The north of Koh Phangan has numerous rocky outcrops and some coral reefs great for snorkeling. There are two main beaches in the north of Koh Phangan. They are Chaloklum and Bottle Beach. To the west of Chaloklum there are the small beaches of Haad Thong Lang and Mae Haad. The later is famous because it is the access point for Koh Phangan’s only marine park, Koh Ma
Chaloklum is the biggest bay in the north. It is also the principal village in the area and the centre for the squid fishing industry on the island. It makes for a pleasant 30 minutes walking around Chaloklum Village checking out the bars, restaurants, shops and traditional wooden fisherman’s houses. These houses are built in a Chinese style and are similar to those found in Bophut on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui. The village of Chaloklum provides an intriguing blend of working fishing village and tourist centre. These two elements marry excellently on the beachfront where there is the appropriately called Seafood Village. This consists of 4 restaurants on stilts. They serve freshly caught seafood cooked either simply or to Thai recipes.
The beach at Chaloklum is 2.5 km long. In the centre is the fishing boat pier. Here you will find a colorful array of longtail boats as well as dive boats. For those looking for swimming spots, either side of the pier there is clean white sand and ideal swimming conditions. The water gets deep fairly quickly and there isn’t any coral off shore to worry about.
The most spectacular part of Chaloklum beach is to the east of the pier. A river debouches into the sea and has created a sand bank where the beach is cut in two. This is commonly known as Malibu beach. It is a beautiful spot with perfect white sand and stunning views over the ocean.
Just prior to the rainy season in September the wind picks up in Chaloklum. At this time the long bay has ideal conditions for the popular sport of kite boarding.
There are plenty of backpacker places to stay in Chaloklum both on the beach and set back in the village and the surrounding area. We recommend Chaloklum Bay Resort, the boutique Mandalai Hotel and Malibu Bungalows.
On the headland to the east of Chaloklum beach is a small beach called Haad Khom. It is accessed via a path through a forest starting from the main road in Chaloklum. This path is rough and only suitable for 4 wheel drives and off-road bikes.
Haad Khom is one of the hidden gems in Koh Phangan. It is a beautiful beach that time seems to have forgotten. It has a few low key bungalow resorts with basic accommodation. These are set up for backpackers looking for the old Koh Phangan. Rents can be as little as 400 Thai Baht a day. It is possible to strike up monthly deals for bungalows in Haad Khom.
The beach is off the electricity grid and so the resorts use generators. This makes Haad Khom ideal for those seeking perfect peace and quiet. There are no all-night parties here; and nightlife consists mostly of star gazing.
There is a stretch of coral reef just off Haad Khom that you can swim out to and enjoy snorkeling. Because of the reef Haad Khom is better for swimming during the higher tidal months from December to April.
Haad Khom is one of the few remaining ‘hippy’ beaches left in Koh Phangan, an unashamed throw back to the past and an excellent option for those who just want a cheap bungalow on the beach.
Haad Thong Lang
To the west of Chaloklum beach on the other side of the headland is a small beach called Haad Thong Lang. The name of the beach translates as “Golden Deserted Beach”. This is an apt name as Haad Thong Lang has no accommodation for rent on the beach. A few people live there on and off, but otherwise this small, white sand beach is deserted. You won’t find any shops here so bring your own supplies.
Haad Thong Lang is a picturesque beach with a coral reef just off the coast. It is a shallow reef and good for snorkeling. Swimming is best during the higher tidal months.
This beach is accessed via the main road going between Chaloklum and Mae Haad. The road gets gradually worse and the last part you have to do on foot.
For those looking for a Robinson Crusoe experience, truly cut off from ‘civilization’, Haad Thong Lang is a good option. However, remember that although beaches are technically common land in Thailand, the land adjacent to the beach is not. Ask around before you set up camp and don’t create litter.
Alternatively you can stay at Dee Dee Villa Retreat at the top of the hill. It consists of 2 villas that you can rent either separately or together. There is a communal pool and kitchen.
Mae Haad is the just west of Haad Thong Lang. It is reached by a road that will take all types of vehicle although caution should be taken on the sharp bends. Mae Haad is noteworthy as it is the beach next to Koh Phangan’s only protected Marine Park called Koh Ma.
Koh Ma is a small island just off the coast that is joined to the mainland by a sandbank. During low tide the sandbank is exposed creating a double beach similar to Nag Yuan in Koh Tao.
Mae Haad is a stunning spot and well worth a visit. You can rent out snorkeling equipment cheaply from Island View Cabana Resort that has a restaurant on the beach. Once you have your equipment walk down the beach until you see a spot where the rocks have been cleared. This is the spot to swim out to the coral reefs.
You can spot all manner of marine life including damselfish, parrot fish and if you are lucky turtles. The reef is about 25 meters off-shore.
Despite being the best snorkeling spot on the island, Mae Haad and Koh Ma are normally quiet places with few visitors. Tour boats arrive in the afternoon, but soon head off. If you want to enjoy a spectacular beach setting and see the local marine fauna Mae Haad is recommended.
Bottle Beach, or as it is called in Thai ‘Haad Khuad’, gets its name because it is shaped like a bottle. This beach is the stuff of travelers’ legends. In the 80s and early 90s backpackers flocked here to enjoy the gorgeous remote beach and smoke away. It’s a place that is hard to leave, and as a consequence people used to stay here for months at a time.
Until 2004 Bottle Beach was only accessible by longtail boat from Thong Nai Pan or Chaloklum. The alternative was a 30-minute trek through the jungle to the main road. Now there is a rough road heading south from the beach over the headland to Thong Nai Pan Noi. Over the next few years the plan is to improve the road and make Bottle Beach part of an island circular road.
Many of the original basic wooden bungalows on Bottle Beach have been replaced by concrete huts with air-con and hot water showers. Bottle Beach 1, Bottle Beach 2, Haad Khuad Resort and Smile Bungalow all have bungalows on the beach. We recommend Haad Khuat Resort and Bottle Beach 1. Both have comfortable and spacious huts on the beach. For those looking for a bit of luxury, Bottle Beach 1 has a swimming pool.
Bottle Beach still has a relaxed vibe. It attracts families, backpackers and flashpackers. There are a few restaurants and bars on the beach but it remains an idyllic spot without a nightlife scene.
The sand is particularly fine at Bottle Beach. The beach is flanked by rocks and the sea gets deep fairly quickly making it good for swimming. There isn’t a coral reef off the coast and so Bottle Beach is ideal for year round swimming. You can spot a few small fish in the sea. For those who love beaches set in a pristine natural environment Bottle Beach is hard to beat.