Location: Central point on the North Coast
Opening times: Year round all hours
Chaloklum is a working fishing village with pier and a small laid back shopping area. The big draw for tourists are the dedicated fish restaurants serving the fresh catch from the boats that are based in the town. The 4 dedicated fish restaurants (Nong Nok, Aunjai Seafood, Seaside Restaurant, and Hai Thong Seafood) have wooden piers built on stilts over the beach. This is Koh Phangan’s own mini version of Hua Hin. The fishing industry dominates this village with squid drying on the beach and locals selling prawns and other seafood from buckets on the pier. The village also has some more modern attractions like the stylish Mandalai Hotel and stylish modern bars such as the Omega Bar and the Zhoba Jazz Bar. This is also a centre for diving with 5 diving schools located in the area. The local temple of Wat Pha Sanctum is also worth a visit if you come to the area.
Kuan Yin Chinese Temple
Location: On the main road 3 km before Chaloklum
Opening Times: 8am to 5pm
This small Chinese style Buddhist temple features a Chinese style Chapel, two further buildings in Chinese style with a large smiling Buddha statue. The temple has a fantastic hill top location overlooking the north coast and is worth visiting for the view alone. The temple itself has an interesting history. Built in 1992, it was paid for by the fund raising efforts of Bangkok resident Mrs Malawan who visited Koh Phangan in 1990 for a religious festival. During her visit Mrs Malawan had a dream about building a lantern to guide the fisherman of Chaloklum on dark nights. Rather than a lighthouse, Mrs Malawan built a temple dedicated to the Chinese God of Mercy (Kuan Yin) which is lit up every night by lanterns. The temple is visited by Thai and Chinese Buddhists every year for important religious festivals in January, May and August.
Koh Phangan Elephant Trekking
Location: 2 km outside of Chaloklum near Baan Thapong Village
Opening times: Treks available 10am to 3pm open every day
Costs: 500 THB per person
Koh Phangan Elephant Trekking has 8 fully grown elephants and a trekking area of 10 square miles of forests, waterfalls and a small lake where the elephants bathe. The treks last about a hour and visitors sit in a paladin (seat) on top of the elephants back with a mahout (elephant trainer) sat on the neck of the elephant guiding it along. To avoid disappointment during busy times around the Full Moon Party we suggest you book in advance online at www.kohphanganelephanttrekking.com where you will receive a 10% discount per person.
HEALTH & FITNESS
The Press Gym
Location: 1 km before Chaloklum
Opening times: 10 am to 6 pm (later in high season)
Costs: 200 THB per day, 600 THB per week, 1,500 THB per week
This new and modern gym is the only one in the North of Koh Phangan. It’s one of Koh Phangan’s better gyms, both in terms of equipment and the way it’s run. For cardio workouts it has an elliptical cross trainer, bikes and a rowing machine. For strength work outs it has weights machines, barbell, bench, dumbells, dips bar and a pull bar. Pretty much everything you need for a serious workout. Other facilities include big screen TVs, music speakers, lockers and showers. The mountain views from the work out room are great.
Wake Up! Wakeboarding
Opening Times: Book on +66 (0) 872 836 6755
Costs: Wake Board time 15 minutes is 1,000 to 1,400 THB & 60 minutes 3,500 to 4,300 THB
Wakeboarding is best described as a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing. You are towed behind a motorboat at speeds of 30 to 40 kph on a single wide ski. Wake Up! Wakeboarding has two speed boats: one with a Yamaha outboard 200 bhp and a Mastercraft X Star Boat with MC Power MCX 350 Horsepower. For those of you not familiar with speedboats, these are fast and modern and will ensure that you have a thrilling ride. Prices include instruction and equipment rental.
Bow and Arrow Club
Location: 300 m before Chaloklum
Opening times: 9 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week
Price: 15 minutes is 150 THB, 30 minutes is 300 THB and 60 minutes is 500 THB
Bow and Arrow club is Koh Phangan’s only archery centre. This well organised and run club was first opened in 2005. It has a family oriented atmosphere with patient and friendly instructors. The price includes instruction, equipment, bow and 5 arrows. There is a restaurant onsite serving food and drinks. For more information visit www.firstbow.info
Location: Office in Chaloklum and at Island View Cabana at Mae Haad
Opening times: Telephone +66 (0) 77 374 262
Costs: Discover Scuba 3,500 THB & PADI Open Water 12,500 THB
This small dive school offers a range of diving trips by longtail boat or by converted fishing boat to dive sites such as Sail Rock, Angthong Marine Park, Chumporn Pinnacles and South West Pinnacles.
Location: Office in centre of Chaloklum
Opening hours: Telephone +66 (0) 77 374 025
Costs: Discover Scuba 2,000 THB & PADI Open Water 12,500 THB
One of Koh Phangan’s longest running dive schools established in 1995 by experienced dive instructors Nick and Micheal. This is one of the few dive schools on the Koh Phangan with their own dive boat, which is a large converted fishing boat with plenty of room to set up and relax between dives.
Sail Rock Divers
Opening hours: 6.30 am to 10 pm everyday
Costs: Discover Scuba 3,700 & PADI Open Water from 8,600 THB
This 5* PADI Dive Centre offers a full range of dive courses from absolute beginner to becoming a PADI Certified Diving Instructor. The large team of instructors includes the Island’s only resident PADI Course Director and a PADI Master Instructor. They also have two boats: a speed boat and a luxury cruiser. The dive school has it own resort with bungalows and pool.
