Info Ko Pha Ngan
Ko Pha Ngan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand in Surat Thani Province. It is part of the Samui Archipelago. It is famous for its Full Moon Party at Haad Rin Beachand as a backpacker destination. Ko Pha Ngan has two sister islands: the larger Ko Samui to the south and the smaller Ko Tao to the north.
- Estimated perimeter: 40 km (estimate—10 hr average walking time)
- From mainland: about 55 km
- From Ko Samui: about 15 km
- From Ko Tao: about 35 km
- Main town: Thong Sala
- Highest Point: Khao Ra, 630 m
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|AREA :||125 km2 (48 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||9°43′0″N 100°0′0″E|
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Ko Pha Ngan (เกาะพะง้น, pronounced KOH pa-nGan with G as in mango) is an island off the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand and forms part of the Chumphon Archipelago. Halfway between the islands of Ko Samuiand Ko Tao, it is known as a land of coconut trees and the world-(in)famous Full Moon Party that have placed the island firmly on the Banana Pancake Trail.
- Thong Sala — The island's "capital" and main ferry port.
- Ao Nai Wok — A quiet bay with a long white sandbar in front of it. It is the first bay to the north of Thong Sala (just 7 min walk) and one of the best areas for sailing, windsurfing or kayaking. This is due to its orientation to the wind all year long and the proximity of the two wild little islands, Ko Tae Nai and Ko Tae Nok (approximately 10 min paddling in a kayak to Tae Nai)
- Sri Thanu — A volcanic peninsula to the south of Haad Son and Haad Yao with bays and beaches.
- Haad Son — A beautiful bay with a beach.
- Haad Chao Phao — A small quiet beach on the western shore of Ko Pha Ngan. It has some resorts and bungalows offering budget rooms with full facilities. Has several beach bars and restaurants where you can have dinner and drink while the sun is setting. To go there from the main pier by taxi takes around 15 min and 20 min by motorbike. If you need a real escape, here it is. Also has a Moon Set Party at the Pirate Bar. The party is arranged regularly a few days before the Full Moon Party.
- Haad Yao — A long white sandy beach just north of Haad Chao Phao, slightly more developed with more beach bars, a 7-Eleven, ATMs, and restaurants, but clean nice sea and snorkelling further from the beach with accommodations from 150 baht. Maybe the best beach on the west coast.
- Haad Salad — An idyllic cove with several high-end resorts on the northwest corner of the island.
- Haad Mae Haad — Wide sandy beach joined to Ko Maa, a national marine park, by a sand spit. Has some of the best diving and snorkelling on Pha Ngan. There is a small village and a variety of resorts, restaurants, and bars. Nice snorkelling: you'll need to go over the first, dead reef to see the coral. Make sure you get in and out during high tide as crossing the dead reef when the tide is receding can be difficult and painful. Not much else to do but snorkel here.
- Thonglang Bay — Between Chalok Lam and Haad Mae Haad, this almost undiscovered bay offers a delightful and peaceful escape from the crowds.
- Chalok Lam — Fishing village with a picturesque beach in a long beautiful sandy bay at the northern tip of the island. Not touristy because of few boats making the trip, and the western part of the bay has some of the most beautiful waters off the island with a nice narrow beach under palm trees.
- Haad Khom — 20 min walk east of Chalok Lam on a steep concrete road or a few minutes ride from Chalok Lam you will find a nice quiet beach with clean seas and soft white sand where you can relax and do some of the best snorkelling on the island. There are only around 5 accommodations with good prices (from 150-300 baht for a bungalow), so the beach is not crowded. Only the one closest to Chalok Lam, CBB, has 24 hr electricity, the others use diesel generators. Together with Bottle Beach and Chalok Lam Bay these are the best beaches on the northern coast and the entire island.
- Bottle Beach — Also called "Haad Khuat", one of the most isolated beaches on the island, on the north coast accessible by longtail boat from Chalok Lam (150 baht/person) or by a 2-3 hr long, tough hike from Haad Khom beach (this hike named the beach due to the use of plastic bottles to mark the trail). There is also the road option, on one of the worst roads on the island, but the taxi ride is so expensive that is always better go to Chalok Lam and take a longtail boat from there. Very relaxed quiet beach with few accommodations but very reasonable prices (from 250-300 baht/bungalow). Nice long and wide soft white sand beach and good clean water for swimming even during dry season. There is only one disadvantage. Due to its isolation, there are no ATMs or 7-Elevens or local restaurants so you have to buy everything for inflated prices at your accommodations (e.g., 90 baht for fried noodles). But what you pay for meals you will save on accommodation and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches on island.
- Thong Nai Pan — Scenic area on the northeast part of the island that includes the neighbouring beach resorts of Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai and Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi, twin bays with two fantastic beaches. Thong Nai Pan Yai is the bigger one. The area caters to families with children, and singles and couples who are looking for unspoiled beaches, tranquillity and peace. Here you get safe swimming all year except during the November monsoon which normally ends around the middle of December. Both beaches have a variety of restaurants ranging from inexpensive Thai to top international cuisine.
- Haad Thien — Home of the Sanctuary Resort, a hip, up-scale resort with a nice vibe.
- Haad Yuan — A nice sandy beach on the southeast corner. A hop away from Haad Rin if you would like to get away from the party crowd.
