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Koh Phangan Thailand : Information

Where is Koh Phangan?
Koh Phangan is located in Jangwat (province) Suratthani in the Southern Gulf of Thailand and is part of the group of islands that make up the Samui Archipelago; a group of over 40 islands fashioned in granite from age old igneous formations. The provincial capital is also called Suratthani and acts as the main overland transport hub for the islands. Koh Phangan is 70kms from the mainland and approximately 12kms away from Koh Samui which acts as the main air link to Koh Phangan.
History and Facts
Koh Phangan has always been a beautiful and spiritual place for the Thai people, it has been visited by no less than four Kings of Thailand; with the Great Rama V coming over 10 times, leaving his royal seal engraved on a rock at Thaan Sadet Waterfall; and the current King Bhumibol following in his footsteps. The island was uninhabited until about 600 years ago when passing monks realised its tranquillity and spiritual importance and settled in Wat Phu Khao Noi just outside Thongsala. It is Thailand’s fifth biggest island and has an area of 167km2, thus over 90% of Phangan is unspoilt tropical forest; and due to its granite structure, there are several small mountains where it’s possible to trek and even camp.
There is an abundance of wildlife from monkeys to birds of paradise and then there is the amazing underwater world that surrounds Koh Phangan; with over 10kms of vibrant coral and 20 local dive sites. And if you have any energy after that, there is the nightlife that the island became internationally famous for, with the globally renowned Full Moon Party and weekly outdoor events in jungle and beachfront venues; not forgetting the daily session that goes off in Haad Rin.
Koh Phangan has been officially designated as a zone for eco-tourism, so if you are planning to visit make sure that you join in. There are plenty of activities such as doing a local trek up the highest mountain or beach hopping along the east coast - check out the trekking section.

For those that need a bit more speed pick up a mountain bike for around 100 Baht per day. See for more information on recommended routes.
If you have plastic or travellers cheques, there are plenty of places to get cash; the main towns of Thongsala and Haad Rin have the best selection of exchange booths and banks, who all offer similar rates. Most towns have ATMs and there are a few 7-Eleven’s, supermarkets and resorts with them.

Take a look at our town map of Thongsala and Haad Rin if you are looking for banks or money exchange services.
Internet and Email
Koh Phangan has tons of internet shops dotted around the island which are either independent or inside the hotel; the old dial up modems are almost a thing of the past as most shops now have ADSL broadband services. For those of you with a laptop, you will find fairy good wireless network coverage around Koh Phangan and Samui.
Medical Services
Koh Phangan Hospital near Thongsala has a good standard of care but lacks facilities, there is an X-ray machine, excellent motorbike wound repair and a weekly dental clinic, but should really be considered as your family doctor and not as fully equipped as Thai hospitals can be. Samui offers several choices if you need good care and the Koh Phangan Hospital will quickly hand over cases they can't handle whilst arranging a speedboat if necessary.

If it is not too serious then there are numerous clinics around the island; three good choices being the Bandon Inter Clinic, Siam Inter Clinic and Southland Clinic all in Haad Rin, or the Bangkok Hospital Samui Clinic in Baan Tai. Bigger Hospitals are available on Koh Samui and also in Suratthani.
Rescue Service
Koh Phangan also has a rescue service kindly run by a group of volunteers to help in any kind of medical emergency. The staff are trained at the Narenthorn EMS Center to be skilled in dealing with common life threatening events, such as motorbike accidents. In the unfortunate circumstance that there is a fatality the Rescue service will help by providing support and guidance, contact friends and family, while also dealing with the police and hospital. The service is free and open 24 hours a day, entirely run on donation any kind of offering is wholeheartedly appreciated.
Contact the Rescue service on 077 377500
Tourist Police
Koh Phangan Tourist Police have a permanent office in Thongsala between the Raja Ferry and Songserm piers, where there are English speaking officers ready to help you in any case. If you need assistance at the Full Moon Party there is a temporary office in Haad Rin near Tommy Resort and you will also find volunteers patrolling the beach. For more information telephone the hotline on 1155 or the Samui Office on 077 430018.
Local Custom
As a visitor in Thailand, please respect the local custom to avoid offending other people. In Thailand it is polite to be aware that the following behaviours are considered rude and will refect badly on other tourists:
  1. Don't touch the head of older Thai people, as the head is belived to be the most sacred part of the body.
  2. Don't step across the body of Thai people sitting or lying on the floor.
  3. Don't disrespect or talk badly about the King and the Royal Family.
  4. Always take off shoes before entering into a Thai house or Buddhist Temple.
  5. Don't wear a only bikini or swim-suit in the town or while walking a round in public places.
  6. Generally Thai women are conservative. So do not touch them without their consent.
Staying Long Term
Phangan is a great place to call home, especially with the low cost of living and healthy outdoor lifestyle; and if you are thinking of opening a business or buying a residence on the island, the time couldn't be better with exellent growth predicted for Phangan's business secto and veryr competitive prices on land and house deals.

