Exploring Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is one of those places where you can turn your trip into whatever kind of vacation you choose to. The party scene there is non stop and drinks are cheap enough that you can afford to have as many as you want so you can certainly treat it like an all inclusive resort and never leave the beach. Getting out however is not hard and exploring Koh Phangan is something I’m glad I did.
Transportation throughout the island is readily available from a variety of taxis. Some are your typical taxi car, others a truck with a steel cover over the trunk and some benches along the sides that 8 to 10 people cram into and at times hang on for dear life. Also, scooters are available for rent and are very convenient as they’re easy to park anywhere and you’re on your own timetable. We were staying in Haad Rin, which is where the eventual NYE party is held so we figured best make it easy for us to get back to the hostel, but the same options exist throughout the island.
We mostly used the truck taxis when transporting our luggage or at night when trying to go to a party on a different part of the island and figured being on wheels on the way home might not be a good idea. They were also great places to meet people before getting there. They generally costed B100 per ride but like most things in Thailand, they can be bargained down and you can likely get at least a “four people for the price of three” deal. Travel in groups, people.
For daytime exploration we rented scooters which were surprisingly cheap at B150 so about 4 dollars a day. Every scratch will cost you about ten times that though so treat them with utmost care. They also don’t start out with very much gas so be sure to stop at the many huts along the island for some. They come in liter glass bottles and will range between B40 to B60. Be sure to check your brakes though, I speak through solid second hand experience – we saw lots of bandages and that was the most common reason.
Riding those around the coast is absolutely breathtaking. Many people say that Koh Samui is an exploration island and Koh Phangan is a party island, and sure there is more culture and Thai life on Samui, but nowhere near the natural scenic beauty. We stumbled on some beaches that I wished we had booked the beginning of our stay at and moved to Haad Rin only for NYE.
We had lunch at the Chaloklam Bay Resort, which also had a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the beach and was very secluded. A chicken was frolicking around and the whole thing felt very peaceful and homey.
We carried on the rolling hills of Phangan, which we discovered can be less rolling and more cliff at times. You want to get a good head of stream before going up and, I know I’ve said this before, but make sure you checked your brakes before having left the rental place.
From one of these cliffs, we spotted a beach surrounded by a peninsula with a clear view and charming restaurant on the tip. We immediately headed that way.
Both the beach and the restaurant were part of the Haad Son resort. It was so nice that we considered booking a night there despite our existing reservation. Unfortunately, the minimum reservation duration was 3 nights because of the proximity to NYE so we had to just come back the next day, not a huge deal. The whole place was amazing. They had another restaurant right on the beach called Secret bar with good food and drinks, which had one of the cutest beach puppies ever.
There was also a massage hut right next to it. Messages were only B300 for an hour, which is less than $10, and were better than anything you’d pay ten times for at home. Not only were the masseuses great at what they did and contorted my body to make sure every vertebra cracked rather painlessly, but I was hearing the waves slop onto that beautiful beach the whole time.
I’m very glad I didn’t fall into the all inclusive resort mindset and stay on my beach the whole time. I found some places that I definitely want to stay at in the days leading up to my next full moon party if I ever return and it was also a good thing I spend two very relaxing days on Haad Son, because the next day was NYE!