The 35 Best Things to do in Koh Phangan

Best things to do in Koh Phangan

If you are planning a trip to Koh Phangan, then check out this list of fun things to do in Koh Phangan. You are sure to find something to add to your travel itinerary.

Visiting Koh Phangan is the highlight of a trip to Thailand for many travelers. Long considered the party island for its popular full moon parties, Koh Phangan has matured and now offers something for everyone.

It’s still the place to go for the full moon parties! But with so much more to see and do in Koh Phangan has developed into a leading travel destination and not just a side trip.

Beach lovers can hop between more than 30 lovely beaches. Sports fans can try out their skills at Muay Thai boxing. Adventure seekers will find jungles and rainforests to explore.

If you are one of the many people whose travels revolve around food, Koh Phangan will not disappoint. Take a cooking class for Thai or vegan cuisine. Sample the local Thai dishes on a food tour, and enjoy a cocktail with a view of the setting sun.

Promoting good health and wellness has long been a significant focus in Koh Phangan. You’ll find sanctuaries dedicated to yoga, meditation and Thai massage. 

Have fun getting fit in a Muay Thai boxing gym, hiking in the national parks or biking around the island.

Colorful fish are attracted to the coral reefs surrounding the island, creating a paradise for snorkeling, and tropical birds are drawn to the acres of dense jungle.

The 35 best things to do in Koh Phangan

1. Explore the Thong Sala Night Food Market

Best things to do in Koh Phangan: Food Market in Thong Sala

Local open-air markets are a popular way to visit a new place and hang out with the local people.

The most popular market in Koh Phangan is in the main town at the Thong Sala night food market, also called the Panthip market. It’s on the west side of the island, in front of the Thong Sala Pier.

The market is open daily, from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm. It’s a lively place with food vendors serving Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Khao Soi, fried chicken and lots of curries. You’ll even find stalls selling amazing deserts!

On Saturday nights, Thong Sala’s main street is closed to motorized traffic and transformed into a pedestrian-only street market. In addition to food, you’ll find a variety of clothes, souvenirs, jewelry and hand-crafted items. The Saturday market is open from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

2. Take a Self Lead Food Tour at the Phangan Food Court

Phangan food court, just a 10-minute walk from the Thong Sala pier, is open daily. Enjoy the sights and smells of all the Thai dishes as you wander through the many food stalls. Food tours are one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan.

Grab a few friends and make a list of local dishes to try while you are there. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Khao Phat – fried rice
  • Fried chicken feet
  • Pad Thai
  • Khao Soi
  • Barbecued fish
  • Sticky rice – usually made with coconut and with or without added fruit
  • Try all the flavorful curries
  • Tropical fruits
  • Dried squid
  • Papaya salad

3. Learn Thai Cooking

Cooking classes in Thailand are a popular way to explore the food and culture. Many classes begin with a trip to the local food market to shop for produce, returning to cook several dishes and enjoy what you’ve prepared.

Plan to spend 2-4 hours in a Thai cooking class on Koh Phangan and bring home your new Thai cooking skills as your souvenir.

Top 5 cooking classes worth checking out:

  • Muai’s Thai Traditional Cooking in Thong Sala
  • The Phangan Thai Cooking Class in Thong Sala
  • Proud Cooking Classes in Sri Thanu
  • My Wok and Me in Thong Sala
  • Grandma’s Kitchen in Haad Rin

Read also: Where to stay in Koh Phangan

4. Hike Khao Ra Mountain

At just over 627 meters, Khao Ra is the highest point on the island. Starting at Khao Ra Terrace and hiking up the mountain is 3.8 miles up and back.

Plan to spend about 3 hours total hiking. An entrance fee of 20 baht is payable at the Khao Ra Terrace location.

A few tips for the best hiking experience:

  • The hike travels through the jungle, so bring bug spray.
  • Start early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day.
  • Bring plenty of water, as there is nothing available at the top of the mountain.
  • This is a moderately challenging hike. Wear good shoes and no flip-flops.

5. Party Like a Rockstar at the Full Moon Party

Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan

Perhaps the most popular thing to do in Koh Phangan is the full moon party at Haad Rin Beach. Partygoers converge on this spot once a month for face painting, dancing, and drinking. Beachside bars sell cocktails in colorful plastic buckets with a straw.

