Koh Phangan Thailand is one of those coconut-trees-and-sandy-beaches island havens that the country is so famous for. This is an island that has it all: beautiful beaches; incredible corals; gushing waterfalls, and verdant vegetation. And, in the shape of the Full Moon Party, it also has a little something extra.
Mention the Full Moon Party to travelers, especially backpackers, anywhere in the world and a certain happy and nostalgic look tends to come across their eyes. Thai hedonism just about reaches its apogee at this (in)famous beach party that takes place every month during the full moon. Haad Rin Beach is the exact destination; oblivion through partying is the rough goal.
Started in 1985 by a tiny group of travelers, the Full Moon Party today is an extravaganza of color and vibrancy, in which somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 travelers and locals come together to celebrate the moon above. This isn’t really a hippie spiritual festival, but rather a pleasant excuse to let your hair down and bask in the glory that is Koh Phangan Thailand. Live DJs, flashing light installations, numerous bars, and plenty of painted faces line the beach for the Full Moon Party, with chatting, dancing, and drinking are always high on the list of priorities. It should also be mentioned that there’s a rampant drug culture associated with the event, though engaging in such activities comes with great risks considering the stringent Thai drug laws.
Away from the Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan is actually a pretty laid-back island and much less hell bent on living the party life 24/7 than its sister island, Koh Samui. Time spent here generally means time spent relaxing on the beach, ideally a deserted stretch that you’ve sought out having left the comfort of your Koh Phangan resort. Haad Rin is the catchall for tourists; travel only a few miles from there and you’ll find idyllic spots which are all the more marvelous for the lack of anyone to be seen along the stretches of their sands. If you don’t want to spend half a day walking around trying to find a cove, the beach of Ban Tai is always a good bet. Facing Koh Samui, this is the longest stretch of sand on Koh Phangan, and so it tends to prove a good bet if you’re looking for relatively quiet places to lay your towel and your body.
For those who like their vacation days to come a little more energetic than lying on a beach and watching the world go by, snorkeling and diving are popular activities on Koh Phangan Thailand. The water around the island is alive with coral and fish, and arranging a trip is never difficult thanks to the many operators to be found here. Inland, meanwhile, Koh Phangan boasts some dramatic waterfalls that offer great hiking and swimming opportunities.
In terms of reaching the island, most travelers arrive from Bangkok, which is about a five-hour coach ride away. There’s also a train that connects this beautiful tropical island with Thailand's capital.
Top image: travelourplanet.com (flickr)