West Coast Beaches

The West Coast of Koh Phangan has the longest beaches on the island. There are beaches on the west coast that although easily accessible by road are not popular with visitors. This is partly because the west coast has a much greater tidal variation, and so during the low tidal months from May to October beaches such as Sri Thanu, Hin Kong and Wok Tum become muddy sand flats that stretch for a long way. Many of the resorts on the western side of the island make up for this by providing swimming pools. The other distinguishing aspect of the west is the 13 km long coral reef that follows the coast. It starts at Haad Chao Phao and follows the coast up to Koh Ma.
In places such as Haad Salad, Haad Son and Nai Wok the reef is less than 100 meters from the beach, making it close enough to easily swim out to and enjoy snorkelling.

Of all the beaches along the west coast of Koh Phangan, Haad Salad and Haad Yao by far and away the best and most popular. The beaches close to Thongsala such as Nai Wok and Wok Tum tend to attract people who want to be close to Thongsala.

There are plenty of good roads servicing the west of Koh Phangan. They are concreted and mostly flat. This makes getting around the western part of the island easy on motorbike. Haad Yao, Haad Son and Haad Gruad are close enough to be able to walk or bicycle between.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the western coast although not blessed with the best swimming beaches on the island does have the best beaches to enjoy the sunset. Often it is a wondrous spectacle worth catching from a beachfront bar.

Haad Yao

Haad Yao
Haad Yao means ‘long beach’, and it is aptly named as the beach is 1 km long. It is also a wide beach. This means that there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy sunbathing, beach volleyball and other beaches activities. It also means there is plenty of room for the various beachfront resorts to spread out and give their customers accommodation with a little more privacy.

Haad Yao looks as you imagine a Thai beach should. It has white sand fringed with coconut palms. The sand slopes down gently to the clean turquoise waters. About 400 meters off the coast there is a healthy coral reef system. This provides great snorkelling and diving opportunities nearby. The only downside to having an off-shore coral reef is that corals collect in the sand. Also during the low tidal months from May to October swimmers have to walk a fair distance through shallow waters before they can swim in comfort.

This beach is a good option if you are looking for a beach with a good range of accommodation and a bit of nightlife. You can find old style wooden bungalows starting at around 500 Thai Baht a night in such places as Easy Life Bungalows and you can find resorts with a boutique feel such as See Through Resort . You can also find bigger resorts with swimming pool, restaurant and the feel of a family friendly place such as Haad Yao Bayview Resort. There aren’t any resorts that really hit the high-end luxury bracket, but for the mid to high end Haad Yao provides excellent choice. See our recommendations for Haad Yao accommodation.

There are a number of beachfront bars as well as bars in Haad Yao village that stay open late and that get fairly lively, especially in the high seasons. Bars such as Choc Dee, Apple Bar and Apache Bar have a lively but friendly atmosphere. Rasta Home is an old skool reggae bar that sometimes has live music. As a tip, the bar scene in Haad Yao picks up a few days before the Full Moon Party. It is not a party beach, but it has the best nightlife on the west coast.

READ MORE: HAAD YAO GUIDE

Haad Salad

Haad Salad
Haad Salad is at the north end of the west coast. It is just below the marine park at Koh Ma. This beach has a laid back feel and retains much of the charm of a traditional backpacker beach in Koh Phangan.

In local dialect Haad Salad means ‘Pirate Beach’. This is because pirates used to hide in the bay and give chase to unsuspecting cargo vessels coming up the coast.

The pirates have gone but something of the romance of those days remains. Despite being well-connected by roads to the rest of Koh Phangan, Haad Salad has an out-of-the-way feel to it. This is great for those who choose Haad Salad as their holiday destination as its fine white sand beach is never crowded.
Haad Salad
Salad Beach is 600 meters long. It has a handful of bungalow resorts and mid-range resorts along the beach as well as set back from the beach. There is a small village with a few cheap eating options such as Jay Jay Pizza and Reggae Village. While people do go out for a few drinks in the evening during their stay at Haad Salad, it is not a high-energy night life.

As with Haad Yao, Haad Salad has a coral reef just 80 meters off the beach. This is much closer than the Haad Yao reef and so will suit those who don’t want to swim too far to see marine life.

We recommend staying at Salad Beach Resort, Cookies Salad Resort, Haadlad Prestige Resort or Salad Buri Resort. See our recommendations for Haad Salad accommodation.

READ MORE: HAAD SALAD GUIDE

Haad Gruad

Haad Gruad
Haad Gruad is a small beach located in a cove between Haad Salad and Haad Yao. It is a picturesque spot with fine sand and a coral reef off-shore teaming with marine life.

There are a few budget places to stay such as Lucky Resort. For those who want a few more comforts there is Haad Gruad Beach Resort.
Haad Gruad
Haad Gruad is a less well-known beach in Koh Phangan that provides peace and quiet as well as being well connected to lots of other great beaches.

Haad Thian West

Not to be confused with the Haad Thian on the east. This is a small and idyllic beach just south of Haad Gruad.

The sand is a bit course due to the coral reef close to the shore. Swimming can be difficult during the low tidal months.

Haad Thian West has only one hotel and so guests at Haad Thian Beach Resort normally have the beach to themselves.

Haad Son

Haad Son
Haad Son is a medium-sized beach to the south of the more popular Haad Yao. It is a beautiful beach that has jungle covered hills behind. Until the late 1990s this beach was undeveloped. That changed when Haad Son Resort was built. The resort is set back from the beach at the northern end of the beach.

