How to get the best hotel deals in Koh Phangan:
See the list of ‘guarantee’ hotels on this page – then book directly with the hotel. We identify hotels that guarantee, in writing, to discount below the lowest online agents’ prices for guests who book directly. First contact the hotel through the e-mail box provided here.
DISCOUNT ROOM VOUCHERS, the very cheapest rooms available here, are also available through this site, but they are limited in number, and conditions apply.
see more detailed info and good photos of all Phangan beaches in the travel guide pages in this site:
Koh Phangan: a Full Moon Party, yes, but this island has so much more to offer on many beaches
Koh Phangan offers more than the Party: beaches, beaches, tropical beaches – but beware
It’s most famous for the hedonistic swarming of tens of thousands of youthful revellers to one special beach each month, for mass gyration and howling at the rising moon; a bit like so many colourful moths swarming a light bulb in the dark. But Koh Phangan offers much more than the world’s most famous beach party. Beach, beaches, beaches.
A large portion of this rugged island’s coastline is trimmed with beautiful tropical beaches, and like the geography behind them, they vary enormously, giving visitors a wide choice of environments and beach ambiences. So while thousands come to this island for drunken dancing in the sand all night, others seek tranquil chill-out beach holidays, or romantic hideaways.
The one constant everyone should remember, however, is the enormous influence that the Full Moon Party holds over the entire island. Unless you’re coming for the party itself, you’re best avoid the island for a few days each side of full moon. At those times the island can be virtually overrun: hotels are full; prices are up; facilities are full; tourists on motor scooters swarm the roads and tickets to and from the island are difficult to get.
Phangan’s low level of development is a big attraction for many
Despite the fame of the Full Moon Party, the overall level of development on Phangan is quite low – except perhaps for the crowded, ugly commercial slum of Haad Rin the party venue. The rest of the island is mostly coconut plantations interspersed with occasional villages, homes and temples. Only the beaches see lots of people or activities.
The road network is quite good, with sealed roads crisscrossing all but the rugged interior – with little traffic. Motor scooter is by far the major form of transport on the island, for both locals and tourists. There is only one town, Thong Sala, by the ferry terminals.
Koh Phangan is quite like Koh Samui 20 years ago, before mass tourism arrived.Where the sides of Samui’s mountains are being scarred by housing estates and ugly condos, Phangan’s all remain green. Wthout an airport Koh Phangan will hopefully avoid the excesses of its big neighbour.
choose your coast carefully; they’re very different, and far apart
Samui’s beaches vary enormously, as mentioned, largely contingent on the geography immediately behind. The beaches on the southwest coast are straight and flat with few features, like the flat land behind. Most west coast beaches lie cosy in little bays created by the low mountains there. The north and east coast beaches, however, are lie at the foot of high mountains, etched as they can be into the granite shoreline. These are surely the most beautiful on the island, and the most difficult to get to. Some have rough road access, some have none.
The biggest number of hotels and resorts lie along the straight southwest coast at Ban Tai, where they can easily double as Full Moon Party accommodation for one week a month, then peaceful escapist resorts during the rest. Those beaches in bays along the west coast are also popular for those seeking a more conventional beach holiday, and offer a large number of 3-star hotel choices.
Arguably the most beautiful beach on the island (or it was 15 years ago, in my view) is Thong Nai Pan Noi, on the east coast. This is also the exclusive, 5-star zone, with nearly all of the island’s top end accommodations here. See Koh Phangan’s Top 10 Luxury Beachfront Hotels.
lots of cheap party rooms; lots of good quality resorts
Phangan offers the widest range of accommodations imaginable: from super cheap, flophouse dormitories to exquisite, luxurious 5-star resorts; lots of the former, only a few of the latter. Most of the really cheap rooms are close to the Full Moon Party venue, particularly along the Ban Tai road. The really high class resorts have gone the opposite direction, to nice beaches far from the Party scene.
However, the great majority of beach hotels here are in the 3-star range, found on all beaches. The number of 4-star establishments was close to ten in 2017, but growing bit by bit. These are widely scattered, with just one on this and that beach.
Most 3- and 4-star establishments were designed principally to suit couples, the island’s main market, though some have enough space and facilities to be called family-friendly. Our list of Phangan’s most family-friendly beaches and resorts shows our choice of the best. With so many remote and quiet beaches it’s not surprising that the island has a whole host of resorts that qualify as intimate and romantic.
Phangan’s beaches and water controlled by offshore reefs & tides
Offshore reefs rim the entire south and west coasts of the island, where the largest portion of the beach hotels are found. These cause the build-up of sand between the beach and reef, creating shallow water that can often leave dry sand banks at low tide, and nothing to swim in. These shallows generally run for a few hundred metres out from the shore.
High tide will bring water that’s typically waist or chest deep, and very clear in the calm months – good for swimming and great for children.
The real problem though, lies in the strange tides that control the Gulf of Thailand. Instead of the normal four tides each 25 hours, here there are only two, each lasting a full day or night. When high tide lasts all day, the swimming is excellent. But there’s not much dry sand left. When low tide runs all day you simply cannot swim on these beaches - and that low tide will hold through the daytime for several months. Swim at night, perhaps?
a surprising number of things to do and see on this undeveloped island
Despite that this is a relatively undeveloped island, and there are very few man-made tourists attractions like theme parks, there’s still a surprising number of things worth doing and seeing. Many of those relate to getting out and about to tour and see the island, and appreciate both natural and cultural assets. In total I have identified more than a dozen that I think worthwhile, seen in a dedicated page, 15 Things to do and see on Koh Phangan.
There is only one small town at the port of Thong Sala, from where all big ferries come and go. A car ferry services the island several times daily from both the mainland at Don Sak and from Koh Samui, though most foreign visitors arrive by high speed ferry from Surat Thani, Samui or Koh Tao in Chumporn.
Because the island's different coasts and beaches vary so much, it is important to find the right beach with atmosphere to suit your expectations, before choosing a hotel.
by John Everingham