Best Live Music Venue in Koh Phangan


The Jam is Koh Phangan’s only dedicated live music venue. Its located on Hin Kong beach. To get there take the coastal road from Thong Sala towards See Thanu and Haad Yao. It’s about 2 km from Thong Sala.

The Jam started in 2008 as collection of European musicians living on the island getting together weekly to play on the beach. Over the years a bar was added and stage with a roof. However, the Jam has retained the feel of a place where people come to get together to hang out and play music. On a typical night it’s a 50/50 split between people who play music and people who are just there to hear it. There is no admission fee and the drinks are reasonably priced.

The venue itself is small. There is bar, a small decked seating area, a covered stage and some chairs and tables on the beach. Very informal surroundings to match the laid back atmosphere. The fun starts from 7 pm on Saturdays pretty much every week of the year. There is normally some musicians scheduled to play for the night. Guests, with the requisite musical talents, are welcome to ask to join in and are encouraged to bring their own instruments. How long you get to play will depend on how good you are. Probably a good idea not to take yourself too seriously and just have fun.

To find out about special events either check social media or stop by in the week and check the notice board. Sometime they run a Wednesday evening ‘open mike’ event which is quieter than the Saturday night session.

UPDATE: Their website has been dropped. They still use Facebook. The bar seems to have survived the coronavirus haitus. No doubt they are raring to get the music back. Another live music venue worth mentioning is The Omega Bar in Chaloklum.

Recommendations for Suratthani

Suratthani City is the administrative centre for the Suratthani Province that includes Koh Phangan. It is the eighth biggest city in Thailand and remains the gateway to Southern Thailand. While many tourists fly in and out of Koh Samui Airport, just as many catch a plane, train or bus to Suratthani from where they transfer to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

Cheap Hotel in Suratthani

The Thai Rung Ruang (191-199 Rungruang Rd, Surat Thani. T: (077) 273 249, (077) 286 351) is a good cheap mid-range option in the center of town for about 500 Thai Baht. It offers big rooms with double beds or two twins both fan and air-con. The hotel has an attractive lobby and a dining area. However, just around the corner is the night market where you can see an eye-catching selection of Thai street food as well as Thais at play, enjoying browsing the stores and having a bite to eat.

Rung Ruang Mansion is conveniently located near plenty of travel agents and the private bus station (the government bus stop has moved to a spot on the outskirts of the city). For those looking for an early start in order to get to Myanmar and back in a day this hotel has been an ideal stop over point. Recommended travel agent is Phangan Tour 2000: it is the best provider of bus/boat tickets to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

While Suratthani City is not an attractive place to explore the province itself is full of wonderful places to visit. Not only does the province contain the Samui Archipelago it also has Khao Sok National Park. This is one of the best national parks in Thailand. It is reached via the Suratthani-Takuapa road and takes a couple of hours from the city.

Khao Sok National Park

The national park covers 728,000 square kilometers. A big chunk of the province has been given over to wild habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. Animals you can spot include:

“gaur, banteng, sambar deer, bear, Malayan tapir, macaque, gibbon, serow, mouse deer, porcupine, marbled cat, wild boar, and Asian wild dog. It also acts as the natural habitat for several for several bird species.”
According to the park website.

There is also canoeing, white water rafting, water tubing, mountain biking, hiking and camping to enjoy. There are plenty of cheap package deals to be found at travel agents offering 1 or 2 nights in the park. A bit of research on the net can find you the tour that suits you; and being Thailand, it is also possible to travel independently to the park.

The park contains a large lake with impressive limestone rock islands to explore by canoe. There are several companies with lake bungalows on the lake. They vary in luxury, but they are in a spectacular location.

100 Islands Resort and Spa


If you do decide to come and go from Suratthani city a few times a better accommodation option is 100 Island Resort and Spa. The address is 19/6 Moo 3 By pass Road, Makhamtia, Muang Suratthani, Thailand 84000. And the telephone number is +66(0) 7720 150-8.

The hotel is a little bit out of town but the relaxing atmosphere and better facilities lead many to consider the 100 Island to be the best hotel in Suratthani. It feels like a proper resort. There is a pool and spa. You can enjoy a sauna, a massage or a facial treatment. There is also a restaurant and outdoor bar.

A present (Feb 2013) a twin room costs 700 Baht, and a room with double bed costs 1,000 Baht. This price includes breakfast. Since majority of the customers are well off Thais, or Chinese-Thais touring or doing business, the breakfast has a great selection of
fried rice, noodles, curries, salads, and fruit but not so appealing Western options.

