Home to one of the biggest beach parties in the world, The Full Moon Party, this small island off the east coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand is inundated with a hoard of travellers every month looking for a good time. The other end of the island still enjoys the quiet life with secluded white beaches and crystal clear water, whatever your preference for a holiday, Koh Phangan has something for you.
The easiest way to get there is to fly to Samui and taking the ferry across to Phangan. Alternatively if you’re travelling by land then take the train or bus to Surat Thani and the ferry across from there. You can also take the ferry from Chumphon but it takes a lot longer. If you’re staying on Samui or Koh Tao then special overnight trips on a party boat to the Full Moon Party can be booked from any travel agent.
It’s not difficult to find a little bungalow on the beach and you find a basic one on the water’s edge for only $10 a night for two people! Yep, bargain city right? The thing is you just need to be aware of the location. If you’re anywhere near the beach party at Had Rin when the party is happening then don’t expect to get any sleep. If you want quiet then stay at the north end of the island and catch a taxi down. Prices range up to $200 a night for a 5 star spa resort and you can find everything in between. If your accommodation is near the full moon party, find a safe place for your valuables as most bungalows can be easily broken into.
Activities on the island include all types of watersports such as kayaking, wake boarding, jet skiing and of course diving and snorkelling. You can take an elephant ride through the jungle, try a cooking or Thai boxing class or relax with a massage, facial or some yoga. Take a booze cruise around the island at sunset or a trip to the Ang Thong Marine Park for a special adventure.
The Full Moon Party is an experience in itself and it used to be an amazing party but now due to the influx of drunken teenagers, it’s starting to lose its charm. Be very careful of your belongings; don’t take anything with you other than a little money for your drinks. Even your camera should stay at home. Don’t buy any drugs, they are either sold by police to catch you out or they’re fake, valium or something similar and you’ll be ripped off. Don’t accept drinks from strangers and watch the bars pouring your drink, it can be spiked and someone will follow you until you pass out and then take all your things. Don’t leave your bag anywhere other than on you as you’ll turn around and find it no longer there. This party is full of scammers and schemers just waiting to take your money. Be careful and you’ll have a great time.
It’s very cheap to drink in Thailand and you’ll find a bar around every corner. Buckets are an interesting thing to try! Thailand is the land of food so eat as many different curries and stir-fry’s as you can. The mango and banana shakes are to die for.
You’ll find a dive centre in most major towns or ask at your hotel and they’ll recommend a place for you. There’s really only one great site around Phangan called Sail Rock and it’s for certified divers only. It’s a great dive, full of sea life and a cool chimney in the rock. The beach around the island is great for training though if you’re doing a course. Most dive operations will head to Koh Tao for the diving as there are many sites to choose from there.
Whether you’re here to relax or party, you’ll enjoy this lovely island.
(By Kelly Luckman)