Friday, December 07, 2012

Koh Phangan: The Party Island of Thailand

Have you heard of the full moon party or the half moon party or the no moon party? Well, all of these events take place at the tropical island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. During these days, a huge number of people gather on this island to party hard. Locals say that as much as 100,000 to 150,000 people turn up for the full moon party. And just so you know that this island is really small and only a small part of it is inhabited.

Sunset at Haad Salad Beach, Koh Phangan
But, Koh Phangan is not just about its parties. It has all the qualities of a top tropical island. It has some fabulous beaches, white sands, panoramic view points, calm bays, lush jungles, big waterfalls, excellent diving and snorkeling sites and many more. Hence, you can indulge in a multitude of activities to have your share of fun while you are on this island. You can do sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, cycling, dirt biking, bird watching and/or simply relaxing and soaking in the sun.

Haad Mae Haad Beach connected with Koh Ma island during low tide
If you here for the party, come around the party dates and ensure you book in advance and stay around the Haad Rin area as that is where the main party happens. If you here for other stuff, it is best to visit during the no party days and have the entire island to yourselves. During low season, it is very easy to walk in and get accommodation.

Chaloklum - the fisherman's beach at Koh Phangan
Depending on your budget, need for access to markets, need for secluded area, the options to stay are phenomenal on this island. While most of the established places with markets and other facilities lie on the west coast between Haad Rin and Chaluklom, the real cut off ones lie on the east coast and access is only by boat since the roads are mostly washed out.

The more popular areas for diving and for a secluded atmosphere is Haad Mae Haad Beach that is near the Koh Ma island, Haad Salad beach and Haad Yao beach. Personally, I like the Haad Mae Haad beach a lot since it gives easy access to Koh Ma island, which is a great snorkeling spot, it is close by to the cheap fisherman’s markets of Chaluklom village and away from the hustle and bustle of Haad Rin.

Hill side view while driving in Koh Phangan
The best way to explore this island is to take a scooter or motorbike as the island is pretty large. Do ensure your brakes are in good condition as the roads in most stretches are really steep. If you cannot ride a motorbike, you can either take a bicycle, taxi boat or jeep taxi. The key places to explore here are Bottle Beach, Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai, Haad Mae Haad, Haad Rin, Haad Salad, Haad Yao and Ao Baan Tai. But, such is the beauty of this place that you will find almost all the places beautiful and appealing to the eyes. While I was here, I explored all of Koh Phangan’s west coast, but due to an unforeseen blackout in the whole of the island, I had to leave the island early and hence missed the chance to explore the remote east side of the island, which is supposed to be the more beautiful due to its remoteness and lack of crowds.

This is one island I would love to return, stay much longer and explore every bit of it. Hopefully, I will get a second chance soon.

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