Haad Son Resort is a good 3 star resort with swimming pool, restaurant and both villas and hotel style rooms. The road access to the resort is up a hill and then down a sharp turning driveway. For many guests there is a far amount of walking up and down to get to and from the beach.
Haad Son
Like many of the beaches on the West Coast, there is a coral reef off the beach to explore. In the case of Haad Son the reef is 70 metres off-shore. And of course, since the beach is west facing, there is a beautiful sunset to enjoy nearly every night of the year.

Haad Chao Phao

Haad Chao Phao
Haad Chao Phao is a long beach to the south of Haad Son. Unlike the beach to the north, there are plenty of accommodation options along the beach and behind.

The gently curving beach has soft sand and is flanked by huge volcanic rocks.

One of the great things about Haad Chao Phao is that there is a deep shelf before the coral reef that creates ideal swimming conditions all year round. The coral reef is 100 meters out to sea, and once crossed there is a vibrant marine life to explore.

The coral reef that follows the western coast line starts at Haad Chao Phao and stretches north all the way up to Koh Ma.
Haad Chao Phao
Despite steady development in Haad Chao Phao the place retains its laid-back feel. Accommodation ranges from the stylish Beyond the Blue Horizon Resort that starts at 2,400 THB to the basic bungalows at Benjamin’s Hut that go for as little as 350 THB a night.

At the northern end of the beach is a funky bar shaped like a boat, called the Pirates Bar. 3 days before the Full Moon Party they hold a free techno / trance party that goes on through the night. It is probably the biggest regular party held on the west coast.

READ MORE: HAAD CHAO PHAO GUIDE

Sri Thanu

Sri Thanu
Sri Thanu is a big bay in the southern section of the west coast. Much of the beach has a large tidal variation and is rarely used by tourists. It is one of the quietest beaches in Koh Phangan. At the northern end of the beach there is a small bridge leading to a better beach that is good for swimming; here you will find a few low-key resorts.

The coastal road goes very close to Sri Thanu beach at points. It is possible to find longer term rental bungalows for those who want to be near the facilities of Thongsala but far from the crowds of the all-night parties.
Sri Thanu
Sri Thanu has a village with a strong Thai feel. There is a market, a few basic food stalls and a couple of bars. It is a pleasant place to soak up a bit of Thai culture.

For those looking for yoga lessons, Agama Yoga has its ‘campus’ in the Sri Thanu area.

Nearby is Laem Son Lake, the biggest lake on the island that is now home to Wipe Out, a fun aquatic course with inflatable obstacles.

UPDATE: Sri Thanu was becoming an important hub for new-age, holistic activity; yoga and veganism; something like you see in Rishikesh in India until two things happened. First, the head swami at Agama was caught in flagrante delicto; and second, covid-19 suffused the globe.

READ MORE: SRI THANU GUIDE

Hin Kong / Wok Tum

Hin Kong
Hin Kong and Wok Tum are set in a large bay just north of Thongsala. As with Sri Thanu these two beaches don’t attract a lot of visitors compared with the more popular west coast beaches of Haad Yao and Haad Salad.

Ao Hin Kong is to the north of the bay and Ao Wok Tum is to the south. There is a seasonal river that divides the two beaches.
Wok Tum
It is a large beach area great for exploring nature. There are mangrove swamps and birds come to feed on the wet flats created by the low tide. Neither Hin Kong nor Wok Tum are good places to go swimming. It is, however, a good place to enjoy a sunset by yourself.

It is also a good place to enjoy live music as Koh Phangan’s best live music venue, Jam Bar, is located on Hin Kong Beach. There are a few mid-range resorts you can stay in. Hin Kong Resort has reasonably priced bungalows and a small pool.

READ MORE: HIN KONG GUIDE
READ MORE: WOK TUM GUIDE

Plaay Laem

Plaay Laem
The beach at Plaay Laem is only accessible by longtail boat or footpath. It is a white sand beach located at the foot of Khao Hin Nok Mountain. It is a striking beach with huge granite boulders scattered around the beach and in the sea. The boulders make it fun to kayak in the bay.

The beach is at the end of a headland that sticks out into the Gulf. This gives it ideal conditions for wind sports. Cookies Bungalows have small sailing boats and windsurfing equipment for hire.
Plaay Laem
There are a couple of places to stay in Plaay Laem offering budget to mid-range accommodation. Since the final part of the route to the beach is via a footpath it tends to be a quiet beach with a remote feel.

READ MORE: PLAAY LAEM GUIDE

Nai Wok

Nai Wok
Nai Wok is a long beach next to Thongsala, ideal for those people who want to be close to the principal town on the island but who prefer a beach setting. It is a beach mostly ignored by first time tourists to Koh Phangan. It is possible to walk from Thongsala to Nai Wok.
Nai Wok
It is a shallow bay and so swimming is best at Nai Wok during the higher tidal months from November to April. There is a coral reef 80 meters off the coast that is good for snorkelling. Off the coast is the fairly big but deserted island called Koh Tae Nai. Many people arriving by boat wonder about this island: well the island covers an area of about 40 meters and for any millionaires reading – it is up for sale, well lease at the bargain price of 17.6 million USD.

