East Coast Beaches

The east cost of Koh Phangan is the stuff of dreams. It is a dramatic coastline dominated by a spine of mountains that run up the coast and that break at points to create bays holding magnificent white sand beaches many of which are rarely visited. This area of the island is stunningly beautiful and is quickly developing a reputation for luxury accommodation and pristine natural surroundings. With the construction of Koh Phangan Airport at Than Prapad in the east, this part of Koh Phangan is due to become the new hub for luxury travel in the Samui Archipelago. (The airport never got built. It was a bit of a scandal1)

Unlike the west coast of Koh Phangan, the east doesn’t have any off-shore coral reefs. All the beaches on the east coast are ideal for swimming but offer little for those wanting to do snorkeling. There are a lot of beaches on the east coast but most of them are quite small.

Access to most of the beaches in this region is limited. Only a few taxi drivers will attempt the treacherous roads to these beaches (other than Thong Nai Pan). The Thong Nai Pan Express is a small ferry that runs up and down the coast twice a day. It starts at Thong Nai Pan at 19am and does request stops along the east coast before getting to Haad Rin and heading off to Maenam in Koh Samui. The reverse journey leaves Koh Samui at 12 pm. The ferry doesn’t run between October and January.

Thong Nai Pan

Thong Nai Pan is the largest bay on the east coast. It is a stunning bay surrounded by forested slopes with headlands of giant granite boulders. Until a few years ago Thong Nai Pan was reached via the worst road on the island. Now the road is one of the best on the island and forms the main point of access for most of the east coast beaches.

There are actually three beaches in the Thong Nai Pan. To the south is the larger Thong Nai Pan Yai and to the north is Thong Nai Pan Noi and another small beach next to it that is commonly called ‘Santhiya beach’ although it is open to everyone to visit.

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Thong Nai Pan Yai holds the main village of the area. This consists of a wide selection of bars, restaurants, shops, resorts and travel agents along a main road as well as businesses scattered over the land between the main road and the beach.

It is a wide beach that has fine white sand that gently slopes down to the sea. It is a good beach for swimming as there aren’t any corals in the sea. There is however, a low rock shelf at the southern end of the beach that can be seen during the lower tidal months.

Thong Nai Pan Yai beach has plenty of beachfront facilities. Most of the resorts are beachfront and most of these have sea view restaurants. At the northern end of the beach is a small temple. Dreamland Resort, Starlight Resort and Central Cottage have swimming pools near the beach.

Thong Nai Pan Yai is rated by us as the third best beach in Koh Phangan. It combines stunning natural scenery with a wide range of accommodation, bars and restaurants. It attracts both families and backpackers.

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Ask anybody where to find a 5 star hotel in Koh Phangan and they will reply ‘Thong Nai Pan Noi’. There are 4 luxury resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi. They are Rasananda, Santhiya, Panviman and Buri Rasa. In terms of comfort, style and facilities these hotels represent the best accommodation on Koh Phangan.

Thong Nai Pan Noi is considered by many to be the best beach in Koh Phangan. It is fine white sand and is fringed with palms. The sea is ideal for swimming all year round. Scattered around the area are huge granite boulders one of which has the initials of King Rama V. Behind the beach are imposing forested slopes. Facing the other way there is the open ocean as well as the opposite beach, Thong Nai Pan Yai.

Despite the development of Thong Nai Pan Noi it is still a beach set in a pristine natural setting. You can see butterflies sporting in the surf and birds of prey circling in the thermals overhead. As you walk around there are plenty of landscaped areas to enjoy spotting tropical flowers.

The village behind the beach has a collection of bars, restaurants, shops and massage places. The small street has a laid-back Bohemian feel that has helped to establish Thong Nai Pan Noi as a firm favourite with visitors over the years.

Than Sadet

Moving south from Thong Nai Pan Yai, the next beach is Haad Sadet, also known as Than Sadet. This is a small beach next to a national park. It is accessed via a very rough road that is being upgraded, or via longtail boat taxi.

The beach is famous for its series of waterfalls that run over 4km. These waterfalls have been visited by three kings of Thailand.

The beach at Than Sadet is a hidden gem. It is great for swimming and relaxing. All the accommodation here is fairly basic and the resorts get their power from generators. This is a beach tucked away from the world, and attracts those wanting a peaceful and non-commercial beach to enjoy.

Haad Thong Reng

Next to Than Sadet beach is Haad Thong Reng. It is reached via a short walk over a rocky headland. It is a very small beach with granite boulders scattered over the beach and in the sea. Those lucky few hanging out on this beach enjoy complete tranquility. There are a few basic bungalows available for rent at Thong Reng Resort.

