The island of Koh Pha Ngan, off the east coast of Thailand, is famous worldwide for its full moon parties which bring in up to 30,000 party goers on a party night. But what else does Koh Pha Ngan have to offer?
Our first stop was at a beach called Haad Yao. Located on the north west coast of the island, it is said that the beaches along this coast heading north are the prettiest. A long beach of golden sand, gently curving and dotted with bungalows, restaurants and a few resorts. We booked a few nights at Shiralea Backpackers Resort, which was a 3 minute walk from the beach. Shiralea is made up of 3 standards of bungalows with a dormitory near reception. They have most facilities such as a swimming pool, bar, restaurant, pool table, massage hut, etc. We had a mid-range bungalow, set at the back of the grounds, at a cost of THB 700 a night (about £17). The bungalow had 2 king size beds, so if you are travelling in a group of 4 and don’t mind sharing beds, this is a steal.
The feel of Shiralea Backpackers Resort is pretty much of ………. backpackers. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but bear in mind that we were the oldest people there apart from the owners of the resort. Shiralea hosts a tour group about twice a week who descend upon the place with excitement, vigour and the livers of 18 – 24 year olds. Of an evening, the tour group get together in the bar for drinks and giggles. One night we went down to the bar for drinks before dinner. There is an old bell hanging from the bar, which when rung, the ‘ringer’ buys a shot for everyone in the bar. Andy and I happened to be sat at the bar and were presented with shots about every 10 – 15 minutes! Next thing you know, it’s closing time, we didn’t make it out for dinner and I ended up head first in a bush about 2 meters away from our front door!
A 20 minute walk north from Haad Yao is a gorgeous little beach called Haad Salad. Even prettier than Haad Yao, the beach is lined with palm trees, cute bungalows, a few resorts, restaurants and a couple of bars. We decided to book a few nights at this beach and were thrilled to find Haad Salad Villa which has beachside bungalows of varying prices. We had a garden view bungalow, just 30 meters from the beach, for THB 450 a night (£11!) which had a fridge, air con and balcony with hammock and chairs. Bargain. They also had a massage hut where I had one of the best massages ever. This beach is a great setting for sitting on the sand whilst watching the sunset.
We wanted to explore the island and we usually do so by hiring a moped. The majority of roads on Koh Pha Ngan are now paved so it is easier to get around. The moped rental companies on the island ask for your passport for the duration of your rental and unfortunately, we have been told that there are at scams on the island whereby you will be told there is some damage to the bike caused by you and your passport will be kept until you pay up. Not being in a position to pay a ridiculous fine or have our passports confiscated, we decided against renting a moped.
A little further north from Haad Salad is a beach called Mae Haad which has the island of Koh Ma attached to it by a sandbar. We hopped into a taxi to get here which was pretty cheap. The beach has a few bungalows and restaurants along it but there was a fair bit of building going on so it seems there will be much more accommodation available within the next year. The tide was out whilst we were here so the water was pretty shallow for the first 40 metres or so but once you waded out, the floor dropped off a little and there were lots of people snorkelling. The three beaches mentioned so far are all bordered by a long coral reef so they each offer snorkelling opportunities straight off the beach.
This trip to Koh Pha Ngan was pretty chilled and we had many ‘lazy’ days just enjoying the beaches where the most difficult decision we would have to make each day is ‘where shall we go for dinner?’ The island does offer various other activities for those of you who feel the need to be entertained, some of which are listed below:
- Ang Thong Marine Park (we had dodgy weather and at about £50 per person for the day, we decided against it this time)
- various scuba diving and organised snorkelling trips
- Slip N Fly (water based assault course)
- Full Moon Parties (when there is a full moon!)