READ MORE: NAI WOK GUIDE

Where is the best place to stay on Koh Phangan

The Island of Koh Phangan has a diverse range of accommodation options and small towns and villages each with their own character. Some will appeal to certain types of visitor more than others. It can be difficult to choose where to stay as the guides will tend to tell you that everywhere is great, which in their own way they are, but this is of little help in choosing where to stay.

Here is our guide to choosing the beach location which will suit you best.

1. Luxury in Koh Phangan

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach

If you are looking for a luxury break in Koh Phangan then you should head to the small village of Thong Nai Pan Noi in the North East of the island.

Thong Nai Pan Noi has one of the best beaches on Koh Phangan. It’s about 800 meters long with clean white powder sand which slopes gently into the water. Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach is perfect for swimming from December through to September. The beach is within a sheltered bay and the sea is perfectly calm most days. It’s popular with families as children can play safely in the water.
Better Than Sex
Better Than Sex Restaurant and Lounge
Luna Lounge
Luna Lounge

Thong Nai Pan Noi has a small laid-back village with a good range of independent restaurants. The best two of these are Luna Lounge and Better than Sex at the edge of the village. Both restaurants serve good quality Thai, European and fusion cooking. The food at Better that Sex is slightly better than Luna Lounge, with some unusual Burmese dishes, such as curry with sour mango, and good Italian pasta and pizzas. Also worth mentioning are Jip Shop which serves tasty Thai food at mid-range prices, and Baan Muay Thai which serves authentic Thai food at very cheap prices – try the ‘Kanaa Moo Grop’ (Chinese cabbage fried with crispy pork in light oyster sauce) and ‘Gai Pad Prio Wan’ (Thai style sweet and sour chicken).

Visitors to Thong Nai Pan Noi have no fewer than 4 luxury resorts to choose from. If you bear in mind there are only a total of 6 luxury resorts on the whole island you can understand why we describe Thong Nai Pan Noi as THE luxury destination in Koh Phangan.

Buri Rasa
Buri Rasa from 2,900 THB per night

BOOK BURI RASA RESORT

Buri Rasa is Thong Nai Pan Noi’s newest resort which opened for business in 2012. The style of this new resort is something of a departure from the design of typical luxury resorts in Thailand. The rooms are a bit smaller, and the design is more modern with pastel colours rather than dark heavy wood tones. You get a lot for your money at Buri Rasa with room prices approximately half that of the other luxury resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi. The beachfront location is excellent as is the hotel restaurant and bar, which are similarly good value for money. The rooms are very comfortable and guests benefit from the newness of the fittings and furnishings. The ground floor rooms feature very nice terraces with chairs and tables leading onto either the garden or the beach. Overall a reliable and good value choice, particularly for couples.
Panviman
Panviman Resort and Spa from 2,600 THB per night

BOOK PANVIMAN RESORT

Panviman is one of the first hotels on Koh Phangan having opened way back in 1987. It has changed a lot since then with a lot of new rooms and facilities having been added. The design style of the resort can best be described as ‘eclectic’ which is a reflection of its organic development over the last 25 years. The newest rooms, which are luxury individual cottages, are the best. The Presidential Suite built right on the rocks at the water’s edge on the headland is spectacular. The sliding glass doors open onto a private plunge pool and terrace right on the shoreline. The hotel rooms are nicely appointed and we have enjoyed staying there on numerous occasions. However, they are packed closely together and you feel as though you lack privacy on your balcony when the hotel is full. The dining options at Panviman are good. There is a cliff side restaurant where they serve a sumptuous buffet breakfast, and a beach restaurant with a BBQ and excellent Thai menu – in our opinion the best Thai food on the island.

Rasa Nan Da
Rasananda from 7,762 THB per night

BOOK ANANTARA RASANANDA

Koh Phangan’s most luxurious and most expensive hotel. The rooms range from hotel style to private beachfront bungalows where your terrace leads onto the sand. Built in 2008, Rasananda was a ground breaking development in the island’s hotel scene, and rivals the established resorts on Koh Samui and Phuket. It was Rasananda that established Thong Nai Pan Noi as a destination in the itinerary of the international ‘jet-set’. Several celebrities such as Jordan (Katie Price) have stayed at Rasananda.

The location and the construction of this resort is great, however, we feel that it is slightly let down by the standard of the catering. By comparison with the rest of the island its international menu is good, however, by comparison with resorts in the Maldives or the Caribbean it still has some way to go. Our feeling is that they would have been better off doing simple things well, rather than attempting a more complicated menu and failing to hit the mark. The supply chain of products in Southern Thailand makes creating a truly international menu very difficult. This said, there are so many restaurants within a short walking distance; the quality of the resort restaurant is not a deciding factor when you make a booking decision in Thong Nai Pan Noi.

UPDATE: Rasananda is currently offering Japanese cuisine. This appears to be more of a successful departure.
Santhiya
Santhiya Resort and Spa from 4,700 THB

BOOK SANTHIYA RESORT

Santhiya is a self-contained resort with the Island’s largest swimming pool, complete with faux waterfall. If you have children they will happily entertain themselves for the whole holiday in the pool whilst you relax with a drink at the poolside restaurant and bar enjoying the panoramic sea views. The accommodation is split between hotel blocks and individual cottages, some with private pools. The resort is a truly magnificent construction, made largely in wood along the design style of the Northern Thai Lanna culture. The reception and restaurant are masterpieces of intricate wood carving, all designed by the owner who is an architect.

