With all of the things to do in Koh Phangan, it’s nothing short of paradisiacal. Its golden beaches and turquoise water are rivaled in beauty only by its own towering palms and lush jungle. The island sits in the Gulf of Thailand and thrums with energy 24/7. There are numerous incredible places to visit in Thailand, but make sure you put this island on your list.
From the bustling streets lined with food stalls to the serenity of secret beaches, there is an endless list of things to do in Koh Phangan, but here are my top 21.
1. Experience The Full Moon Party
Ok, so my first one isn’t unique, but the rest are!
Let’s start with the most obvious and popular thing to do in Koh Phangan. The majority of people who go to Koh Phangan do so for the Full Moon Party. The party takes place on Haad Rin Beach every month and brings in around 30,000 party-goers. To get the full experience, cover yourself in UV paint, drink alcohol from a bucket, and party until sunrise. If you’re into parties, this is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Thailand.
- Where: Haad Rin Beach
- When: Every full moon
- How: Stay in one of the many accommodations near Haad Rin Beach and then walk to the party with the other neon ravers
- Cost: The party is free so just budget for however much alcohol and paint you want to buy
2. Go Diving at Sail Rock
Sail Rock is without a doubt the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand. The rock is about an hour’s boat ride from Koh Phangan and suitable for divers of all levels. Star players at this dive site include manta rays, barracuda and whale sharks.
- Where: Sail Rock, situated between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
- When: Year-round but the best diving conditions are from April – October
- How: Book a diving tour from one of the reputable dive schools on the island
- Cost: 2000 – 2500 Baht ($70-80USD)
☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Bangkok – Top 13 Awesome Things You Won’t Want to Miss
3. Gorge On Thai Food in The Thong Sala Night Market
The energy in the Thong Sala Night Market alone makes it one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan. But, that’s not why you go. From steaming bowls of pad thai to fresh falafel slathered in hummus, the night market is a foodie paradise. There are so many incredible foods to try in Thailand, with markets usually offering the best.
- Where: Thong Sala ($4 in a cab from Haad Rin)
- When: Every night
- How: Just rock up with an empty stomach and order anything that takes your fancy
- Cost: 150 Baht ($5) for dinner and a beer
4. Hike Up Khao Ra (one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan)
I bet you didn’t think you’d be hiking on this party island, did you? If you’ve done your packing properly and have what you need to hike in comfort, this trip is well worth doing. The round trip up and down takes around 3 hours depending on your pace and it is a pretty easy climb – you don’t need a guide. While the path is well-maintained, it’s not marked very well. There are a few intersections where you’ll be unsure of which way to go, but after about 100m, you’ll see a sign…you might have to backtrack a couple of times. Click here for more details.
- Where: In the North of the island
- When: Either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat
- How: Start at Khao Ra Retreat and Guesthouse and follow the path from there
- Cost: Free
5. Get Wet at Challenge Phangan
Have you ever watched Total Wipeout on TV and wished you could do it? Well, since this is one of the things to do in Koh Phangan, you can! This water-based obstacle course is so much fun and will have you in stitches as you bounce, flip, and faceplant into the water. Grab some friends and enjoy. Click here to learn more.
- Where: 84/32 Moo 8 Shritanu Koh Phangan
- When: Every day 10am – 6pm
- How: Hop in a cab, they’ll know where to go
- Cost: 500 Baht ($15)
6. Go To The Half Moon Party
If you aren’t going to be in Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party but still want some UV rave action, this will sort you out. The Half Moon Party takes place in a huge open-air venue and has three music stages: psytrance, house and hip-hop. The festival doesn’t book big names and has a maximum capacity of around 4,000, making it much more low-key than the Full Moon Party.
- Where: In the forest, north of Baan Tai
- When: One week before and one week after the Full Moon Party (every half moon)
- How: Every taxi on the island will know how to get there
- Cost: 1,500 Baht ($45) at the door
7. Enjoy The Sunset From Secret Mountain
Sitting atop a steep hill is Secret Mountain, a local restaurant with unparalleled views. People tend to head up here in the late afternoon to eat and drink while they watch the sun set over the horizon. From way up there, you get panoramic vistas over the island and you can even see the Ang Thong Islands rising up out of the water. This is one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan at the end of the day.
