The Gulf of Thailand, on the country’s southern coast, is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, and for good reason. Here is where you’ll find the two most divine tropical islands you could ever dream of visiting: Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
While Koh Samui boasts infinite options for accommodation and dining, including spectacular Koh Samui holiday villas, Koh Phangan is where you’ll want to head to on a memorable day out. Three quarters of the island is a protected National Park, there are innumerable secluded beaches to soak the sun in, and the snorkelling options are almost endless. Basically…Koh Phangan is what Koh Samui used to be like two decades ago, before the crowds converged and turned this isolated Crusoe-style haven into a buzzy tourist hub.There are two ways you can experience Phangan on a day trip: either join an organised tour, or hop on a ferry and organise the day to your liking. Whichever travel-style you choose, you can be guaranteed of an unforgettable day in paradise.
Organised sailing trip There are many nooks and crannies on Phangan which are only accessible by boat so, if you plan on joining a tour, we highly recommend you book a sailing trip, or ‘junk’, as they are locally known. A junk is a traditional Burmese boat, usually measuring 25 in length; with an extensive open air deck for soaking in the rays whilst sailing away. A usual trip starts at 8am from the Fisherman’s Village pier.
A full continental breakfast is served on-board as you sail towards Phangan. A morning snorkel will see you come face to face with a kaleidoscope of brightly coloured coral and sea life. Some boats offer the option of fishing and come fully equipped. As you sail around the northern part of the island, you’ll be served an authentic Thai lunch. The food is top-notch quality, cooked to perfection and using only the freshest of local ingredients.An afternoon onshore walking tour will see you reach, and frolic in, the warm waters of the Than Sadet Bay waterfall, on the southern side of the island.
Afternoon tea will be served as you sail back to Koh Samui, which should be around 5pm. There are various agencies offering these tours; itineraries and activities may vary, so we suggest you shop around and find one just perfect for you.Independent day tripFor the independent soul, a self-guided day-trip to Koh Phangan is child’s play. There are ferries leaving every half an hour from one of the three piers on the island, the most popular of which is the one at the Koh Samui Big Buddah. Prices differ depending on the company; express rides (some as short as 20 minutes) can cost as high as 450 baht, while a leisurely one hour ride should cost around 200bht.All the boats arrive at Thong Sala Pier, the hub area of Phangan. Trying to resist the gorgeously colourful market here is futile…so we suggest you start your day with a spot of retail therapy. From food to clothing to souvenirs, there’s nothing here you won’t find!When you’re ready to tour the island, you’ll have to think about your mode of transportation.
The most fun would be, of course, renting a motorbike or 4WD letting the wind take you where it may. Having said that, this comes at a high risk! The roads are awful and the local drivers a tad aggressive, so consider this option very carefully.Perhaps a better option might be to tour the island by taxi or mini-bus. You’ll have to bargain hard for a fair price (rule of thumb, halve their asking price and negotiate from there) but you may find a super-friendly taxi driver escorting you around all day! Or you could share buses with locals and make your experience even more authentic.
Since 2006 Holiday Velvet provides Koh Samui accommodation to travellers around the world.