The decision to use this much wood works well in the communal areas but has proved a poor one when it comes to the older cottages, which alas are looking slightly tired now. It was built in 2004 and the original rooms are in need of some modernisation. How much you enjoy your stay may well depend on which rooms you get.

This is the most successful hotel on the Island with a constant stream of visitors from all over the world (particularly Asian countries) on package tours. The vast majority of the visitors enjoy their stay and tend to remain within the confines of the resort for the whole time they come to Thong Nai Pan Noi. This is partly because the catering is good, and partly because it is slightly difficult to reach the main beach and village from the resort. If you want to easily access the local restaurants, as opposed to having a resort based holiday, you might be slightly better off staying at one of the other hotels.

2. Parties in Koh Phangan

Half Moon Party

Half Moon Party

Most of the people who come to Koh Phangan come for the parties. If you fall into this category you are best off staying in the Ban Tai area, which is the beach running northwards from the main port town Thong Sala. Many people immediately opt for staying in Haad Rin which is the location of the Full Moon Party, however, you are much better off staying in the Ban Tai area for three main reasons. Firstly, aside from the Full Moon Party, Ban Tai is where most of the action is. The Ban Tai area is close to the Half Moon Party, Jungle Experience, Loi Lay party, Ban Sabai after party, Black Moon, Sramanora Waterfall Party, MerKa Ba and Ku Club. There is something going on most nights throughout the year. Secondly, by staying in Ban Tai you can access a really good range of restaurants and bars. The restaurant options include the excellent Fisherman’s Restaurant, fast food at the Food Factory, or Muu Gra Tat, a type of hotpot cooked at your table, at Hell’s Kitchen. Lastly, and most importantly Ban Tai is much more relaxed than Haad Rin. The constant influx of often badly behaved tourists to Haad Rin has given the locals something of a hard edge.

There are lots of affordable accommodation choices in Ban Tai, many with a pleasant beach side location. Depending on your budget, you might consider one of the following three resorts:
The Beach Village
Beach Village from 250 THB per night
If you are on a budget, or don’t care too much about where you stay because you haven’t come to Koh Phangan to sleep, The Beach Village is an excellent choice. They have a range of dormitories beds and small inexpensive bungalows. They also have a swimming pool, a bar and restaurant, and host the popular Rhythm and Sands party. This is a good choice if you are on your own and you want to meet people.

Milky Bay
Milky Bay from 890 THB per night

BOOK MILKY BAY RESORT

This is a very nice bungalow resort in peaceful garden setting. It’s a cut above the other Ban Tai bungalows resorts with 6 different room choices. All the rooms have air-con and satellite TV making them great places to recover from the night before. There is a pool, restaurant and gym, where they teach Muay Thai, on-site. Milky Bay is a professionally run resort from the same people behind Lime N Soda and the Food Factory.

3. Families in Koh Phangan

Haad Salad

Haad Salad

Haad Salad is a small tucked away bay. Pirates used to hide here, hence the name which means Pirate Bay. It’s a bit away from the parties and crowds that come to Koh Phangan. Everything tends to shut down (except the Reggae Bar on the edge of the village) at about 9 pm. The peace and quiet, in combination with the value for money family friendly resorts, makes this an ideal place for a family holiday.

There are things to do and see a short taxi journey away. There is great snorkelling in Mae Haad, which is the next beach. About 3 km to the North is Chaloklum where there is a range of activities such elephant trekking, archery and wake boarding. To the south is Haad Yao which is a great swimming beach with a lively town.
Salad Beach Resort
Salad Beach Resort from 1,200 THB per night

BOOK SALAD BEACH RESORT

Salad Beach Resort is the most popular resort for families on the West Coast. It’s value for money, it’s friendly, and the facilities are a good standard. It’s busy all year round and you should book in advance. There are lots of things in the hotel grounds: beach front restaurant, pool, spa, supermarket, and motorbike rental shop. The resort is fairly large with 53 rooms, about half bungalows and half hotel rooms. All the rooms have air-con and satellite TV. The hotel rooms all have balconies, and the bungalow have verandas where you can sit outside. The accommodation is set within a lovely landscaped garden with water features.
Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa
Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa from 4,200 THB per night

Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa is one step up in luxury from Salad Beach Resort and two steps up in price. The two hotels are next door to each other. The rooms and bungalows are better: bigger and better furnished. There are two restaurants, the main restaurant and the beachside BBQ terrace. The resort runs a very popular Thai cookery course with the jovial Chef Tummy. There is also a large beachfront swimming pool, which is filled with saltwater – good to know if you are allergic to the chemical used to clean the water in the pool.

4. Peace and Quiet in Koh Phangan

Mae Haad

Mae Haad Beach

There are plenty of deserted beaches in Koh Phangan. However, many of these are difficult to get to and have too few facilities for most visitors. Of the beaches you can get to fairly easily, and have enough restaurants, telecoms connectivity and shops to satisfy most visitor’s basic needs, Mae Haad beach is probably the most peaceful.

Mae Haad is a sleepy little village with a handful of restaurants, bars and resorts. There are also a couple of independent shops including Om Bakery. It tends to only get busy during the late morning and afternoons with people who come here for the snorkelling, which is the best on Koh Phangan. There is a coral reef about 25 metres from the shore line with plenty of fish – the area is a protected national park. Snorkels and flippers can be rented by the hour from Island View Cabana. As well as snorkelling, and chilling out on the perfect beach, there is also a waterfall in the jungle about a 10 minute walk from the beach.

