Ko Pha Ngan is an island off the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand and forms part of the Chumphon Archipelago. Halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao, it is known as a land of coconut trees and the world-famous Full Moon Party that have placed the island firmly on the Banana Pancake Trail.
Places below are listed clockwise starting at Thong Sala:
- Thong Sala — The island's "capital" and main ferry port.
- Ao Nai Wok — A quiet bay with a long white sandbar in front of it. It is the first bay to the north of Thong Sala (just 7 min walk) and one of the best areas for sailing, windsurfing or kayaking. This is due to its orientation to the wind all year long and the proximity of the two wild little islands, Ko Tae Nai and Ko Tae Nok (approximately 10 min paddling in a kayak to Tae Nai)
- Sri Thanu — A volcanic peninsula to the south of Haad Son and Haad Yao with bays and beaches.
- Haad Son — A beautiful bay with a beach.
- Haad Chao Phao — A small quiet beach on the western shore of Ko Pha Ngan. It has some resorts and bungalows offering budget rooms with full facilities. Has several beach bars and restaurants where you can have dinner and drink while the sun is setting. To go there from the main pier by taxi takes around 15 min and 20 min by motorbike. If you need a real escape, here it is. Also has a Moon Set Party at the Pirate Bar. The party is arranged regularly a few days before the Full Moon Party.
- Haad Yao — A long white sandy beach just north of Haad Chao Phao, slightly more developed with more beach bars, a 7-Eleven, ATMs, and restaurants, but clean nice sea and snorkelling further from the beach with accommodations from 150 Thai Baht. Maybe the best beach on the west coast.
- Haad Salad — An idyllic cove with several high-end resorts on the northwest corner of the island.
- Haad Mae Haad — Wide sandy beach joined to Ko Maa, a national marine park, by a sand spit. Has some of the best diving and snorkelling on Pha Ngan. There is a small village and a variety of resorts, restaurants, and bars. Nice snorkelling: you'll need to go over the first, dead reef to see the coral. Make sure you get in and out during high tide as crossing the dead reef when the tide is receding can be difficult and painful. Not much else to do but snorkel here.
- Thonglang Bay — Between Chalok Lam and Haad Mae Haad, this almost undiscovered bay offers a delightful and peaceful escape from the crowds.
- Chalok Lam — Fishing village with a picturesque beach in a long beautiful sandy bay at the northern tip of the island. Not touristy because of few boats making the trip, and the western part of the bay has some of the most beautiful waters off the island with a nice narrow beach under palm trees.
- Haad Khom — 20-min walk east of Chalok Lam on a steep concrete road or a few minutes ride from Chalok Lam you will find a nice quiet beach with clean seas and soft white sand where you can relax and do some of the best snorkelling on the island. There are only around 5 accommodations with good prices (from 150-300 Thai Baht for a bungalow), so the beach is not crowded. Only the one closest to Chalok Lam, CBB, has 24-hr electricity, the others use diesel generators. Together with Bottle Beach and Chalok Lam Bay these are the best beaches on the northern coast and the entire island.
- Bottle Beach — Also called "Haad Khuat", one of the most isolated beaches on the island, on the north coast accessible by longtail boat from Chalok Lam (150 Thai Baht/person) or by a 2-3 hr long, tough hike from Haad Khom beach (this hike named the beach due to the use of plastic bottles to mark the trail). There is also the road option, on one of the worst roads on the island, but the taxi ride is so expensive that is always better go to Chalok Lam and take a longtail boat from there. Very relaxed quiet beach with few accommodations but very reasonable prices (from 250-300 Thai Baht/bungalow). Nice long and wide soft white sand beach and good clean water for swimming even during dry season. There is only one disadvantage. Due to its isolation, there are no ATMs or 7-Elevens or local restaurants so you have to buy everything for inflated prices at your accommodations (e.g., 90 Thai Baht for fried noodles). But what you pay for meals you will save on accommodation and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches on island.
- Thong Nai Pan — Scenic area on the northeast part of the island that includes the neighbouring beach resorts of Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai and Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi, twin bays with two fantastic beaches. Thong Nai Pan Yai is the bigger one. The area caters to families with children, and singles and couples who are looking for unspoiled beaches, tranquillity and peace. Here you get safe swimming all year except during the November monsoon which normally ends around the middle of December. Both beaches have a variety of restaurants ranging from inexpensive Thai to top international cuisine.
- Haad Thien — Home of the Sanctuary Resort, a hip, up-scale resort with a nice vibe.
- Haad Yuan — A nice sandy beach on the southeast corner. A hop away from Haad Rin if you would like to get away from the party crowd.
- Haad Rin — (Hat Rin) — The most touristy/crowded village, with all the services any traveller needs and the home of the famous Full Moon Party. The biggest party scene on the island (along with Baan Tai). One of the few beaches during dry season where is possible to swim.
- Ban Kai — Between Ban Tai and Haad Rin this beach offers an idyllic setting, just minutes from the Full Moon Party. Sea also quite dirty and very mountainous terrain.
- Ban Tai — Facing Ko Samui, the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach on the entire island.
Climate & Weather
The best time to visit the island and also high season is Dec-Mar when the water is clean, and good for swimming. It's also not rainy and temperatures are pleasant. Another high season time is Jul-Aug after the dry season when the water is rising.
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