Haad Rin Beach also provides a popular Instagram backdrop with its “I heart Koh Phangan” sign posted on the water’s edge.

Check the calendar for full moon nights and book your hotel early, as the area quickly fills up.

6. Party at the Half Moon Festival

If you missed the full moon party at Haad Rin Beach, fret not. The second best thing to do in Koh Phangan is to party at the half-moon festival.

The half-moon festival is a dance party rave held one week before and one week after the full moon. Consult your calendar for full moon dates.

It’s the second-largest party on Koh Phangan, with the full moon party coming in at the top spot. It takes place in a jungle clearing at 72/39 Ban Tai road.

7. Visit Than Sadet Koh Phangan National Park

Than Sadet National Park covers 15 square miles of protected land in the center of the island. The biggest attraction here is the stream that flows through the center, with a series of small waterfalls.

King Rama V visited here many times. Look for a large rock with his initials carved into it at the spot where the waterfall empties into the sea.

Admission to the national park is 100 baht.

8. Go Island Hopping at Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong

Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park encompasses an area of more than 40 small islands off the central coast of southern Thailand. This national park is only accessible by boat and with a tour guide.

Take a speed boat day trip hopping between the islands for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. Spending the day in Ang Thong National Marine Park promises to be a highlight and the most memorable thing to do in Koh Phangan.

>>> Book your trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park here <<<

9. Jungle Flight Adventure Park

For high flying zipline adventure, visit the Jungle Flight Adventure Park for an exciting activity. A series of nine ziplines and canopy walks take you through the park’s rainforest setting.

If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, there is also a fast-paced ATV off-road adventure. The ATV tour takes you to a secluded waterfall where you might see monkeys playing in the trees.

There is also a jungle walk option to see the local plants and trees and hear about the wildlife in the area.

10. Trek to Bottle Beach

Best things to do in Koh Phangan: Bottle Beach

Bottle Beach is a beautiful white sand beach with clear blue water secluded by mountains, jungle, and palm trees. It’s often referred to as the most beautiful beach on the island.

There are three ways to access this secluded beach. You can either take a longboat from the village of Chaloklum, trek through the jungle, or drive your motorbike through a rural trail.

It is also called Haad Khuad Beach, which means Bottle Beach in Thai. The hike starts where the paved road from Thong Nai Pan Noi ends. Look for a sign on the corner that says “Haad Khuad Resort.” That marks the beginning of the trek to Bottle Beach.

There are actually two hiking paths you can take. The shorter route is the path that leads to the right, marked by a sign that says “Bottle Beach Walk.” The path is about 2 km and will take an hour to walk.

The longer route is called the coastal route. It’s 2.5 km that will take about 2 hours to hike, with some great views along the coastline.

Both routes are strenuous hikes, and you need to be well-prepared. Wear good hiking shoes. Bring plenty of water and bug spray. You will be hiking through the jungle, so bug spray is a must!

Once you arrive, you will see four smaller resorts with restaurants, so you will have some place to eat.

There are taxi boats available to take you to either the   or Haad Khom Beach for about 150 baht.

11. Chase a Few Waterfalls

Koh Phangan is an island of many waterfalls. While you are here, why not spend a day searching for a few?

Top 5 waterfalls in Koh Phangan for adventurous explorers:

  • Than Sadet waterfall – Namtok Than Sadet National Park
  • Paradise waterfall – 20-minute walk south of Chaloklum beach
  • Phaeng waterfall – Than Sadet Koh Phangan Sok National Park
  • Namtok Wang Sai – 5-minute drive from Mae Haad beach
  • Than Praphat Waterfall – Half a mile from Haad Nam Tok beach

12. Find Some of Thailand’s Best Snorkeling

The water surrounding Koh Phangan is a snorkeler’s paradise. Long coral reefs attract brightly colored tropical fish. Many of the island’s beaches are rimmed by calm, clear, shallow water that’s perfect for snorkeling.

The top 5 beaches for snorkeling:

  • Haad Salad – Northwest part of the island
  • Koh Ma beach – Northwest part of the island
  • Haad Yao – Southeast part of the island
  • Haad Chao Pao – Western part of the island
  • Haad Khom – Northern part of the island

13. Join a Snorkel Boat Tour

Several tour operators on the island lead snorkel excursions to places only accessible by boat.