In Mae Haad you have two good accommodation options:
Island View Cabana
Island View Cabana from 300 THB per night
Island View Cabana has classic Thai style wooden beach bungalows right on the beach. There aren’t too many of these left now on Koh Phangan as the larger resorts have gone ‘up market’. There are 4 grades of bungalow, some have air-con and fridges, others fans. It is not the luxurious rooms or facilities which you come here for, it’s the beach front location. If you are after a beach and inexpensive days chilling on a great beach, you can’t go wrong with booking at this resort.
Mae Haad Bay Resort
Mae Haad Bay Resort from 2,300 THB per night

BOOK MAE HAAD BAY RESORT

Mae Haad Bay Resort is a decent 3 star resort. The rooms feel luxurious. There are 7 room types, the smallest is a generous 45 sqm. Bear in mind that the average room size in a smart Bangkok hotel is 32sqm. The largest room is the massive 129 sqm Sunset Beachfront Suite Room. The centre piece of the hotel is the impressive swimming pool and adjacent decking area. All the rooms look onto the pool area. This great hotel has an open air restaurant & BBQ, a lobby lounge and a poolside bar. It’s close, but not right on, the main Mae Haad beach. The walk though is less than 1 minute around the side of the resort.

5. Beach Lovers in Koh Phangan

Bottle Beach

Bottle Beach

If the most important thing for you is the quality of the beach, then we recommend Bottle Beach (‘Haad Khuat’ in Thai) in the North East of Koh Phangan.

Bottle Beach used to be a hippy enclave with no electricity and very basic bungalows. It was, and still is, a little bit difficult to reach. The road to Bottle Beach starts near Thong Nai Pan Noi and it’s rough going in places. The road journey to Bottle Beach requires a 4×4 car or a white knuckle ride on a motorbike (you can do it on a moped but we don’t recommend it). The other way of getting to Bottle beach is by long tail boat from Thong Nai Pan or Chaloklum. There isn’t much there, a few bars and restaurants and no real night life. The beach though is fantastic and very good for swimming in the sea. There is a certain charm to Bottle Beach and it’s a good place to chill out for a few days.

Bottle Beach has only four resorts. The best two are:
Haad Khuat Resort
Haad Khuat Resort from 400 THB per night

BOOK HAAD KHUAT RESORT

Haad Khuat Resort has 15 hotel rooms, which are quite good, and 13 bungalows which are very basic. The hotels rooms are probably the best rooms on the beach, and the restaurant here does the best food.
Bottle Beach 1 Resort
Bottle Beach Resort 1 from 700 THB per night

BOOK BOTTLE BEACH 1 RESORT

This a bigger resort with 6 different room types. The cheapest, the standard fan bungalows, have the best location the beach. The quality of the room though goes up with the deluxe bungalows. This family run resort has lots of character. The service here works on ‘island time’. This is a relaxed place and a few delays with the orders doesn’t seem to bother the clientele much.

6. Foodies in Koh Phangan

Phantip Market

Panthip Market

The best food is to be found in, and around, the main town Thong Sala. For authentic Thai food your best bet is Phantip Market in the centre of Thong Sala. From around 4 pm there are around 40 market stalls selling a wide selection of Thai dishes for the cheapest prices on Koh Phangan. If you are after a taste of Southern Thai cuisine try one of the rice and curry shops. There are some unique southern dishes such as Gaeng Som (yellow curry), Khua Kling (very spicy dry mince pork curry) and Gaeng Sataw (spicy thick curry with a bean similar to a peeled broad bean).

For more refined dining you should head along the Ban Tai Road towards Haad Rin and then towards the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Fish at Thips both close to Ban Tai Pier. For European food try John’s Bistro or Santorini both in the centre of Thong Sala. There is also a very good, and relatively inexpensive, Mexican Restaurant called Ando Loco just on the outskirts of Thong Sala. The owner’s giant Margaritas are legendary and his home grown chilli gives the food that authentic Tex-Mex taste.

The list of really good restaurants in this area goes on and on. There are some small ‘treasures’ to be found if you search around. One particularly good restaurant is just around the corner from Home Mart. Coming from Ban Tai turn right immediately after Home Mart and immediately on your left you will see a small restaurant on your left. There is no English menu, but probably the best Issan food on the Island. Ask for ‘Laab Moo’, ‘Namtok Moo’, ‘Gai Yang’ and ‘Khao Nio’ for a taste of authentic Issan food. You won’t be disappointed, but be warned this food is very spicy and they don’t tone it down for the tourists!

There are lots of places to stay in Thong Sala. These are our two recommendations, one is a bungalow resort, the other a hotel.
Lime N Soda
Lime N Soda from 560 THB per night

BOOK LIME N SODA RESORT

Lime N Soda is the perfect kind of beach bungalow resort. Cheap and well maintained with a swimming pool and affordable on-site restaurant. The bungalows are fairly basic but good value for money. This place gets very busy around Full Moon but is a really pleasant and laid back place to stay for the rest of the month. It’s an easy walk into Thong Sala or to Ban Tai Village where there is some good nightlife.

