When it comes to paradise islands, Koh Phangan is certainly up there as one of the best – and most famous. The most well-known thing about this island, apart from its exotic, far-flung beauty and white sand beaches, is the wild Full Moon Party.
A firm favorite on the Southeast Asia backpacking trail, this monthly party has humble origins but has turned into something of a mega event, attracting tens of thousands of people and even international DJs. This all-night party on the sand is a symbol of the hedonism that Koh Phangan, and Thailand, is known for.
But away from the buckets of alcohol and unbridled fun, there is a much more serene, quieter side to Koh Phangan than first meets the eye. There may be countless hostels at the party capital of Haad Rin, where you’ll find the Full Moon Party in full swing each month, but head further to the north and east of the island and the accommodation options begin to reflect a slower, more chilled out pace of life.
Map of Koh Phangan
Beach bungalows offer up affordable stays right next to the gentle sound of waves; boutique hotels give you the option for budget-friendly luxury on a lesser-visited beach; or you could even base yourself in the main town on the island, Thong Sala.
When it comes to getting around, there are a few interesting hikes on the island, through enticing jungle trails to once-secret, yet still pristine beaches and some lush waterfalls.
A few roads snake through the island; over the hills to reach the northeast, and around the coast to reach the northern beach of Mae Haad. Communal songthaews allow you to get from the port to wherever you’re staying – with your bags in tow – for a budget-friendly price, too.
Haad Rin (also Hat Rin) is quintessential Koh Phangan; it’s here where the infamous, original Full Moon Party takes place. The concept dates back to 1983 when the owners of Paradise Bungalows put on a party to thank the 30 or so travelers who had been staying there. Today, this decadent party attracts crowds of up to 30,000!
Aside from the monthly parties, the beach at Haad Rin is a long stretch of white sand with turquoise water lapping the shore; it is certainly an idyllic spot.
There are many places to stay here, from super affordable hostel beds to boutique hotels with less affordable rooms on offer.
Longboats run in and out of Haad Rin, meaning if you don’t want to navigate the road out of the southeast portion of the island, you can get to other places on Koh Phangan with relative ease.
Where to Stay in Haad Rin
- Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa – Set right on the beach, the chilled out Cocohut Beach Resort features a number of places to choose from when it comes to having a great getaway. Not only are there regular rooms and bungalows, but also villas – all of them imbued with a sense of tropical class and style. There’s a free breakfast on offer at this 4-star resort, as well as a complimentary boat shuttle service. Not only that; staying here means it’s only around a 10-minute stroll to Haad Rin Beach, the site of Koh Phangan’s full moon parties.
- Phangan Bayshore Resort – With its cool outdoor pool and good-times atmosphere, Phangan Bayshore Resort is quite literally on Haad Rin Beach itself. The rooms here are simple and unfussy, but being in such a fantastic place, it’s unlikely you will be spending too much time indoors anyway! You can dine at the beachfront eatery on offer at this hotel, sip a couple of drinks at the poolside bar, and just enjoy the benefits of being right next to the sand and sea in a tropical setting.
- Sarikantang Resort & Spa – Set on the other side of the peninsula, where guests will also find the renowned Haad Rin Beach, Sarikantang Resort & Spa boasts more of a quiet setting for those who aren’t completely about partying – especially when the full moon party is on. With free parking making it easy to get around with a motorbike, and a complimentary breakfast setting you up for a day of exploration, there’s a number of things to do here: getting involved in a cooking class, splashing in the pool, or simply enjoying Leela Beach.
Quite possibly one of the most stunning beaches on Koh Phangan, Haad Yao does not disappoint. It’s the sort of thing you see on a postcard: a curving stretch of white sand fringed by palm trees.
Of course, there’s plenty on offer in terms of accommodation here. You’ll find places spilling right onto the beach itself as well as guesthouses and hotels further inland. Unless you’re looking for a truly exclusive stay, everything is going to be different shades of budget-friendly.
Facing west, Haad Yao is a beautiful place for sundowners. Next door, just to the south around a small headland, is the not-so-secret Secret Beach, which still offers a more chilled and secluded beachside experience. There are several cafes and restaurants to choose from, as well as a convenient 7-11, too.
