The second island in the chain of three where I took my PADI open water certificate in scuba diving way back. You could not see your hand when your arm was outstretched the visibility was so bad due to monsoon storms.
Anyway > Ko Phan Gan has a different feeling to it and its development has slowed compared to its smaller neighbour Koh Tao. It is still very busy around full moon party times which take place on Had Rin, ‘Had’ means beach in Thai. There are many resorts that are worthy to stay in if like me you are nowadays a flashpacker ! We stayed in Had Rin not around full moon time at Tommys Resort. It was really nice and as high a standard that you can find in Had Rin I’m not sure there is extreme luxury on Ko Phangan its more a backpacker location. It’s popular with Israeli backpackers especially for some reason. Some of the better beaches are quite remote.
Tip: Rent a scooter ! Why ? Getting around using the songathew (a converted pick up with 2 banks of seats carrying up to about 8 people) can become expensive here for example going from one spot to another for example from Had Rin to the Phaeng waterfall will be 150 Baht about 3 uk pounds or 5 US. Consider that bike rental costs from 200 Baht per day. Just take a lot of care especially around the hills near Had Rin.
Places of Interest in Ko Phangan
Had Rin Nok and Had Rin Nai Sunset and Sunrise – The place for the full moon party ! Come full moon staying at Had Rin requires a love of all night noise in and around the resorts too. You can find Special Shakes at the mellow mountain bar also known as the M and M bar. Purportedly the mushrooms used give you Hallucinations. Drink with care there is no government regulation here. During full moon 20,000 revellers can turn up dancing to the grooves spun on festival class speaker systems. See warnings below.
Ban Tai – This part of the island has developed and is a good budget location on a very long if uninspiring beach by ko Phangan standards. Advantages are the location close to Ton Sala (The Capital and Ferry port) and Had Rin.
Chaloklum – A small fishing village with boats to get to the remote beach Had Khuat.
Had Khuat aka Bottle Beach – This beach can only be reached via a watertaxi and is therefore considered a paradise beach. Its in the North of the island.
Had Yao – A long sweeping gorgeous beach with a low key atmosphere to write that book.
Mae Haad – For the best snorkelling on Ko Phangan
Sail Rock – An underwater destination which is also day tripped from the Scuba shops in Ko Tao (that’s how good it is) your only reason to dive from here perhaps as there are no notable diving sites otherwise. Or learn to dive here as the groups will be smaller just make sure the visibility is ok and you are happy with the shops facilites. If not go to Ko Tao.
Warning on Drugs: You should not be involved with any kind of drugs in Thailand either position or use will lead to very stiff penalties unlike the western world. Undercover cops can also test your blood or try and sell you drugs. You should also be careful of anyone giving you drinks. Don’t assume that special shakes are not containing illegal drugs either.