The Ultimate Travel Guide To Koh Phangan

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koh phangan travel guide
AnjaStreng / Pixabay

One of the things Thailand is most famous for is its beautiful tropical islands. In fact, for many tourists and backpackers alike, the idea of relaxing in a hammock on the beach, under the shade of a giant palm tree, with a fresh coconut (or cocktail) in hand, is what lures them here.

Astonishingly, there are 1,430 islands in Thailand – all with lush green jungle, pure white sand beaches, and crystal clear ocean. With such an abundance of tropical paradises, how do you narrow down which islands to visit on your trip to the land of smiles?

I believe every tourist that comes to Thailand finds their own paradise island of which they fall in love with. This was definitely my case when I first arrived in 2018. For me, my favorite island in Thailand (and also the world!) is Koh Phangan.

Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is the fifth-largest island in the country. With an overall area of 167sqkm, the center of the island is vastly tropical jungle, whilst the majority of the coastline is stunning beaches.

Although Koh Phangan is mostly known for its famous Full-moon beach parties, there is so much more to do, see and experience here. In this ultimate guide, I will share with you all you could possibly ever need to know about this blissful wonderland.

Where to stay

Where you should stay on the island will depend on your intention for visiting, and what you are looking to do here. For example, if you are coming for the full moon party it will make sense to stay in Haad Rin, if you are coming for the abundance of yoga and spiritual offerings, you will want to be situated in Sri Thanu, or if you are looking for somewhere secluded and quiet, the small fisherman’s town of Chaloklum will be most suited to you.

Sri Thanu

This is the yoga hub of the island. Full of hippies and spiritual seekers, the west coast is brimming with vegan restaurants and yoga schools. Koh Phangan has a strong yoga and spiritual community which means there are many yoga classes, meditation sessions, kirtans, ecstatic dances, sound healing events and much more!

If you’re an experienced yogi or a keen beginner looking to learn, I highly recommend booking your stay in this area. Most of the major yoga schools such as Samma Karuna and Orion offer accommodation as a ‘yoga & stay’ package deal. However, if you want to book your own, there are resorts for all budgets, as well as private houses and beach bungalows for rent.

Thong Sala

Thong Sala is the main ‘town’ of the island. Here you will find great night markets and food courts. The beaches here aren’t amazing, but you don’t need to travel far to find one. Thong Sala is a great and cheap place to base yourself for a few days when you first arrive.

It’s also the home of the island’s Muay Thai training camps. If you are looking for a Muay Thai gym to train at, or you want to learn some basic techniques, staying in Thong Sala would be a good choice. Diamond Muay Thai gym offers a ‘train and stay’ package, however, you will not struggle to find a cheap place around town either.

Ban Tai

Popular with backpackers, Baan Tai is the long strip of road that links Haad Rin with the main town of Thongsala. Although this area is very commercial and full of bars and fast-food restaurants, the beach that runs across this strip is beautiful.

Here you will find some great backpacker hostels – both lively party places and more chilled options. A lesser-known part of Ban Tai is the inland jungle area. Here there are many private houses available to rent, for those that are looking to surround themselves in nature, whilst still being a short scooter ride away from the action.

Haad Salad

Haad Salad is a quiet, peaceful area with a laid-back ‘holiday feel’. Situated in the north-west corner, Haad Salad is home to my favorite beach on the island. The sand here is one of the finest on the island, and the water is perhaps the cleanest and clearest.

If you are looking to splash out a bit on accommodation there are some amazing beach-front resorts here. The crystal clear waters make it a great spot for snorkeling, and there is a diving company located close by too.

Chaloklum

This cute and peaceful fishing village located in the north of the island is a great place to connect back to nature and yourself. Life here is slow and laid back, making it a popular choice for expats and long-term residents.

In Chaloklum you will find Malibu beach, a small, tranquil beach covered with coconut palm trees and surrounded by mountain views. Malibu Beach Resort is a great place to stay here, as well as the privately rented wooden bungalows all around.

Haad Rin

Home to the famous Full-moon beach parties, this area comes alive during this time of the month. It makes sense to stay here if you are going to the full moon party, however, it’s not necessary, as resorts and hostels all over the island arrange transport to the party.