The hotel has two restaurants, one of which is outside with a BBQ station and chef. For more eating options as well as shopping opposite 100 Islands Resort and Spa is a shopping centre with a large Tesco Lotus, Home Pro store, cinema complex, and several chain restaurants including KFC. The complex shuts down at 9pm.

Other food options include nearby food stalls. I ate a very tasty noodle soup in the nearby noodle stall, one of the best I have had in Thailand. It cost 90 Baht for two and included side dishes like fresh herbs and pork crackling, which are added to the soup to taste.

The hotel is architecturally interesting. It is built in the style of a Southern Thai mansion. The lobby is magnificent with wooden panelling and two grand staircases. The rooms are well-appointed, with air-con, satellite TV and decent bathrooms.

You need to take a taxi to reach transport terminals. It’s about 10 minutes (50 to 100 Baht per person) to get to Phangan Tour 2000. It’s a 25 minute journey to the train station (350 baht by private taxi) in Phun Phin, and a 35 minute journey to the airport (around 450 baht for a private taxi).

Suratthani might seem like a chore but it needn’t be. It is a bit ugly and seedy in places but it is a pleasant staging post for exploring southern Thailand. The city has a few good hotels, plenty of shops and generally a laid-back feel. Moreover, Suratthani is well connected by air and has several boat options to the islands. There is also a handy rail link that goes nearly the entire length of the ‘leg’ of Thailand from the Malaysian border to Bangkok.

CHECK AVAILABILITY AT 100 ISLANDS RESORT AND SPA

Hotels in South of Koh Phangan

Thong Sala

Mid Range:

Phanganchai
Phanganchai 3 Star – from 850 THB
Reasonable hotel located opposite the ferry pier in the town centre.
Phangan Centre Point Hotel
Phangan Centre Point Hotel 2 Star – from 800 THB

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mid range city hotel 10 minute walk from the ferry pier.
The 1 Boutique Hotel
The 1 Boutique Hotel 2 Star – from 800 THB
Small, but smart, rooms about 10 minutes from ferry pier.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Budget:

Phatchara Guesthouse
Phatchara Guesthouse 2 Star – from 690 THB
Adequate quality small guest house 15 minutes walk from the ferry pier.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Lime N Soda
Lime N Soda Beachfront Resort 3 Star – from 560 THB
Cheap but well presented and well managed.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Hostel:


Sandee Backpackers 1 Star – from 250 THB
6 and 8 bed mixed dorms. 10 minute walk from the ferry pier.

Ban Tai

Mid Range:


Sunshine Residence 3 Star – from 4,400 THB
2 x two bedroom villas. One with pool. Fully managed.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Phangan Palm Beach Resort
Phangan Palm Beach Resort 3 Star – from 2,850 THB
Good quality small resort.

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Power Beach Resort
Power Beach 3 Star – from 1,600 THB
Large bungalow resort. Popular choice for Full Moon Party.
Dew Shore Resort
Dew Shore Resort 3 Star – from 1,080 THB
Peaceful resort with large bungalows in a variety of styles.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Phangan Island View Hotel
Phangan Island View Hotel 3 Star – from 1,000 THB
Efficient and friendly mid range hotel. No bungalows.

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B52 Beach Resort
B52 Beach Resort 3 Star – from 1,000 THB
Good quality beach front bungalows with good facilities.

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Phangan Orchid Resort
Phangan Orchid Resort 3 Star – from 950 THB
Well appointed rooms. Pool, restaurant, and beach front location.

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Oceanus Resort
Oceanus Resort 2 Star – from 940 THB
Friendly, but basic, beach front wooden bungalows.

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Milky Bay Resort 3 Star – from 890 THB
Very popular resort. Good bungalows and good food.

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Sabaii Bay Resort
Sabaii Bay Resort 3 Star – from 890 THB
Large resort with some good quality rooms.

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Bantai Resort
Bantai Resort 1 Star – from 800 THB
Larger concrete and wooden bungalows with good amenities.

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First Villa Beach Resort
First Villa Beach Resort 3 Star – from 790 THB
Value for money rooms and bungalows in beach front location.

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Da Kanda Villa Beach
Da Kanda Villa Beach Resort 3 Star – from 700 THB
Nice beach front bungalow resort with swimming pool.

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Phangan Villa Beach Bungalow
Phangan Villa Beach Bungalow 2 Star – from 700 THB
Cluster of basic concrete beach front bungalows. Few facilities.