- Where: 42/3 Baan Nai Suan, Moo 2. Click here for more.
- When: Every day just before sunset
- How: Either drive to the top of the hill or hike if you’re feeling energetic
- Cost: 50 Baht ($1.50) to use the pool, 500 Baht ($15) for food and drinks
8. Eat Some Israeli Food at Paprika
Israeli food might not be the first thing you want to eat when you get to Thailand, but if you need a break from pad thai, Paprika has some of the finest culinary offerings on the island. The food is fresh, delicious, and cheap; and the portion sizes are more than sufficient even for a big eater like myself.
- Where: Moo 6, Haad Rin
- When: Every day 11am-11pm
- How: Walk there from your accommodation in Haad Rin or get a cab
- Cost: 300 Baht ($10) for food and drinks
9. Explore The Ang Thong National Park
If you want adventure and activity, put Ang Thong National Park at the top of your list of things to do in Koh Phangan. The park comprises huge green islands that loom dramatically over the water. Housing secret caves that can be explored by kayak or simply by swimming, the park makes for a seriously cool experience.
- Where: In the Gulf of Thailand between Koh Phangan and Koh Samui
- When: Year-round or April – October for the best weather conditions
- How: Boat tour
- Cost: 1800 Baht ($55) for a speedboat tour
☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Chiang Mai – A List of The Top 17 Best
10. Kayak Around The Island
If you are the kind of person who likes to explore solo, as opposed to in a tour group, then grab yourself a kayak and start paddling. Most beaches have kayaks for hire but find out what the currents at that beach are like before you commit. Wok Tum to Koh Ma along the west coast generally has calm water as well as pristine hidden beaches to which you can paddle. Always heed the advice of locals before setting off, and ensure you have proper safety equipment on board (life jacket, water, etc.)
- Where: Anywhere, but Wok Tum to Koh Ma is a good bet.
- When: Whenever you want
- How: Go to the beach and hire a kayak
- Cost: 150 Baht ($5) per hour
11. Trek to Bottle Beach
Conde Nast Traveller called this beach the best in Koh Phangan and I have to say I agree. The trek through the jungle is challenging and you will seriously regret it if you don’t lather yourself in bug spray beforehand, but it will all be worth it when you get there.
Altogether, it will take you about an hour and a half to complete the trek from Coconut Beach to Bottle Beach. This was probably one of my favourite things to do in Koh Phangan!
- Where: The island’s North Coast
- When: Year-round but avoid November as this is when the rain is heaviest
- How: Go to Chalok Lam and then carry on to Coconut Beach. From there just follow the path all the way to Bottle Beach.
- Cost: Free
☞ SEE ALSO: Backpacking Thailand – The Ultimate Travel Guide
12. Learn How To Cook Thai Food
Want to impress your friends at your next dinner party? Learn to make Thai food. Seriously, it works. There are Thai cooking classes on offer all over the island. Most will teach you all about the ingredients you are using, before letting you loose in the kitchen. Best of all, you get to eat everything you make at the end.
- Where: All over the island – ask people in your hostel or use TripAdvisor for recommendations
- When: Anytime
- How: Most classes allow you to sign up the day before
- Cost: 1500 Baht/$45 for a half-day class
13. Hire a Motorbike and Explore The Island
Most people who hire motorbikes on Koh Phangan will live to tell the tale. However, there are some idiots who think wearing a helmet is uncool and speeding around corners is fun. These people get injured. Do not be one of these people. If you’re safe and you drive sensibly, hiring a motorbike will be one of the best things you do in Koh Phangan. It gives you the freedom to explore at your leisure and stop whenever you see something interesting.
- Where: There are rental places all over the island
- When: Year-round
- How: Hiring a motorbike is easy but you may need to hand over your passport as a deposit. Make sure you take photos of the bike before you ride it in case they try to blame you for any dings the vehicle already had. Don’t ride without insurance either.
