Suitable for: 4 days & more

Koh Phangan is an island in Thailand that sits directly opposite Koh Tao and is most often visited for its monthly full moon parties (FMP). These parties take place on Haad Rin Beach and have been one of Thailand’s most famous but controversial attractions. Revellers all over travel to Koh Phangan during the Full Moon to party whilst clad in neon paint on a long sandy strip of beach. On the most popular party dates, there can be up to 30000 revellers on the White Sands of Haad Rin. However, Koh Phangan is not only about their famous FMPs, it has fantastic beaches and other attractions that might make it worth a stay even without visiting the FMP. With a newly-opened water obstacle course park, and an adrenaline-pumping slide that propels you into the air, Koh Phangan is a great destination for all travellers. 

Getting to Koh Phangan 

Irrelevant cat picture that I took at the hostel

Being a reasonably small island, Koh Phangan is only accessible via ferry. You either take a ferry from Surat Thani (if coming from mainland areas [Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket, Khao Sok] , or from neighbouring islands like Koh Tao or Koh Samui. Lomprayah is the recommended transport ferry company for this journey. 

Read more about my guide to transportation Koh Tao (mostly from Bangkok) here

The guide also works for Koh Phangan as well as the night bus method works similarly. 

SIM card

 

I actually got my SIM card from the airport in Bangkok (Don Mueang). It was from DTAC, which I had read provided good connections on the islands in Thailand. The network was efficient, and I was mostly well-connected, except in one particular part of Koh Tao near Shark Bay. Overall recommended!

There are also other companies providing SIM cards (AIS, True) : , My friends on Koh Tao, some of whom had bought SIM cards from these companies had no problems with their connections as well. From what I remember, there was an AIS shop at the arrival hall in Don Mueang Airport as well. 

You can also purchase SIM cards / top up your current SIM card from 7-11 stores all over Thailand, the example being above. 

 

Details

Company: DTAC (Unlimited Data Packs)
Pack 1: THB 300, 7 Days
Pack 2: THB 600, 15 Days
Pack 3: THB 700, 30 Days

 

Accommodation

Wanderlust Hostel

This hostel was really wonderful, except for one thing which I will mention at the end of the post. 

Facilities

The hostel had decent rooms, with great air-conditioning and a workable toilet ensuite. The beds were liveable but I wouldn’t call them comfy, they definitely could have newer mattresses. I loved the design of the entire hostel as it was colorfully festive,  they had 3 cute kittens roaming the common area!

They had a great outdoors area and common room, with table tennis facilities, pool tables and just a good social layout in general. The gigantic mirror on the 2nd floor was super helpful for the girls putting on their make-up, glitter and neon paint. 

I loved the various posters and brochures pasted up on the walls of the hostel. It literally gives you all the info you need about the upcoming events like the Jungle Party, Waterfall Party, the FMP, as well as beautiful places on the island like Secret Mountain, Sunset Beach and more. 

They even had free BBQ nights on Thursdays where the hostel would become super crowded and everyone just mingles and you get to make lots of friends.

Atmosphere

Wanderlust was a party hostel, but it still kept its cleanliness and the rooms pretty much were separate from the noise generated at night in the common area, unless you happened to stay on the 1st floor.

They held lively mini parties every night, where the crowds in the hostel would gather around for games like beer pong and friendly matches of Table Tennis. It was always a laugh with the group. Eventually, you’ll get to one of the night events with your newfound friends. Perfect for solo travellers! 

Location

The location of the hostel was pretty close to a few other hostels down the road, like Slumber Party and Echo Beach. It was along the Main Beach, which was convenient to get around. I would say that it was also approximately a 10 minutes ride from the ferry pier. 

Staff

Staff were average, the locals were pretty cool though, and they were so friendly in organizing tours for you. I think one of their names was Mina? but she organised the Jungle Party for my friends and I and that helped a lot. 

