Koh Pha Ngan (or Koh Phangan)
When people in India talk about Thailand, they talk about Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. If someone asks me about Thailand the first place I would name is Koh Phangan.
From north to south, the Gulf of Thailand has three islands known to almost every backpacker visiting Thailand. They are Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui.
Backpackers spend months on these islands, but the big day is when party going, hippie-like, backpackers from across the world come to the island of Koh Phangan. Yes, it’s the Full Moon Party!
If Tomorrowland seems costly, one can fly down to Koh Phangan for the surreal Full Moon Party on literally every full moon. With no fancy stages like most of the music festivals, the Full Moon Party would seem normal to most, but it’s the people who make this music festival a Tomorrowland experience.
With millions of people with crazy-ass neon paints dancing to various kind of music played by various bars/shacks on the beach, sipping away the alcohol buckets and getting high on whatever gets them high, the Full Moon Party is an experience of a life time.
Well, officially the venue for the Full Moon Party is Haad Rin Beach, but there is a party going on at almost every hostel on the island.
My hostel was a beautiful property, it was bang opposite a small lake and the common area was more of a restaurant and bar, where people would just be partying all the time.
Early mornings would be a nice breakfast and Chang with a magnificent view and late night would be Chang and Bucket with magnificent people and the beach.
Other than the Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan has something super interesting to offer. Slip n’ Fly ladies and gentlemen! Slip n’ Fly is a one of its kind water slide which towards the end throws you in the air and you drop into a ten feet deep pool.
After spending the day at Slip n’ Fly and possibly getting a good vacation tan, you may head to the Amsterdam Bar! This bar is located on top of a hill with a panoramic view of the sea. Reach an hour before the sunset to get a good place because as the sunset nears, more and more travelers flock in to see the amazing view this bar has to offer. After the sunset you may choose to rest, have some good Thai dinner and head out to Haad Rin for the Full Moon party!
Koh Phangan also welcomes travelers to eat various cuisines. Be it a Pad Thai or Schnitzels, Koh Phangan has a restaurant which serves the yummiest in Thailand. The best Thai food found its way to my tummy at a restaurant with a pretty innovative name — “No Name Thai Food”. Indian travelers on the other hand, who are not so comfortable with foreign cuisines need not worry — Koh Phangan has an authentic Indian restaurant cum hostel called Om Ganesh Indian Restaurant, just for you!
Getting There: Once you land at any major Airports in Thailand, take a flight to Surat Thani Airport. From Surat Thani Airport, a bus (the cheaper option) or a cab can drop you at Surat Thani port from where you can hop onto a ferry to Koh Pha Ngan. Lomprayah is one of the most famous high speed catamaran company which provides you with a bus + ferry package.
Stay: Any hostel near Haad Rin beach if you are here for the Full Moon Party.
Getting around: Hire a scooter/motorbike as soon as you reach Koh Phangan.
Chapter 2: Koh Tao and Koh Samui
Koh Tao or the island of Turtles, is more of a day trip or Scuba-diving excursion place. It is calm, peaceful and at the same time an epitome of a tropical island. Some people stay here for months healing a broken soul or just getting some peace in life.
I had traveled to Koh Tao for a Scuba diving trip while I was staying at Koh Phangan. The boat ride from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao was a task. The sea was rough and we were going against the current. My fellow divers puked but since I had nothing in my tummy, I had nothing to throw out!
It was an hour long ride to Koh Tao in a speed boat. We then did two dives at different locations, one of them was Sail rock, also called “Hin Bai” in Thai, where the infamous Whale Sharks could be spotted. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot any but the dive was good, definitely not as good as the Andaman Islands (Shhhh! It’s a well kept secret by the Indians).
One of the best adventure sport one can find at Koh Samui other than diving of course is Flyboarding! Skip the Flyboarding at Pattaya as they do it in a shabby lake there. In Koh Samui they take you a bit deep inside the ocean to experience the feeling of being Iron Man! It was on my list but I had to make a choice between Koh Tao and Koh Samui due to my choice of dates. I chose Koh Tao as I’m more into diving but Koh Samui is totally worth it and I’ll definitely be visiting there on my next Thai trip.
Getting There: Once you land at any major Airports in Thailand, take a flight to Surat Thani Airport. From Surat Thani Airport, a bus (the cheaper option) or a cab can drop you at Surat Thani port from where you can hop onto a ferry to any of these islands.
Stay: Both the islands being small in size with very less annual visitors have lesser number of hostels but offer chic and modern villas and hotels for a perfect weekend getaway.
Getting around: Hire a scooter/motorbike as soon as you reach the island. Cycling around is also a great option.