The rest of the month, Haad Rin is much quieter however the beach bars remain open and there are some great restaurants here. However, in my personal opinion, there are much better places to stay on the island, as unfortunately over the years, Haad Rin has become a little rough around the edges.

The best beaches

Secret Beach

Although not so secret anymore, Secret Beach is a beautiful little bay nestled between rocks and small cliffs. You will find it halfway between Sri Thanu and Haad Yao. The real secret to Secret Beach is not the beach itself, but the hidden snorkeling spot which can be found by walking through Koh Raham bar (on the left side).

After entering the bar, walk down to the end. Once you pass a small wooden bridge decorated with coconut shells you will find a cliffside spot with an abundance of tropical fish. You can reach the water via steps and swim around with hundreds of colorful fish. Don’t forget your snorkel!

Zen Beach

Zen Beach is the go-to sunset spot for the hippies and yogis of Sri Thanu. It has become a tradition for travelers and long-termers to flock to this spot every evening. The atmosphere here is what makes the sunset so special. I don’t want to give too much away but expect live music, dancing, acro yoga, and good vibes.

During the day, Zen beach is a peaceful place to relax. The water here is not the best to swim in due to large amounts of seaweed, but it’s still a great spot to top up your tan.

Haad Salad Beach

Haad Salad is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. With it’s soft, white sand, clear turquoise waters and beach swings, it is the ultimate definition of a tropical beach. Haad Salad never gets too crowded, and the array of restaurants along the beach offering tasty meals and refreshments means you can easily spend the day here, dipping in and out of the ocean.

Malibu Beach

The uniqueness of Malibu Beach is what makes it so popular. Firstly, the sand is full of palm trees offering many shady spots to stay cool. This layout also offers something that many beaches do not – privacy. The giant trees create many hidden spaces, allowing you a private spot to relax on your own.

The location of the beach is also unique. Malibu Beach is on a sand split between Chaloklum bay and a river that runs towards the village. The other side of the land across from the water sits a mountain, therefore, when you’re looking out to sea here, you’re actually looking out to a mountain.

Bottle Beach

Perhaps the most inaccessible beach on the island, the only way to reach this bay is by boat or to hike there through the jungle. This inaccessibility is what creates the beach’s appeal. The untouched, secluded paradise you will find here is well worth the effort.

Mae Haad Beach and Koh Ma

Another unique beach and therefore, a must to visit, is Mae Haad Beach in the north of the island. Here at low tide, there is a sandbar that you can walk along to explore the nearby tiny island of Koh Ma. This wild, preserved island is so close that it only takes a few minutes to walk to and is surrounded by coral reef, making it a very cool spot for snorkeling.

Things to see and do

Other than the outstanding beaches, there is so much you can do and experience on the island. Here are the top 8 things to do in Koh Phangan:

  1. Go Snorkelling

Koh Phangan has so many awesome snorkeling spots. Secret Beach, Haad Yao, Haad Salad are great for spotting many varieties of tropical fish, whilst the ocean around Koh Ma and Koh Tae Tok has some coral reefs too.

  1. Paddleboard or kayak to nearby islands

The ocean all around Koh Phangan is usually very calm making it the perfect place to try out paddleboarding or Kayaking. You can hire these from many resorts all over the island for a reasonable price.

With so many tiny islands close to the shore, you can have an awesome adventure exploring these nature spots. The tide is generally low, especially in the south of the island, however, the lowest tide is usually late afternoon.

  1. Hike to Bottle Beach

There are many incredible hikes you can take on the island, trekking up to breathtaking viewpoints, or exploring refreshing waterfalls. The most famous hike, however, is the jungle trek to the secluded Bottle Beach.

The 4k trek takes just over 2 hours. Wear trainers or hiking shoes (not flip-flops!) and take sufficient water with you as there are no shops along the way. If you don’t fancy the hike back, you can come back via a long-tail boat instead.

