Koh Phangan: Beyond the Full Moon Party
When you say “Koh Phangan” everybody associates this island to nightlife, clubs and alcohol buckets.
I chose to visit island for the opposite reasons: to practise yoga, to snorkel and find out uncommon tropical fishes, to dive in unspoiled sites, and unwind in a secluded part of this world.
Koh Phangan is the fifth biggest island of Thailand and it is located 70 Km away from the main coast. Taking the ferry you will get off at the main town called Thongsala where an army of “song teaows ” private pick -up taxis, will dispatch the tourists to their different accommodations bumping up and down the hills covered with jungle.
The island is a good option for people willing to do jungle trekking, explore waterfalls, chill out on the beach, experience the famous Full Moon parties or discover the underwater world through diving or snorkelling.
This archipelago formed by Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui islands is reputed in the whole country for housing the spotted whale sharks, renowned for being the biggest and most harmless of their species. The period with the highest chance to meet them, called “whale-shark season“, goes typically from March to June. An occasion not to be missed by diving addicted!
For this reason, my partner and I lodged at The Sail Rock Divers resort in Chaloklum, in the north part of the island: after lot of research and comparing, we have been recommended to stay here since this diving centre is one of the most reputed on the island for all levels divers, offering basic good value for money bungalows if joining one of their courses.
Moreover, discounted accommodation is also available to non-divers like myself: so while my partner was attending the PADI Advanced Course, I could join the group on boat day trips, have a nice breakfast on board and snorkel around all day long exploring stunning coral reefs and spot incredible fishes.
Moreover, Yoga and Thai Boxe classes are available prior to booking! The only resort’s flaw is the cleanliness of the bungalows which are a bit worn out and infested with mosquitoes due to the river passing close by. Don’t hesitate to ask for a second round of cleaning if it’s not up to your standard and remember to bring tropical mosquitoes repellent everywhere you go!
It is worth mentioning the fishing village of Chaloklum which proved to be an oasis of peace far away from mass tourism and movida. This village offers basic facilities and has small seafood restaurants, a few bars and a mini-market. Local people were quite used to tourists and there was a nice and welcoming atmosphere. Thai people provide taxi services on they scooters or long-tailed boats to reach nearby beaches popular for the presence of coral reefs such as Bottle Beach, Haad Salad or Ko Ma.
It is particularly pleasant to walk on the extremely long and sandy beach watching the sunset: one could believe to be the protagonist of an idyllic sun cream advertisement where palms are sweetly brushed by the wind and you sit on a rope swing drinking from a coconut. On this occasion it is all true and reality will overcome your imagination! The seabed is silky, the sand is blinding white and soft like dust, the water is the warmest I ever bathe in and totally transparent.
After one month of day trips, exploring and travelling across the country here I truly had the time to unwind and enjoy the last days of my adventure. If you have enough time don’t forget to explore the Ang Thorn Marine Park to spot tropical fishes and to do kayaking in a stunning scenery.
A good way to end your perfect beach day is to join the Sunday Night Market for dinner where a few stalls prepare barbecues and Thai delicacies; alternatively, have dinner in one of the family-ran restaurants overlooking the bay where delicious local dishes and fresh squeezed drinks are served.
Reaching Koh Phangan island from Krabi is quite easy: either you take a quick flight which is the easiest option but not the cheapest one if you book last-minute or you book a combined bus and boat journey which will take 7 hours in total and it costs around 700 Baht per person. You can reserve this combo ticket 24 prior departure in any tourist kiosk or travel agent of the country.