Budget:


Charm Beach 3 Star – from 630 THB
Excellent old school beach bungalow resort. Amazing tree house.
Field Paradise 1 Hotel
Field Paradise 1 Hotel 2 Star – from 500 THB
Micro resort on the beach front. Value for money.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Namthip Home Beach
Namthip Home Beach 1 Star – from 500 THB
Basic wooden bungalows on the beach.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Palida Fishing Bungalows
Palida Fishing Bungalows 1 Star – from 500 THB
Small bungalows near fishing lake. Fishing equipment for hire.
Phangan Beach Resort
Phangan Beach Resort 2 Star – from 490 THB
Variety of accommodation types. Popular with Full Moon Party goers.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Hacienda Resort
Hacienda Resort & Beach Club / Asia Blue Beach Hostel 3 Star – from 400 THB
Aimed at backpackers and party goers. Popular choice for the Full Moon Party.

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The Blue Parrot Beach Resort
The Blue Parrot Beach Resort 1 Star – from 400 THB
19 concrete bungalows on the beach. Popular option every Full Moon Party.

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My Palace
My Palace 1 Star – from 350 THB
Friendly and value for money. Cross the road to reach the beach.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Meridian Khoa Tam
Meridian Khoa Tam 1 Star – from 350 THB

Phangan Riversand Ban Tai 1 Star – from 300 THB
Very cheap bamboo bungalows run by lovely Thai family.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Hostel:

A1 Koh Phangan Guesthouse
A1 Koh Phangan Guesthouse & Hostel 2 Star – from 400 THB
10 person mixed dormitories and guest rooms. Good choice for the Full Moon Party.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mem's Place Hostel
Mem’s Place Hostel 1 Star – from 250 THB
5 and 10 bed mixed dormitories. Convenient location for the Half Moon and Full Moon Party.

Bankai

Luxury:

Chantaramas Resort & Spa
Chantaramas Resort & Spa 5 Star – from 2,500 THB
Most luxurious resort on the South coast. Service to international standards.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mid Range:

Hansa Resort
Hansa Resort 3 Star – from 2,200 THB
Lively and well managed resort with bungalows and hotel rooms.

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Bay Lounge & Resort
Bay Lounge & Resort 3 Star – from 2,000 THB
Resort with club like feel. Start your Full Moon Party here.

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Phangan Cottage
Phangan Cottage 3 Star – from 1,000 THB
Bungalows, some good, some bad. Small pool.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Morning Star
Morning Star Resort 3 Star – from 900 THB
Friendly family run resort with good bungalows and swimming pool.

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Beer Bungalows
Beer Bungalows 2 Star – from 800 THB
Mid range bungalows and hotels on the beach front.

Budget:

Phangan Rainbow Bungalows
Phangan Rainbow Bungalows 2 Star – from 720 THB
Relaxing beach front resort with wooden bungalows and nice restaurant.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Thong Yang Bungalows
Thong Yang Bungalows 2 Star – from 680 THB
Long running budget resort with great sea view bungalows.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mac's Bay Resort
Mac’s Bay Resort 3 Star – from 600 THB
Hotel rooms and bungalows. Beach front location. Lively/noisy at times.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Sea Love Bungalows
Sea Love Bungalows 1 Star – from 500 THB
Beach front resort with wooden bungalows. Rustic charm.

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My Phangan Resort
My Phangan Resort 1 Star – from 500 THB
Relaxed beach front resort with basic wooden bungalows.
Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn 1 Star – from 470 THB
Basic concrete bungalows near the beach. Few amenities.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Tanouy Garden Resort
Tanouy Garden Resort 2 Star – from 300 THB
Good value for money choice with pool and restaurant. Great garden setting.

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Green Peace Bungalows
Green Peace Bungalows / One More Night Beach Resort 1 Star – from 175 THB
Basic clean rooms at value for money prices.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Hostels:

Echo Beach Backpackers Resort
Echo Beach Backpackers Resort 1 Star – from 100 THB
4, 6, 8, 10, 12 bed mixed dormitories. Lively atmosphere.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Phangan Colour Moon

Phangan Colour Moon had its opening night on the 9th December 2014. It has never been held before and marks the start of something new for Koh Phangan: an event successfully organised by the Island and Regional governments which appeals to both Thais and tourists alike.

Normally these types of evening event are primarily aimed to appeal to local Thais, with a small number of tourists visiting out of curiosity more than anything else. They normally have little more than a Thai dance stage, a small fun fair, some markets stalls, and a lot of food and beer stalls. Phangan Colour Moon Festival went well beyond this formula with a well thought out and organised set of attractions going on through the night.

