- Travel and Places»
- Visiting Asia»
- Southeastern Asia
The Difference Between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan
Koh Samui Airport
In many ways Koh Phangan is defined by its lack of an airport. Because the small island in the Gulf of Thailand is bereft of air service it has developed in a completely different way to the neighbouring island of Koh Samui.
Koh Samui for over twenty years has been a favourite destination for holiday makers and package tourists who can take the hour and twenty minute Bangkok Airways flight from Bangkok down to the paradise island and stay at one of numerous high end resorts and spas. Koh Samui has a ring road around the entire island. The big centres for tourism, Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut have a thriving nightlife. Girly bars or go go bars or 'beer bars' and other disreputable establishments are particularly prevalent in Chaweng and Lamai. Koh Samui also has first class hospitals and a number of big supermarkets. For these reasons Koh Samui has pulled in more foreign visitors and more cash than Koh Phangan which is only 12 kms away.
In contrast, Koh Phangan doesn’t have a ring road. It doesn’t have a big modern hospital. It doesn’t have any big supermarkets (a small Tesco Lotus was built two years ago despite many complaints). It doesn’t even have much of a girly bar scene. For many the only reason to visit Koh Phangan is to go to the Full Moon Party.
In a way I’m very glad about the supposed failures of Koh Phangan. And I’m happy that idiots on bikes cruising the bars late at night don’t exist that much on Koh Phangan. The lack of a ring road is a blessing because all a ring road does is create a thousand tin shacks along the roadside and environmental degradation.
The whole point of Koh Phangan is that it is unspoiled. It is for those who want to experience the beauty of a tropical setting. The island is 90% tropical forest containing deer, monkeys, cobra and birds of paradise. Than Sadet National Park in the east of Koh Phangan is not a tourist gimmick but a real slice of flourishing jungle with a spectacular series of waterfalls to explore.
Several of the beaches are hard to get to. Bottle Beach is only accessible by boat or a hazardous mountain road from Thong Nai Pan. Than Sadet beach is down an overgrown unpaved road that only experienced drivers should attempt. Plaay Laem beach is near Thongsala, the main port town, but you have to walk or hire a long-tail to get there. The same is true of Haad Yuan. It is near busy Haad Rin but it’s a different world to Haad Rin - a small idyllic cove with a white sand beach that has no road going to it. And just north of Haad Yuan is Haad Thian – another gorgeous beach location backed by thick jungle and only accessible by boat.
In short, Koh Phangan has an embarrassment of riches. There are so many picture perfect beaches with great swimming to choose from. On the west coast there is over 10kms of coral reef with an abundance of marine life to explore. And it is peaceful. Other than on Haad Rin you are free of the thumping techno menace and the irritation of louts on bikes getting drunk and fighting.
Instead the 20 plus beaches of Koh Phangan offer seclusion, peace and relaxation. There are cheap bungalows in Koh Phangan for backpackers. And Koh Phangan resorts are as stylish now as in Koh Samui. While not as many, Koh Phangan hotels offer the same level of luxury as their counterparts in Koh Samui. In short, Koh Phangan has the same variety of accommodation options as Koh Samui but unlike Koh Samui, Koh Phangan really does have idyllic beaches far from the madding crowd. Luckily, the madding crowd get off the plane in Koh Samui and make it no further.
More About Beaches and Thailand
- Baantai in Koh Phangan
Baan Tai is a beach on the south coast of Koh Phangan. It is famous for its white sand, kiteboarding and all night outdoor parties. Read an introduction to one of the best party beaches in Thailand.
- Mae Haad in Koh Phangan
An in-depth guide to Mae Haad Beach in Koh Phangan
- More abouit Koh Phangan
What Koh Phangan is like in 2012
- Laem Set in Koh Samui
A guide to Laem Set beach in Koh Samui. Included is information about accommodations in Laem Set, wellness courses at the Kamalaya, Samui Aquarium and Tiger Show and about other things to do in Laem Set
- Koh Samui Accommodation
A travel and accommodation guide to Koh Samui
- Review of Chalok Baan Kao Beach
A closer look at the beach of Chalok Baan Kao in Koh Tao.
- Beaches in Thailand
The advertising slogan for many years for Thailand was Amazing Thailand. I always found this very apt: Thailand is an amazing country.
- Koh Tao Accommodation
Koh Tao is a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand. It is famous for its unspoiled natural scenery, its great scuba diving and its beautiful beaches. Book a bungalow, room, hotel or resort here on line. Best prices available.
- Changes on Thong Nai Pan
There have been numerous changes in Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai. It is a matter of opinion whether these changes represent progress.
- What Makes a Great Beach Great?
The vital ingredients that makes a beach a 'great beach'.
- Thong Nai Pan Magazine
This is an ezine about the beautiful beaches of Ao Thong Nai Pan on the tropical island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. Book accommodation here. Also information about bars and restaurants, events, Thai massage, diving and travel.
More Travel Sites
- Travel Destinations in Argentina
Travel information for Argentina - where to go, what to do and where to stay.
- Backpack in Argentina
Argentina is a great country to backpack in. This travel guide gives information about cheap hostels, transport, places to visit, Spanish lessons, volunteering and adventure activities.