Koh Phangan

Idyllic island in the south of Thailand, Koh Phangan is now renowned for the famous Full Moon Party, one of the biggest beach party in the world. It is also known for the novel The Beach by Alex Garland in 1996 as well as the movie of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000.

Full Moon Party fire sign in Haad Rin on Koh-Phangan, Thailand
Full Moon Party fire sign in Haad Rin on Koh-Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan attracts every month or every full moon we should say tenths of thousands of tourists. But the island is not only about partying. In fact, the parties, the bars, and the most developed part are concentrated on the south coast. The northern part of the island is very quiet and much less populated. There are many beautiful beaches on the north-western such as Haad Yao, Haad Salad or Chaloklum.

Also called Ko Pha-ngan, its name derivate from the word “ngan” meaning sandbank in a southern Thai dialect and the word “ko” which mean island. Therefore a lot of sandbanks and sandbars with shallow water surrounding the island. Some places like Hin Kong, very close to the dive center, we can walk a few hundred meters out and still have water to the ankles. This gives place to breathtaking sunsets perfectly reflecting on the calm water of the bay.

Else than diving, see what other activities and what else there is to do on Koh Phangan.


Koh Phangan is located in the south of the country, at a distance of 55 km / 34 mi off the East coast. In front of Surat Thani province in the Gulf of Thailand. Phangan is between its two sister island of Koh Samui 15 km / 9 mi south and Koh Tao which is 35 km / 22 mi north.

Quick history

Before the appearance of tourism, the economy of the island was composed mainly of coconut plantations and fishing. For a while tin was also mined on Koh Phangan but following a drop in the prices and demand for tin they have all closed. One of them became the freshwater lake named Laem Son lake near Sri Thanu.

Ko Pha-ngan has also been a favorite to get some rest for some of the kings like His Majesty Rama V also named King Chulalongkorn who visited the island 14 times. We can still see royal scriptures carved on some stones in the Than Sadet national parc.

In 1970 a bronze drum of Dong Son culture dating to 500 to 100 BCE was discovered on the neighbor island of Koh Samui. This discovery leads to believe that the first inhabitants started populating the islands of the area about 2 millenniums ago.

Koh Phangan wildlife

Almost two-thirds of the island is designated as protected natural reserves, with more than 80 km2 / 30 mi2. These protected areas keep the natural and wild aspect of Koh Phangan.

It is not only underwater that we can see plenty of animals and life. Not many people know but when you lived here for a long time. A monitor lizard, wild monkeys, scorpions, slow loris and king cobras are not an uncommon sight.

Koh Phangan in numbers

View of Haad Rin, the Full Moon Party beach on Koh Phangan, Thailand
View of Haad Rin, the Full Moon Party beach on Koh Phangan, Thailand

The island covers an area of about 120 km2 / 46 mi2. The highest mountain is the Khao Ra with a height of 632 meters / 2073 feet followed by the Kao Kao with 532 meters / 1745 feet.

The population of the island is said to be approximately 12,000 inhabitants but it can look like much more if we count the daily tourist flow. An average Full Moon Party attracts about 30,000 people. A good percentage of the local resident is composed of expatriates from all around the world