  1. Watch the sunset at a rooftop bar

Koh Phangan has some really cool rooftop bars. If you are close to Thong Sala I would recommend checking out Blue Rama or Amsterdam bar. You will have to walk or drive your scooter up a very steep hill as both bars are situated high up in the mountains. This location gives stunning views of the ocean and surrounding islands. Both bars also have rooftop swimming pools, however, Blue Rama’s is an infinity pool.

The bars have very different vibes. Blue Rama is more fancy and upmarket, serving food and cocktails, and has recently just introduced entrance fees. Amsterdam bar, on the other hand, has a much more chilled vibe, with Thai yoga floor cushions facing out to the ocean and free entrance.

In the north of the island, 360 bar is the rooftop bar to head to for sunset. Overlooking Koh Ma and beyond, 360 bar offers 360-degree views. It is known for its techno house parties and sunset sessions and is a great place to enjoy a drink, watch the sun go down and start your night off.

  1. Attend a yoga class or retreat

If yoga is an interest of yours, it wouldn’t make sense to visit the island without at least dropping into one of the many yoga classes. You will find all styles of yoga here from Ashtanga to Yin to Kundalini.

If you want to deepen your practice, most of the yoga centers run regular retreats, allowing you to immerse yourself in the world of yoga, learning the philosophy behind the asana practice and going deep within yourself, to grow and evolve spiritually.

  1. Go to an Ecstatic Dance

Ecstatic Dance is an event that has taken over the island in recent years. What can only be described as a ‘sober daytime rave in the jungle’, these sessions see hundreds of hippies come together to let loose, dancing like nobody’s watching.

Drugs and alcohol are banned at Ecstatic Dances, as the idea is to use music and dance as a spiritual practice to connect deeper to yourself and your body, and release attachments, fears and old beliefs in a healthy and liberating way.

  1. Learn Muay Thai

Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport. Muay Thai originated hundreds of years ago when Thai boys as young as six would fight to earn much-needed money for their family.

Today, Muay Thai is a sport that westerners are fascinated by, and many tourists coming to Thailand are keen to learn this martial art. Koh Phangan is home to some well-established Muay Thai training camps, run by ex-champions. The camps run twice daily 2-hour classes. You can drop-in, buy a class pass, or ‘stay and train’ for a more immersive experience.

  1.  Day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park

For a true Thai Island experience, a day trip to the Ang Thong National Park should not be missed. The marine park is an oceanic area which includes 42 untouched, protected islands. Within these tiny islands, you will find caves, treks, viewpoints, monkeys and even a hidden saltwater lake. If one day is not enough, some of the beaches permit camping ‘Castaway’ style.

Best places to eat

Despite being a small island, I am yet to find another place in Thailand that has the quality of food (both Thai and Western) that Koh Phangan does. The Thai restaurants and markets offer fresh and tasty popular Thai dishes. In the markets and food courts, you will also find an array of high quality Italian, Indian, Greek and Middle Eastern bites along with other western choices.

As a vegetarian, one reason I rate Koh Phangan so highly for food is the ease of finding tasty and nutritious meat-free meals. There are many vegetarian and vegan-only restaurants on the island which offer unique and creative plates, inspired by both western and Asian flavors.

As expected, these restaurants are higher priced, however, it’s still easy to find cheap vegetarian or vegan food. All the Thai restaurants are used to veggie tourists and offer tofu or vegetable versions of most of their dishes for 50-80 baht.

Here are some of the islands must-eats:

  1. Pantip Night Market, Thong Sala

Even if you are only on the island for a couple of nights, Koh Phangan’s famous nightly food market should not be missed. The market offers all cuisines from Pad Thai wrapped in an egg to Indian curries to pizza to falafels.

Sweet choices are just as plentiful here. Expect to find mango sticky rice, rolled ice cream, brownies, coconut pancakes and more. The market also has several fruit-shake stands creating whatever shake you fancy for only 30 baht. You can even add the likes of Nutella, peanut butter and coffee for no extra charge.

