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Koh Phangan is a diverse and fascinating island. The range of activities and attractions on offer is vast, which means people of all backgrounds and ages can enjoy their own travel experience, choosing the best ways to spend their time, whether simply relaxing or involved in more active pursuits. Nature is still a major part of any trip to Koh Phangan. The island boasts deserted beaches, tropical forests and spectacular waterfalls, all easily reached either on your own or as part of an organised tour. Tan Sadet is the most famous natural attraction, its cascading waters have been visited by Thai kings and the remote surroundings provide a stunning natural backdrop.
For kids and adults alike, archery is a great activity available on the island. First Bow and Arrow Club is situated near to Chaloklum fishing village and makes a fun day out for all the family. All levels of experience and all ages are welcome.
Browsing and Buying
For those shopaholics hitting Koh Phangan there is plenty of choice. The main port town of Thong Sala boasts a good clothing and souvenir market in the center of the main street, as well as several more upscale furniture and decor shops along the main road. Haad Rin offers a wide choice of party clothes, several funky boutiques, and a similar range of souvenir and handicraft shops.
Located at the Phangan Eco Safari, the cobra show is an exciting taste of Northern Thai culture. The cobra fighter who performs the show is Guiness Book of World Records record holder for how many times he has kissed the deadly serpent. He comes from a village in north Thailand which has raised Cobra fighters for generations, and puts on quite a show, with a variety of different snakes, including a massive python. Not for the faint-hearted or serpent-phobic.
Koh Phangan has always been known for its great Thai cuisine, and in recent years has also become a destination boasting a wide choice of international food too. Thong Sala and Ban Tai have some great local restaurants where visitors can experience real Thai food, and both Thong Sala and Haad Rin have some good Italian restaurants and pizzerias. On most beaches good seafood barbeque places can be found, and there are a few stand-out restaurants located in Thong Nai Pan, Sri Thanu, Had Yuan, and Haad Salad.
Elephants are the symbol of Thailand and held dear in the hearts of the people. There are several elephant trekking operations on Koh Phangan all offering a similar service. A half hour ride through the jungle costs around 500B and kids can also feed the elephants bananas and watch them do some tricks.
Fishing is a traditional pastime and used to be the main source of industry on the island. Traditional methods and boats still remain, and most locals will be happy to point visitors in the direction of a long-tail boat owner who can take them out on a trip. For higher-end charters there are several speedboats docked around the island, at the Haad Rin Pier, Ban Tai Pier, and on Thong Nai Pan. All of these can arrange further afield fishing expeditions.
While not yet boasting an 18 hole course, Koh Phangan does have the next best thing - Phangan golf range. Located in Wok Tum, visitors of all ages can enjoy hitting balls in a beautiful jungle setting. Clubs and balls can be rented.
The spectacular jungle and rugged coastline of Koh Phangan makes hiking an enjoyable way to get into the national park's splendour. For the intrepid, a trail begins in Haad Rin and makes its way up the coastline ending at Thong Nai Pan, which is about a five hour hike. Shorter hikes exist between most beaches, and the trail up to the island's tallest point, Khao Ra, is also popular, taking about three hours.
Koh Phangan has its very own homemade ice cream. Delicious favorite flavors include all the classics and a few island specialties such as jack-fruit and local coconut. The family business makes a great stopping off point on a hot day and has a nice restaurant and seating area. Many other businesses around the island also feature their great ice cream. Find Phangan Homemade Ice Cream on Facebook.
There are many tour companies on the island offering a wide variety of jungle and waterfall tours. These often include visits to the elephant trekking, temples and canopy adventure as well, and can offer a great day out. Safariboat is one of the longest running operators and has a good selection of boat trips, jungle trips and many varied and flexible itineraries on their website.
The ancient art of Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport and a fun pastime and entertainment for most of the locals on Phangan. The biggest arenas are in Thong Sala and attract international fighters, but most beaches and villages around the island have local venues and training gyms. Brave visitors can even join in training at most gyms during the day, as well as enjoying the evening fights. Muay Thai features a lot of entertainment and even comedic larking about, but be warned, it can also be bloody affair, so perhaps not for all the family.
Learn to Cook
Most local restaurants will only be too happy to help interested visitors learn to master a few Thai dishes. In fact most locals are delighted to be asked, so if you like someone's cooking don't be shy to inquire. Those looking for a more structured curriculum will find the three professional chef tutors at "My Wok And Me" cookery school in Thong Sala will be able to impart the finer points of Thai cuisine with one of their popular courses.
