About Koh Phangan
Where is Koh Phangan?
Koh Phangan is located in Jangwat (province) Suratthani in the Southern Gulf of Thailand and is part of the group of islands that make up the Samui Archipelago; a group of over 40 islands fashioned in granite from age old igneous formations. The provincial capital is also called Suratthani and acts as the main overland transport hub for the islands. Koh Phangan is 70kms from the mainland and approximately 12kms away from Koh Samui which acts as the main air-link to Koh Phangan.
History & Facts
Koh Phangan has always been a beautiful and spiritual place for the Thai people, it has been visited by no less than four Kings of Thailand; with the Great Rama V coming over 10 times, leaving his royal seal engraved on a rock at Thaan Sadet Waterfall; and the current King Bhumibol following in his footsteps. The island was uninhabited until about 600 years ago when passing monks realised its tranquillity and spiritual importance and settled in Wat Phu Khao Noi just outside Thongsala. It is Thailand’s fifth biggest island and has an area of 167km2, thus over 90% of Phangan is unspoilt tropical forest; and due to its granite structure, there are several small mountains where it’s possible to trek and even camp. There is an abundance of wildlife from monkeys to birds of paradise and then there is the amazing underwater world that surrounds Koh Phangan; with over 10kms of vibrant coral and 20 local dive sites. And if you have any energy after that, there is the nightlife that the island became internationally famous for, with the globally renowned Full Moon Party and weekly outdoor events in jungle and beachfront venues; not forgetting the daily session that goes off in Haad Rin.
Koh Phangan has been officially designated as a zone for eco-tourism, so if you are planning to visit make sure that you join in. There are plenty of activities such as doing a local trek up the highest mountain or beach hopping along the east coast – check out the trekking section. For those that need a bit more speed pick up a mountain bike for around 100 Baht per day.
Generally speaking when you are out and about it is always wise to have a wad of cash handy as most places still don’t take cards. If you have plastic or travellers cheques, there are plenty of places to get cash; the main towns of Thongsala and Haad Rin have the best selection of exchange booths and banks, who all offer similar rates. Most towns have ATMs and there are a few 7-Eleven’s, supermarkets and resorts with them.
Koh Phangan has tons of internet shops dotted around the island which are either independent or inside the hotel; the old dial-up modems are a thing of the past as most shops now have ADSL broadband services. For those of you with a laptop, tablet or smartphone, you will find fairly good wireless network coverage around Koh Phangan and Samui. Most coffee shops and restaurants will provide a free connection for paying customers.
The main post office in Thongsala is open from 8.30am until 4.30pm Monday to Friday, from 8.30am until 12.00pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday. There is a sub-branch based in Haad Rin. Both branches will be closed during public holidays.
Koh Phangan Tourist Police have a permanent office in Thongsala between the Raja Ferry and Songserm piers, where there are English speaking officers ready to help you in any case. If you need assistance at the Full Moon Party there is a temporary office in Haad Rin near Tommy Resort and you will also find volunteers patrolling the beach. For more information telephone the hotline on 1155 or the Samui Office on 077 430018.
Koh Phangan also has a rescue service kindly run by a group of volunteers to help in any kind of medical emergency. The staff are trained at the Narenthorn EMS Center to be skilled in dealing with common life threatening events, such as motorbike accidents. In the unfortunate circumstance that there is a fatality the Rescue service will help by providing support and guidance, contact friends and family, while also dealing with the police and hospital. The service is free and open 24 hours a day, entirely run on donation any kind of offering is wholeheartedly appreciated. Contact the Rescue service on 077 377500.