Fashion Show

The fashion show was in three parts, with one presenter speaking in Thai and the other in English. The first, and longest, part of the show featured half a dozen professional models showcasing original Thai fashion designs based on the theme of Koh Phangan. There was a heavy emphasis on beach and party clothing often incorporating the traditional batik fabrics made exclusively in Southern Thailand.

The second part of the show involved body paint skills modelled by young female tourists. Body painting is a highly developed art on the island and it features heavily on party nights. Anywhere except Koh Phangan this probably wouldn’t be considered fashion, and indeed the girls were not wearing much.

The third part of the show was a modelling competition between workers at two of the local resorts, Buri Rasa Resort in Thong Nai Pan Noi and Grand Sea Resort in Thong Sala, and the Lomprayah ferry company. As well as modelling each team designed their own costumes. Lomprayah came first, Buri Rasa Resort came second, and Grand Sea Resort, which decided to field the night’s only male model, came last.

Music Stage

Throughout the evening the stage featured a succession of Thai and Western musicians playing a largely acoustic set of chilled-out guitar based music which is as much a part of the local music scene as the progressive hard dance music Koh Phangan is best known for.

Illuminated Harbour

The harbour was lit up with fishing boats with their green lighting rigs turned up to full brightness. The green lights are used to attract squid and fish at night. The use of the lighting on fishing boats moored in the harbour was a clever way to bring the fishing industry into the festival and fishing remains a key part of the local culture and economy. Phangan wouldn’t be Phangan without it.

Local Culture and Eco-Tourism

In addition to the entertainment stages, there were a number of other stalls and exhibitions dedicated to local culture and the local environment.

Coconut farming is very important to Koh Phangan. For most the 20th Century coconut farming was the main industry on the island. As well as being good to eat, coconut has proven medicinal benefits particularly the oil as a food supplement and health and beauty product. Local producers have started to capitalise on this by producing their own range of oils and beauty products manufactured on the island. Another more creative, and unusual, use for the coconut was the walkway constructed with coconut shells. The idea is that by walking on the shells you get a therapeutic foot massage.

The hull of retired Thai Navy warship HMS Phangan was opened up for the night for use as an impromptu art gallery. At one time HMS Phangan was a US navy tank ship. This internal space is perfect for events and easily accessed by the large ramp which in former days was used to load and unload tanks. The art show featured a number of different media including tattoo exhibitions, painting and line drawings and a fascinating display of photos of Koh Phangan over the last 120 years with the earliest photos being of King Rama V at Than Sadet waterfall.

Last, but not least, were the exhibitions about the marine life in the Marine Park areas around Koh Phangan; some of the local dive operators, most notably Sail Rock Divers, assisted by showing underwater videos and answering questions about the local sea life and conservation.

Next Year?

For those of you who missed the festival, the question is whether it will be on next year? No one is sure yet and there have been no public announcements to say whether it be will held again for the Colour Moon in 2015. However, given the success of this year’s event we believe it is sure to be held again next year.

Update for 2021

The Phangan Colour Moon Party didn’t catch on. It was polite, progressive, cultural and environmentally friendly. It was also lacking in appeal to the 30,000 party goers that descend monthly on the island. While Bangkok generals, some business owners and locals want to address the environmentally cost of the parties, as well as the reputational damage to the island by promoting alternative festivals, the majority are resigned to hosting the big parties.

Restaurants in North of Koh Phangan

MAE HAAD

Cafes

Om Bakery
Om Bakery

Thai Restaurants


Island View Cabana
Wang Sai Resort Restaurant
Wang Sai Restaurant

READ MORE ABOUT MAE HAAD

CHALOKLUM

Bars

Omega Bar
Omega Bar
Cafe Del Mar
Cafe Del Mar

Cafes

North Coast Bakery
North Coast Bakery
World's End Cafe and Bar
The World’s End Cafe and Bar

Seafood

Hai Thong Seafood
Hai Thong
Nong Nook Seafood
Nong Nook Seafood
Seaside Restaurant
Seaside Restaurant
Naang M Seafood
Naang M Seafood
Aun Jai Seafood
Aun Jai Seafood

International Food

Holy Grill
Holy Grill
Panee's Corner
Panee’s Corner

Italian

Cucina Italiana
Cucina Italiana

BOTTLE BEACH

Bars

Little Maybe Bar
Little Maybe Bar

Thai Food


Bottle Beach 1 Resort

Haad Khuat Resort

Smile Bungalows

READ MORE ABOUT BOTTLE BEACH

Hotels in North of Koh Phangan

Bottle Beach

Budget

Haad Khuat Resort
Haad Khuad Resort 1 star from 400 THB
Traditional beach bungalows and hotel style rooms. Popular resort