Baan Busaba
Baan Busaba from 950 THB per night
Baan Busaba is the kind of well-run and nicely furnished mid-range hotel you find all over mainland Thailand, but not unfortunately in Koh Phangan where most of the accommodation is either bungalows for party goers or more upmarket accommodation for families. You might not think about staying away from the beach during a trip to Southern Thailand, however, we say give this hotel a go. It’s a slice of metropolitan comfort with a good range of satellite TV channels and a comfy bed. The only downside of this hotel is that it’s about a 1 km into the centre of Thong Sala and a bit further to Ban Tai. If you ride a moped then it’s a very simple straight road into town and onto Ban Tai. If riding mopeds is not your style then you can normally find a motorbike taxi or songthaew (pick-up truck taxi) who will take you the short drive back to the hotel at night.

7. Detox in Koh Phangan

Agama Yoga

Yoga in Koh Phangan

Whilst Koh Phangan is best known for its party scene, and more recently its emerging luxury tourism market, it has a long history of yoga, meditation and alternative therapies. Meditation and fasting is an important part of the Thai Buddhist culture. For a traditional Thai Buddhist ‘spiritual detox’ go to Wat Khao Tam in Ban Tai. For a cleansing herbal steam bath try Wat Po temple also in the Ban Tai area in the South of Koh Phangan.

For a yoga and detox you are best off heading to the west coast of the island around Sri Thanu and Haad Yao. Agama Yoga in Sri Thanu is the number 1 yoga centre on Koh Phangan. There is also the Yoga Retreat on the main road from Haad Yao to Chaloklum. There are also some places on the west of the island where you can learn Thai massage. C&M Study Centre in Sri Thanu runs massage courses as well as Thai language and cooking classes. You might also want to visit Chantima Massage and Holistic Massage Training centre where they offer an impressive range of beauty treatments and 5 day Thai massage courses. Our sources tell us that the courses are professionally run and the centre is kept very clean.

UPDATE: Agama was embroiled in controversy a few years ago when its head swami was accused of sexual misconduct. He fled the island and the authorities.
Ananda Wellness Resort
Ananda Wellness packages from 4,000 THB
Ananda Wellness is a hotel where they run detox programmes combining fasting, herbal detox, colonics, massage, yoga classes and steam sauna. There are courses for different periods of time: 3.5, 7.5 and 11 days. The accommodation is either bungalows or hotel rooms. They are adequate but basic. In addition to the facilities related to the treatments and courses, they have a salt water swimming pool and restaurant called ‘Love Kitchen’ which serves vegetarian and vegan food, as well as a full Thai menu.

10 Best Beaches

Koh Phangan has 34 beaches. Some are very remote, such as the beautiful Haad Nam Tok which you have to walk to, other such as Ban Tai and Wok Tum are right next to the main town. Some are good for swimming, others are not. However, they all have something to offer. The trick is to pick the one which suits you.

People who know Koh Phangan will all have their own opinion. Most often the one they love the best is the first one they ever visited, and this is where they go back to every time they make it to Koh Phangan. However, for the benefit of the ‘newbie’ we have tried to rank the most accessible of the beaches with four simple metrics rated 0 to 5 (with 5 being the best):

Swimming: how safe, pleasant and easy it is to swim in the sea?
Local Facilities: The range of shops, bars and restaurants bordering the beach
Natural beauty: How beautiful is it when you look back from shoreline?
Tranquility: How peaceful is it? This is about the feel of the beach. How idyllic is the experience of the beach.

We do not claim that one beach is necessarily better than another; however, we hope that our guide helps you to choose the beach that’s best for you – that’s what counts!

#1 Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Location: North East

Swimming: 5 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 5 out of 5
Tranquility: 4 out of 5

Total Score: 16 out of 20

Thong Nai Pan Noi is now considered as the ‘Riviera’ of Koh Phangan. It’s a perfect white sand beach surrounded by steep forested mountain slopes forming a natural amphitheatre. 10 years ago there were only a few bungalow resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi, now it home to 4 of the best luxury resorts on the Island. The three 5 Star resorts (Rasananda, Santhiya and Panviman) rank alongside the best luxury resorts in more established destinations.

What people really like about Thong Nai Pan Noi is the small village with its independent bar and restaurant scene. Thong Nai Pan Noi used to be a hippy style enclave for travellers in the know and it’s retained some of that Bohemian feel.

This is a really quiet and peaceful destination very suitable for families and older couples. There is enough nightlife to entertain you after dinner, if that’s your thing, but not enough to keep you awake at night. The hotels may be relatively expensive, but if you have the money or you want to enjoy a really special holiday (it is really popular for honeymooners), then this is definitely the place for you.

Luxury Hotel: Santhiya Resort and Spa from 4,000 THB
Mid-Range Hotel: Phuwadee Resort and Spa from 650 THB
Budget Hotel: Sandee Bungalows from 400 THB

#2 Mae Haad

Mae Haad

Location: North West

Swimming: 5 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 4 out of 5

Total Score: 15 out of 20

This beach is so beautiful and so quiet it will be many people’s idea of a dream tropical beach destination. This is a laid back destination with a low density of resorts and restaurants spread across a flat grassy square of land stretching a 1km back from the beach. The village is charming and the businesses located there are all independently run. Mostly its Thai food available at low prices, but there are a few passable Western dishes available. There is no real bar culture here, although you can enjoy late night drinks at the beach front resort restaurants. Moreover, the nightlife of Haad Yao is only a few minutes away by taxi or motorbike.