A typical boat tour will include snorkel equipment, a knowledgeable local guide, and sometimes snacks or lunch. You’ll see a large variety of colorful marine life, and you might get a chance to snorkel with a sea turtle.

Boat tours will typically depart from the Thong Sala pier.

14. Visit the Local Temples

Kuan Ying Temple

Explore the local culture with a visit to the temples, or wats, scattered around the island.

Here are some of the most beautiful temples in Koh Phangan:

  • Chinese Temple goddess of Mercy – A 5-minute drive from Chaloklum
  • Wat Pha Sang Tham – next to the Chinese Temple
  • Wat Rat Charoen – in Thong Sala town
  • Wat Phu Khao Noi – A 5-minute drive north of Wat Rat Charoen
  • Wat Khao Tam – Uphill from Thong Sala pier

When visiting a temple, be respectful and mind the rules:

  • Dress appropriately with knees and shoulders covered
  • Remove your shoes when entering the buildings
  • Be quiet
  • Don’t hug or kiss
  • Don’t point your feet to Buddha’s image
  • Don’t smoke

15. Attend a Temple Festival

There are over 20 temples, known as Wats, on the island of Koh Phangan. At any given time, at least one will be having a festival. If you are lucky enough to be staying in an area where the local temple is having a festival, join in!

Temple festivals generally last from 1 to 2 weeks. They are an important community event where the wat can raise funds, and Buddhist followers have a chance to gain merit.

Temple festivals may include music, traditional Thai dancers, parades, prayer and food. Check with the temple in your area for any festivals that may be happening during your stay.

16. Take Muay Thai Boxing Lessons

Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport, and you will find gyms scattered around the island offering lessons. If time permits, sign up for 1-2 weeks of daily lessons guaranteed to get you in shape. 

There are usually two sessions each day, and classes are available for everyone, from newcomers to advanced students.

17. Watch a Muay Thai Boxing Match

If participating in boxing is not for you, then you might prefer watching a Muay Thai match.

Watch Thai boxing matches at the Haad Rin Arena. Fight Night sessions are scheduled every Friday night during Thailand’s high season travel months. A typical session is 7 – 8 matches. 

Pickup trucks with loudspeakers roam the island announcing the fights on match day. While you are in Koh Phangan, just listen for the announcements.

18. Give the Digital Nomad Lifestyle a Try

Koh Phangan has become a top pick for nomadic ex-pats looking for an inexpensive place to work, while living in a tropical paradise. If you are thinking about trying out the nomadic lifestyle, take a trial run here.

A few steps from the Koh Phangan ferry terminal, Dot’s Cafe attracts digital nomads looking for a remote working location. You’ll see an international mix of digital nomads here sitting at tables, typing on their laptops and drinking coffee. This modern cafe is airy and well-lit, with fast Wi-Fi.

La Casa coworking space offers dedicated desk space for rent by the day, week or month. Working spaces are available indoors with air conditioning or outdoor with a sea view. La Casa has fast Wi-Fi and plenty of electrical outlets.

Another modern coworking space is available at the Remote & Digital Center at Sunset Hill. The center is up on a hillside, surrounded by trees, with an amazing view of the sea. 

The center occupies the rooftop at Sunset Hill resort. You’ll have fast Wi-Fi, a fully stocked bar, and food and coffee available while you work.

19. The Challenge Phangan

Think of this as an obstacle course on steroids. Participants are first challenged with paddling kayaks around floating obstacles. 

Next, you test your skills at rolling barrels, balance beams and navigating a series of great big red balls. There is also a zipline, stepping stones, and jungle gym. 

Purchase a day pass and challenge your friends.

20. Find Koh Phangans Pirate Beach

Legend has it, that this sheltered cove, with its jagged coral reefs and shallow water, was inaccessible by the Thai Navy. Pirates would come here to escape the reach of the navy.

The name, Haad Salad, translates to Pirate’s Beach. Nowadays, this is a calm, peaceful beach to hang out for some serious rest and relaxation. 

Bring your snorkel gear with you, as it’s a great place to search for underwater treasure in the form of colorful fish swimming around a coral reef.

21. Walk Across a Sandbar to Koh Ma Island

Koh Maa

A natural sandbar connects Mae Haad Beach to the tiny island of Koh Ma. Plan to spend half a day exploring the beach at Mae Haad and the island.