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Bottle Beach Resort 1
Bottle Beach 1 Resort 2 star from 700 THB
Family friendly resort with bungalows and pool

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Smile Bungalows
Smile Bungalows 1 star from 380 THB
Basic bungalows on the beach. Friendly staff

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Chaloklum

Budget


Wattana Resort from 2 stars 400 THB
Comfortable beachfront bungalows with restaurant

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mid Range

Viva on the Beach
Viva on the Beach Hotel from 2 stars 500 THB
Italian owned hotel in the village. Has a guest gym.

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Malibu Beach Bungalows
Malibu Beach Bungalows from 2 stars 1000 THB
Traditional bungalows and best beachfront location

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Buri Tara
Buri Tara Resort and Spa from 3 stars 1,400 THB
Family friendly resort with pool and restaurant

CHECK AVAILABILITY


Mandalai Hotel 3 stars from 2250 THB
Modern boutique hotel with pool in open courtyard

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Chaloklum Bay Resort
Chaloklum Bay Resort 3 stars from 1,800 THB
Well run resort with 30 villas in a garden next to the beach

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Haad Khom

Budget

Coconut Beach Bungalows
Coconut Beach and Garden Bungalows from 300 1 star THB
Newly built spacious bungalows. Resort has restaurant

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Ocean View Resort
Ocean View Resort 1 star from 550 THB
Good range of stylish bungalows with beachfront restaurant

NO ONLINE BOOKING

Haad Thong Lang

Mid Range

Phangan Utopia Resort
Phangan Utopia Resort 3 stars from 990 THB
Friendly hill top resort with good quality bungalows, pool and restaurant

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Mae Haad

Mid Range

Mae Haad Bay Resort
Mae Haad Bay Resort 4 star from 2,300 THB
Big resort with rooms and villas and plenty of facilities

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Island View Cabana
Koh Ma Beach Resort 2 star from 300 THB
Great value beachfront bungalows. Recommended budget option

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Will the Full Moon Party Start Again?


This is a very good question. Such a good one that CNN and the BBC have both run stories on it, seemingly using the same material. And that is no surprise: so much of Thai tourist culture is a copy of something else that succeeded in making money.
If you set up a bar that draws lots of custom for having draught beer, the other bars will reluctantly follow suit. If moped hire becomes popular, before you know it dozens of places are renting out mopeds. If one place gets a plethora of yoga devotees, before you know it other resorts suddenly discover they are in fact on a spiritual journey. There seems to be a dearth of new ideas for making money; better to try something that has already been proved to be successful. And hence the reluctance to move on, or try something different.

Where is this going? Well, my guess is that the Haad Rin monthly parties will continue because it is a veritable cash cow. The organisers have become rich. The landowners in Haad Rin have become rich. The rich can do what they want unless the police step in, and then the police can sometimes have marvellous amnesia and pretend they never had any objections all along.

This is all somewhat guess work. Thailand is the land of the free, and yet it has been several years since they’ve had an election. You can’t use the USA or Europe to understand the political system of the country. There aren’t any locally elected councillors to scrutinize by-laws, no local political parties posting pamphlets and knocking on doors. And then there is the police.

It is instructive to remember the fiasco of Koh Phangan Airport. It is not unreasonable to expect surveys and land purchase agreements to quickly uncover if land is designated as protected national park. However, this was only revealed after Kan Air failed to secure funding partners for the stalled project. It wasn’t the rules that prevented the airport being built, it was a lack of suckers ready to put forward money.

The BBC and CNN interviewed local business owners many of whom would like to see the Full Moon Party better regulated, with more policing, and more concern for the environment. Indeed, many sense that ‘up market’ holds the keys to more tourist dollars. Perhaps a FMP for polite east Asians? They could drink watery beer, wear face masks and go to bed before midnight. They would be less offensive than the fuck bucket brigade. But back in the real world…

Asking people to wear face masks and social distance at a Full Moon Party is ludicrous and would be viewed as a total kill joy for those avid Full Mooners, many of whom regard themselves as immune to the coronavirus. People gather in their masses for the anarchic experience; considering themselves unlikely to get burnt by the fire rope, get raped or drowned in the sea.

And the organisers of the Full Moon Party know this. They have clout on the island. It would take considerable determination for the junta in Bangkok to halt the parties.