To assist you make the right decisions and provide accurate advice, there are several professional business located around the island offering legal advice, real estate sales and leasing, serviced home rental, construction, surveying and other essential services.

Temple Fair
A traditional Thai community fair held at the local temple every few months. On Koh Phangan the fair will rotate between the temples in each village and stay there between 7 to 10 days every time and it raises much needed funds to support the temple. The fair has fun and games such as bingo and bouncy castle for the kids, southern Thai food and drink stalls, clothes markets and other accessories for sale at cheap prices. On the main stage entertainment includes community events, dancing shows and rock bands. The markets will be open most of the daytime, but activities usually start in the early evening until closing sometimes as late as 2am.
Dangers and Annoyances
Koh Phangan is a very safe place where most troubles are self inflicted; with drink driving and drug arrests the biggest problem makers. Motorbike accidents are fairly common; the unsightly scar has become known as a “Koh Phangan Tattoo” so you should always wear a helmet and shoes; most of the roads here are concrete now so they are crucial, jeans and a jacket are advisable. If you are an inexperienced rider, be careful on sandy corners and do not attempt the hills of Haad Rin or Thong Nai Pan. Taxis and rental jeeps are cheap, especially if you hire one in a group!

Our advice is don’t be tempted by drugs; this island has had a bad reputation for a long time and the open taking of drugs is not tolerated. Thailand has also had a crackdown and the police are very hot on stopping the problem. The days are gone when you could buy your way out for a few dollars and the penalties in Thailand are harsh to say the least - expect a hefty fine and possibly an extended jail term if caught.

Theft is uncommon, but if it does happen go to the police station near Thongsala town and get a report for your insurance. Always leave your valuables in the resort safe (especially during FMP) and do not give opportunists the chance, as most theft is through an open bungalow window or from the front basket on the motorbike.

Trekking and rock climbing without a guide or proper equipment is not recommended, the island is a big place and gets dark early. Guides can be contacted at the Phaeng Waterfall National Park.
Public Transport
Songthaew Taxi
A songthaew is a combination of a taxi and a bus and is usually a utility vehicle or pick-up that has been converted to carry people. They work much in the way that public buses do but without bus stops, fare collectors or timetables. Thus if you want to travel at normal price, the car may wait to fill up then pick up and drop off as passengers wish to embark. The most popular route between Haad Rin and Thongsala has a set price of Bt100 per person; but expect this and other prices to double after the last boat arrives.

Longtail Boat
A few years back the only way to get around Koh Phangan was on a longtail boat and it is still a great way to see the island. The east coast beaches of Haad Yuan, Thien, Yao (east) and Yang are best accessed from Haad Rin Pier via longtail taxi boat as is Bottle Beach from Chaloklum Pier; boat taxis are also available from Thongsala, Ban Tai and most beaches. Costs are similar to songthaew prices.
Motorbike and Jeep Rental

Motobikes and Mopeds
Mopeds such as the Honda Dream with gears but no clutch and the fully automatic Yamaha Mio are available from Bt150-Bt250 per day. Dirt bikes such as the Honda MTX125 are more suitable for the rougher roads and the more experienced rider, but expect to pay Bt200-Bt350 per day.

Always check the bike before you take it!

As a word of warning, the roads on Koh Phangan are not the best; many steep hills, potholes and patches of dirt and sand. It is easy to end up out of control causing damage to the bike and probably yourself. Wear a helmet and drive carefully; the island is not a race track.

Finally, never drive around with valuables in the front basket; this is a danger and also an easy target for thieves.

If you are frist time driver we recommend that you either take a taxi or get those legs working by renting a mountain bike.
4WD Jeeps
4WD Suzuki Caribbean jeeps are the best way to get around and can be cheap if shared by a group. They range in price from Bt700 for an old banger to Bt1200 per day for a new one. Most are not insured so if you have an accident you will be in for a hefty bill. Shop around if you want insurance and always ask if there is any. Again, do not be tempted to drink and drive, there are very few road barriers and a lot of cliffs.

No Drink Driving.
The Police have been instructed to hand out a steep fine for offenders.
High Seas Warning
Taxi Fares
Telephone Numbers
Issue 40
March - May 2015
© Copyright PHANGAN.INFO 2013