Haad Nam Tok

Haad Nam Tok is the next beach south from Haad Thong Reng. The name of the beach translates as ‘waterfall beach’ because there is a small waterfall near the beach.

Haad Nam Tok is another perfect beach and at present uninhabited. Someone has built a bar on the beach and it is sometimes used for parties, but otherwise there aren’t any buildings on the beach. It is possible to camp on the beach, but you would have to bring everything with you.

You can get to Haad Nam Tok by longtail taxi boat. There is a road that branches off the main Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road. It is a rough dirt track that goes up and down difficult terrain. You cannot drive all the way to the beach. The last 20 minutes of the journey to Haad Nam Tok is on foot and is down a steep mountain path.

Haad Nam Tok is rarely visited and great for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-track.

UPDATE: From blogger comments I note that a few travellers have mentioned that the rubbish is piling up on Haad Nam Tok Beach.

Haad Yang

Haad Yang is reached by a footpath from the bigger Haad Yao to the south. It is a small and deserted beach in a wide bay flanked by rocks with palm trees behind. This is another beautiful beach on the east coast that is great for swimming.

Haad Yao East

Haad Yao East is overshadowed by the famous Haad Yao on the west coast. Unlike Haad Yao West, Haad Yao is a small beach that doesn’t have a coral reef off-shore.

This beach has fine white sand and good swimming all year round. There is only one resort at Haad Yao East. It has basic bungalows. It seems like there is only ever a handful of backpackers staying at Haad Yao East at any one time.

The footpath that starts at Haad Rin and that goes north through the jungle and then follows the coast goes past Haad Yao East. It is 8 km from Haad Rin to Haad Yao East. You can get the Thong Nai Pan Express to drop you at this beach or get a longtail taxi. A few drivers might attempt the dirt road to this beach.

If you ever fancied owning your own tropical paradise rumor has it that half the beach is up for lease.

Haad Wai Nam

Haad Wai Nam is another tucked away and hard-to-get beach. It is in a beautiful small bay. The sand here is slight rougher than other beaches on the east coast.

Haad Whynam Restaurant and Bungalows is the only business on the beach. They have comfortable wooden bungalows on a hill behind the beach. As with the other east coast beaches, the power comes from generators.

It is a picturesque place and an ideal spot to escape from the world. It is a beach with very little media exposure so few people venture to this beach.

Haad Thian

Haad Thian is one of the longest east coast beaches. It is a wonderful beach with fine white sand and a good range of accommodation.

There is more going on in Haad Thian than the other smaller east coast beaches such as Haad Thong Reng and Haad Wai Nam.

The Sanctuary is a yoga / New Age / detox center on the beach with basic bungalows for those doing courses. This causes a split in the beach visitors between those interested in colonic irrigation and those who just want to lie in the sun and drink cold beer in the evening.

Again the electricity is supplied by generator; and again the only way to Haad Thian is via a footpath from Haad Rin or a longtail boat. The Thong Nai Pan express stops at Haad Thian bay but often a smaller boat goes out to ferry passengers on and off the beach.

Haad Yuan

Haad Yuan is 150 meters long. It is another of the longer eastern beaches. Haad Yuan has fine white sand and is fringed by palms leaning towards the sea.

There is a good range of rooms available. The stand out place is Centara Pariya Resort. This resort has round huts, a swimming pool and a spa. The power for all the resorts is from generators that are usually turned off either at night or for a few hours during the day.

There isn’t much in the way of shops at Haad Yuan but you can find plenty of places to eat and drink. It is a wonderful beach and feels a little bit less remote and less basic than most of the other smaller eastern beaches.

Haad Yuan is a 5 km walk through the jungle from Haad Rin. The alternative is to catch a longtail taxi or the Thong Nai Pan Express to the beach.

To find more information check out this Koh Phangan East Coast blog.

Activities for East Koh Phangan

Local Culture

Thong Nai Pan Wat

Thong Nai Pan Wat

Location: Thong Nai Pan Yai

This small, but attractive, temple is home to a small number of monks who make up the local Buddhist clergy who attend to religious ceremonies for locals throughout the East Coast. The Wat (Temple) is very small. There is a large Buddha statute and shrine inside. Nearby there are larger temple buildings where the monks live and a hall where religious ceremonies take place. If you get up early enough you will see the monks collecting alms on both Thong Nai Pan Noi and Yai every morning. Many of the restaurants provide cooked food to the monks. If you would like to visit the Temple, it is located at the North End of Thong Nai Pan Yai beach between the main road and the beach. Follow the signs for Indian Bar and continue on the dirt road until you reach the temple grounds. The Wat is free to enter as are the temple grounds. This said it would be appreciated if you left a small donation. Donations go towards the upkeep of the temple and assisting poorer members of the local community in times of need.