- Haad Rin — (Hat Rin) — The most touristy/crowded village, with all the services any traveller needs and the home of the famous Full Moon Party. The biggest party scene on the island (along with Baan Tai). One of the few beaches during dry season where is possible to swim.
- Ban Kai — Between Ban Tai and Haad Rin this beach offers an idyllic setting, just minutes from the Full Moon Party. Sea also quite dirty and very mountainous terrain.
- Ban Tai — Facing Ko Samui, the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach on the entire island.
The name Ko Pha Ngan derives from the word "ngan", meaning "sand bar" in the southern dialect, for there are many sand bars offshore.
Ko Pha Ngan has been a longtime favorite of past kings of Thailand. Rama V, or Chulalongkorn, for example, visited Ko Pha Ngan 14 times during his reign.
The Bronze Drum of Dongson Culture (500–100 BCE) that was found on Ko Samui in 1977 is evidence that there were settlements of people on Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and their islets more than two thousand years ago. Some historians and archaeologists believe that the first group who migrated to Ko Pha Ngan were the Muslimsea gypsies (Pygmy, Semung, and Proto-Malay) who travelled by boat from the Malay Peninsula. Today there are few Muslim inhabitants.
Over the last century the island's population has steadily expanded, first living off the sea and the land and farming coconuts. Later, tin mining became part of the economy. In the 1970s the mining industry faltered and finally petered out. Over the next decade tourism took hold. Now the island is primarily a tourist destination. Fishing and coconut farming remain important to the local economy.
Due to its topography, the population hugs the coastline. The mountainous interior is generally inaccessible. More than half the island designated as national park and Ko Pha Ngan has more than 80 km2 (31 sq mi) of relatively unspoiled rain forest with diverse flora and fauna. It is also considered a spiritual place, with numerous Buddhist temples around the island and a thriving spa, retreat, and meditation industry.
The best time to visit the island and also high season is Dec-Mar when the water is clean, and good for swimming. It's also not rainy and temperatures are pleasant. Another high season time is Jul-Aug after the dry season when the water is rising.
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|Nightly lows (°C)||20||22||24||25||25||24||24||24||24||24||22||25|
Ko Pha Ngan together with Ko Tao forms the district (amphoe) Ko Pha Ngan (148 km2, 15,500 population 2012). The district is subdivided into three subdistricts (tambon):
|1.||Ko Pha Ngan||เกาะพะงัน|
Originally the island was administrated from Ko Samui district. The minor district (king amphoe) Ko Pha Ngan was established on 1 October 1970, then consisting of the two tambon, Ko Pha Ngan and Ban Tai.It was upgraded to a full district on 12 April 1977.
Parts of the tambon Ko Pha Ngan and Ban Tai form the township (thesaban tambon) Ko Pha Ngan. There are further three tambon administrative organizations (TAO).
Internet cafes are plentiful and typically also offer international calls, fax services, and flight confirmation. The connection and speed is generally good. Expect to pay 60 baht/hr (1 baht/min) for Internet in central locations. One baht per minute is typical for predominantly tourist-oriented shops, many of which also offer lower rates for pre-paid blocks of time. In travel agency Tan Tour (50 m to west of 7-Eleven next to the pier) the friendly owner Tomas is famous for not taking charging customers very seriously, so if you stay only a short time you can usually use the Internet for free, or for a longer time you will usually end up paying only 20 baht instead of 40-60 baht.
Next door to the 7-Eleven in Thong Sala at the pier there is free (open) Wi-Fi for everyone in Sweet Cafe, so if you don't mind sitting in the sun you can use it for free. Also in the food court in the Thong Sala night market (actually open all day) there is free Wi-Fi for everyone. It's not difficult to find well-equipped, quiet, air-con Internet cafés that charge 60 baht/hr. Shops that can accommodate users who want to hook up their own laptops can easily be found. Printing (black/white) is usually 10 baht/page (30 baht/page for colour).
When you venture away from the more developed beaches, expect to pay up to 3 baht a minute. It can be cheaper just for staying in touch (Skype/Facebook) to buy a SIM card with a 1GB data package for 1 month for 214 baht (AIS/DTAC), which is enough for mobile Internet, but be aware some beaches do not have a 3G signal (Haad Yuan/Haad Tien, for example).
Mobile phone/SIM cards can be bought and topped-up all around island in many 7-Elevens. Mobile signal strength for DTAC (Happy) or AIS (1-2-Call) is good all around the island. Avoid using the TrueMove network which has very bad coverage.
Overseas calls can be made from many agencies and Internet shops, as well as guesthouses/hotels and the like. Most advertise a rate of 15 baht/minute (or 25 baht/minute to mobile phones). Pretty much every Internet place will have headsets for Skype use, which will be free if you don't have to call to a telephone.
- Thailand Post (SE of Thong Sala), . M-F, 08:30-16:30; Sa-Su, 09:00-12:00. Ko Pha Ngan's main post office. As well as the usual postal services, it handles Western Union transactions and hosts a large number of post/security boxes. There is also a smaller but still official post office in Haad Rin, very close to the ferry pier on the west side. Open similar hours to the main post office but possibly slightly more restricted, as it is really only a quarter the size of Thong Sala's.