Mae Haad beach is a great place to stay if you like snorkeling. There is small coral reef about 20 metres from the powder fine white sand beach. You can see lots of fish and sea urchins amongst the multi-coloured corals. If you keep an eye out toward the deeper ocean you can see giant shoals of fish including magnificent tiger stripped barracuda. The water around Mae Haad beach and the nearby Koh Ma island is a protected national park and is teeming with sea life. If you still have the energy left after all that swimming there is an impressive waterfall around 2km back from the beach. Head out of the village on the main road and there are signposts pointing toward the right.

For a luxury stay you can book the 4 Star Mae Haad Resort. This resort has only recently opened and the prices are low for a resort of this quality. Like many new hotels they charge cheap prices until they establish themselves. For classic ‘old school’ beach bungalows try Island View Cabana. There aren’t many place left in Thailand where you can find a $10 beach bungalow – this is one of them.

Mid-Range Hotel: Mae Haad Resort from 2,800 THB
Budget Hotel: Island View Cabana from 300 THB

#3 Thong Nai Pan Yai

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Location: North East

Swimming: 4 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 14 out of 20

Thong Nai Pan Yai has a long white sand beach which gently slopes down into the sea making it excellent for swimming. Thong Nai Pan Yai is a lively village cut off from the busier South and West of the Island by a 15km drive over a mountain in the jungle. The drive is an experience in itself.

Thong Nai Pan Yai has much more night life than most of the other really beautiful beaches on the Island. The beach restaurants are really good. We particularly recommend the excellent restaurant at 3 Star Resort Havana which serves Thai food, BBQ and the best Indian food on the Island. For late night drinking try either the Flip-Flop bar or Yai Bar: both are right on the beach front.

There is a really wide range of accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Yai. It’s a lot cheaper than neighbouring 5 Star Thong Nai Pan Noi – you can walk there in 10 minutes anyway and enjoy the beach, which is public. The quality goes from basic bungalows at resorts like Dreamland and Pen’s to fantastic luxury beach houses at Candle Hut. Thong Nai Pan Yai tends to appeal to a wide range of different types of travelers because of the variety of accommodation, which is matched by the variety of food options. Everything from super cheap Thai food at Pa Tong’s restaurant to authentic Italian cooking at the Living Room is available in Thong Nai Pan Yai.

Mid-Range Hotel: Havana Resort from 1,750 THB
Budget Hotel: Starlight Resort from 500 THB

#4 Than Sadet

Than Sadet

Location: North East

Swimming: 4 out of 5
Local Facilities: 1 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 5 out of 5

Total Score: 14 out of 20

Than Sadet is a real classic on the traveller’s circuit. It is a perfect beach; laid back but not many facilities (no mobile phone coverage) and hard to get to. To stay at Than Sadet is to step back 20 years in time. Some people love it. To get there you need to either take a taxi boat from Haad Rin pier or one of the 4×4 taxis waiting at the main ferry pier. The trip by car should cost you a few hundred Baht in a shared taxi or 1,000 to 1,500 THB for the whole car depending on the time of year.

Than Sadet beach is set within a national park which surrounds a 4km long run of waterfalls. This is a famous site for Thai people as it has been visited by no fewer than 3 of the Kings of Thailand. They all carved their names in rocks at the side of the main waterfall near the beach. More active visitors will enjoy trekking up the entire length of the waterfall, which has a natural rock pool along the way where you can swim.

There are only a handful of businesses at Than Sadet. The best restaurant and accommodation is provided by Mai Pen Rai Bungalows. They have been there for around 20 years and one of the owners is French, which is reflected in the surprisingly good food on offer. Don’t expect much nightlife, although you are bound to meet some laid back travellers to talk to. This is a friendly place.

Budget Hotel: Mai Pen Rai Bungalows from 380 THB

#5 Haad Yao

Haad Yao

Location: North West

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 12 out of 20

Haad Yao is the premier destination on the West Coast. The beach is long, clean and good for swimming. There are also lots of resorts, bars and restaurants. It is also a short and easy journey to the main town of Thongsala. If you stay here you have a really good range of options for sightseeing, eating out, and going to bars and parties.

Haad Yao village is stretched out along a 1km or so of road. There some good restaurants like Felini and Crave, and really good bars like Rasta Home, Apple Bar and Chok Dee. A lot of long stay visitors are attracted to Haad Yao and there is a year round ex-pat community in this area. If you fancy getting to know people try the excellent Masons Arms down the road towards Thong Sala. It’s a recreation English pub serving pints and English style pub grub including great English breakfasts.

There are loads of hotels and bungalow resorts in the area from a mere 475 THB a night at Sandy Bay Bungalows up to 3 Star accommodation at Haad Yao Villa. There is something to suit everyone.

Mid-Range Hotel: Baan Haad Yao from 800 THB
Budget Hotel: Sandy Bay Bungalows from 475 THB

#6 Chaloklum

Chaloklum

Location: North

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 12 out of 20

Chaloklum is essentially a fishing village and port with some tourist hotels. If you want to experience authentic small town Southern Thai life then this is the place for you.

The beach is clean and good for swimming, although bear in mind this is a working fishing port and there are plenty of boats bringing in the fresh catch daily. The best spot for swimming is west of the pier on the sandbank known as Malibu Beach.

In the village there is a cluster of good fish restaurants capitalizing on the fishing heritage of the area. This is a mini version of Hua Hin. The rears of the restaurants at Chaloklum’s Seafood Village stretch out over the beach on small wooden piers.

