Koh Pha Ngan is a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Surat Thani Province. It is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand and has everything from yoga retreats to zip-line trails and miles of gorgeous beaches. But, the island is best known for being home to Thailand’s famous, monthly Full Moon parties. The Full Moon Party is why we added Koh Pha Ngan to our itinerary. And, if you’re headed to Thailand you won’t want to miss it as it’s truly a once in a lifetime experience!
We thought Koh Pha Ngan was going to be a big party island and while there were many different parties advertised throughout, it ended up being so much more than that! Check out what you should do, see, wear, and eat on Koh Pha Ngan.
Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
How to Get There:
There isn’t an airport on Koh Pha Ngan so it does take some additional transportation to get there. But it is very easy! From Bangkok, you can take a bus, then a ferry. Or you can fly then take a ferry. We decided to fly.
We flew with Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to a close island, Koh Samui. Flying from city to city in Thailand is very affordable and not very long. This flight was about 1 hour and included a full meal service! I’ve never experienced anything like that in the US on such a short flight. They also gave us free food while we were waiting to board. Seriously, fly Bangkok Airways! We landed in Koh Samui and were completely blown away by the unique airport. Everything is outside in little tiki hut-type buildings. So beautiful!
From the airport, travel to one of the piers – Bangrak or Nathon. Both have ferries that travel to Koh Pha Ngan. We chose to travel from Bangrak Pier because it was closer to the airport (only a 10 minute taxi ride compared to a 40 minute taxi ride to Nathon) and the ferry times worked better for us. TRAVEL TIP: The taxis will try to rip you off, especially on a Full Moon weekend. They’re also more expensive if you get a taxi from the airport. So, walk outside and there will be cars lined up that you can haggle with for a ride. I planned it so we had a few hours in between when we landed in Koh Samui to when we departed on the ferry, but it was such an easy transition to get to the ferry we didn’t need it! We ended up relaxing on the beautiful pier for a few hours and watching the planes and boats pass by. There was also a small cafe for food.
The ferry company we booked with was Seatran Discovery. It went from the Bangrak pier to Thong Sala pier on Koh Pha Ngan (and back) and cost 678 baht (about $20) round trip per person. TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to book in advance if you are headed there for a Full Moon Party weekend. We saw a few people who tried to book it there and the tickets were completely sold out. We booked online, printed out our receipt, and got our tickets at the gate. The whole ferry ride lasted a little longer than 30 minutes but it was very smooth and there were people to help with our luggage. When we got off at Thong Sala pier we did the same as we did in Koh Samui. We walked outside of the main ferry area and haggled for a taxi ride to our hotel.
Where We Stayed:
The Full Moon party is located in the southern part of the island on a beach called Haad Rin. I had read reviews about theft and other issues with staying in Haad Rin during a Full Moon weekend so I knew I didn’t want to stay too close. So, we decided to stay in the middle of the island, on the west side. It was close enough to the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin (about a 30 minute taxi ride) but not too close where we wouldn’t be able to relax. It was the perfect choice for us!
We stayed in an amazing resort. Nice Sea Resort is a little paradise on the island with private bungalows right on the beach. We stayed in the Standard Bungalow with Air-Con which included a double bed, private bathroom, and our own private hammock for $58 a night. But they do have bungalows with fans for much cheaper and bigger family-sized and luxury bungalows for more. [When you stay anywhere during a Full Moon Party weekend the prices are a bit higher and you must stay for a minimum of 3 nights.] The resort has everything you could possibly need for a perfect vacation. They have a clean private beach with free chairs, umbrellas and a massage area. Thai massages are offered all day for 300 baht/hour (about $9 USD) and the sound of the waves while you’re getting an incredible massage (Thai massages are in a class of their own) is enough to put anyone in an amazing mood.
The resort also offers scooter rentals, great WIFI, as well as an AMAZING on-site restaurant, open from 9am – 10pm, right on the water. They have a large selection of food, including Western food but I would suggest getting the authentic Thai food. It’s less expensive and just absolutely delicious. There is also a 7-Eleven, ATMs, shops and restaurants only a short walk away. But, the best part about this resort is the owner, Mr. Nice. He’s very helpful with any questions we had about the island and made sure we had everything we needed and that we were comfortable. He organized our rides to the Full Moon party and back to the ferry docks on the day we left. And BONUS: there’s a family of dogs that live at the resort that are so adorable and friendly!
How to Get Around:
There aren’t a whole lot of taxi’s on Koh Pha Ngan, and if you can find one they are pretty expensive. So, the easiest and cheapest way to get around the island is by scooter. We booked a scooter for the day from our resort and it cost us 250 baht (about $7 USD) per day but there are plenty of scooter rentals all throughout the island. There are little stands on the side of the road that sell liters of gas in glass bottles. They cost 40-50 baht a liter. However, I would suggest going to an actual gas station. It’s a lot cheaper at only 29 baht (about $0.85 USD) per liter. We filled up our whole tank and it lasted us 2 full days. It’s very easy to get around the island. There aren’t that many roads and the few times we did get lost we were able to find our way again pretty easily.
