Koh Phangnan is home to the famous (infamous) Full Moon Party. I can’t remember when I learned about the Full Moon Party but I do remember that I added it to my list immediately afterwards.
A beach party with thousands of others that starts on the ‘Sunset Beach’ and ends on the ‘Sunrise Beach’. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?
I had just finished up a circuit in Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi and arrived in Koh Phangnan a couple days prior to the Full Moon Party.
First Impressions of Koh Phangnan
After having mixed feelings of the party hard atmosphere of Koh Phi Phi, I was a bit worried arriving in Koh Phangnan. If this was the site of the Full Moon Party than the mayhem is probably ratcheted up appropriately.
However, this wasn’t the case and Koh Phangnan turned out to be the highlight of my Southern Thailand adventure.
The Party Side and the Quiet Side of the Island
For starters, Koh Phangnan is much bigger than Koh Phi Phi but still small enough to make sure you feel like you’re on an island. I was able to see most of the island in an hour or two on my scooter. But what’s really nice about Koh Phangnan is that there are two distinct sections. The town of Haad Rin on the east (site of the Full Moon Party) is the backpacker and party town. This is where you should stay if your main goal is to drink and party all night and sleep during the day. The west side of the island is way more relaxed and calm and home to a lot of yoga and cleansing retreats. It’s also home to a few quaint towns with nice beaches and cafes.
Finding a Place to Stay
As I mentioned, the east side (Haad Rin) is the main backpacker/party area. If this is your scene then stay there.
If you have no interest in partying, stay on the west side of the island at one of the many yoga retreats and resorts.
I was looking for something in the middle of both scenes and appropriately found an awesome bungalow resort that split the east and west ends.
The place I stayed at was Sarana Bungalows (see image above) and I can highly recommend this place. It is on the beach, budget friendly, has great food and is perfectly situated between both extremes.
Better yet, they only had a minimum stay of 3 nights. Most places have a 5 night minimum stay policy to avoid party crashers from only staying 1 night.
Belly Flopping on the Slip n’ Fly
This is was an awesome find. I had seen something similar in Texas and was bummed when I was there last year for Christmas only to find out it was closed.
So I was super stoked to learn that Koh Phangnan had it’s own version and it did not disappoint.
Basically, the Slip n’ Fly is a giant slip n’ slide with a ramp on the end. It launches you a good 20 feet upwards, if not more.
I spent a good part of the afternoon there flipping and flopping my way around.
It wasn’t until my second attempt on a double backflip that I called it quits. The first attempt went well and I would call it a success. The second attempt, not so much. My rotation was not near fast enough and I smacked the water pretty hard with my face. Hard enough to leave a sizable, tender bruise for a couple days afterward. So BE CAREFUL! But definitely try it, its a ton of fun.
Cruising the Island by Scooter
My favorite way of seeing things in Asia is definitely by scooter. Although I’ve crashed one in Vietnam, I love driving the things and it gives you complete freedom on what you can see and where you can go.
With that said, another great day time activity on Koh Phangnan is to simply hop on a scooter and explore the island. It’s not that big and there aren’t a lot of roads so it’s manageable to see most of the island in a day.
My advice is to hop on the nearest road and head west. Once you can’t head west any longer, start going north. This is the quiet side of the island and the prettier side in my opinion.
When I went, the island had recently been hit by some bad storms which were evident by the washed out roads and land slides.
The Famous (Infamous) Full Moon Party
Let’s be real. The real reason we all go to Koh Phangnan is for the Full Moon Party. It’s known worldwide as one of the biggest parties there is and I can attest to that.
The party starts on the ‘Sunset Beach’ and ends on the ‘Sunrise Beach’ for those that can last that long.
There’s dancing and fire shows and people making complete asses of themselves jumping a flaming rope. It was hilarious though so I’m glad they did. (Same video as above but different start and end points. Make sure to watch both, they’re pretty funny)
If I had to guess I would say there were at least 10,000-20,000 people (wikipedia says 30,000) and everyone of them seemed to be having a good time.
Parting Thoughts of Koh Phangnan
I very much enjoyed Koh Phangnan. As mentioned before, the island is big enough to get away from the crazy parties and nightlife and just relax, which was a very nice option to have.
With that said, the Full Moon Party was a ton of fun and I’m glad I got to experience it. And last but not least the Slip n’ Fly is a must do activity while you’re there.
Next stop: Burma (Myanmar)