- Cost: 150 Baht/$5 per day
14. Detox at The Yoga Retreat
After running around the island, taking in all the things to do in Koh Phangan, a detox is very much in order. The Yoga Retreat is hidden away in the jungle and offers retreats ranging from a week to a whole month. During your retreat, you will spend hours meditating, doing yoga, and feasting on vegan cuisine. If you don’t have time for a full-blown retreat, the Yoga Retreat also offers drop-in yoga classes.
- Where: In the jungle, ten minutes from Haad Salad Beach
- When: Every day
- How: Taxis are your best option
- Cost: 300 Baht/ $9 for a drop in class
☞ SEE ALSO: Top 10 Foods To Try in Thailand
15. Relax in The Baan Tai Herbal Sauna
If you went a bit too hard at the Full Moon Party, you can get all of those toxins out of your body by sweating for an hour or two in the herbal sauna. They also do massages here if you want a bit of extra pampering.
While most think the only things to do in Koh Phangan involve partying to some degree, Koh Phangan also offers tons of ways to relax and is actually a popular place for retreats.
- Where: Wat Pho Temple, Baan Tai
- When: Every day from 2pm-9pm
- How: Taxi
- Cost: 100 Baht/ $3
16. Feast On Seafood at Milky Bay
Where better to feast on seafood than on a tropical island? Situated on the edge of a white sand beach and boasting a pool looking out over the sea, this is the very definition of food with a view. Milky Bay is perfect for peaceful dining in the glorious sunshine, and is one of the best restaurants on the island.
- Where: Baan Tai
- When: Every day
- How: Taxi
- Cost: 500 Baht/$15 for food and a drink
17. Get a Massage
What better way to nurse your post-Full Moon Party hangover than by being kneaded like dough by a deceptively strong Thai woman? Prepare yourself, these massages are hardcore and at points, you feel like you’re being folded up like origami. But, the pain is worth it for the light and limber feeling you get afterwards.
This isn’t just one of the top things to do in Koh Phangan, it’s one of the best things to do in Thailand in general! Don’t leave without getting one.
- Where: All over the island
- When: Anytime
- How: No need to book for most places, just walk in
- Cost: 300-1500 Baht/$10-45 for an hour depending on the quality of the establishment (street masseurs will charge a lot less than those in proper salons)
18. Meditate With Phra Olarn
Experiencing mindfulness and connecting with yourself on a deeper level can really make a difference to the state of your mental health. Phra Olarn uses special breathing techniques and walking meditation to enhance wellness and peace of mind. Whether you’ve meditated before or not, this is definitely worth trying out.
- Where: Wat Samai Kongkha
- When: Every day
- How: Taxi or walk from Salad Beach
- Cost: 30,000 Baht/$930 for a 7 day mindfulness retreat
19. Sunbathe On Thong Nai Pan Beach
Thong Nai Pan is exactly what you would expect a beach on a Thai island to look like. Pearly white sand, lush, swaying palms, and turquoise water that glimmers under endless sunshine. Grab yourself an ice-cold drink and while away the hours as you get your tan on.
- Where: On the Northeast Coast
- When: Every day
- How: Stay in Panburi Village and go from there
- Cost: Free
20. Snorkel At Mae Haad Beach
Snorkelling is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Koh Phangan. There’s a lot going on in the water around the island and lucky snorkellers will have the chance to admire tropical fish, coral, rays and other marine wildlife.
- Where: North Coast
- When: During daylight hours, every day
- How: Either bring your own snorkel gear or hire it on the island
- Cost: 100 baht/$3 per hour
21. Take a Day Trip To Koh Tao
Think you’ve done all the things to do in Koh Phangan? Hop in a boat and head off to neighbouring Koh Tao (Turtle Island). Smaller and quieter than Koh Phangan, Koh Tao is great for chilling out. It also offers some world-class scuba diving, and affordable PADI certifications. If you’re into diving, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Koh Phangan.
- Where: North of Koh Phangan
- When: Year-round
- How: There are boats that leave regularly throughout the day from Haad Rin and Thong Sala piers
- Cost: 400 Baht/ $12
Bonus! See The Waterfalls
Tired of the gorgeous sea? Koh Phangan is home to numerous cascading waterfalls, but make sure you check out Paradise Falls, Phaeng Falls and Than Sadet, which is an important site for Thai people due to the inscriptions left on the rocks by King Rama VI.
