Peaceful. Tranquil. Beautiful. Koh Phangan has so much more to offer than just its famous Full Moon Parties and can easily tailor itself to each explorer’s desires. For us, after the hustle and bustle of Bangkok this tranquil bliss was just what we were looking for. From the moment we arrived on the island we knew we had made the right choice. For us what made the whole experience even more memorable was just how welcoming everyone was, from local vendors to the staff at our resort. We couldn’t of asked for a better experience.
GETTING TO KOH PHANGAN
The island is around 12 KM from Koh Samui and easily accessible by boat or ferry. Most boats dock and depart from Haad Rin Beach, but most ferries use the islands main town, Thongsala. You can get to Koh Phangan several ways depending on where you are staying; our resort had their own private speedboat, which made a very relaxing trip across from Koh Samui. Don’t sweat; there are several easy public ways to get over to the island. One of the most popular routes is taking the Laemsor Ferry, which is very in-expensive roughly costing about £5-£10 depending on the time of day you are planning to head over.
THINGS TO KNOW
Koh Phangan is a newer island than Koh Samui, which means the island lends more charm and picturesque scenery. Koh Phangan is actually known as “Samui’s Little Sister” and has around 10,000 full-time residents with over 30,000 visitors each year! Something to be aware of is Koh Phangan can be a little difficult to get around, a lot of the roads are dirt tracks rather than tarmac, due to the fact Koh Phangan is not as developed as some other areas of Thailand. Saying this, you can rent mopeds quite easily if you fancy doing a little exploring. Only thing I would be mindful of is who you rent from. Some renter’s request your passports, which could be innocent but it’s also been known to cause problems getting them back. Luckily our resort was very helpful and pointed us in the correct direction.
WHERE TO STAY
Koh Phangan Hotels are so varied, tailoring to lots of different tastes. Everything from five-star beachside resorts to simple hut guesthouses. I will admit we did go all out on our resort in Koh Phangan as it was our honeymoon, but I can honestly say we were not disappointed. We also had the best first hand advise when booking this resort as one of the ladies in Kuoni had actually visited the resort earlier that year.
We booked a 12-night stay Atanantara Rasananda Villas and were actually lucky enough that a week or so before our trip we received an email asking us if we wanted to upgrade. Weighting up the costs we decided why not and were so pleased we did. We stayed in a Ocean Pool Suite with private sunbeds, a dip pool and direct access to the beach.
A little about the hotel its self, set on the north-east side of the island Atanantara Rasananda envokes a peaceful atmosphere. All the villas and suites are slightly set back to the beachside with peaceful jungle surroundings with a spa that oozes tranquility. One of the favorites elements was breakfast at the sand-floor restaurant The Bistro @ The Beach; getting up each morning and wondering via the seafront dipping my toes in the water.
WHAT TO DO
Phaeng Waterfall is one of Koh Phangans grandest features, a dramatic waterfall over-looking its jungle surroundings. Be prepared from a hike though, the waterfall is set 250 meters up the jungle trail. Trust me it’s worth the hike! Although before you decide to make the journey be aware that during high season the waterfall dries up and it’s only really worth a visit after steady rainfall during monsoon season.
Wat Phu Khao Noi is the Oldest Temple on the island; the name translates to “Temple Of The Small Mountain” and is set in the most tranquil location and host to many retreats. As a visitor be mindful of the grounds especially during retreats, making sure you dress correctly is a must at all times and being respectfully quite whilst visiting. It is also suggested that it’s best to visit before noon.
Cookery Lessons, we were lucky enough that our resort held cookery lessons and it was such a treat to be taught how to make a traditional Thai soup. We even got to bring the recipe home and enjoy what we cooked as our lunchtime indulgence. Although if this is not an option where you are staying, Koh Phangan is host to its own Cookery School called Same Same in Haad Rin.
Kayaking in Koh Phangan is such a fun way to explore the island at your own pace. Most major beaches feature kayaks for rental. Something to be careful of is not to stay out past sunset, it is also highly advised in Thailand not to kayak alone due to strong currents in some areas of the island.
WHAT TO EAT
Something interesting we were unaware of before we began our honeymoon search is that it is very unlikely for any resort to offer an all inclusive package in Thailand. Most resorts offer a B&B service, which is what we opted for. You can easily have a three-course meal and drinks in Thailand for no more than around £20. There is also so much choose in Thailand you do not want to restrict yourself to only eating where you are staying. We ventured into the town several nights and found some incredible little Thai spots where we could indulge in local cuisine and some good BBQ on the beachfront.
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