Ko Phangan Background
Ko Phangan is located in the Gulf of Thailand about 15 kilometers north of the larger island of Ko Samui. From the airport on Ko Samui it takes just ten minutes to reach the Catamaran ferry terminal and then just twenty minutes to reach Ko Phangan. Ko Phangan is the largest of Samui's neighboring islands with an area of 168 square km. Over 70% of its total area is mountains and tropical forest the lowlands is mountains and coconut fields with secluded sandy beaches to be found all over the island.
Ko Phangan is the island of freedom. Accommodation can be found in some of the splendid resorts or beach side hotels at very reasonable prices.
Some people think Ko Phangan is only a destination for backpackers or young people enjoying the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin every month. Ko Phangan is a large island and the party is just a tiny part of it. There are nature trails, trekking, elephant trekking, scuba diving, jeep safaris and many other activities to undertake however simply the breathtaking scenery is enough for most people.
As a natural paradise island in the Southern Gulf of Thailand, Ko Phangan serves as the perfect getaway retreat, where one may go relaxing on quiet deserted beaches, snorkeling and learning to dive at the distinctive island of Ko Ma, trekking in the footsteps of Thai Royalty at Than Sadet National Park steeped in history and culture, or seeking adventure in the nearby Ang Thong archipelago composed of over 40 islands endowed with pristine beaches, natural caves and the tranquil Tha Laem Nai. Ko Phangan has over 250 resorts to choose from, ranging from the budget 300 baht a night beach hut without private toilet to luxury air-conditioned accommodation with private swimming pool at 20,000 + Baht per night.
It's the simple beach life which continues to attract visitors each year along with the island's reputation for full moon parties and a hedonistic approach to life. The backpackers, budget tourists and aging hippies are beginning to give way to families and more mainstream tourists but the beaches are still beautiful and undeveloped. The full moon party scene still runs with a cast of thousands in high season - all on the beach. Hedonists everywhere still flock to the world's biggest beach party every month. The music from the multiple sound systems is mostly ear-splittingly loud trance and house, and a predominantly youthful crowd dance 'til dawn on party nights. This may not be to everyone's taste, certainly, but it's definitely a unique cultural experience. Other events such as the Half Moon Party and Black Moon Party also attract large crowds. However, it is still possible to visit the island and avoid the full moon party altogether, with dozens of quiet, secluded resorts and beach huts dotted all over the island for a variety of prices. After all the Full Moon Party takes place in an isolated location at the Southern tip of the island covering just 1% of the island by area. Many resorts offer such facilities as daily yoga, yoga teachers' training, meditation, a variety of healing, healthy & natural therapies, spa massage & pampering services and herbal steam rooms.
Other activities available on the island include scuba diving with a number of companies offering very reasonably priced training courses and excursions, snorkeling, especially off the Mae Haad sandbar in the north west, wakeboarding, archery, fishing, walks in the national park or simply relaxing in the company of other tourists or the friendly locals.
About 10,000 people live on Ko Phangan. Some are Chinese, whose ancestors migrated from China more than hundred years ago and the main population lives in Thongsala Town. More than 95% of the population is Buddhist but there are a few Muslims in Ban Tai Village.
Standard Thai is used as the official language but the southern dialect is more widely spoken among the local people. English is understood in business circles and tourist areas. Ko Phangan is a district (Amphoe) of the Surat Thani Province in the Southern Region of Thailand.