After calling Koh Phangan my beautiful island home for the first half of 2017, I got to know ‘paradise’ like the back of my hand. I spent my life feeling like Leo in The Beach – the community, the easy nature of the island…and the sheer beauty! I feel like a lot of you also got wind of my adventure… and you’re all sliding into my DM’s for tips. So here we have it… 13 of the BEST, tried and tested things to do in Koh Phangan that AREN’T the Full Moon Party – because yes, there’s more to the island than just that.
1. Get a Massaman Curry from Petty’s Place
If you drove past Petty’s without knowing to stop; you probably wouldn’t give it a look in. But believe me when I say… when you know, you know. There’s a bubbling Massaman pot waiting to make your tastebuds tingle and your belly extremely full.
2. Swap the Full Moon for a Half Moon
I must admit.. a lot of the other parties on the island surpass the hysteria of Full Moon for me personally. There’s Half Moon, Eden, Lost Paradise and Guy’s Bar to name a few. Whilst some may cost more than Full Moon, the timing means the island as a whole is cheaper working out to an overall lower cost.
3. Thong Sala Night Market
Food. Food. Food. Craving some falafel, hummus and pita?… Or perhaps a fresh fruit juice to restore the toxins? You can get all the yummy Thai delicacies here too. Cheap, nutritious and big portions in most stalls
4. Sail Rock Diving
In my opinion this is one of the best diving spots in Thailand. I’d say that anyway without the recent influx of Whale Shark sitings… but they definitely only make it even better! Sail Rock has become a huge natural cleaning station for a lot of big and small fish, making the chance of you seeing some amazing sea creatures a huge possibility. I saw five whale sharks during my dive as well as being able to dive up the infamous chimney (the coolest vertical swim up a hollow rock formation) and seeing wildlife from 18m all the way up to 2m!
5. Watch the sunset at Secret Mountain
Be warned – the path leading to and from the 8th wonder of the world (unconfirmed theory) is a treacherous one. However, the beauty at the end of the road is second to none. Nestled in the jungle, looking over a large untouched section of the island… the view for sunset is incredible. There’s a pool to chill out in, or elevated cliff hang outs just to watch the sun go down. This spot is sheer perfection!
6. Enjoy a fresh seafood BBQ at Koh Phangan’s Finest, Milky Bay
Not necessarily for the tightest of backpacker budgets but Milk Bay’s seafood BBQ cannot be rivalled. Pick your platter, compliment it with some tasty wine and enjoy picking at fresh food cooked to perfection.
7. Go Paddle Boarding around the shallow coast of Ban Tai
I’m such an advocate of paddle boarding – not just because it’s incredibly Instagrammable… but because it helps me reach the ultimate calm. The shallow waters of Ban Tai and the surrounds of Koh Phangan mean that the paddle boarding isn’t too strenuous and you actually have time to take in the view!
8. Bathe in the Pheong Waterfall
This is my fave waterfall on Koh Phangan and isn’t actually too weather dependent because if it’s raining on the island (like it quite often is during wet season)… you can just jump in the pools and get doubly soaked!!
9. Try not to break your neck at Slip n Fly
I say this with great caution because whilst Slip n Fly is absolutely bloody HILARIOUS, it is also pure danger and an insurance claim waiting to happen.
One huge slide down into the deep man made pool where you are flicked into the air. There’s a bar, DJ’s and volleyball as well to keep you entertained!
10. Soak up the views and a G+T at 360 Bar
I’m all about a view and 360 Panorama Bar holds one of Koh Phangan’s best views – the view of Koh Ma island! Whether you’re there for a G+T or an alcoholic ice pop, that landscape is the prettiest and if you want, you can always go down the beach afterwards and walk across the sandbar to Koh Ma island that you have just seen from above.
11. Volunteer at PACS (Koh Phangan Animal Care Shelter)
If you want to spend some of your precious travel time giving back… and LOVE island pups, then head to PACS (Phangan Animal Care Shelter) to volunteer and give some love to the cute dogs. If they’re not accepting volunteers at the time you’re there, they’re always in desperate need of donations to keep these dogs alive and find them forever homes… so many use the money you spend on a bucket that night to help a dog in need instead.
12. Hike to the top of Khao Rah
If adventure is your thing and you love a good hike, then you should definitely spend one morning (before it gets too hot) hiking to the top of the tallest point on Koh Phangan island. Khao Rah is stunning however be warned – don’t go if it’s rained recently as the mozzies are a NIGHTMARE (and no-one wants Dengue Fever!)
13. Swim in the incredible Infinity Pool at BlueRama
This pool became my absolute favourite. Whilst living over there, I very much lived island life with very little luxury and very little indulgence. This was my feeling of home away from home. Incredible food, mouth watering wine and a view that made you happy even on a rainy day.
14. Find the REAL secret beach at Mai Pen Rai
Part of me doesn’t even want to share this last and final point with you because as much as I love dishing out my tips, I want some places to remain a secret forever. Whilst living in Koh Phangan, I was led to believe that ‘Secret Beach’ was the not so secret beach named ‘Secret Beach’…hmmm… In fact this is not the case.
In my last week living on the island, we explored the beauty of Mai Pen Rain on the West side of the island. We followed some old spoken directions over a wobbly wooden bridge to the right of the beach, through to some old rickety stilted houses and across some rocks until we found the pure paradise of REAL secret beach. Being the only ones on this deserted, beautiful beach made this all the more beautiful.
If you go, respect it. Take your trash away with you and leave only footprints.