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Koh Phangan

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is roughly half the size of Koh Samui but the largest and most well-known of Samui’s neighbouring islands. Famed for its ‘Full Moon Parties’, Koh Phangan has for 30 years been a popular destination for young travellers looking for that party scene in tropical paradise.

Over the last decade or so, the visitor demographic has diversified somewhat, with the island attracting more families and couples. Certainly, backpackers still travel there in large numbers, and the music still plays out until dawn on the beaches at Haad Rin, but this is only one part of the island – Koh Phangan is large enough to make it possible to stay well away from the party vibe for a more peaceful holiday on the island.

The majority of the island remains beautiful and tranquil. There is no airport, which has kept the island relatively undeveloped, and there are even some beaches where the dirt-track access is so rough, access is best and therefore usually by boat. There are reefs just off many of the beaches, where waters are crystal clear, especially so in the dry season, and the corals teem with colourful fish. The island itself is home to numerous villages, from the main centre of Thong Sala in the south, where most of the ferries arrive and there is a lively night-market, to the fishing village of Chalok Lam in the north.

Tall atmospheric coconut plantations dot the island and lead up to the jungle-covered mountainous interior. Here, you may trek in the footsteps of Thai Royalty at Than Sadet National Park, popular with King Rama V who first visited in 1888 and returned many times. Further afield, take a boat trip out to the Mu Koh Ang Thong National Park, where you’ll discover spectacular scenery with rain forest covered interiors, blue lagoons, and uninhabited islands with powder-white sand, leading to reefs perfect for snorkelling around.

Whilst much of the accommodation on the island is relatively basic and delightfully low-key:  family-owned beach bungalows centred around a restaurant, on the east coast there are a couple of small resorts offering more luxury, whilst maintaining a boutique feel.

If on your tailor-made holiday to Thailand you’d like to experience this legendary island, then a visit to Koh Phangan can be easily combined with a fascinating itinerary covering central and northern Thailand. Flights operate to and from Bangkok from the neighbouring island Koh Samui, and for the adventurous, trains run between Bangkok and Surat Thani, the closest town on the mainland. Both Koh Samui and the mainland are reachable by ferry.

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The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
G. K. Chesterton

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