Thailand needs no fan fares of acclaim as a visitor destination. Whatever you seek, be it hedonism, serenity or spiritual discovery, Thailand has never failed satisfy. With the sun and sand to the glitz and neon, and everything in between, every visitor to the Land of Smiles leaves with a little bit of it within themselves.
There is much to discover and enjoy throughout the kingdom, and prospective visitors shouldn’t overlook the island treasures that dot Thailand’s blue waters. The large islands, such as Phuket and Samui have become extensively commercialized and have lost the ‘Island feel’ which was once part of their original appeal.
There is one island, part of the Chumphon archipelago in The Gulf of Thailand, which has broad appeal and which has maintained its island intimacy, Koh Phangan. The island lies immediately to the North of Koh Samui, to the East of Thailand’s Southern isthmus. Easily accessed from the mainland or via its larger neighbor, Koh Phangan is the perfect blend of nature, culture, tradition and modernity.
Koh Phangan, Beaches Galore
Some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches can be found peppered around Koh Phangan’s glorious coastline. A perfect example of the island’s contrast in beaches are Thong Nai Pan Noi and its neighbor, Thong Nai Pan Yai. Noi and Yai mean small and large, respectively. Visiting Thong Nai Pan Noi is a chill out experience, here, relax, recharge and contemplation are the order of the day. The beach has traditional bungalows and luxury villas, laid back restaurants and bars. There’s no glitz and glamour here, simply laid back tradition.
The larger neighbor of Thong Nai Pan Yai has a slightly more upbeat infrastructure with restaurants and bars galore. It is also an ideal base for visiting the nearby waterfalls and for forest walks. The spectacle of the sunrise viewed from Thong Nai Pan Yai is said to be second to none, and at sunset, there is yoga on the beach.
Malibu Beach, at the village of Chalk Lam, is a popular beach with comprehensive facilities for the visitor. Plenty of shade from baying palms, beautiful blue waters and the unusual phenomenon of lush green trees growing straight out of the pure white sand make Malibu Beach a pleasurable, must do visitor destination.
Within easy walking distance of a traditional cooking school and a relaxing yoga retreat is Haad Salad, or ‘Salad Beach’. A small cove, this is a quiet, secluded destination is perfect for reflective relaxation. With a smattering of affordable beachside restaurants this is one of the quietest beaches on the island.
To be found on the Southeastern tip of the island is the more upbeat and lively destination of Rin Nok Beach. With an infrastructure aimed more to the hedonistic visitor, on and around this beach destination there are restaurants that cater for all and more raucous bars. Jet skiing is popular and once a month the beach plays host to the traditional full moon party.
Beyond the Beach
From head on party beaches to quiet, serene contemplation, the beaches of Koh Phangan have something for everyone. But the island is more than just a beach holiday. There are quality spas to relax and rejuvenate, with herbal treatments, massage and meditation bringing body and mind together in a unison of serene tranquility. The Banyan Tree and the Natural Wing Spa are to name but two.
Explorers can take a full day cruise to discover the Ang Thong Marine Park, Ang Thong meaning ‘Bowl of gold’. The marine park consists of 42 islands and provide some of the best photo opportunities available anywhere in the Land of Smiles. Amazing rock formations and lush verdant forests rise up from the deep blue sea in a manner that only nature could conceive.
If you enjoy a challenge, then The Challenge Phangan water park is the place to visit. Imagine an assault course, then stage it at the idyllic Sweet Water Lake, which lies between Sri Thanu and Chao Phao bays on the west coast, you then have an exhilarating, fun packed adventure which is both demanding and fun.
For fit trekkers and vista lovers, take a hike up the highest spot on the island, Khao Ra, which is a 627 m tall mountain situated slightly to the north of the island’s center. Experience the sounds and smells of the fertile jungle and look on in awe with the stunning views afforded along the climb.
For retail therapy a must visit is Thong Sala Night Market, locally referred to as Phantip market, to be found on the West coast of the island. Locally produced wares can be haggled over and there are the most delicious local food delicacies to devour. There is also and international feel to the food available, with offerings such as sushi, and even pizza. Experience all Koh Phangan has to offer through a trusted agent, such as Ferry Samui, and become enriched by the island’s unique appeal.