The only bad thing about this hostel (and it ruined my Koh Phangan experience right at the end), and it might not be related to the hostel itself was the motorbike rental. I literally had a few scratches when the bike fell from a stationery position, yet the guy wanted to charge me 2000 THB for the repairs or I would not get my passport back. That was insaneee, and as it was on the tail end of my trip, I had run out of money (my debit wasn’t working too for some reason). Thank god for nice friends you meet along the way willing to lend you SGD 80 to return home to Singapore. So, the hostel was really cool, but maybe I would suggest renting motorbikes elsewhere?

Otherwise, Wanderlust Hostel was the perfect hostel for exploring Koh Phangan, its nature, surroundings, and to experience the nightlife.

Links

Top 3 Hostels in Koh Phangan

1. Phanganist Hostel : Hostelworld Link here

2. Slumber Party Hostel: Hostelworld Link here

3. Echo Beach Backpackers (where some my friends were staying at) : Hostelworld Link here

Price: THB 900 / night in 6-bed ensuite dorm (but keep in mind this was during new year’s prices will be jacked up no matter what)

Activities

Full Moon Party

Of course, the Full Moon Party. We’ll jump right into this first, seeing as its what Koh Phangan became famous for. Above are some members of my crew as the rest sadly went missing halfway due to the throngs of people. We had a group of 10, mind you and we still managed to lose more than half of them. 

How did the Full Moon Party come about?

Legend has it that 30 years ago a group of backpackers had a rendezvous on Koh Phangan one night as a birthday celebration for one of their friends. Word got around about this “secret” party , and the event slowly escalated to its size today. I believe it has also been made popular by the passive advertisement that travel bloggers (like me, Guilty.) have made by reporting their experiences. 

When are the dates of the Full Moon Party?

Always check the website for the dates of the FMP as it might get adjusted according to the Buddhist holidays. Plan your holiday around it. 

The biggest crowds are during New Year’s Eves (that’s when I went), and tend to be busier from January to April as it brings about good sunny skies to the region. 

What time does the FMP start?

We left the hostel at around 9pm which I would say is a decent time to leave as it takes around 30 minutes to get from Ban Tai beach to Haad Rin Beach. At around 10pm, the party was in full swing and I think that should be a good time to arrive. 

What to expect at the FMP

 Haad Rin is a long stretch of beach on the Southern end of Koh Phangan. On the day of the Full Moon, the beach will be packed with bars and mini-clubs , all pretty close to one another. Imagine totally different genres of music (pop, house, techno, drum & bass and more) being played at the same time. Everyone’s in neon paint. It’s insane but everyone’s having so much fun! Mainstream pop will be playing closer to the entrance but the peripheries are where you wanna be at, the house music was so good. 

There will also be fire shows being putting up by the masterful fire dancers, which are fun to watch but definitely don’t take the risk of jumping the kerosone-soaked rope. I’ve watched so many people get their legs burnt because of it. You’re on a really nice island with plenty of pristine beaches and clear waters around the corner, don’t let multiple fire burns spoil your holiday. 

If you’ve forgotten to bring your face paint, don’t worry! There will be little stalls along the beach offering personalised neon face paint services.  

Food and Drink

In the picture above right are typical Thai Buckets that typically contain a certain type of alcohol and 2 mixers. They are pretty lethal by themselves so do not underestimate their potencies. Drink in moderation, and do make sure that your bottle of alcohol has not been tampered with and is sealed tight. I have heard stories of people refilling empty bottles with methanol??! , pretty crazy if you ask me. 

There is also a lot of street food being sold at a certain section in the middle of the stretch of beach. I didn’t try them though. They cost around 30-50 THB, depending on what you’re getting. I would recommend the Banana Pancakes with Nutella though, tried it in different places around Thailand and it has never gone wrong. 

How to get there?

