Koh Phangan is famous for being a real party island. Ever heard about the Full Moon Party? It’s that huge party that makes this island an obvious destination for many party loving travellers. But if you want, you can avoid the alcohol and the loud music, and instead find a true tropical paradise. All you need to know is where to look for it, and I’m going to help you with that.
When talking to both the locals on Koh Tao and to other travellers we met who’d already been to the island, all the crazy partying keeps itself to the eastern part of the island.. If you want to live in the midst of the chaos, look for accommodation near or on Bottle Beach. But if you are looking for a more peaceful and relaxed place, I suggest you stay away from that area and look for places like the one we stayed in.
We stayed at a beautiful hotel named J.B Hut Bungalows right by Haad Yao Beach. The bungalows are situated very close to the beach, about a 3-5 minute walk away tops. But before making a reservation you should know that the bungalows sits on a hill/mountain so there is quite the steep uphill walk from the beach and back to the hotel. But a little exercise never hurts, and we were incredibly pleased with the accommodation.
We stayed here i a cozy little bungalow with our own bathroom, hot water shower, towels for both shower and beach, fan in the room (there are rooms with AC available), there was a very clean pool and a cozy porch with a hammock and outdoor furniture. The only negative part with the place was that there was no wi-fi in the rooms, only in the public areas such as in the restaurant and pool area.
The lady who owns the hotel is absolutely wonderful and it’s almost worth a stay just to be able to meet her. She is so incredibly kind and really does everything in her power to make your stay as good as possible. She is also a really good cook and the food served in the hotel restaurant was incredible.
Food and drinks
As I just mentioned we had amazing food at our hotel and we ended up eating there a lot since it was also very cheap. But we ate at other restaurant as well, and there is one place we can not recommend enough. House People is a restaurant in Haad Yao, serving everything from Thai food to BBQ. The restaurant is one of the highest rated restaurants on the island, and is owned by a super nice french guy. If you eat there we recommend the hamburgers and the fish, some of the best food we’ve had on the trip so far. The restaurant also has an awesome happy hour, with a “buy one get one free” thing with all drinks. You pay for one but get two, and i think it goes on between 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm or something like that. Really nice place, with a great atmosphere, really nice music and an awesome host.
During our stay at Koh Phangan we didn’t lay on the beach very much. But we visit two beaches in the Saad Yao area and we fell in love with both. Haad Yao Beach was the beach right by our hotel. A very long, beautiful beach with turquoise waters and white sand. There are cozy restaurants and bars along the entire beach and it is a fairly popular beach which means there were a lot of people. However, not at the level that it became to much, and we had no trouble finding a place to put our towels down.
Secret Beach is a 10-15 minute walk from Haad Yao Beach. It really lives up to its name because we would’ve never found it without Google maps. The beach has such a tropical vibe to it. Not as many people, a couple of small cozy bars but nothing more than that. Beautiful turquoise waters and white sand, what more can you ask for?
The island is quite small and the way to get around is by scooter. We were a bit more brave this time and hired one for almost the entire stay on the island, instead of just one day. The taxi fare from Thongsala Pier (where you arrive by boat/ferry), is roughly the same as the cost of a scooter for the day so in my opinion it’s definitely worth it. The taxi even costs more, the recommended fare from Thongsala to Hard Yao is 150 Baht per person, a scooter costs 250 Baht/24 hours. So we recommend the scooter.
The rental place we recommend this time is called EasyBikes, located in Tongsala. The best thing to do is to rent the scooter when you arrive at the pier, and then just return it when it’s time for you to leave. But if you’d rather travel by taxi with all your bags and stuff, they have free drop off and pick up service, which means that they will trop the scooter off at your hotel the day you need it, and then come and pick it up, all free of charge. They also do not require your passport when renting, but there is a cash deposit of 5000 Baht that is returned without any problems when the scooter is returned. The place does not have a single bad review on either Facebook or TripAdvisor.
Things you have to do!
1. Rent a scooter and make your way to Phaeng Waterfall. It’s an incredible hike up a mountain with several waterfalls along the way, and a beautiful viewpoint at the top. It’s quite the climb, but it was s with it. That daytrip was the highlight of our stay on the island.
2. The sunset at Haad Yao Beach!
1. Eat at House People in Haad Yao!
2. If you rent a scooter, make sure to bring a map when you go exploring.
3. There are plenty of ATMs on the island
4. There are 7/11 stores everywhere and they are open 24 hours a day.
5. Use mosquito repellent in the evenings.
7. If you take a taxi from Tongsala to Haad Yao, it should not cost more than 150 Baht per person. They will try to make you pay twice that amount.