Are you planning a trip to Koh Phangan but aren’t sure what to do? Luckily, there are plenty of options available. To help you out, we’ve created this Koh Phangan itinerary. It should help you decide how to spend your time on this incredible Thailand island, offering tips on where to go, where to stay, and all the amazing sights, beaches, and adventures there are along the way.
Koh Phangan is an absolute paradise. A gem-shaped rock in the midst of the Thai Gulf, it’s got white-sand beaches fringed by palms, mountains clad in jungles, and rustic Thai fishing towns that ooze charm. The spot is probably most famous for its wild Full Moon Parties, which draw in over 40,000 revelers in the peak season. But they only happen once a month and are just a snapshot of everything that awaits here.
Find out how to spend your mornings, afternoons, and evenings to maximize your enjoyment in this stunning location with help from this Koh Phangan itinerary. It’s a step-by-step guide that we think takes in all the highlights of the isle in just 48 rich and adventurous hours. We’ve set it out so it’s easy to tweak and add things in, and the whole thing can be done in pretty much any order you like. So, let’s begin…
Where to stay for our Koh Phangan itinerary
Before we get stuck into the bulk of our Koh Phangan itinerary, it’s important to pick a place to stay. The good news is that it doesn’t matter all that much where you choose to go. This isle isn’t as large as Samui or Phuket. You can usually get anywhere within 1.5 hours max, either by scooter or on rented tuk-tuks and taxis.
That means you have the pick of a real glut of accommodation choices, from sleek honeymoon boutique hotels to budget backpacker digs. Here’s a look at just a few of our top options:
- Mangata Boutique Bungalows ($$) – Simply stunning bungalows that gaze over the west-coast beaches. There’s an infinity pool that you won’t forget!
- Phangan Arena Hostel ($) – Get down with the party crowd in Baan Tai, a hostel with its own games room, access to a football court, and fun-filled swimming pool.
- Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas ($$$) – The luxury option. Get a villa that opens up onto a sugar-soft beach and access to a restaurant serving haute Japanese cuisine.
Koh Phangan Itinerary: Day 1
We think you’ve earned some R&R on the morning of day one. You see, just getting to Koh Phangan can be a bit of a chore. It usually involves two boats connecting via Koh Samui, not to mention whatever inward travel from Bangkok you need to make.
Don’t just turn up and choose a place to stay on arrival. Instead, plan in advance. The better the resort you go for, the more enjoyable your time on the island will be. Research the best Koh Phangan hotels and choose one that has everything you desire (we’ve got a list of some of our favorite options above). The best part is that you don’t have to be wealthy to live in luxury in Koh Phangan – it’s possible to get somewhere with a pool and a view of the sea here for under $70 a night.
As a general rule, the further north you go around the coast of the island, the more relaxed it will be.
After some quiet time, you’ll probably be ready to explore the island. Once you’ve had lunch, consider finding a motorcycle rental place so that you can discover new places more easily. Getting around this rugged terrain on foot can be difficult, especially considering the hot weather. At the same time, there isn’t much public transport to speak of. Therefore, the most popular ways to explore are on bicycle and motorcycle, with the latter being the fastest of all.
(Of course, you’ll need to be confident driving in these conditions. Remember that Koh Phangan has winding, narrow roads and there can be lots of other traffic at points. It’s not always easy navigating on a motorbike or scooter and there are regular accidents.)
You don’t need to have much of a plan. In fact, the less you plan, the better. You really can just go wherever your heart takes you, allowing yourself to get lost if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s a small island and you shouldn’t have too many problems finding your way home. That said, since you’ve only got two days on Koh Phangan, it’s a good idea to plan ahead so that you don’t miss the most amazing things.
Spend that first afternoon touring the following sites:
- Phaeng Noi Waterfall – This is a dramatic waterfall in the monsoon but dries to a trickle in the peak season. It’s located in a national park in the jungle-covered heart of the island. You can also walk on further to a second waterfall at Khan Ban Dai Waterfall.
- Bottle Beach – There’s a fantastic hike to this beach on the north coast that takes just over an hour going through wild jungle. That means it’s likely to take up your whole afternoon, so take some time from the morning sessions to explore if you like. The beach at the end is worth it – think gleaming white sand with hardly anyone else around!
- Haad Salad – A simply gorgeous bay that’s flanked by forest-covered hills and beset by a blue-green sea.