Synonymous with Thailand, Thai massage is an art form and on Phangan you can't go more than a few metres without finding an opportunity to indulge. Traditional Thai massage is almost chiropractic in style and some visitors can find it a bit hard going, so most massage houses offer aromatherapy oil massages too, which are much gentler. Some of the higher end operations have fantastic treatments such as hot stone massage, various body scrubs, pedicures, and manicures.
In the middle of the main road in Thong Sala, the night market is a truly local and delicious event. Most nights of the week from the early evening the car park space is transformed into a bustling food market with every variety of Thai snacks, curries, and delicacies on offer for very low prices. In addition, on the post office street on Saturday evenings, is a "walking street" event. The road is closed off to cars and many local businesses have stalls there creating a fun and festive market atmosphere.
Orion Boat Trips
A fantastic way to see more of the island and the national marine park is aboard the Orion. The 22 meter wooden cruising vessel can hold plenty of people when chartered privately, or join one of their fun group tours and check out what the high seas of Koh Phangan have to offer.
Koh Phangan's infamous full moon party is globally famous and happens each month on the beach at Haad Rin. World renowned DJs, and party goers in their tens of thousands, flock the beach for one of the world's wildest nights. During the rest of the month various other "moon parties" happen around the island: half moon, black moon, Shiva moon, etc. Though most manage not to disturb the peace of resort areas.
For those tired of the laid back beach scene, some high octane thrills on an ATV may be just the ticket. Phangan ATV Adventure Tour in Ban Kai offers a training track on which to hone your skills, before heading off-road through the jungle and on various trails around the island. Great fun and a very different way to get deep into the incredible rain-forest.
Every Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 6 pm, Sabrina and her friends offer pony riding for kids on the way to Chaloklum. A great opportunity for children to explore the forest and learn how to feed and care for the small Thai style ponies. All ages are welcome, hats are provided, and a small donation of 100 B towards the ponies upkeep is suggested. Check out the Facebook page "Kids on Phangan".
While the Ang Thong National Marine Park lies just to the north of the island and offers world-class snorkeling, many of Phangan's beaches have great snorkel value closer to home. Koh Ma, Thong Nai Pan, Than Sadet and Bottle Beach are probably the best options for snorkel adventures. Those who want to venture further afield to the marine park will find most dive shops can oblige and organize snorkel trips there. Alternatively, for a lazy day of snorkeling, it's possible to private charter speedboats and take leisurely trips either to the marine park or around the island.
Phaeng Waterfall National Park in the center of the island, offers some spectacular scenery, with stunning jungle vistas and beautiful trails. Take a few hours to explore the natural splendor Phangan is famous for and you will not be disappointed. Visitors can expect to pay around 500 B for the day, and there are hours and hours of walks to choose from.
Koh Phangan is part of an archipelago of islands renowned for diving and snorkeling. The Ang Thong National Marine park lies to the north of the island and features some legendary dive sites, including Sail Rock - the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand - where whale sharks, angel fish, barracuda and much more can be seen.
Koh Phangan boasts several temples which make fascinating day trips. The Thai Temple at Wat Pho has a famous massage center and healing herbal sauna which is very popular. In the center of the island, the Chinese temple is full of Chinese statues and decoration and has a great view across the jungle. In Thong Sala, the Thai temple is a community meeting place which holds festivals and cultural events.
Located in Chaloklum Bay, which has the ideal flat water and wind protection - Wake Up Wakeboarding has been established for five years and is probably the best high adrenaline action to be found on the island. With fully native English speaking instructors and top notch equipment and boats, wakeboarding is a fantastic water sport to learn on Phangan
Adrenaline junkies will be further delighted on Koh Phangan by the opportunities for extreme sports such as Kite surfing or boarding. Kite-boarding Asia have been running for many years and have international safety certification. They have a variety of packages for the intrepid, or not so intrepid, as well as a well stocked shop selling all you need to surf those winds. Those in need of wind speed can find them on the main road between Thong Sala and Ban Tai.
Koh Phangan is a renowned yoga destination with a huge choice of centers, classes and teachers. Clustered around the west coast there are many yoga retreats to choose from, many featuring highly regarded teachers from India. Most beaches around the island offer some form of yoga classes, and The Sanctuary on Haad Thian is renowned worldwide as a yoga and detox center.
Those seeking adventure and adrenaline will enjoy the zip-lining on offer at Just For Fun canopy adventure and zip line on the Thong Nai Pan Road. High up in the mountains, the views are spectacular, and even more so when you"re whizzing along the zip-lines at high speed. Safety equipment is provided and safety standards are high, under European management.