Before going to Koh Phangan I had some prejudices. I dreaded to discover an island full of Western tourists waving their smartphones in front of DJs broadcasting bad taste music, a kind of Thai Ibiza. I imagined a nice and underground concept at the base, having derived in mass tourism.
So I was pleasantly surprised by an island that has many assets.
I had the chance to make my stay at the end of September. This is an ideal period because it is the low season which means a low low attendance. This is all the better as the island is relatively small and covered with particularly difficult roads, all turns and ribs followed by steep slopes.
A heavenly nature
What particularly appealed to me about Koh Phangan are its beaches. They are cleaned daily and their clear sand contrasts nicely with the turquoise and green water. It is a Thai peculiarity that detonates with the dirt of European beaches. This is not limited to the beach and everyone seems to understand the interest of not polluting this paradise environment. The color of the water comes from the green jungle that extends to the beaches with tall palms and other exotic plants. The sea is flat, warm and you can sneak up pleasantly while having foot long distances. Some establishments have their terrace overlooking the beach, or even chairs and tables, directly on the sand.
On the western beaches of the island the sunsets are splendid. Of course it depends on the weather. At this time is the rainy season. In this regard the rain is rather rare but sometimes very intense. This is a factor to consider if you venture on foot or two wheels in the land. The interior of the island is indeed superb. The island is not yet disfigured by concrete as I feared. It consists mainly of jungle on a very rugged terrain. Buildings are usually designed to fit the landscape with taste. This is for example the case of the Amsterdam Café or the Achipada view point bar, which offer magnificent panoramas with their terraces with breathtaking views. These are nice places to have a drink at the end of the day before sunset.
A predominantly western population
For the westerners with homesickness, Koh Phangan is a destination of choice. The island is indeed a farang territory, with a large majority of bars and restaurants run by foreigners, especially Russian. The Thais seem outnumbered on the island, at least this season. If a lot of them come back (to work) when the season is more busy, I guess the ratio is pretty much the same. If the idea seems to me uninteresting, in the experience I rather appreciated. It is paradoxical because in Chiang Mai I flee farangs. But the tourists from Koh Phangan, at least at that time, seemed to me more “local” than those in Chiang Mai. It seems that a good part are long-term tourists or expats.
Some good addresses
Among my favorite addresses: the Multi House, a perfect café for breakfast and a delicious Greek restaurant, Sirtaki Taverna. I also had a great time at the bar Haad Yao Spring, with its terrace on the beach and his very friendly boss!
For leisure, I was delighted by the quality of the massages provided at Ratatouille. It is located on the beach of Haad Yao and it is a real pleasure to be massaged with the surf waves as background noise. The masseuses, I tested two, were particularly effective, much more than what I experienced on Chiang Mai and its surroundings so far.
I also cracked on the Dome Sauna: a particularly pleasant hammam. This venue opens in the evening and the night I was there a singer was accompanied by two musicians for a short session of “mystical music”, all that with projections on the rocks and everyone wisely lying to listen to a rather relaxing new-age sound.
About “party”, I went to a party on a beach. The place, the audience and the music were at the top. No stupid whistling during the set, no smombies (smartphone / zombies), no drunk tourists who ruin the decor. Good sound in an idyllic setting. Again it was 100% farang, but once again, despite my rejection of the West in Asia, it did not bother me.
In general, I really enjoyed Koh Phangan. Information taken, the island is nice 3 or 4 months a year: September, October, April, May. The rest of the time it’s a bit of a hustle and bustle.
I will come back with pleasure for a little longer. I learned about the possibilities of working on site. The only constraint seems to be that during the rainy season power and internet cuts are regular. Aside from that, even though the cost of living is significantly higher than in Chiang Mai, I suppose that the pleasant surroundings, the proximity of the beach and the calm make it possible to compensate in productivity the surplus of expenses.