It is more likely that the vagaries of fashion, the whim of what is cool to be more of a decisive factor in curbing the excesses of the party. There is always the next ‘in’ place to top the must-do list of young travellers. Just as overnight it seemed that tattoos were the last word in street, so a new unmarked generation will just as quickly leave older generations looking decidedly out-of-touch for having blue inked skin. Don’t expect any local diktat to tone down the party. The only reason the party was put on hold was because the tourists vanished. When they return so will the DJs, buckets, flaming ropes, dealers, night walkers and bucket sellers.

Makro in Koh Phangan

Makro in Koh Phangan

Makro is originally a Dutch shop based around the idea of cash and carry warehouses for retailers who belonged to the Makro Club. Since its modest beginnings in 1968 the idea has caught on around Europe and now in Asia. There is already a successful Makro store in Koh Samui. The Koh Phangan Makro opened in 2014.

With the political upheavals throughout the country and many rice farmers facing financial ruin because of the failed government rice pledging scheme the timing could not be worse you might imagine. However, prices for food stuffs and other items on the island have always been inflated compared to the mainland. This has been due to limited competition and the power of the ferry companies.

The situation changed slightly with the introduction of a medium-sized Tesco Lotus in Thongsala. Although local businesses complained at the time that Tesco Lotus would put other shops out of business it has not been the case.

This formed the backdrop to the opening of the new Makro in Koh Phangan. It has not been met by protest. Rather everyone is keen to visit the store and purchase some bargains.

The shop is on the Bantai road, about 1 km before Thongsala. If you are driving to Thongsala from Bantai (or Haad Rin) you will find Makro on your right hand side.

The original idea of Makro was that only retailers with a Makro card could make purchases. I expect for legal and tax reasons that this is still officially the case. However, the Makro in Koh Samui issues all-comers with a temporary card when they enter the store. The same system has been implemented in Koh Phangan.

Makro in Thailand is a great place to shop for imported products especially food stuffs such as cheese and meat. They also sell a good range of local products and brands.

As the shop is intended for retailers the products tend to come in large sizes. This is also one of the ways the company keeps prices low – by selling in bulk and using less packaging.

If you just want to buy something for your dinner then Makro will not be the place to go. However, if you have rented a private villa in Koh Phangan then you will be able to make a big shop at Makro at the start of your vacation and get great value for money.

Shopping in Koh Phangan just got a little better.

Longtail Boats of Southern Thailand

‘Longtail’ boats, or reua hang yao as they are called in Thai, operate through the Southern Thai islands. The design concept dates back hundreds of years and is closely related to the design style of the boats of the Moken (‘Sea Gypsy’) people who originated further south in what is now Malaysia. There has, though, been one big change to the design in the 20th Century, the introduction of a propeller: before that these crafts were driven by sail or oar.

It takes a lot of practice to master driving a longtail boat. They sit low in the water and can become easily unbalanced. If you take a small longtail boat for a journey the boat operator will normally have to ask you to sit in the front to avoid unbalancing the boat. If the weather is bad then there might also be a need to start bailing out water as the waves splash over the side of the boat. In addition to this, the distinctive propulsion system, a propeller attached by a long metal rod to motorbike or car engine directly without gearing, increases the difficulty in controlling the boat. To steer a longtail, the whole engine has to be turned making controlling the boat a physically demanding activity.

There are, however, benefits to the design. They are extremely manoeuvrable, and because of their shallow profile and semi-submerged propeller (more efficient than a fully submerged engine) they are much more fuel efficient than most other types of boat. They can go very quickly as well if the water is calm. They are also relatively cheap to maintain as they use a motorbike or car engine and avoid the notoriously costly maintenance expenses associated with maintaining purpose built marine engines.

The actual wooden hull of the boat though is relatively expensive to buy. The majority of these boats are made by hand by a dwindling number of master craftsmen who work without drawing and plans. Most of the hand-built boats are made with natural materials as well. The gaps between the planks for instance are typically treated with cotton thread soaked in the resin of the breadfruit tree. However, the high initial outlay of cash on making the boat is offset against the very low ongoing repair costs. There is nothing on these boats that, with basic tools and material, the boat owner can’t repair themselves which is handy if you live in a remote area and you have a small irregular income.

Longtail boats operate off most beaches in Koh Phangan. Because of the better road network on Koh Phangan there are few places on the island where you need to take a longtail boat because you can’t drive and it is too far to walk. Nonetheless, no visit to the islands is complete with taking a longtail trip. It is an exciting ride and an experience of Southern Thailand’s maritime culture and traditional craftsmanship.

