk tuks on Koh Phangan.
Anyway, still definitely the best way for you to explore Koh Phangan is to rent a motorbike. No one is going to check out your driver’s license so you can actually learn to drive a motorbike in here.
The helmet is kind of obligatory, the policemen check it often but after a while you will know where they stop as it’s always the same places so you can actually just use a different road. The fine for not wearing a helmet is 200 baht but you will get a paper that you have paid already so for that day you would not get another fine for not wearing the helmet :)
You can also rent a car as the roads of Koh Phangan are pretty much destroyed at many parts of the island so a car can be handy but it is more expensive than a motorbike. Anyway, stay very focused when driving as most of the roads are up and down the hill all the time with lot of curves and damaged from the rainy season. So be extremely careful when driving around Koh Phangan, especially at night or going to the jungle.
Be aware of sand and holes on the road, the same as coconuts scattered around. Accidents here happen that often that even there is this kind of joke on the island – Koh Phangan tattoo is a scar you get after an accident on a motorbike. Or rent a bicycle if you feel like burning a lot of calories. The east coast is easier to get to by paying a longtail boat as the roads on the east are completely bad. Longtail boats used to be the only transport around Koh Phangan a few years ago.
- There is a hospital in Wok Tum and some 24 hour clinics around Koh Phangan. A Rescue service is also available, run by a group of volunteers.
- Post office is in Thongsala. Get the stamps there or in 7/ 11 shops.
- Police office is next to Lomprayah pier in Thongsala if anything happens. Or call 077377501.
- There are ATMs outside each 7/11 shop and Tesco Lotus, but a couple of banks can be found at the Walking Street of Thongsala and Haad Rin town. You can even get cash for travellers checks in more places around the island.
- Internet is easily accessible at many places, but as in all other parts of Thailand, it is not very good, it keeps connecting and disconnecting all the time.
- Laundry is done by most of the hotels, but there are laundry places where they do your laundry for usually 30 or 40 baht per kilo of clothes.
- Theft is not very common on Koh Phangan, unless you are completely wasted at Full Moon party as there you will not find any of your belongings again.
TIP 1: Every single person can find something to do on Koh Phangan. Check out the best beaches of the island and things to do there in my other article.
TIP 2: And here’s more about Angthong Marine National park.