Koh Ma offers some of the best snorkeling in Koh Phangan, so be sure to bring your snorkel gear. There is no food service available here, so be sure to bring any snacks and drinks you may want.

22. Hang Out at a Popular Beach

Chaloklum Beach is on the island’s north side. The soft, powdery white sand is ringed by jagged mountains and swaying palm trees. The perfect spot for an Instagram selfie shot!

This is a popular beach with several restaurants serving local food and drinks.

23. Visit a Healing Sanctuary

On the west coast of Koh Phangan, the Orion Healing Center is a yoga retreat, detox center and vegan cafe. Orion Healing Center is also a center for Reiki healing and training to become a Reiki healer.

Yoga sessions are available daily for drop-ins. Yoga teacher training is also available.

Orion’s vegan cafe is open daily from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm with an extensive menu of fresh, locally sourced food. They also teach vegan cooking classes.

24. Get a Thai Massage

If there is one thing you simply must do in Koh Phangan, it is this. Get a Thai massage.

If this will be your first Thai massage, you are in for a pleasant surprise. This is not your average Swedish-style massage.

For a Thai massage, you will be given a set of loosely fitting clothes and remain clothed throughout the massage. 

You will be twisted and stretched in various positions similar to yoga stretches. The overall result is a better range of motion in your joints, increased flexibility and better all-around health.

The top 5 spas on the island offering Thai massage:

  • Kanda Massage – located in Thong Sala across from the pier
  • Revive Massage – In Srithanu, on the west side of the island
  • Orion Healing Center – large center offering a variety of treatments and classes
  • Anantara Koh Phangan Spa -Luxury hotel located on Tong Nai Pan Noi Beach
  • Tanaporn Massage House – In Thong Nai Pan on the island’s northeast side.

25. Have a Spa Treatment for Less Than $5

In an unassuming building by the side of the road in the small village of Baan Tai, you’ll find Koh Phangan’s best bargain. An herbal steam sauna for 150 baht.

The herbal sauna is at the Wat Pho temple complex and is run by the monks.

On one side of the road is the temple Wat Pho, with its statues. Across the road is the sauna and massage building. Look for the large red sign, “Wat Pho Herbal Steaming Massages & Sauna.” 

Inside the building are two small and very basic rooms. One is for men and the other for women. There are toilets and changing areas, with lockers and showers outside.

The fee for the sauna is 150 baht, which gives you the use of a locker and a sarong. Be sure to bring your own towel. The sauna involves two 10-minute sessions with a 5-minute break in between. You can also get a Thai massage at the center next door for just 300 baht!

The Wat Pho center is open daily from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm. This is not a luxurious spa. The facilities are pretty basic. It’s a great experience though and a story to share with your friends back home.

There is another herbal sauna in Baan Tai, in a lovely garden setting. The Baan Tai Herbal Sauna Center offers unlimited use of the sauna for 150 baht, with the option to book a massage for an additional charge as well.

Baan Tai Herbal Sauna is mixed with men and women, and you wear swimsuits in this one. Refreshments and fresh coconuts are available for purchase. Open daily from 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm

26. Have a Cocktail With a Spectacular Sunset View

On the western side of the island, the Amsterdam Bar is a great spot to relax and watch the sunset. Reggae music plays as patrons enjoy fruity frozen cocktails.

After the sun dips into the sea, the party kicks things up a notch. This is a popular spot, attracting an international crowd. If you are looking to meet some new friends, this is the place.

For another great view, head up the hill to the Three Sixty Bar. It’s on the north side of the island, looking out over Mae Haad beach. You can actually watch people making the trek over a sand bar from Mae Haad to Koh Ma Island.

27. Enjoy Yoga in a Tropical Paradise

Yoga in Koh Phangan

For many years, Koh Phangan has attracted visitors searching for health and healing in a minimalist lifestyle. Meditation retreats, yoga classes and adopting vegan eating are some of the healthy lifestyle changes that can be found on the island.

Most hotels will have a daily schedule for yoga on the beach or in an outdoor pavilion. Classes are available for every skill level, from beginners to advanced.