Ready for Koh Phangan?
Touching down in Thailand for the first time is an experience unlike any other. From the second you leave the airport in Bangkok, you are swept up in a cacophony of color and noise. It is exciting and new but also a little overwhelming. Koh Phangan offers some respite from the 24/7 chaos of the capital.
Koh Phangan may be buzzing with energy, but it also has peaceful enclaves where you can escape the world for a moment. It offers a mixture of natural beauty and adventure opportunities and combines serenity with adrenaline. It’s a curious and unique place that you’ll just have to discover for yourself to truly understand.
Goats On The Road Recommended Resources
For Koh Phangan, Thailand
✓ There are so many adventurous things to do in Koh Phangan. It’s important to make sure you have adequate travel insurance before embarking on any trip, but especially one where you’ll be partaking in outdoor activities such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking, hiking, etc.. World Nomads covers almost all adventurous activities that you can think of. Click here to get a free quote and learn more about this popular travel insurance.
✓ We recommend purchasing eco-friendly products for your stay in Koh Phangan. We’re personally trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that we use, and encourage you to do the same during your travels.
To avoid purchasing plastic water bottles while in Koh Phangan, consider buying a water bottle with a built-in filter such as LifeStraw or GrayL, or get yourself a Steri-Pen. In terms of utensils, this bamboo set is great for picnics on the beach, while these glass or metal straws are perfect for cocktails, fruit juices or a glass of water. Say no to straws and plastic utensils, bring your own.
✓ There are numerous affordable places to stay in Koh Phangan. Goats On The Road uses and recommends Booking.com due to their excellent prices, and cancellation options. We also frequently use Airbnb when we want to book a short-term apartment. Click here to search for accommodation in Koh Phangan on Booking.com, and click here to sign up with Airbnb (you’ll receive a free $35 credit!).
Top Hotels, Hostels & B&B’s in Koh Phangan
Moonstone Studio – rated “Superb” 9.1/10. If you’re looking to stay on the gorgeous Haad Rin Beach (which is also the venue for the Full Moon Party), then check out this accommodation. Just a 3 minute walk brings you the beach, while the property itself is surrounded by palm trees and offers sea views. The studios offer guests a refrigerator and a kettle, plus the rooms have air-conditioning, a TV and a balcony. If you want to be in the action, this is a good bet. Studios go for around $35/night in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this accommodation.
Alcove Bungalow – rated “Superb” 9.0/10. This property is located on the west coast of Koh Phangan. Although it’s in a bit more secluded area, there are bicycles and motorbikes for rent, day trips can be arranged, and you’ll find water sports like snorkelling and SUP. There’s also an onsite restaurant serving Thai and French cuisine. The bungalows here are tastefully decorated and offer air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms. Double bungalows go for around $35/night in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this accommodation.
Castaway Beach Bungalows – rated “Superb” 9.2/10. If you’re looking for a chilled out place to stay, which is located right on the sand, then check out these beach bungalows! The wooden bungalows offer amazing views, 4-poster bed, a fridge, a balcony and a hammock. Next door you’ll find a funky beach bar – great for meeting other travellers. Double bungalows start from $60/night in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this bungalow.
Le Divine Comedie Beach Resort – rated “Superb” 9.0/10. Located just 8 kilometers from Haad Rin Beach, this property offers affordable luxury. There’s an outdoor infinity pool and an onsite restaurant serving up Thai and Burmese food. Each of the rooms are uniquely designed and offer private balconies, air-conditioning and a minibar. Deluxe Double Rooms start at around $45 – $60/night in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this accommodation.
Panviman Koh Phangan – rated “Superb” 9.1/10. This place is something out of a dream! For around $100/night, you can enjoy this luxurious retreat overlooking Thong Nai Pan. There’s a spa, infinity pool and 2 beachfront restaurants. The modern, superior double rooms offer a sea view, private balcony, air-conditioning and much more. Double rooms start at around $100/night. Click here to learn more and book this accommodation.