The island of Koh Phangan is a tropical paradise in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Phangan is well known for its full moon parties each month as well as its incredible beaches. Trying to pick just one beach on the isle is tough, because there are so many choices. It’s easy enough to get around Koh Phangan however, with songthaew taxis criss-crossing the island and plenty of motorbike rental shops. Whether you want drinks on the coast with music and friends or a secluded, quiet spot to unwind, this beautiful Thai island has it all. Let this be your guide to finding the best beaches in Koh Phangan.
Just two miles away from Haad Rin, the major party beach on the island, is Haad Yuan. Compared to Haad Rin, Haad Yuan is less crowded. This has a lot to do with how challenging it is to access Haad Yuan. You can hike to Haad Yuan on a trail that takes about two hours on foot, or you can get a quick boat trip. Either way, the journey is well worth it. Despite its challenging access, Haad Yuan boasts bungalows and bars right on the shoreline. Keep in mind that there are weekly parties held on the beach every Saturday, when it can get busy for a 24-hour period.
Haad Son, or Secret Beach, is one of the newer beaches in Koh Phangan. It was only developed a decade ago as part of a larger resort on the coast. Just a short swim out from the beach, and you’ll come across a coral reef. This makes it the ideal spot to go snorkeling. Haad Son is relatively protected and safe, and it is incredibly popular with families. Haad Son is generally not considered to be a destination beach, but a lot of travelers stay at hotels within walking distance and love having access to the white sand, blue water and beautiful views.
One of the most interesting beaches in Koh Phangan is Mae Haad. This wide and sandy beach is connected to a national nature preserve and marine park called Koh Ma. The island of Koh Ma is accessible on foot if you walk along a narrow strip of sand from Mae Haad. Kids and adults alike appreciate the fun adventure of walking to a small island and exploring it, and there are also opportunities to see a local village and go snorkeling. Although the sand of Mae Haad is far from the best on the island, it still remains a popular destination worth visiting.
At more than half a mile long, Haad Yao is an impressive beach that attracts plenty of visitors in Koh Phangan. While you can stay at accommodation right on the beach, you can also get to Haad Yao easily by taxi or motorbike. Haad Yao is a well-known snorkeling and diving spot, thanks to a live coral reef just beyond the shoreline. There is also every kind of amenity you might want on the beach, including a range of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and even a massage parlor. If you’re hoping for a picture-perfect sunset, Haad Yao is an ideal place to be.
One of the most popular beaches on the island is Malibu Beach, located in the village of Chalok Lam. It’s visually interesting for the obvious reasons, including white sand and blue water, but also for unexpected factors: Traditional village buildings are located right on the beach. Plus, you’ll see some bright green, round trees growing right in the sand, which is something you won’t see anywhere else. Malibu Beach is packed with boats of all sizes, because it is a popular place to begin and end snorkeling, diving or sightseeing trips. Another reason that Malibu Beach is such a hit has to do with the ample shade created by palm trees lining the coastline.
Once a month, Haad Rin becomes the busiest place on the entire island of Koh Phangan. That’s because Haad Rin is home to the monthly full moon parties, which draw in thousands of visitors. Four ferries arrive at Haad Rin every day from Koh Samui shuttling in travelers and party enthusiasts. During a full moon party, be prepared for crowds, all-night dancing and music, and plenty of alcohol. The rest of the month, you can check out Haad Rin with far fewer crowds and enjoy jet ski rental, strolling along the Sea Walk or swimming in the dark blue water.
Two neighboring resorts make up the area known as Thong Nai Pan. One of the resorts is called Thong Nai Pan Noi. Noi means small, indicating that this is the smaller of the two beaches. There is plenty of infrastructure in place at the beach, but still very few crowds. You can choose to stay at a traditional bungalow or a luxurious villa at Thong Nai Pan Noi, and you’ll have the sandy beach right outside your front door. The small village still retains a laid-back and traditional vibe, so expect a slower pace of life and a chilled-out experience at Thong Nai Pan Noi.
The second half of Thong Nai Pan is the larger section of Thong Nai Pan Noi. Known for its breathtaking sunrises, this is a great place for travelers who want to have access to great beaches and be able to walk to nearby natural attractions. If you have had enough swimming and snorkeling for the day, you can walk to waterfall or take a sunset yoga class on the beach. There are also plenty of excellent restaurants, countless bars, a pharmacy and all the amenities that you might need for a day trip or an overnight stay.
The rising popularity of Koh Phangan means that it is harder and harder to find a truly empty beach on the island. For beauty and a quiet atmosphere, however, one of your best bets will be Haad Salad. Also known as Salad Beach, this is a beautiful white-sand cove with blue and green water. Palm trees create some shade, a definite bonus on a hot day. There are a handful of cheap and affordable restaurants on the beach, and you’ll be within walking distance of a yoga retreat center and a local cooking school.
Haad Khuat, or Bottle Beach, is one of the least accessible beaches on Koh Phangan. You can get there by longtail boat from Chalok Lam, or you can hike for about three hours to get to Bottle Beach. The name Bottle Beach originates from the plastic bottles that mark the hiking route to get to the beach. At the beach, there are a couple of accommodation options and eateries. Overall, however, it is relatively quiet. You can unwind on the sand and swim safely in the sea, and you’ll rarely have to face any kind of crowds.