Koh Phangan: Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Yes, Koh Phangan is home to the infamous Full Moon Beach Party, but it also one of the more unspoiled islands in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand’s Surat Thani Province. Ngan means “sand bar” and refers to the many offshore sand bars. What makes Koh Phangan wild (other than when the party scene is on) is that the island’s interior is comprised of more than 31 sq mi of relatively unspoiled rain forest.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time for rain forest explorations, but I was able to make it around the island on scooter to see some gorgeous countryside and a couple bewitching beaches. The vibe here is very laid back; it feels a bit like Hawaii.

Arrival views from ferry:

Below is the view from my hotel room, the Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa  –  top pick post to come. (Great value, great spot!)

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(Disclaimer, it’s not a walk on the wild side as the title suggests, but I do give ya a little video tour of one of the wilder islands.)

 

 

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The best mango sticky rice & view to enjoy while devouring it! Anatara Resort Area.

 

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And after a day of explorations, the view to enjoy with a refreshing cocktail in hand.

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A Tale of 2 Snorkels, Thailand

 

                                                                                      

 

Trip 1

By speedboat

Gulf of Thailand

Multi-island, plus viewpoint hike & kayak

Lunch buffet

Fish aplenty

Boat trip length 1hr 40 ea way / 3hrs 20

Grand finale: none

 

Trip 2

By longtail boat

Andaman Sea

7 island, plus cave

Sunset BBQ

Fish aplenty

½ hour to 1st island, minutes from island to island

Grand finale: Fire show

Bioluminescent night snorkel

 

Trip 1

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pros

Our first stop was the island of Nangyuan, a pristine, snorkelers’ paradise. It was fun to hike up to the viewpoint and later to take a kayak and cruise along another island’s shore and find my own secluded snorkel spot.

cons

Over 3 hours on a speedboat with 30 plus other people was a bit much. And as you can see by the picture in the slide show, apparently not just for me. On the way back, there were 4 inebriated passengers (predictably 2 Americans and 2 Australians) who turned the boat into a party boat, drinking up a storm and blaring the music…Guess I’m showing my age here, but none of the “younger set” seemed too enthused by this behavior either.

Trip 2

pros

Much more intimate experience with only 6 other people (3 couples) on a longtail boat. Made for some nice conversations and connections.  Cave snorkel was incredible with a huge school of fish. Sunset BBQ was lovely. Fire show was an added perk. The night snorkel with bioluminescent plankton was magical. The light is a result of a series of oxidation reactions in the plankton. It was like having sparklers in the water. Unfortunately, my camera had run out of battery for this. (I was a little concerned about backing into some jellies that I might not see in the dark…)

cons

The guides spoke very little English and had to be reminded to hand out masks and snorkels. They could not identify the large white and pink jellyfish we saw, but did encourage us to get back on the boat. I know some jellyfish are relatively innocuous, but they do have Portuguese-Man-of-War here too… The guides did not point out the attractions on Railay when we docked. Having been there previously, I shared the info with my fellow passengers about the critters (monkeys and water monitor) and Princess Cave.

All said, I would do both again.  Hopefully next time I’ll have a GoPro pre-programmed!