You will want to take a Tuk-Tuk that can be easily arranged from your hostel to the party. Please do not attempt riding motorbikes in the night as the roads are winding and you’ll eventually have to get back, and its totally dangerous to ride under the influence alcohol. The TukTuk will try to get as many people as possible onto it as they charge per head count, but some nice ones charge per ride (so its up to luck). I paid around 100 THB for the ride there.  

How to get back?

Similarly, you would want to catch a Tuk-Tuk back but beware that the return prices would be higher as you will probably not have a choice but to accept the limited supply of Tuk-Tuks at Haad Rin back to the hostel. Its best to stay with your group (if you can), and so have a minimum number that can return to your hostel with you. Return price for me was around 150 THB (SGD 8), but I knew of people who paid 100-200 THB depending on group size

Where to stay for the FMP

People generally choose whether to stay at Haad Rin beach itself, or to stay a little further away like what I did. I preferred to return to somewhere more quiet at night so Ban Tai beach was perfect, however if you want convenience and the close proximity of the party to your hostel you might want to consider staying at Haad Rin. 

Take note that most of the hostels and hotels also increase their prices, and have a minimum stay requirement (mine was a minimum of 4 nights) during the period of the Full Moon. Just make sure that you have your accommodation booked in advance as prices will be a lot higher closer to the date, and most will be fully booked. 

I’ve read elsewhere that you should not book accommodation online and instead turn up a few days before Full Moon to look for rooms as it might be cheaper. That might be true however I feel that technology has advanced and it might just save you time and worry by booking a room from Hostelworld instead of doing the traditional turn up and scout method. 

Some people also stay on neighbouring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui and go just for the FMP on Koh Phangan. They do have scheduled boats to and from the party during evening and early mornings respectively. I think I might go for this option next time as I really liked Koh Tao and the hostel on it. 

What to wear to the FMP

  • Neon paint (it’s a must, and if you want to get really affordable face paint there is this shop located down the Main shopping road (it’s a stationery shop so unlike the rest of the scheming vendors, it actually sells face paint (same sizes) at wholesale prices. 40 THB for one bottle! Can’t remember the exact location but you’ll know when you see it. Your friends will love you (mine did) if you supply the neon paint. It’s also a great way to make new friends at the hostel! “Do you want some neon paint on your face?”
  • Full Moon Party T-Shirt (they will be selling this everywhere! Just bargain and try to get the best deal. There are so many designs and you can definitely shop around to find something that suits you. Group outfits are possible but most people wear something that has the iconic Full Moon Party words or logo on it. I guess its something you do once in your life, you know.
  •  Stick-on Glitter (for the girls mostly)
  • Flip-Flops (I definitely was lucky to have my flip-flops still intact with me by sunrise, as I saw many flip-flops floating aimlessly on the shores , their owners having deserted / lost them hours ago)
  • Shoes (A hit-and-miss for me as I do not like the feeling of having wet shoes, oh trust me you’ll definitely have a moment where the seawaters suddenly creep on you and your poor footwear)

What to bring to the FMP

 
  • Phone (some people say its not important but I think its super important just to contact people in general, to meet up with your group again, just keep an eye on it and don’t get it stolen)
  • Waterproof pouch (for your phone if it rains)
  • Cash (I would say estimate your expenses based on my prices given above as everyone handles their drink differently), just not in excess I had 2 friends who’s purses got stolen, they had a debit card and THB 2000 worth of cash inside. Try to get your money changed to THB 500 and 100 notes this will make your life easier. 
  • A Photocopy of your passport (just to be safe!)
  • Small bag (optional) 
  • Not something to bring, but always remember to hydrate and I can’t emphasise this enough. People do get heatstrokes, even at night. 
 