TOURS

Sorn Trips

Sorn Trips

Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi

Sorn Trips is a small travel agency run by the friendly and reliable Mr Sorn. He provides 4×4 car tours around the Island for around 2,400 THB a day depending on where you want to go. He can also arrange shorter taxi journeys to other places on the Island such as the ferry port or Haad Rin. In addition to taxi services Mr Sorn can also arrange longtail trips for you. Mr Sorn is based in the middle of Thong Nai Pan Noi village Sandwiches. Ask in the small restaurant next door which Mr Sorn runs with his girlfriend. Alternatively call him on +66 (0) 828 148 227.

UPDATE: It is uncertain whether Sorn Trips will open up again for business post-covid. Much won’t be known until the dust clears after the pandemic.

Longtail Boat Trips

Longtail Boat

Location: Tong Nai Pan, Than Sadet, Haad Yuan, Haad Tien

Longtail boats are wooden boats with the long prow for which Southern Thailand is famous. They are powered by lorry engines mounted on the back of the boat connected to a propeller by a long metal shaft. Longtail boats are often brightly painted with distinctive religious designs. Longtail boatmen In Koh Phangan are all independent operators and if you want to take a boat trip you will need to seek them out or approach a travel agent to arrange a trip. In most of the East Coast villages you find them on the beach waiting for business. Longtail trips aren’t that cheap anymore, but they are lots of fun and a more comfortable way to travel to some of the more remote beaches on the East Coast. You can expect to pay around 1,500 to 2,000 THB to hire the whole boat for a half day trip. Popular trips are from Thong Nai Pan to Bottle Beach and Koh Ma for snorkelling. You can also have a fun day out out going south along the coast to Haad Yuan and Haad Tien stopping at small deserted beaches along the way.

PARTIES

Guy’s Bar

Location: Haad Tien
Opening Times: Every Friday from 10 pm till late
Cost: Free

The long running Guy’s Bar on Haad Tien is the only regular party on the East Coast. It normally draws a crowd of 100 to 200 people, many of whom are on the island long term for diving or yoga. The bar has an outdoor area where you can dance the night away and live DJs through the night. Friday night at Guy’s Bar is something of a Koh Phangan institution and has an intimate relaxed feel. Haad Tien is difficult to get to. There isn’t a good road connecting the beach to the rest of the Island. You can walk there in about an hour from Haad Rin but only in the daytime as the trail takes you through the jungle. The better option is to take a longtail boat there. It takes about 10 minutes from Sunrise beach in Haad Rin and costs around 200 THB per person.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Horizon Muay Thai

Horizon Muay Thai

Location: Haad Tien
Opening Times: Training at 8am and 4.30pm Mon to Sat
Cost: 300 THB per session. 700 THB per day. 4,000 THB per week.

Horizon Muay Thai Camp is the only Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) gym on the East Coast of the Island. This is a professionally run Muay Thai camp with 4 instructors, boxing ring and weights gym. You can use the weights gym separately to the Thai Boxing training facilities. There are structured classes twice a day every day except Sunday. Occasionally, they run fight nights with a 500 THB entrance fee for spectators. They also have accommodation for rent on-site. To get there take a longtail boat from Haad Rin or one of the east coast beaches.

The Living Room Gym

The Living Room

Location: Thong Nai Pan Yai
Opening Times: 10am to 6pm
Cost: Daily, weekly and monthly rates available

The Living Room Gym is the only gym non-hotel residents are free to access. Buri Rasa, Rasananda and Santhiya on Thong Nai Pan Noi all have gyms but only for guests. This gym room is air-conditioned and features free weights, a multi-gym, running machines and an exercise bike. To use the gym ask downstairs at the Living Room restaurant and bar. They serve drinks and English breakfast in the morning and Italian/Thai food in the evenings. Most Sundays in high season they serve a good English style Sunday roast for around 200 THB a person depending on the meat.

UPDATE: This business appears  to have survived the lean times. However, they now focus on Italian food, and it is uncertain whether the gym still exists.

The Yoga Studio

Location: Thong Nai Pan Yai
Opening Times: 10am Monday to Saturday
Cost: 300 THB per class. 1,500 THB per week.

