The journey to Koh Phangan took around 12 hours, leaving Koh Lanta on an 8am minivan and catching a 2.5 hour boat to the island from Don Pier. We stayed in Riverside Bungalows, proper bungalows (no glass windows and gaps between the wooden slats) for 350 baht/night and moved to ABC bungalows (300baht) for the last night which was a concrete bungalow = no bugs. Smoothies were only 20baht (40p) around our area!
Koh Phangan has this image of being the ‘Full Moon Party’ Island full of drunk foreigners and I certainly had that perception before I visited but this is not the case at all. Taking place once a month south of the island means it gets really busy for that week but the rest of the time it’s quieter and the north of the island is beautiful. The day after we arrived was the Full Moon so we met Aimee, Robin and Jamie (three Gibraltarians) and Jamie’s French girlfriend Clementine at there hostel for predrinks. Neon body art are a must and we spent the majority of our time drawing designs on each other. We had rented a scooter so we followed their tuk tuk to Haad Rin 20-30mins away where the party is at.
From the road to the beach you see stall after stall selling the ‘lethal’ buckets and body artists. Bars blasting loud music, fire acts and laser lights line the entire length of the beach. Some bar even have slides which you can slide down from the second floor of the bar. It is quite a site standing by the shore. The night begins around 10pm and runs through until after the sunrise. We started off by buying buckets in the lanes which were cheaper and hopped from bar to bar dancing away near the shore in amongst the sea of neon painted people. We eventually separated from the rest of the group and continued until the sun came up before driving back to the bungalow at 7am.
We found the best way to get around the island was by scooter and traffic was not bad. We visited Salad Beach, north west of the island, a quiet white sand cove with a few resorts and restaurants. MaeHaad was also north and reminded us a lot of Nang Yuan in Koh Tao.
There is no road connecting the north west and north east areas so we drove to each on separate days. On the last two days of our stay we decided to leave our big bags in the reception of our accommodation so we could check out and stay one night at Bottle Beach, in the north. We visited Thong Nai Pan Yai which was a bigger cove and more expensive before we drove to Bottle beach. The last stretch of road from the main road was quite challenging but doable and worth it when we arrived. At times I would have to get off the scooter to avoid any incidents. It was quiet with only 4 resorts and two restaurants, we basically had the beach to ourselves at times. We stayed at a bungalow built high up overlooking the sea and the next morning we woke up to a tranquil setting.
We spent the first half of the day here, sunbathing and playing pool in an abandoned restaurant. It felt very odd entering a venue like this, with everything still in place but nobody around. After lunch we headed off to our last and favourite beach of the island which was recommended by a random guy we met at a view point which we are thankful for. Hhad Sadet was the most remote beach with only one resort and restaurant. Roads to get to these valuable coves were not easy, continuous pot holes and sand and roads under construction with cranes in the middle of the road. This might be why they offer taxi boats. Hhad Sadet was the nicest and the fact that I could count the number of tourists on one hand made it more inviting. We explored a bit and found that all the bungalows were ready for use but open.
We stupidly didn’t fill the bike tank and when we got here there was no petrol for sale but luckily the restaurants owner was kind enough to sell us some of her bikes petrol which she gave to us in a water bottle. This restaurant was located overlooking the entire cove.
When we return we stayed at ABC bunglaows and booked to leave the next day for Aytthaya as we felt we had seen enough of Koh Phangan after 7 days and preferred to leave before we started to get tired of it so we booked a mid day ferry to
Surrathani and waited for about 4 hours for the 9:30pm sleeper train to Bangkok. At the station the stations stray dog took a liking to us after we gave her some unwanted food (which she did not eat) and walked by our side to the local market where we ate from the stalls, we could tell she was entering another dogs territory as she got snarled at but she always found a way to run back to our side. On the way back to the station we decided to stop at Seven Eleven and I found it ridiculously cute when I looked at the shops entrance to find her there looking in waiting for us. I thought her intention all along was to get food but when we returned to the train station she was fed by a local there. The following morning we hopped on another train at Bangkok to Ayutthaya 90 minutes away where we stayed for 3 days.
Our fellow canine friend :) Waiting for the Night Train No knife? improvise then