  1. F*cking Good Cafe, Thong Sala

This small family-run Thai cafe and restaurant is my favorite place for both coffee and Thai food. The son of the family is a coffee connoisseur and you can tell. Not many people in Koh Phangan can make an espresso the way he does. In addition, his lovely mama is an incredible cook, who cooks with so much love every time. They offer an extensive breakfast, Thai and Western menu with a dedicated veggie & vegan menu too.

  1. Basilico Pizzaria, Ban Tai

There are a few great Italian restaurants on the island but Basilico stands out the most. The owner and pizza chef is Italian and just from entering his restaurant, you can see how passionate he is about Italian food.

I’ve tried a few different pizzas on the menu and each one has been outstanding. The pizza here is truly as good as in Italy, so if you’re a lover of traditional Italian pizza, you will not be disappointed here. The pasta menu looks great too if you’re craving a warm bowl of comfort food.

  1. Om Ganesh, Haad Rin

My go-to Indian restaurant Om Ganesh, cooks up heart-warming, soul-nourishing curries, dals and Indian breads. The dahl here is cooked to perfection and the cheese naan is the cheesiest on the island. They also do homemade coconut ice cream for dessert and traditional Indian masala tea.

  1. Koh Phangan Food Court, Thong Sala

Just past Thong Sala, towards Ban Tai, you will find this food court. It’s similar to the Pantip market but much quieter and with more seating available. Highlights here include hearty Thai curries, a brownie stall with at least 10 brownie varieties each night, and a small breakfast stall that can prepare all your favorite western cooked breakfasts plus healthy alternatives such as coconut yogurt with fruit and granola.

  1. Noenkhao Restaurant & Bakery, Sri Thanu

Close by Samma Karuna yoga school you will find this underrated gem. A family-run Thai restaurant and bakery, they serve both Thai and Western dishes for super cheap prices. They make some yummy veggie burgers using their home-made charcoal bread for only 60 baht. They also offer cheap and tasty breakfast options, real coffee and home-baked sweet treats.

Nightlife

As previously mentioned, Koh Phangan is famous for its iconic ‘Full Moon Beach Party’ however, the party scene on the island is so huge that you can find a party every night of the week. Here are a handful of bars and parties to suit all styles.

Full Moon Party

The notorious Full Moon Party sees up to 30,000 backpackers flock to the island each month eager to experience the ultimate beach party. Taking place on Haad Rin beach, the bars here offer alcohol buckets and glow body paint whilst blasting out a cocktail of music genres. Expect messy, drunken chaos which you can either join in with or laugh at from the sidelines. If you’ve got the stamina, the party goes on until the sun comes up.

Other Parties

In addition to Full Moon, there are many other famous island parties. The underground ‘Eden Garden Party’ is a favorite for many, as the atmosphere is said to be more enjoyable than FMP with more dancing and good vibes, and less drunken fights. Other popular parties include Half Moon, Waterfall Party, Shiva Moon, and The Jungle experience.

Rasta Home

If you are a lover of reggae music then you will love Rasta Home! This hippy venue has recently been renovated to expand its space and meet its growing demand. Every Friday night, many of the island’s inhabitants head up to the northwest of the island to experience awesome live music at this jungle reggae bar.  

The party normally gets going around 10 pm when the much loved in-house Thai Rasta band takes to the stage singing all the reggae classics. The band is great at engaging the audience and creating a ‘feel-good vibe’. Before you know it, the dance floor is full.

Jam Bar

For a more chilled out atmosphere, visit Jam Bar on Thursday and Sunday evenings. As the name suggests, Jam bar is an open-air stage for musicians and singers to jam – this is where musicians come together to play in a spontaneous, communal way. The experience you have will depend on who’s playing that night, but it’s always an awesome spot to enjoy a cold beer whilst laying under the stars.

Shopping on the island

Thankfully, there is no shopping mall on the island therefore, there are no ‘big-brand’ retail shops. This is great as it means you get to shop local, help out small businesses and find more unique and quirky gifts. Whether you are looking for new threads or presents for friends back home, here are two markets where you can get some retail therapy.

Pantip Night Market

Next to the food market, you will find a bunch of permanent market shops selling clothes, jewelry, gifts and more. As well as the cringy ‘elephant pants’ and Chang tops, you will find some great hippy stuff.