The top 5 Koh Phangan yoga centers include:

  • Wonderland Healing Center – 5 km north of Thong Sala
  • Ananda Yoga – At Hin Kong beach
  • Orion Healing Center – On the west coast
  • Pure Flow Yoga – Between Haad Yuan and Haad Thien bay
  • Siam Healing Center – Thong Sala

28. Shop for Yoga Gear

There is a small yoga shop near Pirate Beach on the western side of the island, where you’ll find yoga gear at good prices. The Koh Phangan Yoga Shop sells clothing, mats, towels, leggings, and more.

It’s a great spot to pick up supplies you may want to use while you are on the island, as well as items to take home with you.

29. Enjoy the Best Vegan Khao Soi in Koh Phangan

Vegan travelers will be glad to know that there are several excellent vegan restaurants on the island. Gone are the days when vegan cuisine was limited to a few bland pasta dishes on the back of a menu!

On the northwest side of the island, in Sri Thanu, Taste From Heaven serves amazing Thai and western style vegan dishes. Although Khao Soi is typically a northern Thailand dish, this southern Thai restaurant makes an excellent vegan Khao Soi.

Other noteworthy vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Koh Phangan include:

  • Orion Cafe – At the Orion Healing Center
  • Pure Vegan Heaven – near the Woktum marina
  • Karma Kafe – Sri Thanu
  • Eat.Co – Sri Thanu
  • Foods & Roots – Chaloklum Beach
  • Dosha – Srithanu community
  • Soul Organic – Near the Thong Sala pier

30. Shop at the Vegan Market

The Limpingpong vegan market is located in Thong Sala, just a 10-minute walk from the ferry pier. You’ll find fresh organic produce, plant-based products, spices and a large supply of kitchenware. 

Stock up on the foods you love to eat while you are here, and take home some Thai kitchenware as a reminder of your trip to Koh Phangan.

31. Play on the Best Beach for Kids

If you are traveling with children, you will love Secret Beach, also called Haad Son. Even if you aren’t traveling with kids, this beach is a great place to spend a relaxing day!

Located on the western side of the island, it’s 10 km from the main town of Thong Sala. It’s easily accessible by cab or motorbike.

The small bay here is turquoise blue water, a wide stretch of white sand, and palm trees. You’ll find a mixture of places to lay out in the sun or tuck into the shade. The sand has a gentle slope as it meets the water, making it a good spot for kids to swim.

This not-so-secret beach also has a bar and restaurant called Koh Raham, serving food and drinks.

32. Take an Island Bike Tour

Join a half-day tour of the island by bike. You’ll meet other adventurous travelers with the assistance of a knowledgeable local guide. Koh Phangan is a great island for biking, suitable for everyone.

The guide will point out key sites along the way, with plenty of stops. Most of the time, you will be riding on paved roads, but some tours will also include an excursion into the jungle on a packed dirt trail. 

The ride is not too challenging, though, as the roads are flat with little elevation climbing.

>>> Book your Koh Phangan Bike Tour here <<<

33. Explore the Jungle on an ATV

The jungles of Koh Phangan provide the perfect backdrop for adventure-seekers. A typical Koh Phangan ATV tour takes you into the jungle on dirt trails, entirely off the main roads.

A local guide who knows the area will lead the small group, but you will be fully in control of driving your own ATV. Depending on which tour you choose, they can last anywhere from 1.5 to 6 hours. Make your reservations early, as active tours like this sell out fast.

34. See the Coastline by Kayak

Get out on the water and enjoy the fantastic Koh Phangan coastline. Most of the major beaches have kayaks for rent by the hour. Spend some time exploring on your own or with a couple of friends.

Joining a kayak tour group is another great way to see the island from the water. With the help of a local guide, you can explore some of the out-of-the-way places you might otherwise miss.

35. Rent a Motorbike to Explore the Island

As you travel around the island of Koh Phangan, at some point, you might be interested in renting a motorbike. Motorbikes are a popular mode of transport for locals and visitors alike.

Travel by motorbike brings an air of freedom with it. You are no longer limited to the confines of walking or taking public transportation. However, if you have no previous experience riding a motorbike, Thailand might not be the best place to learn.

If you have previous experience, renting for a day is a fun way to navigate the island. The island’s perimeter is about 25 miles, and it is possible to make it around the whole island in less than a day.

For motorbike rental recommendations, ask at the front desk of your hotel. They generally have a list of vendors they trust.

Photos: Shutterstock

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