This small Yoga Studio is tucked away near Wang Tong waterfall. On the way into Thong Nai Yai beach there is a turning on the right to Wang Tong waterfall. You need to follow this dirt road about 300 metres to get to the Yoga Studio. Classes are held in a covered studio with three sides opening onto a tropical garden. The Instructor, Mel, has studied with Yogi Vijay Amar in Dharamsala, India and teaches Hatha style yoga. There is also a vegan cafe on site and small art gallery with works from local artist Top.

UPDATE: Mel left the beach. However, yoga has never been more popular: you are sure to find yoga classes all over the island.

The Sanctuary Island Resort

Sanctuary Island Resort

Location: Haad Tien

Opening Times: Classes at 8am, 9am, and 4pm every day except Saturday
Cost: 300 THB per class. 1,600 THB for 7 classes

This is the island’s largest wellness centre offering a range of programmes including pilates, yoga and alternative therapies such as detox courses. They also have a tree house spa offering massage and beauty treatments. A traditional Thai massage costs 600 THB an hour. They offer good quality accommodation for those want to stay and have a vegetarian/raw/seafood restaurant for healthy eating. Haad Tien is a beautiful beach and a good place to visit and stay even if yoga and alternative therapies aren’t your thing.

ADVENTURE SPORTS

Phangan Jetski

Location: Beach on Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai
Opening Times: Daylight hours on calm days
Cost: 1,000 for 20 minutes. 1,400 THB for 30 minutes. 2,600 for 60 minutes

This is a French managed water sports business with jetskis and a small speedboat. They offer jetski rental and jetski tours. A guided jetski tour around the Island costs 16,000 per person with a guide. They also run day trips by speed boat to Ang Thong Marine Park for 17,000 for the whole boat, or 2,000 THB per person for groups. You will find them on the beach where they set a stall every day when conditions are suitable at sea.

UPDATE: Thomas might have survived the slow year; whether he can survive the very mixed reviews on Tripadvisor is another matter. You might choose not to pollute and save yourself the worry of getting into a protracted argument about damage to the jetski.

DIVING

H20 Scuba

H2O Scuba

Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai
Opening Times: 10am to 6 pm on the beach and 6 pm to 9 pm in the Village
Cost: 3,800 THB for Discover Scuba, and 12,500 THB for PADI Open Water Course

H20 Scuba is the east coast’s most popular dive school. They run professionally managed dive trips by luxury boat most days. Children and beginners welcomed, as are more experienced divers who can take advanced courses and do more adventurous dives. You can contact them (Lee or Alice) on +66 (0) 811 86 16 16 or through most of the resorts in Thong Nai Pan. They  have a shops in Thong Nai Pan Village.

UPDATE: Al is still posting regularly on FB, so they must still be plying their trade.

Tropical Dive Club

Tropical Dive Club

Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach
Opening Times: 10am to 7pm
Cost: 3,500 THB for Discover Scuba, and 11,500 for PADI Open Water Course

Their booking office is located at the north end of Thong Nai Pan Noi beach at Thong Tapan Resort. They run a full range of SSI and PADI courses in both English and German. Dive trips are made by converted wooden fishing boats. They can be contacted on +66 (0) 77 44 5081.

Dreamland Divers

Dreamland Divers

Location: Thong Nai Pan Yai
Opening Times: 10am to 7pm
Cost: 3,500 THB for Discover Scuba, and 11,500 for PADI Open Water Course

Located at the Dreamland Resort they offer a full range of PADI and SSI courses in several languages. Dive trips are made on Dreamland Resort’s very own converted fishing boat. They also offer snorkelling trips for non-divers. They can be contacted on +66 (0) 77 44 5181

SPA/MASSAGE

Tanaporn Massage House

Tanaporn

Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi
Opening Times: 10am to 8pm during the tourist season
Cost: 60 minute Thai massage – 350 THB. Body care treatment – 1,200 THB

Open since 2007, Tanaporn Massage House is the most popular independent massage business on the east coast. Ably run by husband and wife team, Greg and Porn, Tanaporn Massage House owes its popularity to providing spa quality service at a fraction of the cost. The massage house itself is a traditional Thai house construction out of coconut and other sustainable local materials. The lady of the house, Porn, is a highly experienced masseuse having worked at major spas in Bangkok and elsewhere. Tanaporn Massage House offers a variety of massages and beauty treatments. Bear in mind that they are busy and you are likely to need to book one or two days in advance. Either visit the reception to make an appointment or telephone +66 (0) 810 787 814.

