As Koh Samui has gradually succumbed to mainstream tourism, Koh Phangan remains the most popular backpackers’ island in the Gulf of Thailand. Covering around 190 sq km, its mountainous terrain is covered in dense jungle, with granite outcrops scattered around the coast. There are plenty of nice beaches, many in small, picturesque bays. Most of the island’s amenities are found in around the town of Thong Sala and the two Haad Rin beaches.
It was not until the inauguration of the island’s infamous ‘Full Moon’ parties in the 1980s that travellers began arriving in large numbers. Clubbers and ravers stayed on, earning Koh Phangan its reputation as the ‘Ibiza of the Orient’ but there is also a well established alternative scene, with Tai Chi, meditation, open-air yoga and other New Age pursuits. Most of these activities are centred on the Haad Rin beaches on the southeast coast.
|Sail Rock Divers|
Koh Phangan, like Koh Samui, is an ideal departure point for sites in the Ang Thong Marine National Park, the Samran Pinnacles and Sail Rock. But, as they are nearer, divers benefit from shorter journey times and being first to arrive at the sites. It also exclusively opens up night diving opportunities at Sail Rock! Two-day excursions run to the sites around Koh Tao. It takes about 3hrs to reach Koh Tao’s southern sites.
Visibility around Koh Phangan averages only about four metres; the highest expectancy is 25m. Marine life around the reefs is fair, particularly with small-medium sized fish, but sites are seldom visited by large pelagics. There are occasional sightings of small juvenile reef sharks, turtles and stingrays.