Koh Pha Ngan, The Coast - Stein Travel
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Koh Pha Ngan

The beautiful little island of Koh Pha Ngan is a fantastic holiday destination lying in the centre of the Gulf of Thailand, about 62 miles (100km) from the mainland, and home to 8,000 or so people and hundreds of thousands of coconuts. Coconut exports and fishing have long been the mainstay of the locals, but in recent years tourism is becoming increasingly important as visitors flock in on ferries, lured by the island's magnificent beaches and the world renowned monthly Full Moon Party.

The site of Koh Pha Ngan's legendary parties is the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin on the island's south-east corner, which is besieged by up to 10,000 people from around the world at full moon each month. As dusk falls thousands of lamps are lit on tables along the beach and the music is cranked up, sending party-goers into a frenzy under the rising orb of the moon.

Visitors on holiday in Pha Ngan generally stay in one of about 200 thatched bamboo bungalows that line the island's beaches and are let out for a pittance. Those after more luxury can choose from three holiday resort hotels: First Villa at Ban Tai Beach, the Pha Ngan Chai Hotel in the main town of Thongsala, and the Thong Nai Pan Beach Resort at Thong Nai Pan beach. Wherever you stay, the holiday is wiled away pleasantly with snorkelling, swimming or relaxing on the white sands.

Facilities in the Koh Pha Ngan town of Thongsala are limited, but there is a bank, police station, clinic and pharmacy. Motorcycle taxis can be waved down, or mountain bikes hired to explore the more remote beaches. Some beaches can only be reached by sea, and water taxis are available in the town.

Information & Facts


The enticing warm waters off the white sand beaches that surround Koh Pha Ngan are the main source of activity for visitors, who enjoy boat rides, snorkelling on coral reefs or just bathing in between spells of soaking up the sun. The interior of the island, with its rutted roads through coconut plantations, past crystal waterfalls, viewpoints and little villages, cries out to be explored on hired motorbikes. The Pang Waterfall National Park offers beautiful walking trails. Those looking for a more spiritual holiday experience can visit the renowned temple and meditation complex of Wat Kow Tahm, between Thongsala and Had Rin, offering courses and retreats.


Thai is the official language, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas.


The unit of currency is the Baht (THB), which is divided into 100 satang. Currency can be exchanged at the airport, banks, hotels and bureaux de change. Banks are open Monday to Friday. ATMs are available in most cities and tourist resorts. Most large hotels and shops accept travellers cheques, but a better rate will be given at banks. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels and larger businesses.


During the dry and rainy seasons mosquitoes can be a nuisance so be sure to pack plenty of mosquito repellent.

Night Life

While on holiday, most nights in Koh Pha Ngan's remote bungalow resorts are fairly peaceful, with a few beach bars playing music to serenade the incredible sunsets. At full moon, however, Haad Rin is the place to be, when a dozen or more sound systems blast the beach that becomes packed with thousands of hedonistic party animals. Along with visiting top class DJs, the entertainment is enhanced by jugglers, fire-eaters and frenzied dancers of all descriptions, while beach traders keep everyone fed and lubricated. The notorious Pha Ngan Full Moon parties are the ultimate experience.


There are plenty of storefront restaurants along the streets of Koh Pha Ngan's main town, Thongsala, and along the beachfront at Haad Rin, ideal for a quick and tasty meal. Most serve a mix of Thai and western dishes. Street vendors are the cheapest option for local snacks. One of the most popular gathering places on the island is the Outback Bar on Thongsala's main street, which has a vast menu, pool tables, and a large screen TV showing satellite news and sports events. Another popular eatery is the Same Same restaurant at Ban Tai, offering basic favourites like burgers, pizza, pasta and steaks as well as Thai dishes.


On Koh Pha Ngan, most shops and kiosks are in Thongsala and Haad Rin, stocking a range of cheap clothing and novelties, mostly aimed at holiday backpackers. Local handicrafts are plentiful, particularly batik. There are some photo shops and small supermarkets, including a 7-Eleven.


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