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Overview

Ko Samui’s rebellious little sister maintains an image that’s distinctly her own. A half-hour boat ride north, Ko Pha-Ngan boasts the same stupendous scenery found on Ko Samui, minus the glitz. The lack of an airport and relative absence of good roads have so far spared it from package-tour development – you won’t find many jet-skis or top end resorts here. The view from the island’s most popular beach, Hat Rin, yields rows of rather ramshackle bungalows and colorfully-painted beach bars. Long-tail boats float alongside lazy swimmers in the clear green water. Despite the throngs that flock here on a daily basis, Ko Pha-Ngan remains a casual ...

Ko Samui’s rebellious little sister maintains an image that’s distinctly her own. A half-hour boat ride north, Ko Pha-Ngan boasts the same stupendous scenery found on Ko Samui, minus the glitz. The lack of an airport and relative absence of good roads have so far spared it from package-tour development – you won’t find many jet-skis or top end resorts here. The view from the island’s most popular beach, Hat Rin, yields rows of rather ramshackle bungalows and colorfully-painted beach bars. Long-tail boats float alongside lazy swimmers in the clear green water. Despite the throngs that flock here on a daily basis, Ko Pha-Ngan remains a casual island with a sort of hippy fun-loving vibe where backpackers still predominate. Days slide easily past – lounging in the sand, joining an afternoon game of pick-up volleyball or watching the latest flick on a big screen TV at an open-air restaurant. After Ko Samui became “too built up,” travellers seeking less commercialism and more isolation turned to Ko Pha-Ngan. Some say the time to see the island is long over – but the truth is tourists still arrive here by the boatload and seem to have a pretty great time upon setting foot in the sand. Those searching for a remote paradise can still find it on many of the island’s secluded beaches, where simple huts are the only accommodation and nights are passed in a make-your-own fun fashion. If you’re looking to party, as many coming to Ko Pha-Ngan are, head to Hat Rin, home of the legendary full moon parties.

Joe Cummings
About the Expert

Joe Cummings has contributed to more than 35 guidebooks, maps, atlases, phrasebooks and photographic works, including his bestselling Lonely Planet Thailand and Buddhist Stupas of Asia: The Shape of Perfection.

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Joe Cummings for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: An island in the Gulf of Thailand in South East Thailand
  • Language: Thai
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December to May (dry season)