Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, half way between Koh Samui and Koh Tao is known for its lush tropical landscape comprising of coconut plantations and tropical rainforests, idyllic bays, beaches and coves and its famous full moon parties at Haad Rin Beach. The island was also featured in a book and a movie that enhanced its status as a tourist destination.
Best Time to Visit
Climate wise December to March is the best season to visit as the rains are gone, the temperatures are pleasant and even the water is clean, the tide is high and good for swimming. July and August just after the dry season is also a good time to visit.
Koh Phangan can be accessed via Koh Samui, Chumphon and Surat Thani airports from which visitors need to board ferries to get to the island. High speed catamarans are available from Chumphon airport. The bus and boat combination is said to be the most reasonably priced and easiest. Combination tickets can be bought from the government bus terminal in west Bangkok. There is also a train, bus and boat option from Surat Thani and Chumphon. Stay at Anantara Rasananda Villa Resort & Spa one of prominent Phangan resorts to enjoy privacy and relaxation amid a verdant tropical landscape and a selection of luxurious accommodation. Guests will find the resort location ideal to access key island attractions..
Renting a motorbike is the best way to travel around the island. However riders need to be aware that conditions of some roads are not that great, particularly on steep hillsides. Hikers may find hiring a bike useful as it can be used to go up hillside for part of the way during hikes.
Hiking is something that many people visiting Koh Phangan like to do on account of forested hills and interesting trails around the island. The hills in the middle of the island have intriguing trails beneath their tropical canopy that peter out. One popular trail starts from Haad Rin goes north to Haad Yuan, on to Haad Thien, up to Thong Nai Pan and onto Haad Khuat or Bottle Beach. The route is difficult in some spots and there is always the possibility of taking the wrong turn. Many people also ride a motorbike to the end of the concrete road at Haad Khom and then hike the steep jungle terrain on to Bottle Beach. If hiking back to Haad Khom, hikers have the option of riding to Chalok Lam in a boat and walking uphill to Haad Khom, that takes about half an hour, to pick up the bike. They can also walk all the way from Chalok Lam. Another good hike is the one up to Phaeng waterfall in Phaeng National Park that involves a steep 250 meter climb up a jungle trail. Walking up hill for around 15 minutes hikers arrive at Domesila look out that offers panoramic views of the surroundings. If hikers continue on this trail, they reach Khao Ra viewpoint at 600 meters on the highest hill on the island. Although the trail is a bit treacherous, GPS tracking is available all the way up to the top of Khao Ra. Unfortunately the eastern trail to Khao Ra through dense rainforests and waterfalls seems to have fallen into disuse. Hikers encounter cloud forests towards the top on the western trail. Other interesting hikes are going up to Thaan Sadet waterfall in the north eastern part of the island and climbing 3 km up alongside it and climbing up to Thaan Prawet waterfall from Thong Nai Pan Noi beach also on the north eastern part of the island. Hikers can cool off and to take breaks at several lovely spots along the way. Wat Khao Tam lookout between Thong Sala and Haad Rin is another interesting place to get up to. Part of the way can be accessed via motorbike. A short hike takes visitors up to a temple and a look out. Hiker can also walk up to the lookout at Chalok Lam on the road to Haad Khom.
Point to Remember
Hike in a group of like minded people to avoid losing the way, to have an enjoyable outing, to help each other on the difficult parts of the hike and to keep to the agreed timing of the hike. Prior to setting out decide on the route and duration of the hike. Look up the route on a map. Remember to carry enough water for the duration of the hike and snacks, wear bug repellant and sun block, carry a pair of sunglasses, a hat, camera, a GPS, mobile phones and a map and return before sunset.
Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.