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