I find the markets here tend to sell more hippy, bohemian and island-style clothing than other parts of Thailand so if you have been traveling around the country and are sick of seeing the same things, you will welcome this fresh change. Bartering is accepted here, however. how much you pay will depend on your bartering skills and the stall owner.

Saturday Night Walking Street Market

Every Saturday night in Thong Sala you will find the road by the pier overtaken with dozens of market stalls and hundreds of people. This market sells a diverse range of cheap food but also has many non-food stalls.

This is a great place to find unique gifts for friends and family as well as snap up some cheap clothes for yourself. Some of the clothes sold here are new, whilst others are second hand. You will find some great bargains here, especially amongst the second-hand stuff.

Dressing like a ‘Phanganist’

You will notice there is definitely a ‘Phanganist’ style on the island. Many of the mid to long-termers seem to dress very similarly, separating themselves from the tourists and backpackers – or ‘short-termers’.

Although you can find this clothing style in the markets, there are a few western-run boutique stores on the Walking Market road. These shops sell some really cool, hippy and unique threads and jewelry.

The clothes here do cost a lot more than the market stuff, however, the quality of the clothing is much higher, and the designs are certainly more unique. If you love the island style, it’s definitely worth splurging on a new outfit here.

How to get to Koh Phangan

There is no airport on the island, therefore, you will need to get a ferry across from either the neighboring island Koh Samui, or take a transfer and ferry from the nearest mainland airport Surat Thani.

Traveling from Koh Samui 

The nearby island Koh Samui is much bigger than Koh Phangan and much more developed, meaning it has its own airport. However, the airport is very small and the airlines that fly there are limited. Another downside is flights to Koh Samui are significantly more expensive than Surat Thani on the mainland.

The airport is located in the north of the island and the nearest ferry port is Bangrak, a short 5-minute taxi ride away. There are other piers dotted around the island all running ferries to Koh Phangan’s main town, Thong Sala.

Four ferry companies operate from these ports and the journey time varies between 30 and 90 minutes. If you are staying in Haad Rin for the full moon party you also have the option to take a ferry from Big Buddha Pier next to the airport, direct to Haad Rin pier.

Traveling from Surat Thani

Although the journey time from Surat Thani is much longer, it is a lot cheaper as many budget airlines fly there. Once you arrive in Surat Thani you will need to take a minibus to Donsak Pier to catch a connecting ferry.

The journey via minibus will take around 90 minutes and the ferry from Donsak will be around 2 – 2.5 hours, making the total journey time between 3.5 and 4 hours, not including ferry waiting time.

In addition, the last ferry leaves at 6 pm, therefore, bear this in mind when booking your flight. If your flight arrives late and you miss the last ferry you will either have to stay the night in Surat Thani or get the 7 hour night ferry leaving at 11 pm!

Making your journey stress-free

Whether you are traveling from Koh Samui or Surat Thani, the most convenient and stress-free option is to buy a joint minibus and ferry transfer. This saves you the hassle of navigating your way to the pier as the minibus will take you directly from the airport to the ferry. You can purchase these tickets online or once you arrive at the airport. If you prefer to travel to the pier privately, you will not have trouble finding a taxi. However, be warned, they are not cheap.

Getting around the island

One downside to Koh Phangan, like most small islands, is that the transport links are poor. There is no public transport and being such a hilly island, walking is not really an accessible option.

That leaves just two options for getting around: taking taxis or renting a scooter.

Taxis (Songthaews)

You can easily flag down a taxi from the roadside or ask reception at your resort/ hostel to call you one. Taxi prices in Koh Phangan are generally high, especially if you are traveling on your own.

For a journey less than 5 minutes, expect to pay between 100-200 baht, and for journeys up to 15 minutes you could be asked to pay up to 400 baht. These prices seem to be set, and taxi drivers are not open to barter if you are traveling by yourself or with one other person.

If you are traveling in a group, you will have more luck bartering a cheaper price. However, it does seem to depend on the driver, the time of day and also whether it’s high or low season.