Things not to bring to the FMP

  • Credit / Debit Cards (no one’s gonna be accepting cards anyway)
  • Passport & other important documents (these are fundamentals that you shouldn’t be bringing for any night out) 
  • Cameras 
  • Sunglasses (might be good in the evenings but I bet 100% you’ll lose it by the morning)
  • Do not go swimming while intoxicated, self-explanatory. Also, a lot of people tend to excrete waste products in the ocean during the FMP, you definitely don’t want to be swimming in that mess.  
  • Always keep a lookout for your own belongings as theft is known to occur 

Prices

200 THB for a bucket 

30-50 THB Street Food at FMP

50 THB entrance fee (I swear they enforce it only on the foreigners. I managed to get away as they thought I was Thai but all my friends had to pay the supposed “entrance fee” They give you a wristband but I’m sure there are other ways to get in as I saw plenty of people without the wristband)

100-200 THB per way Tuk Tuk Ride Fee

Jungle Party

The Jungle Party occurs the day before the Full Moon Party and is a tech-housey kind of event set deep in the jungle (as the name suggests). It is also pretty LED and psychedelic-themed, which makes it unique. You definitely have to take a TukTuk to the entrance due to its isolated nature. At one point, they played a little of RnB and Hip-Hop but they quickly changed back to Tech-house, which suited the environment I guess!

The Jungle Party is also more organised than the Full Moon Party as you have to purchase actual tickets to get in. These cost 500 THB each from what I remember. They have quite a wide elevated podium at the centre and the rest of the dance floor spreads out from there. At the peripheries you get some neon paint booths and your amenities like the toilets, which were surprisingly clean. 

There are also food and drinks stalls at the venue that provide well-needed food and energy after rounds of dancing. They have medical tents as well in case of emergencies and unfortunate events like falling onto sharp branches on the floor (it did occur, but of course not to me). 

I really liked the smaller nature of this party as it makes it easier to group with your friends and not lose each other. There was also enough space to dance which is always a comfort (who likes to be squeezing with tons of other people). It is also a good warm-up to the next night (FMP) so its highly recommended!

I’ve also heard of other parties like the Waterfall Party but I have not been to that so I cannot advise you on it! Apparently it legitimately takes place at a waterfall in the forest too…

Prices

 

  •  80000 Kip (12SGD) for a half-day zip lining tour!  Do remember that you can bargain with them!
  • If you package a deal with waterfall sightseeing & abseiling, it is 120000 Kip. 
  • This includes lunch. 
  • Pick-up from your hostel / hotel is included.

 

The Challenge Phangan

This water obstacle course was so fun! It was set in a lake in the middle of the island and comprised of various obstacles built around each other in the water. It makes for a good group adventure, albeit a challenging one. Now you can do your “Total Wipeout” with your friends! They even had a chill-out zone at the top with a cafe and yummy snacks, where you can relax while watching your friends complete the course. We even also saw various families here with their children!

I loved the safety aspect as they had English instructors to explain clearly the relevant procedures and safety steps before entering the obstacle course. Life jackets are not necessary unless you were not proficient in the water. There were also various lifeguards at different vantage points in the course to make sure that everyone was safe.

 

I would say that the hardest obstacle were the 3 red inflatable balls near the end of the course. Most people couldn’t get across and it was so entertaining just seeing them flop on one ball and back into the water. I can imagine that it was pretty tiring! The water in the lake was pretty warm and so quite comfortable I must say. 

Another thing that wore you out was climbing onto the ladder rungs continuously. Also, another major attraction here would be to lie on an inflatable called the Blob, while a professional jumper jumps off onto the other end of the Blob, propelling you 8 metres into the air. This one definitely took a lot of courage :[

Try to rent motorbikes to get here or TukTuk if needed. This course was indeed physically challenging. With various options to climb, jump and splash into the water, I guarantee that your group will definitely have lots of fun and good laughs at each other, not to mention a brilliant workout for the day! 