UPDATE: I’m not sure if Greg is still around.

BEACH TRIPS

Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach

Location: North coast of Koh Phangan

Thong Nai Pan Noi has been popular with tourists for over 20 years now. It used to be considered a must-visit destination on the independent travellers’ circuit. More recently the independent travellers have now all but disappeared and Thong Nai Pan Noi is now a luxury destination with three 5* Hotels and one very good 4* Hotel. What has been attracting generations of travellers is the stunning natural geography. Thong Nai Pan is one of two bays separated a head land. Both bays have powder white sand beach, and calm seas making it perfect for swimming. Going back from the beach is an amphitheatre of steep forested hills, virtually untouched by development. What has kept Thong Nai Pan Noi relatively pristine has been its remoteness. It has been pretty much cut off from the rest of the Island with the only access being by boat or by difficult drive along a 20km dirt road through the jungle. However, this has all changed now. The road is now concreted. The easier access now makes Thong Nai Pan Noi perfect for a day trip.

Than Sadet Beach

Than Sadet

Location: East Coast south of Thong Nai Pan

Than Sadet Beach is much less developed, and smaller, than Thong Nai Pan. There are two places where you can stay or eat: The excellent Mai Pen Rai Bungalows and the less expensive J S Hut Resort. It is a really laid back place. It’s like it was ten or more years ago. You need to make your own entertainment here. There is no mobile telephone signal, no internet, no TV and the electricity is from generators which are turned off every afternoon. The beach is a great distraction. Its excellent for swimming and you can rent kayaks from J S Hut to do the 20 minute paddle to the near by tiny Island of Koh Kong. There is plenty to see and do around Than Sadet in the adjacent national park with its waterfalls and trekking opportunities. To get to Than Sadet you need to either take a boat or 4×4 car.

Haad Nam Tok Beach

Haad Nam Tok

Location: East Coast south of Than Sadet

Haad Nam Tok is a pretty much deserted beach. Its difficult to get to. Its also one of the island’s most beautiful places. To reach Haad Nam Tok, take the road from Ban Tai towards Thong Nai Pan. About 400 metres after Jungle Flight there is a turning on the left signed posted towards ‘Than Prapad’. If you follow this steep dirt track though the jungle you first come to the site where they were building the Island’s first airport. Carry on past the short stretch of concrete road downhill. When the road starts to get very steep and broken leave you car or bike. Be warned, if you carry on beyond this point you will really struggle to drive back up. From there continue on foot. Keep to the right turn when you get to junctions. Its about a 1 km walk down to the beach. The last stretch is very steep and there is a rope in place. The beach has no permanent development. There is a bar with no electric opened for party nights, a small toilet block and a few tents pitched on the beach for rent. No shop, no water, no food. You need to bring your own.

NATURE

Than Sadet National Park

Than Sadet National Park

Location: 65km2 on the East Coast

The best known part of the national park is its waterfall. It stretches 2 km down to the beach in a series of waterfalls. The most spectacular part of the waterfall is at the bottom near Than Sadet beach. The waterfall is at its best November to March when it rains more. By August its pretty much dry. Three of Thailand’s kings visited the waterfall, including the last King. They all left inscriptions on rocks around the area. One of the rocks has the signature of all three Kings. Beyond the waterfall, the National Park is pristine tropical rain forest. The National Park authority lists the following animals as living in the national park: cervus monkey, spectacled langur, slow loris, javan mongoose, brahminy kite, white bellied sea eagles, snakes including pythons, cobras and green tree snakes, blyth’s mountain frog, and land tortoises. In addition to these we have spotted beavers, deer and civets. If you do go trekking into the jungle please remember it’s very easy to get lost. Bring water, food and a local guide.

Than Prawet Waterfall

Than Prawet Waterfall

Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi

Very few people ever visit this waterfall which is a shame as its one of the best on Koh Phangan. The waterfall is located on the way into Thong Nai Pan Noi village. As you turn from the main road down to the village there is a valley on your left. The waterfall is in that valley. To walk up the entire length of the waterfall start at the small bridge on the opposite side of the road to the large general store at the edge of the village. The track is a bit over grown. Just follow the stream uphill. As the hill steepens the waterfalls start. They get better the further up the hill you go. The easiest way to walk up is on the larger boulders in the stream. There are pools where you can swim from November to around April. The going gets more difficult the further up the hill you go and you will need to climb up some short cliffs to make it all the way up this stretch of waterfalls.