Renting a scooter

This is how most tourists choose to explore the island. Scooter rental shops can be found all over. They all tend to charge the same price and are not open to bartering unless you are looking to rent long-term. The average daily rental cost is 250 baht, but if you take the scooter for a week you will get a better deal.

When renting a scooter, the rental shop will likely ask for your passport as a form of deposit. Some places will accept other ID cards or money deposits instead. Even though I’ve never had a problem when returning a rented scooter here, I would still advise you to take photos of the scooter and note down any dents, scratches, etc before you drive away.

When to visit

High season in Koh Phangan is from December to the end of March. During this period prices are generally higher and accommodation will need to be booked in advance. This is also ‘cool season’ and ‘dry season’ when the sky is clear and it’s not too hot not too cool.

February is the driest month and perhaps the best month for soaking up the sun as the heat is not unbearable. The hottest months are April to June. During this time sunbathing and staying in the sun in the middle of the day becomes much more difficult.

As a tropical island, rainstorms can happen all year round, however, they usually clear up just as quickly as they begin. Monsoon (rainy) season is October and November. During this time it’s not unusual for it to rain on and off all day.

How long to stay

I would highly recommend staying for at least one week to truly experience the island life. However, the jam-packed schedules of most tourists and backpackers limit them to just a few days on the island. If you can only stay for a few nights, here is my recommended 3-day itinerary.

Day 1

Depending on the time you arrive and check into your accommodation, you will likely not have a full day to explore. After your long journey, a few hours relaxing on the beach probably sounds ideal. Hire a scooter (or flag down a taxi) and visit one of the beaches from the beach guide above.  

In the evening, catch the sunset at Zen beach before heading to Pantip Market for some tasty street eats. Look up the parties happening that night as every night is different on the island.

Day 2

With a full day ahead of you, the island is your oyster. Ride around the island beach hopping. Go snorkeling, hire a kayak or paddleboard, visit a waterfall or even take a hike.

In the evening, why not watch the sunset with a cold drink in hand at one of the rooftop bars, before going out for a nice restaurant meal. From here you have the choice, whether to have a quiet night or to party the night away.

Day 3

Before leaving the island, take a morning yoga class in Sri Thanu or a Muay Thai lesson in Thong Sala. Afterward, treat yourself to a well-deserved brunch at Eat.Co (by the pier), before catching the ferry to your next destination.

Typical costs & daily budgeting

Accommodation

A bed in a shared dorm at a hostel can cost between 200-400 baht ($6-$12) per night.

A simple, budget private room or bungalow costs between 400-700 baht ($12-$21) per night.

A luxury room or bungalow will cost in the range of 1500-2000 baht ($45-$60) per night.

Food & Drink

If you eat mainly Thai food and drink minimal alcohol, you can spend as little as 200-300 baht ($6-$9) a day.

If you eat lots of western food and drink alcohol every day, you will likely be spending up to 1000 baht ($30) a day.

●    Thai food – You can find a good Thai meal for 50-80 baht at either the markets or Thai restaurants.

●    Western Food – A western meal typically costs anywhere between 100-300 baht. A Margherita pizza, for example, is on average 200 baht.

●    Alcohol – You can buy a single beer at 7-Eleven for 40-60 baht. Expect to pay 70-90 baht in a restaurant and more in a bar. Wine is expensive, as in all of Thailand, around 250 baht for a glass at a restaurant. Cocktails are roughly between 150-350 baht.

Transport

You can hire a scooter for 250 baht ($7.50) per day. A full tank of gasoline typically costs 120-160 baht ($3.60-$4.90).

If you are taking taxis you will spend much more. Depending on how many trips you make, you will need to budget between 800-1200 baht ($24-$37) a day.

Activities and trips

Depending on how much you plan to do on your trip you are likely to need to budget between 350-2000 baht ($10-$60) per day for activities.

Tips to save money

If you are traveling on a budget and looking to keep costs low whilst still enjoying your trip, here are some low-cost activities you can do:

● Enjoy the beaches and ocean swims.

● Go on a hike – Many hikes are free and others cost just 20 baht entrance fee.