Where to Stay in Haad Yao
- Tantawan Bungalows – Midway between Haad Yao Beach itself and the not-so-secret Secret Beach, Tantawan Bungalows offers up a budget-friendly lodging which is excellent for couples. True to its name, this hotel features several wooden bungalows with a tropical aesthetic going on inside; they come with beds that have mosquito nets, wooden furniture, and ensuite bathrooms. There’s an outdoor pool here, plus an open-air restaurant and bar where you can tuck into both Western and Thai cuisine while overlooking the sea.
- Longbay Resort – Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Haad Yao Beach, Longbay Resort features bungalows that boast simple tropical decor as well as their very own verandas, so you can sit out late into the night, or chill in the daytime. With an outdoor pool, a kids’ pool, a restaurant, and a bar – as well as the chance to rent motorbikes – you will have practically everything you need staying at this 3-star offering. Explore the nearby area and find eateries, a handy 7-11, and even a diving school.
South of Haad Yao lies the community that has sprung up around the beach of Srithanu. Named after the nearby Wat Sri Thanu, a small but pretty temple, there’s good snorkeling to be had just off the beach here.
But it’s not all about the beachside fun; you can also head to the nearby Laem Son Lake, where you can relax under the shade of pine trees, rope swing into the lake, or simply spend a while drifting around on an inflatable.
There are plenty of restaurants in Sri Thanu, meaning you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to filling up on tasty food. And when it comes to accommodation, expect Thai style beach huts and bungalows, guesthouses, and hotels, all of which range from very cheap to not so cheap.
Where to Stay in Srithanu
- Loyfa Natural Resort – Set on the end of a peninsula, Loyfa Natural Resort boasts its very own private beach as well as a large outdoor pool, so you will have a choice of places to swim and splash around. Onsite, you will find a selection of either beachfront villas or rooms set in a newer building. Just a 10 minute walk away, you will find a variety of shops, eateries, and bars to sample, though there is an onsite restaurant here serving up traditional Thai fare and international cuisine – and two bars to choose from, as well.
- Phangan Akuna – Featuring lush tropical gardens, an outdoor pool, and spacious, contemporary villas with comfortable beds and their own verandas, Phangan Akuna is a family-friendly resort. Here, you can hire a motorbike, enjoy a healthy breakfast, or make use of the shuttle service that will take you to various parts of the island. On top of that, there is a beach just over a 10-minute walk away. The internet is fast, which is suitable for watching your favorite series before bed, and the staff service is friendly and professional.
Don’t get too excited – this isn’t a beach about regular green leaf salad. This particular salad comes from the Malay word ‘selat’ or ‘strait’ and refers to pirates. There aren’t any pirates here today though; just a beautiful beach, a host of affordable and mid-range accommodation options, as well as bars, restaurants, and cafes nearby.
Stay on the headland to the west for amazing views and a higher quality experience, or opt for a deliciously budget bungalow on the beach itself. There’s also a compact beach on the other side of the headland.
Thanks to its proximity to one of the main roads that runs around the island, it’s easy to get out and see other nearby spots, like Wangsai Waterfall or Mae Haad to the north – home to the amazing Ko Ma, an island connected to Koh Phangan by a sandbar at low tide.
Where to Stay in Haad Salad
- Salad Buri Resort – One of the coolest things about Salad Buri Resort is the fact that it has multiple outdoor pools in a terraced pattern – you can quite literally take your pick of which pool you’re going to jump into! With a complimentary breakfast served each morning, a tropical-feeling beach bar, and a chilled restaurant serving up a variety of dishes with vistas over the sea, the rooms here are great. Featuring rattan ceilings, wood floors, and big, comfy beds, they’re the perfect place for a good night’s sleep – and practically on the beach, too.
- Cookies Salad Resort – Set at the southern end of Haad Salad Beach, this 3-star option has everything you need for a comfortable stay in paradise. In terms of amenities, Cookies Salad Resort boasts an outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar overlooking the sea, and even a hot tub. Plus, guests can rent a motorbike here and explore the island. This is best done after indulging in the complimentary breakfast that’s on offer, of course! However, it’s just a short walk to a number of other eateries and bars in the local area, too.