Chaloklum is also an activity centre with several PADI 5 Star dive centres, elephant trekking, archery and gyms. It is also close to the hill top Chinese Temple and the excellent snorkeling at Koh Ma and Mae Haad Beach. This makes Chaloklum great for families looking for things to do close by.

Mid-Range Hotel: Chaloklum Bay Resort from 1,500 THB
Budget Hotel: Viva on the Beach from 700 THB

#7 Haad Rin Nok

Haad Rin Nok

Location: South East

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 4 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 1 out of 5

Total Score: 11 out of 20

Haad Rin Nok is where they hold the Full Moon Party. This is what the beach is best known for. However, long before the party first started it was the most popular beach on the Island. It’s set within a beautiful bay surrounded by forested hills. Haad Rin Nok is great for swimming and generally pretty clean when the party is not on.

The town, Haad Rin, has become large and built up on the back of the party. Haad Rin can cater for up to 30,000 people on party nights. It scores badly on the tranquility scale but there isn’t any reason to want to stay here other than for the party.

However, for people who like everything nearby Haad Rin Nok is hard to beat. There is every kind of food you can imagine from Indian food at Om Ganesh to Israeli food at Chaba House. The nightlife is the best on the Island. Haad Rin has the Island’s only proper indoor nightclub, Club 9, and lots of live music venues such as Same Same Bar and Restaurant.

Haad Rin has lots of good accommodation as well. Outside of the week before and after the Full Moon Party hotels and resorts really drop their prices and you can get some very good deals. For those looking for rock bottom prices there are numerous hostels in Haad Rin that offer bed and locker style deals starting at 200 Thai Baht a night

It should be mentioned that there are two beaches in Haad Rin. The biggest a d best is Haad Rin Nok. This is the longer sunrise beach and much better than the smaller sunset beach or Haad Rin Nai which is where the ferry pier is located.

Mid-Range Hotel: Sunrise Resort from 790 THB

#8 Haad Salad

Haad Salad

Location: North West

Swimming: 2 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Haad Salad means ‘pirates bay’ in Thai. It’s a tucked away beach and you see why smugglers used to hide out here. Haad Salad is quieter than neighbouring Haad Yao and more family oriented. Haad Salad has a small village with a few shops, bars and restaurants. The beachfront has mostly good quality large resorts like the highly recommended Salad Beach Resort, which is probably the most popular family resort on Koh Phangan.

There is a coral reef just off the coast that is a popular place to go snorkeling. For those who want to learn how to dive and for those qualified divers who want to explore the Gulf of Thailand’s best dive sites there are three dive shops – Pirate Divers, Blue Horizon Divers and The Dive Inn.

There are a couple are independent restaurants, Jang’s Kitchen and Jay Jay pizza, and lots of resorts with sea view restaurants such as the excellent Salad Hut.

What makes Haad Salad popular is the good accommodation, the value for money, accessibility and the family atmosphere.

Mid-Range Hotel: Salad Hut from 1,200 THB
Budget Hotel: Smile Beach from 300 THB

#9 Sri Thanu

Srithanu

Location: North West

Swimming: 2 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Sri Thanu is not so much a beach, although it has one; its main draw is the forested peninsula with a cluster of independent resorts. It has great sea views and a really laid backpacker friendly village atmosphere. Things move slowly here.

This low key destination is very close to both Haad Yao and Thong Sala and has some really cool bar venues like Amsterdam Bar and The Jam. The latter is Koh Phangan’s top live music venue. Sri Thanu is a great place to stay if you want to experience something of traditional island culture and you want to escape the crowds. It is also a good place to spot some of the wildlife of Koh Phangan.

Mid-Range Hotel: Loyfa Natural Resort from 640 THB
Budget Hotel: Seethanu Bungalows from 380 THB

#10 Baan Tai

Bantai

Location: South

Swimming: 1 out of 5
Local Facilities: 5 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 2 out of 5
Tranquility: 2 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Baan Tai is the place to stay if you want to be near the best nightlife. You are close to the main town, Thong Sala, you are close to Haad Rin where the Full Moon Party happens, you are close to other parties such as the Half Moon Party, and the Baan Tai road is an ‘entertainment zone’ in its own right.

The food options around Baan Tai are the best on Koh Phangan. Nearby Thong Sala has a food market which has the best street food on the Island. Bantai road itself has lots of inexpensive to mid-priced restaurants. For 24 hour fast food and beer go to the Food Factory. There are three all-you-can-eat hot pan restaurants as well as several noodle shops and small restaurants serving curry and rice dishes. A kebab shop and two excellent fish restaurants: Fish at Thips and the popular Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar are located in Baan Tai. These two fish restaurants are considered by many to be the best restaurants on the Island.

The range of accommodation in Baan Tai is just as big. The best luxurious accommodation is the 5 Star Chantaramas Resort. However, most of the accommodation is mid-range to budget bungalows. For affordable and good quality accommodation you can’t go wrong at Milky Bay Resort, and the slightly cheaper sister resort Lime N Soda. For something out of the ordinary you might try the famous beachfront tree house at Charm Beach Resort. When UK Princess Eugenie came to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party in 2008 she stayed at the lovely and inexpensive Bantai resort Morning Star – This is literally a ‘resort fit for a Princess’!!!

Luxury Hotel: Chantaramas from 2,500 THB
Mid-Range Hotel: Hansa Resort from 1,500 THB
Budget Hotel: A1 Koh Phangan Guest House and Hostel from 340 THB