This beautiful jungle clad island in the Gulf of Thailand can often be snubbed as the location for backpackers, party goers and a rite of passage for many who will journey from neighbouring Koh Samui for an all-night dance off at the infamous Full moon Party. But this is not the true Koh Phangan.
Honeymooners looking for peace and privacy, families looking for fun activities, and groups of friends looking for a Thailand beach holiday away from neon t-shirts and thumping music, do not whatever you do, discount the southern Thailand islands or the gem of Koh Phangan.
For those seeking solace, excellent local food, gorgeous beaches, cheery locals and an authentic atmosphere in Thailand, look no further than journeying to this magnetic island. Koh Phangan is your holiday friend and the perfect location to rewind and relax, and here are my reasons why…
Anantara Rasananda is a beach resort with a real sense of place. Dark woods and silk adorn the spacious rooms, with the wide golden sand of Thong Nai Pan Noi beach just a stroll away. Situated in the north east of the island, this is the perfect location away from the busy town of Haad Rin. Panburi village lies behind the resort – a cluster of small restaurants serve delicious local food at wonderfully affordable prices. If you fancy exploring then the hotel can easily organise a taxi or shuttle bus to take you around the island.
My friend Jocelyn and I went on an afternoon adventure to the Northwest of the island for a yoga class at the Yoga Retreat. Koh Phangan has many of these boutique yoga studios and the island is becoming more and more well-known for drop in classes, detox and yoga packages and wellness retreats running for a week or more. Whether you’re a fan of yoga or not, taking some time to focus, breathe, relax and listen to the nature of Koh Phangan in beautiful tropical settings will no doubt do your body and mind some good! Our class at the Yoga Retreat was relaxing, but (being the slight cynics that we are) we left with a few giggles and one of their scrummy smoothies, which this particular studio offered.
Take your pick! Koh Phangan is surrounded by fantastic stretches of sandy beaches. The remote, the local, and the easily accessible. Head to the south for nightlife, small local restaurants and bars and swathes of soft sand. As mentioned before the location of Ananatara Rasananda enjoys the beautiful peaceful area surrounding the beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi on the north east coast.
Markets and Food
Thong Sala Night market was a great evening out from our hotel. There are loads of dishes to choose from local vendors, were selling everything from traditional Pad Thai to sweet pancakes. It’s so affordable too! Food is a huge part of Thai culture so take yourself to a cooking school on the island and bring the recipes home.
Koh Phangan is certainly one of the more active islands in Thailand and it’s easy to see why! The island of course has its busy areas, but the lush, green centre is the place to go if you want to feel close to nature. Go on a guided hike and explore the waterfalls and lookout points of the island. Visit the spectacular Ang Thong marine Park, for a great day trip away from Koh Phangan. Tours to this magical collection of islands can be easily arranged. A day of snorkelling, beautiful beaches and steep hikes await… Jocelyn and I absolutely loved this day trip. This is in fact, the original inspiration for Alex Garland’s novel ‘The Beach’ (although the film location is on the famous Koh Phi Phi). For keen snorkellers and divers, there are many more day trips you can do –Koh Phangan is a great place to explore from, as well as relax on!
And…for those still wanting to go…
Sure, the Full moon Party is a cliché and I would recommend visiting the island away from the event for a much more relaxing holiday experience. But if you really want to go (I admit -Jocelyn and I decided to!) then have a fun time!