● Search for free yoga classes – Many yoga teachers training takes place on the island and some of the schools let the new graduates teach community classes which are free for all. Samma Karuna and One Yoga are two schools that currently offer this.

● Work out for free – There is an outdoor gym by Thong Sala pier which is free to use

● Eat Thai food as much as possible to save considerably on daily costs.

● If you are going out to party, buy alcohol from 7-eleven and pre-drink first to reduce the number of drinks you will need to buy once out.

● If you can drive a scooter, renting one will save you from paying extortionate taxi fares.

● Accommodation is usually more expensive during the Full Moon Party. If you are not planning to go to FMP it may be wise to plan your trip during the rest of the month for cheaper (and quieter) hostel rooms.

● If you are looking to stay for a week, some hostels and resorts may offer special discounted rates, likewise with scooter rentals.

● Traveling during the low season is also much cheaper. Many businesses on the island struggle during the low season so many hostels, resorts, and restaurants tend to lower their prices.

Staying safe

Koh Phangan is generally a very safe island however like everywhere, some caution should be taken.

Scooter safety

One of the island’s biggest problems is the high rate of motorbike/scooter accidents. Unfortunately, the majority of the casualties are tourists as they do not know the roads and many are not experienced in riding scooters. Here are some tips for staying safe on the roads:

● Drive slowly. There is not much traffic on the island and driving here is very relaxed, therefore there is no need to speed. You will likely see many tourists speeding and overtaking others but these are the type of tourists that usually end up in the hospital with broken limbs! There is absolutely no reason to drive fast on the island.

● Keep your eyes on the road. Whilst you will see beautiful scenery as you drive around, it’s vital to stay focused on the road ahead to avoid potential accidents. Many stray dogs that hang around on the roads and sometimes they get agitated by motorbike noise and may run out in front of you. Other people on scooters can also pull out without looking, therefore, it’s important to stay alert.

● Wear a helmet! Although many locals and tourists may not do so, wearing a helmet could be the difference between life and death if you were to become involved in a road accident. All scooter hire shops should provide you with a helmet for free. Sometimes the police set up roadblocks where they pull people over and fine them for not wearing a helmet, so wearing one could also save you from a hefty fine!

● Check your lights! Don’t forget to switch your lights on when driving at night and turn off the indicator once you have taken your turn. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve seen driving with indicators left on, which can create potential hazards for other road users.

Other safety advice

● Whilst crime is low on the island take care of your belongings. Don’t leave your scooter keys in the bike, hide your phone whilst going for a swim in the sea, don’t take your passport or large amounts of cash out with you, and remember to lock your room before going out.

● If you are staying in a shared room, opt for a dorm that has safes to leave your valuables in.

● Many tourists leave their bank cards in the ATM machines. This is because ATMs in Thailand release cash first then the bank card after, opposite to most other countries. Therefore, many people take their cash and walk away, forgetting the card is still in the machine.

● Drugs are strictly illegal in Thailand and are not tolerated at all by the authorities. Many parties in Koh Phangan are known for being drug-fuelled raves; however, getting caught with drugs on you can result in a prison sentence in a Thai jail!

Final travel tips

● The locals are very friendly and welcoming. They rely on tourists to make a living and they have really embraced tourism on the island by learning English and adjusting their services to cater to westerners, for example, most restaurants will have an English menu.

● Locals will generally try to help as long as you are polite. Thais do not like confrontation or conflict, therefore, if you get angry with them you will just make the situation worse for yourself. Always try to stay calm and polite when trying to resolve a situation.

● Even though most Thais here speak basic to good English, they really appreciate when someone speaks one or two words in Thai. Simply greeting or thanking them in Thai instead of English will go a long way.

Everywhere I have traveled in Thailand has been unique and different in one way or another. Koh Phangan is no exception. As travelers, certain places stand out to us more than others. We all find places that stick in our minds and touch our hearts. For me, it’s this little island.

I believe having an insider’s knowledge of a location allows you to fully experience what the place has to offer. I hope this travel guide will give you valuable information and advice to make the most out of your Koh Phangan experience and enjoy your stay here as much as I do!