TRAVEL TIP: Roads and traffic patterns and rules in Thailand are not like they are in the US! It’s totally normal to see a whole family of 5, plus their dog, on one scooter speeding right past you. People use the street lines as a suggestion and weave in and out. There are also steep hills and tight turns and a lot of tourists on the road who don’t know what they’re doing. We did see a few accidents, so be cautious! Don’t drink and scooter 😉
What To Do:
Riding Around: We went around on the scooter everyday. It’s so small we were able to drive throughout the entire island and explore every corner. We didn’t have any plans and basically just rode around, looking at the gorgeous views of the water and stopping at any interesting places we saw on the way. It was amazing and one of my favorite memories in Thailand.
Haad Rin: We went down to Haad Rin during the day to check it out before we headed down there for the Full Moon party. This part of the island is definitely more of the party area. It was full of bars, restaurants and tons and tons of tourists. The beach is super impressive! It’s gorgeous with towering mountainous views, impressive waves, and bars and bungalows right on the water.
Than Sadet: We went to the east side of the island one day and stumbled on Than Sadet waterfall. There’s a little shop in front which is owed by an old, blind Thai man so we gave him some money for a few waters. You walk about 10-15 minutes in the jungle until you reach the beautiful scenery and the small waterfall. Absolutely breathtaking! STYLE TIP: Wear sneakers! We went in flip flops and I’m sure it was pretty hilarious watching us climb those rocks.
Muay Thai: If you’re into martial arts then you have to check out this Muay Thai gym by Thong Sala Pier. We came across this gym and my boyfriend decided to take a private class. The cost of the private training with Master Nat is 600 baht (about $17 USD) for an hour. They also offer one hour group classes for 400 baht (about $12 USD). Ladies, there were a ton of girls in the group class too! It’s a very cool cultural experience to learn from these masters who have trained in Muay Thai their entire life and it’s always a good idea to learn how to defend yourself.
Full Moon/Half Moon Party: Of course, you can’t go to Koh Pha Ngan and not go to a Full Moon party! Held once a month during the full moon you can party with people from every corner of the world, drink liquor pitchers, jump through fire jump ropes, and dance till the sun comes up. How we got there, some tips on what to do, what to drink, and what to wear are here. If you can’t make it out there for the full moon, they also have Half Moon parties. These are smaller parties held at intervals between full moon and new moon.
Read Next: How to Full Moon Party in Thailand
Other Things to Do:
- Water Sports: There are plenty of places all throughout the island that offer water activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can just stumble on these as they’re all advertised on the side of the road.
- The Challenge: The Challenge Phangan is a heart-pumping, epic obstacle course right on the ocean (and only 5 minutes away from Nice Sea Resort)!
- Slip N Fly: If you’re headed to Koh Pha Ngan to party all day and night then you need to check this place out. It’s a big water slide party with drinks and DJs.
Where to Eat:
There are a ton of restaurants all throughout the island that have amazing, traditional Thai food. A couple places we really enjoyed were:
- Grandma’s House: Really amazing place we found and had lunch one day. The food was absolutely incredible and so cheap compared to some of the other restaurants on Koh Pha Ngan.
- Petty’s Place: This place is owned by a husband and wife and is super authentic! The atmosphere and decorations are also amazing. We had beer and Thai food at a low table on a matt on the floor. We were there when the sun was going down and there were mosquitos so the owner came over and gave us mosquito repellant for free. We thought that was really sweet.
- Amsterdam Bar: This restaurant/bar is set up on a very high mountain and it is quite a climb to get to the top. But the view of the island and the ocean is totally worth the climb! It’s one of the most famous places to watch the sunset. The food and drinks were good but it was very packed and expensive. If you’re looking to relax and enjoy a beautiful sunset and some awesome music, this is the place to go.
What to Wear:
We went in February and it was really hot. It also rained periodically everyday we were there. It would only rain for a few minutes and then clear up. I would definitely suggest bringing a raincoat or a jacket for the occasional, unexpected rain storm. I had a jean jacket that I wore on the chilly scooter rides and whenever it rained. Other than that, wear your bathing suit and some flip flops! There are so many gorgeous beaches and the whole island is a big beach town where no shoes, no shirt, is no problem. Actually, most restaurants on the island don’t even allow shoes!
Koh Pha Ngan was seriously amazing and so much more than I expected! Whether you’re headed to enjoy one of their many, epic parties or relax on the beach and do yoga all day, there’s something for everyone. Have you ever headed to an island that was so diverse? Let me know in the comments!