Koh Phangan is located in the south of the Gulf of Thailand, about 70 miles from the mainland city of Suratthani and 12 miles from Koh Samui. You can use the Google map to the right to get a better idea of where Koh Phangan is.
At present everyone arrives on Koh Phangan by boat from either the mainland or from the neighbouring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao. Koh Phangan Airport is currently being built. Until its completion the nearest airport is on Koh Samui. The island is well connected but it should be remembered that the last ferries to the island are around 5pm from either the mainland or from the other islands in the Samui Archipelago. Thus, if you arrive in Koh Samui in the evening you will have to spend the night on the island and catch a ferry in the morning – or rent a private speedboat.
Koh Phangan has a permanent population of about 12,000 people. It is harder to accurately count visitor numbers. Absurd claims of 30,000 people attending Full Moon Parties are widespread on the net, as one site tends to copy the next. Even 20,000 people at a Full Moon Party seems an exaggeration of the truth.
Most of the population of Koh Phangan are Buddhist. A century ago the population was predominately Muslim Moken or sea gypsy. A small remnant of the Muslim community still remains around the village of Baan Tai in the south of the island.
Visitors to Koh Phangan have over 30 beaches to choose from. They range from party beaches to remote and inaccessible beaches. There is a beach to suit nearly everyone! This website aims to bring you the best of Koh Phangan to help make informed decisions about your holiday in Koh Phangan.
Koh Phangan is hot all year round. There are three discernible seasons on the island: dry season, wet season and monsoon. The dry season is from January to April. The temperature steadily increases during this time. Songkran or Thai New Year in the middle of April marks the start of the wet season. From May to November there are short rain bursts followed by bright sunshine. This a lovely time of year as everything is green and the skies are very blue. It is also the higher tidal season when swimming on the west and south coast becomes better. The sea starts to get choppy in October and in November the monsoon starts. This brings strong winds, thunder, lightning and lots and lots of rain. Very few tourists are on Koh Phangan for the monsoon. There tends to be some flooding and a disruption to transport. Luckily the monsoon ends just before Christmas and the peak season for the island economy.
The hottest month is June with an average temperature of 32.9 degrees CelsiusThe driest month is February with an average rainfall of 33.3 millimeters of rain
The roads are improving every year in Koh Phangan. All of the roads on the west of the island are paved, flat and easy to drive. The roads in the south are also in good condition. The hill dividing Baan Tai from the Haad Rin peninsula is steep and curves. Two on a moped struggle up this hill. Moreover, on a full moon this stretch of the road becomes dangerous. The road from Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan used to be bad, but is now one of the best on Koh Phangan. It is due to be entirely covered in concrete by October 2013. There is a good road from the west going around to the north and Chaloklum. There is a dirt road connecting Bottle Beach to Thong Nai Pan. The long term plan is to make a circular coastal road that joins up all the beaches.
There are plenty of songthaews (shared pick up taxi) plying the main routes on Koh Phangan. When you get off a ferry in Thongsala you can usually get straight into a songthaew going to a beach of your choice. To get to beaches like Haad Salad and Thong Nai Pan Yai it costs about 300 Thai Baht in a songthaew. In the morning most beaches have shared taxis available to get visitors to the Thongsala piers to catch their ferries off the island. At other times it might be necessary to hire a private taxi. This costs between 1,000 and 2,000 Thai Baht.
For those confident they can handle a motorbike the cheaper option to get around is motorbike hire. A basic no-gear moped costs 250 – 300 Thai Baht a day. Bigger bikes cost 350 Thai Baht a day. There are no big car vendors on the island such as Hertz, only small vendors with a few vehicles. Older jeeps can be rented for 1,500 Thai Baht a day and new 4 by 4 Japanese cars for 2,500 Thai Baht a day. No license is needed to rent a motorbike; for cars any valid driving license is acceptable. It is also possible to rent mountain bikes and ATVs.
Culture and History
Koh Phangan has been inhabited since 500 BC. In a museum in Koh Samui is a bronze drum dating to the Bronze Age. Traditionally Koh Phangan has traded in squid, coconut and tin. Later the island was used by the Moken or sea gypsy people. Buddhist monks came to the island 600 years ago and built the first temple near Thongsala called Wat Phu Khao Noi. Today there are about 20 temples on the island including one Chinese temple near Chaloklum in the north.
Tourism on Koh Phangan didn’t really begin until the 1970s. After the first travelers arrived in Koh Samui, a few made it over to Haad Rin in Koh Phangan. It was the Full Moon Parties that started in 1988 that put the island on the radar of many backpackers. In the late 1990s the island began a fledgling high-end tourist industry that has blossomed ever since.
Very little has been written about the recent history of Koh Phangan, especially before tourism hit the island. The most notable events have been the visits of 3 Kings of Thailand – Rama V, Rama VII and the present King, Rama IX. King Rama V visited 14 times and was particularly fond of Than Sadet which was named in his honor (it means ‘Royal River’). In 2012 Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra briefly visited Thong Nai Pan.
See http://www.kohphanganhotelreviews.com/history-of-koh-phangan/ for more about Koh Phangan’s histroy