- Haad Son – The beginning of a whole run of lovely beaches on the north-west coast of Koh Phangan, Haad Son is a top place to start your adventures through Secret Beach, Salad Beach, and others. It also happens to be a bit of a yoga hub.
The best way to cap off your first day in Koh Phangan is to attend a Full Moon Party. This is what Koh Phangan is famous for and it might be your only chance to experience this incredible occasion. Full moon parties were invented in Koh Phangan way back in 1985 but are now celebrated all across Thailand.
They last all night, always take place on a beach, and occur – as the name would imply – during a full moon. That said, they’ve risen to become so popular that there’s usually something happening EVERY SINGLE evening in these parts. You’ve now got half-moon parties, jungle parties, and just bog standard beach parties.
There’s no better place to enjoy a full moon party than its home: Haad Rin. Each month, up to 30,000 people descend on that resort in southern Koh Phangan to party the night away. It’s supposedly where the moon is at its brightest and most beautiful but it’s also got a glut of bars and the perfect beach for dancing and drinking on.
For travelers not so keen on partying until the early hours, there are more chilled parts of Koh Phangan to know about. You could spend your first evening somewhere like Zen Beach or Relax Beach. They are both on the western coast, which means they have seriously spectacular sunsets. And they aren’t hedonism hubs by any stretch – the big, pumping DJ bars and fire shows are replaced with easy-going beer joints that play reggae.
After the excitement of the Full Moon Party last night, you’ll probably want to retreat to the pool and enjoy a quieter, more relaxed morning. Make sure you rehydrate and replenish with a healthy Thai breakfast of sticky mango rice and fruit salad. This is another chance to soak in the peace and quiet that island life has to offer.
Then, if you think you can peel yourself away from the beach or the pool side, head out to see some of the world-class snorkeling locations that this island has up its sleeve. A bout of tropical, bath-warm sea water could be just the thing to cure the heavy head, don’t you think? There are, naturally, loads of places that have amazing swimming and snorkeling. Here are just a few recommendations:
- Mae Haad – You can swim straight out to the fringing of reefs here to see colorful small fish in a protected lagoon.
- Bottle Beach – The incredible Bottle Beach, which takes an hour to walk to on the north coast of the island, excels for snorkeling because it’s so remote and has a shallow entry point with seaweed meadows.
- Haad Salad – There are amazing reefs that sit less than 100m off the shore at Haad Salad.
- Koh Tao – Serious scuba will want to make the day trip over to Koh Tao to do their snorkeling and diving. It is at least a full day’s outing, though, so expect it to take the whole of the end of your Phangan itinerary.
When you’ve regained your energy, it’s time to explore the spiritual side of island life in Thailand. Next on your Koh Phangan itinerary has to be visiting temples. These are dotted all over the island and offer the most intricately beautiful architecture. Once again, you might want to rent a motorcycle to ensure you can get to all of them. Even if you don’t have a spiritual side, you have to marvel at the beauty of these structures as well as their cultural significance.
During your trip to Thailand, temples are bound to feature prominently. However, Koh Phangan arguably has the most impressive ones. Make sure you leave time in your Koh Phangan itinerary to visit all of them. They’re places where you need to be respectful so that everyone can enjoy exploring these enchanting places. You may want to pay your respects or simply wander around as many tourists do. It’s your choice.
If you’re pushed for time then the top three temples you should visit are Wat Phu Khao Noi, Wat Sri Thanu, and the Goddess of Mercy, which is a Chinese temple. However, there are over 20 temples you could visit if you give yourself enough time. Some are free, others aren’t, but all are worth a visit. Many are also inhabited by monks so just make sure you act with respect and follow the simple rules that will be written on signs near the entrance.
To end your weekend on the island, it’s worth visiting a rooftop bar where you can relax, unwind, and gaze out across this incredible island destination. Koh Phangan is an island with many different sides. There’s the peaceful, tranquil, tropical paradise vibe. There’s the crazy, raving, all-night party vibe. Then, there’s the spiritual and religious vibe. At this point in your Koh Phangan itinerary, you’ll have experienced them all.
End your trip with a cocktail in one of the island’s amazing bars. Ideally, find a rooftop bar with an incredible view. This will give you perspective, allowing you to reflect on the amazing two days you’ve had and just soak it all in. The best rooftop bar is aptly named RoofTop Bar but there are many others you could visit as an amazing way to cap off an even more amazing Koh Phangan trip.