Popular longtail trips around Koh Phangan include:

• Thong Nai Pan to Koh Ma
• Haad Rin to Haad Thien and Haad Yuan
• Bottle Beach to Than Sadet

Longtail drivers on Koh Phangan are mostly independent operators and something of a law unto themselves when it comes to pricing. You need to negotiate. As a guide you should never pay more than 1,500 THB for a trip except on the Full Moon Party Night or a journey across to Koh Samui.

The way to find a longtail is simply to go down to the beach and ask. On many beaches, including Thong Nai Pan Noi and Yai, there are one or more booths where drivers sit waiting for custom. At Haad Rin you are likely to be approached by a longtail driver offering you a trip to Haad Yuan. In Bottle Beach or Than Sadet you should ask at your resort.

One last word of advice: you will get wet getting on and off the boats and whilst you are going to your destination. Wear shorts and flip-flops. From October through to mid-December, and in stormy weather, you are ill advised to use longtail boats – on occasion they sink in rough seas.

 

Best Hostels in Haad Rin

Haad Rin is the heart of the action for the party people that come to Koh Phangan. This is where the famous Full Moon Party is held every month. It is a party that attracts all types of people. However, the biggest group are young backpackers on a budget. For those wanting to stay in Haad Rin during the party the best option for the budget traveller is a hostel. Over recent years a number of hostels have appeared in Haad Rin catering for those who just want a bed and a locker to store their possessions. It is the cheapest way to do the Full Moon Party. Moreover, for those staying in Haad Rin there is no entry fee to pay to go to the Full Moon Party.

Below is our list of the best 5 hostels in Haad Rin. We rate the hostels in terms of value for money, amenities offered, atmosphere and reviews. If you have stayed in one of these hostels please use our polls and leave a comment. Your feedback will help your fellow travellers.

#1 Our House

Central Haad Rin on Tommy Street, behind Tommy Resort. Our House is ideally located for backpackers who want to go to the Full Moon Party. The hostel is located in the centre of Haad Rin, just 30 seconds from the beach where the party is held. Our House is behind Tommy Resort on Tommy Street.

It is a fairly big hostel with plenty of dorm beds. There is a 36 bed room, a 12 bed room and a 10 bed room. They all have shared bathroom, lockers, air-con and a hair dryer. A bed costs 200 Thai Baht a night. It doesn’t include a meal. Check in is at 2pm and check out is 10.30am.

The beds are new and there is a good ratio of bathrooms and toilets per guests. These are two important considerations when choosing a hostel. There is also free wifi.

The resort has a bar, restaurant, TV room, lounge, pool table and travel desk. Included in the price is clean bed linen and use of the luggage room. There is a basic kitchen open to guest use.

The bar has discounted drinks for guests staying at the bar; it plays ambient music and shows live sports events.

The minimum stay for the Full Moon Party is 5 nights. During the peak season (Christmas and New Year) the minimum stay is 7 nights.

Our House is our number hostel in Haad Rin as it combines good amenities with a cheap price. It also has mostly good reviews on the various review sites.

CHECK AVAILABILITY OF OUR HOUSE HOSTEL

#2 Fubar Hostel

Fubar Hostel describes itself as ‘designer hostel’ that is ‘European-managed and energy orientated’. It is located just seconds from Haad Rin Sunrise Beach at the southern end of the beach behind Zoom Bar.
This hostel is geared around the Full Moon Party. They put on a boat tour of the island for guests that visits Than Sadet waterfall and goes to the best snorkeling spots. They also have a popular full moon after party with DJs pumping out solid electro and house tunes.

There are 22, 17 and 6 bed dorms. Dorm beds start at just over 200 Thai Baht a night. This includes bed linen, free wifi, secure locker and access to a hair dryer. The 6 bed dorm is in the attic and has a sea view.

There is an extensive and reasonably priced menu at the restaurant / bar. You can get baked potatoes, toasties, baguettes, pasta, pizza, burgers and Thai food. The bar stocks cold bottled beers and spirits as well as soft drinks.

Fubar Hostel also offers a download service for music and movies. One wonders about copyright laws!

Reviews of Fubar Hostel on Hostelbookers are mostly positive. A few people complained about the noise from the bar. This is a party hostel and you shouldn’t stay here if you like to go to bed early and sober. Other negative comments mention the toilets and showers not being cleaned on a regular basis. Also several guests complained about the poor state of the rooms for rent.

While Fubar has attracted a few negative comments we like this hostel because it has loads of character. It is run by a young and energetic cooperative of people who obviously love Koh Phangan and the Full Moon Party. Their enthusiasm is infectious and they encourage guests to become part of the ‘Fu family’.