Opening Hours: 7 am to 6 pm everyday
Costs: Discover Scuba 2,300 THB & PADI Open Water 10,800 THB
This 5* PADI Dive Centre has been in operation since 1999. Dive trips are made by a converted fishing boat and pre-dive instruction takes place in purpose built A/C class rooms and on-site swimming pool. The dive school has a number of bungalows on-site.
Location: Centre of Chaloklum
Opening Hours: Not specified
Costs: PADI Open Water 12,500 THB
This isn’t a dive school as such, it’s an accredited centre for oceanic research and education affiliated to American and European universities. They offer a range of volunteering opportunities on land and at sea. To take part in the sea activities you need to have a PADI Open Water Certificate, which you can take with Core Sea’s own PADI Master Instructor: the legendary ‘Diver Dan’ (Dan Slater) always guaranteed to put the ‘fun’ into fun dive. For Bachelors and Masters students in Marine Sciences or a related field Conservation Internships are available.
UPDATE: I suspect Diver Dan might have moved on.
Mae Haad Beach
Location: North West corner of the Island
A day trip to Mae Haad beach is one of the must-do activities during a visit to Koh Phangan. This is a beautiful beach with stunning scenery including a small island (Koh Ma) just off the beach. However, the main attraction is the snorkelling. The area around Mae Haad is a protected marine park and it is teeming with sea life. There is a small coral reef about 25 metres out to sea. The sea bed is shallow and rocky but there is a cleared path out to the reef. Just follow the signs. You can rent snorkels and flippers for 80 THB an hour from the restaurant of the Island View Cabana. If you want to stay for the night your options are a beach front bungalow at Island View Cabana or a luxury room at Mae Haad Beach Resort.
Location: North East corner of the Island
Bottle beach, or Haad Khuat as it is called in Thai, is one of the best beaches in Koh Phangan. It’s quiet and unspoilt because it’s not easy to get to. The road to Haad Khuat starts near Thong Nai Pan on the East side of the Island. It’s a dirt road which is difficult to drive in sections. You need to go by 4×4 car. The journey is possible by motorbike but we don’t advise it unless you are an experienced motorcyclist. The easier way to get there is by longtail boat. You can normally arrange a trip from either Chaloklum or Thong Nai Pan. Once you get there the trip will seem well worth it. This is a trip back in time to Koh Phangan’s past as a hippy enclave. The beach is perfect, undeveloped, perfect for swimming and is surrounded by forest covered mountains. There are several restaurants which are part of Haad Khuat Resort and Bottle Beach 1 Resort which are both great places to stay for a few days.
Trek Up Khao Ra
Location: Start near Khao Ra Bungalows
95% of Koh Phangan is a forested National Park. The mountain of Khao Ra, which is 630 metres above sea level, sits in the middle of the national park. You get great views of Koh Phangan from the top. It takes about 2 hours to walk up and then about 1.5 to get down. Its fairly hard work because of the heat and you need to take at least 4 litres of water per person and some snacks. Be advised that it is fairly easy to get lost and under no circumstances should you go alone. The best option is to hire a Guide at Phaeng Waterfall. If you do decide to go up without a guide the start of the trail is near Khao Ra Bungalows on the way from Thong Sala to Chaloklum via the main road. Take the turning towards Khao Ra Bungalows. The trail starts near a small dam. there are few small signs to mark the way. It is a good idea to ask for directions when you get there.
Trek from Haad Khom to Bottle Beach
Location: Start from Haad Khom beach near Chaloklum
The walk is about 2.5 km from Haad Khom to Bottle Beach. It takes about an hour to get over the headland. On the way there are some impressive views of both the north coast and the east coast. The trail is very steep in places and involves climbing up and down large flat rocks which become very slippery in the wet. Don’t attempt this walk in the rain as you are very likely to have a nasty fall. The last part of the walk coming down to Bottle Beach is the steepest part. To start this trek take the road from Chaloklum to Haad Khom. Follow the new concrete road past the entrance to Ocean View Resort to where it comes to an abrupt end. From the end of the road the trail starts on the right hand side going uphill.
Visit Wang Sai Waterfall
Location: Mae Haad
Wang Sai waterfall is an easy 15 minute walk from Mae Haad beach. Follow the road out going toward Island View Cabana. Turn left about 150 metres before Island View Cabana through a wide grassy area. From there it’s simple to find with signs pointing the way. The waterfall is at its best November through to around May each year when there is the most water. Like the other waterfalls on the island, Wang Sai waterfall is series of falls stretching up the mountain. Wang Sai waterfall has some fairly big drops over large granite boulders and a large natural pool where you can swim. It’s not the best waterfall on the island, but it is well worth a visit if you go to Mae Haad beach. Snorkelling and waterfall – we can’t think of a better day out on Koh Phangan!
Visit Paradise Waterfall
Location: 3 km from Chaloklum
The turning up to the waterfall, marked by the sign in the photo, is on the main road from Thong Sala to Chaloklum through the centre of the island. The road is an easy drive on a scooter but please take it slowly, there are sharp bends and plenty of accidents. The turning to the waterfall is just past Phangan Safari on the right, if you get to Jungle Hut you have gone too far. You can drive up to the bottom of the waterfall. There is a small restaurant there where you can leave your car or bike. This isn’t the most impressive waterfall on the island, but it’s the easiest one to get to and its has pleasant surroundings and a pool where you can swim.