Important information

  • 500 THB for whole day’s worth of play
  • 100 THB for shakes
  • 200 THB for main dishes 
  • Minmum age: 10
  • Free Re-Entry
  • Do remember to reapply sunblock as its definitely going to be washed off after hours of playing.
  • Website: here
  • TripAdvisor link: here

Slip-N-Fly (literally) 

Located just outside Thong Sala among tall balmy palm trees , this little tropical paradise is a cute adventure that makes for a fun day out with your group, especially to cure your hangover after the Full Moon.  I did not manage to enter as I was short on time but it looked like a really chill place to spend a day with friends. 

There was house music playing and total beach vibes. Reviews also mention that the music is incredible, all tropical house vibes and totally suited for the occasion. There are also monthly parties that you can view on the website’s calendar. 

The main attraction would be the 2 giant slides that launches you 10 metres into the air,  a must for the adrenaline junkies. You can take it with your best pal to double the fun! For the experienced sliders, you can attempt advanced back-flips which make for awesome Instagram pictures! For the record, Slip-N-Fly also hires instructors who will safely coach you on the right way to land and slide, this is super important so please heed their advice! 

Besides the giant slides, there are other activities that you can partake in, including Pool Volleyball, Mud-Tug-of-Wars and other open swimming areas.  These are suitable for those who have acrophobia but still want to join in the fun! There are also plenty of sunbeds to lounge on should you feel like resting a bit. 

Also, please please please be careful when you slide down, do observe the proper techniques to slide, as the instructors will tell you , or your might get a big bruise if landing back down instead of going in with your hands or feet. And also, try to be sober when you slide, less chances of injury when you are clear-headed. 

 

Important infomation

  • Website: here
  • Price: THB 700 for a whole day
  • Opening hours: Check the website 
  • They don’t accept cards, only cash. 
  • TripAdvisor Review: here
  • Going solo is possible as it is super social and easy to make friends. 

Go to Secret Mountain (and have a secret view of the island)

Secret Mountain is located up a hill and there were absolutely no directions on Google Maps so you have to rely on crude signs and arrows pointing you in the right way. However, the views were just majestic and it was absolutely beautiful, complete with an infinity pool. I would recommend motorbiking up, if not you could take a taxi (though I wonder how it would get up as some parts were pretty steep even for my motorbike).  The best thing was the infinity pool, can you imagine viewing the sunset while in that pool with your friends?

 

 

There were also people chilling in the sun decks having casual conversations whilst sipping on their cocktails. It was really peaceful up here, it gave a feeling of solitude and maybe that was why its name came about? There was no loud music here, just the pool, a couple of sundecks, and the sunset on the horizon. 

 

Price: 10000 Kip for entry

 

 

Chill at the Beaches

koh Phangan has really beautiful beaches that are worth exploring! Most people head here just for the FMP but fail to explore the rest of the island and its such a pity! The island has plenty of beaches that were displayed on my hostel’s wall but I had to choose because of the lack of time. These are the 2 that I thought were worth going to. 

I went to Malibu Beach way up north of the island and it was so isolated, I got the entire white sand beach to myself. You definitely have to use a motorbike to get here. There were also some people doing windsurfing but the best part about this beach would be the fact that its located in a sheltered bay, thus creating a really cosy feel. You get a fantastic view of the nearby mountains of Koh Phangan as well. I would recommend this beach as a must for anyone traveling to Koh Phangan. .

The other beach that I found really relaxing was Haad Mae Head. This beach was pretty extensive though there were a fair number of visitors. I loved the little island of Koh Ma that you could visit via a sandbank. It makes for a good break from lounging on the beach. The waters here were also clear and made for a good snorkel! When the tide is low, you can go to explore the various rock pools and I had quite a lot of fun there.

 

 

Overall

Koh Phangan was a great end to my New Year’s trip and I met so many wonderful friends on Koh Tao, who went over with me for New Year’s at Koh Phangan. It was an incredible experience and I would definitely recommend visiting it for backpackers doing Thailand or families wanting a unique experience. Besides the famous monthly FMPs, the island has various other delights for you to enjoy and relax in for a couple of days. 

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