The administrative center of Koh Phangan, Thong Sala is going to be – for most travelers, anyway – the entry and exit point of your visit to this stunning Thai island. All roads on the island lead here, meaning that if you’re circumnavigating Koh Phangan on a motorbike, you’ll most likely have to pass through at least part of Thong Sala.
Naturally, there are a variety of awesome places to stay in this town, most of which are going to be easy on the wallet, with a few posher choices thrown in for good measure. If you are looking for things to do, start with the multitude of restaurants, cafes, and bars in town. You can also check out the abandoned Phangan Navy Ship, beautiful Ao Nai Wok beach to the north, or the larger stretch of sun, sea, and sand to the east.
Where to Stay in Thong Sala
- Da Kanda Villa Beach Resort – With its unfussy but modern bungalows, featuring comfy beds, tiled walls, balconies, TVs, and air conditioning, Da Kanda Villa Beach Resort is a contemporary beachfront resort. Enjoy a dip in the pool and then retreat to a lounger on the deck to soak up the sun, or simply take a few steps to the beach and enjoy what the sea and sand has to offer. There’s also an onsite restaurant for meals throughout the day. If you feel like booking a tour, there’s a lot on offer – from waterfalls to island excursions.
- Baan Manali Resort – Baan Manali Resort features some seriously sumptuous villas for you to stay in. These thatch roof lodgings come with hardwood floors, large beds, and terraces with hammocks where you can chill in the sea breeze. You could even opt for your very own bungalow, which comes complete with a kitchenette. If you feel like getting involved with some windsurfing, there are lessons and rentals on offer here. And when you’re done, return to the resort and dine with a few drinks in the onsite restaurant and bar.
Thong Nai Pan
Located in the Ban Tai district of Koh Phangan, Thong Nai Pan is made up of two beachside communities separated by a headland. In the south is Thong Nai Pan Yai, generally a cheaper and more rustic option with a few mid-range hotels.
Head away from this curving slice of sand and down into town for a fantastic selection of street food every night, handily located right opposite a 7-11. There are a few bars and restaurants to enjoy here, too.
Around the headland to the north is Thong Nai Pan Noi. This beach is the more ‘established’ and less rustic of the two, with numerous restaurants and bars to choose from, as well as a decidedly more comprehensive choice of upscale, but still relatively affordable, accommodation.
Where to Stay in Thong Nai Pan
- Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort – A slice of luxury overlooking the sea, Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa boasts a beautiful infinity pool overlooking a tropical scene of lush trees and palm-fringed beach. But there’s more than that; guests will also find an upscale restaurant, cooking lessons, yoga classes, a free breakfast, and a private beach to enjoy. There is a larger public beach a few minutes’ walk away, however, backed by a selection of eateries, shops, and bars to explore.
- Panviman Koh Phangan – To the south of Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, this upscale offering is the place to go to unwind. Enjoy various spa treatments, sweat off your worries in the sauna, stroll the tropical gardens, or simply enjoy the amazing view from the lovely open-air restaurant and bar that this resort boasts. With weddings on offer, beach access, an elegant infinity pool, and refined rooms that feature a stylish tropical feel, Panviman is also close to Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach, plus a selection of restaurants inland.
- Buri Rasa – Consisting of suites that have all the luxuries you could want – from rainfall showers to balconies with a view – Buri Rasa is next door to the long stretch of sand and sea that is Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach. There are places to eat, drink, and shop in the surrounding area, but there is also a cool onsite restaurant. And if you don’t feel like swimming in the sea, you can always take a refreshing – and probably much needed – dip in the pool.
- The Great Escape Chalets – Stay at The Great Escape Chalets, just off Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach, and be treated to a vacation in a wooden chalet that comes complete with verandas and hammocks for the ultimate in tropical chilling. You could even upgrade for your very own private plunge pool! This 3-star retreat comes with its own beach access, so you can be on the sand within mere seconds. As a bonus, it’s a short walk from here slightly inland to a 7-11 and selection of street food vendors, for a mini slice of night market-style fun.