FUBAR HOSTEL IS CURRENTLY CLOSED

#4 A Phangan Hostel

A Phangan Hostel is near Haad Rin pier near the quieter Haad Rin Nai (Sunset beach). They claim their guests are near the party action but also can get a good night’s sleep.

A Phangan Hostel has dorm beds starting at 190 Thai Baht a night. The price includes air-con, en-suite bathrooms, clean linen and towels, use of the luggage room, secure lockers and free wifi.

Check-in and check-out is 12 noon. The hostel doesn’t have a bar or restaurant, but there are plenty of eating and drinking options nearby. Indeed not having a bar helps to make this a less rowdy hostel as those seeking all-night intoxication and loud music have to go elsewhere.

Few people left any negative feedback about Phangan Hostel. One person complained that the air-con was too good (this is a common problem in Thailand), and another felt there weren’t enough toilets per person. Other guests do mention the hostel location is quieter than other spots in Haad Rin.

This hostel might not stand out immediately as one of the best in Haad Rin but for the price and the chance of an undisturbed sleep it deserves to be included on the list.

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#3 Gallery Dorm

Gallery Dorm is a small hostel near Haad Rin pier. It has 14 beds in an upstairs dorm. A bed costs just 150 Thai Baht in an air-con room.

Down stairs is a small bar and restaurant that is open 24/7. The hostel is keen to promote itself as ideal for party people and musicians. There are bongos, didgeridoos and guitar for guests’ use. They also have a set of decks and mixer for CD DJs to show off their moves. Guests get discounted prices for food and drink.

This is a small and intimate hostel and might suit people who like to jam late into the night. Not good for those sleeping upstairs.

There is only one toilet for the dorm and there seems to be a security issue with people able to go from the bar into the dorm upstairs. Otherwise, guests have few bad things to say about Gallery Dorm.

We gave Gallery Dorm third spot because it eschews the common ‘ship em and ship em out’ approach of hostels. Gallery Dorm wants to be a place for guests and friends to hang out and discover more about their fellow dorm companions.

GALLERY DORM IS UNAVAILABLE FOR ONLINE BOOKING

#6 Bed and Bar

Bed and Bar is a small hostel in the centre of Haad Rin. They have an 18 bed dorm. Bed prices start at 750 Thai Baht. The price includes air-con, linen and use of the luggage room. They also have safety boxes for guests to put their valuables.

The dorm is upstairs. Downstairs there is a common area with TV and shared computer. There is also free wifi in the hostel.

This is a basic hostel with high bed prices.

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#5 Electro Hostel

Electro Hostel is on Tommy Street in the centre of Haad Rin. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to the hostel from Haad Rin pier and just 20 seconds from Sunrise Beach.

It is a new hostel with a 10 bed dorm. The dorm has air-con, and the price includes bed linen and towel. Guests get their own locker and access to free wifi.

There is a common area with TV. There is also a tour desk for booking tours.

Electro Hostel doesn’t have a restaurant. There is, however, a beer garden outside. This is a non-smoking hostel, so those who want a cigarette have to go outside.

A bed in the dorm costs 350 Thai Baht. Check-in time is 2 pm and check-out is 1 pm.

There is a minimum stay requirement of 2 nights.

Electro Hostel makes it to number five of our list of best hostels in Haad Rin for its reasonable price and because it is the ‘best of the rest’.

ELECTRO HOSTEL IS UNAVAILABLE FOR ONLINE BOOKING

#3 Mickey Hostel

Mickey Hostel is a fairly new hostel in Haad Rin with comfortable bunk beds for rent. The hostel has 13 bunk beds that can hold 26 people. The room is air-con and the linen is clean and regularly changed. The hostel is on the main road in centre of Haad Rin.

Although Mickey Hostel costs a bit more than other Haad Rin hostels it does have the advantage of having 4 bathrooms. Other hostels in Haad Rin have 1 bathroom for a dorm. This means one person taking a long shower or admiring him or herself in the mirror can lead to frayed tempers from others waiting to use the toilet.

A bed at Mickey Hostel costs 550 Thai Baht. This includes a locker, free wifi, bed linen and a towel. There is also free tea and coffee available throughout the day.

Mickey Hostel is a simple hostel without bar or restaurant. The reason we like this hostel is that the mattresses are new, and more comfortable than many other mattresses in Haad Rin.

The minimum stay for the full moon party is either 5 or 7 nights depending on the season.

CHECK AVAILABILITY FOR MICKEY HOSTEL