OK here it goes, this will be probably a very long version so I suggest you get yourself comfortable, I will write here my tips, my culinary tips and why this island has something that keeps you on this island for long long time. No I am not talking about the buckets, or full moon party (however I did attended 1 time) I am talking about the beaches, places to visit, restaurants and if you want a great Amsterdam, Ibiza, Berlin type of feel party (but smaller).
So I had my reservations at first to go here but then I decided to go here because of friends being here already on this island and telling me why it was 3rd or 4th or more time to come to this island, my reservations were purely because I don’t get the whole bucket mentality, it is uncomfortable whilst dancing and it makes you pee, resulting you end up going to the toilet non stop (which has an endless queue always). So here are my suggestions and tips on the island minus Had Rin….but I will mention this village because some of the most epic parties are here.
So I arrived so I will start with the 6 favourite beaches of mine:
- Coral Beach – to go there you have to pass Chaloklum, go straight follow the route to Coral Bay and there will be a wooden sign post on your left hand side into the little green garden area, follow the path all the way down after parking your scooter and you will see a bar on the corner and then the beach in front of you.
- Had Salad beach – to go there just pass Had Yao at the end of the route you have a T junction you take the left, and go through the little shopping village and at the end you have a resort where you park and then enter the beach through the resort. Now you have 2 nice beach bars, My Way on the left, and at the end which is literally the last bar on this beach owned by 2 lovely Thai ladies to chill out, good food, good music and the waters are amazing, of course when it is sunny.
- Maehaad beach – to go there follow the route towards Chaloklum at the T junction go left, but if you come from Had Salad, you go left towards Chaloklum and then take the left road towards Maehaad. This beach will lead to Ko Ma and you can snorkel here and walk across, expect this beach to be busy though it is nice but crowded.
- Had Yao beach – to go there go to Seabord bungalows, just after 7/11 in Had Yao you turn left going a little bit steep down and there is the beach, really nice beach, good food and chill beach.
- Secret Beach – to go there you just pass Had Yao and keep following the route until the wooden sign board on your left ‘Secret Beach’ a steep downhill road, park the scooter and you follow the path down and you reach the beach, this beach can be crowded as it popular but it is nice for food and nice beach area.
- Sri Tanu beach – to go here it is before Had Yao, small village and it is a very nice relaxed beach you can have nice food at Seaview and relax.
Restaurants, the top 9 for me:
- Romanzo Tropicale – location: go to Hinkong Beach (it is next to this French restaurant) What can I say about these guys, well a lot of good things, you can eat a wonderful pizza here and delicious pasta. Meanwhile to watch the beautiful sunset on their relax lounge setup is top. Must visit.
- Cucina Italiana – location: Chaloklum, this is more a rural Italian place for pizza and pasta but nevertheless it is delicious and the owner is so friendly and welcoming.
- Nira’s home bakery – location: Thong sala, this place is the best for breakfast, brunch or lunch, they do delicious coffees and smoothies or shakes and the food is lovely it is nice.
- Bubba’s Coffee – location: Ban Tai and yes this is the best coffee place why? Because Robin the owner (Dutch by the way) uses Marzocco coffee machine with excellent coffee. Do not miss this place for your coffees, drinks and food everything is executed with passion and excellence just how I like my food and drinks to be served. Must visit.
- Thong Sala good market – location: well I guess Thong Sala, this is great for cheap and delicious Thai food, do visit the Israeli inside the dining area at the back for the best falafel!
- Coco Garden resort – location: Thong Sala, for a great sunset view and chill out at the bar this is your place, they do excellent cocktails and excellent food (Thai and Western) love this place it is a little gem do make sure you visit here.
- Crave – location: Had Yao, here it is simply the best burgers on the island nothing more nothing less, it is busy, expect to wait or reserve a table.
- Mama Pooh’s – location Sri Tanu, delicious Thai food
- Taboon – location: Sri Tanu and this is a Mediterranean vegetarian food place but oh so delicious being non vegetarian! Must visit here so nice food.
You have many more places which is nice to eat but these were the ones that stood out for me personally, yes I am a foody, it is something I do not save money on, why should I, food is lovely when it is cooked with passion and executed well.
So now I come to the parties, plenty here on this island, but for sure not only the full moon half moon, blue moon, black moon, purple moon any type of moon but much more than the moon.
Top places to be if you like:
- Eden bar – location Had Yuan it is a little mission to go there if you have bad sea water conditions as I experienced we had to take the 4×4 car to go there through the jungle and a crazy route for 40 minutes or so long….you can also take the boat from Had Rin and be there in 15 min. Much better option. Electronic music but really top atmosphere, the club is situated on the corner of the beach at the top overlooking the sea and it is truly wonderful
- Merkaba Bar – location: Had Rin, this bar has 250 steps down to enter so coming home is tough ha ha, however the 2 floors setup is genius, all wooden style and the upper floor where the DJ’s are spinning and the dance floor and below the swimming pool lounge area is also nice, you are on the beach so the sea in front of you to dance away and see the sunrise is epic. Must visit for me, it is so nice, Amsterdam, Berlin, Ibiza feel.
- Pirate bar – location Haad chao pao, nice place and it is directly on the beach they do the Moonset parties here and it is wonderful, get’s busy though and it is not too big but great atmosphere.
- Backyard – location Had Rin, this is the best after party after every full moon party, sleep during full moon and go here around midday till midnight if you can hack it, so so good spinners here and the atmosphere is great, the view is epic as you overlook the sea whilst you dance until well until whenever you want.
- 3 monkey bar – location Sri Tanu this is a must visit, reggae style beach bar and super chill, great own cocktails called 3 monkeys, Kai the owner is so friendly, this is pure chill out place, great for going there before any big party you have planned after.
So here you have a few tips to keep you going, also what is nice if you go to Chaloklum to eat fresh fish daily, Thai style it is delicious and wonderful after a beach day.
Top place to view the sunset is Top Rock Bar, yes everyone goes to Amsterdam Bar but for me Top Rock is nicer, less commercial! Must visit here to have a spectacular view of the sunset.
To give you an idea on places to stay, the quiet areas are more north away from Had Rin. I stayed in Thong sala for the first part but then ended up north in Sri Tanu. You can ask for accommodation at Seaview, Happy Beach, Niceview this is really relaxed and nice beach.
For further north you can take a bungalow at Seabord bungalows and this beach is really nice too and in the evening you have a few bars that will make the beach a cosy place during evening.
Other than that you can try Had Yao, Had Salad, Thong Nai pan Yai for quiet places and nice beaches.
Busy areas are Ban Tai, Had Rin and the latter will give you plenty of choices for hostels.
This islands offers you a lot and I met incredibly nice people, some truly special to me and thank you for stepping into my journey. Memories, I have created many on this island, made some great friends, also met some ‘bad animals’ but hey that is life, you meet all kinds of people. People are truly generally super relaxed here on this island, in the end we all want one thing and it is enjoying life, but for sure you have the odd ones that are completely ridiculous but very few thankfully.
So Koh Phangan, why because this island has it all, great beaches, great atmosphere, great nightlife, great chill out places, great food and amazing sunset views.