It has the lush beaches, the wellness retreats, the hippie vibes and some of the best watersport offerings in Thailand. Those that have visited Koh Phangan outside of the Full Moon Party will know that it is an understated gem in South-East Thailand. In fact, it has made such an impression on me over the years that it’s fast become one of my top Thai islands.
Unlike neighbouring Samui which is a magnet for high-end resorts, Koh Phangan has remained relatively modest in comparison. Since its flower-power days, KP has been branded a ‘budget’ island with backpacker style accommodation. But all that is changing. With plenty of mid-range hotels and a decent pick of luxury alternatives, its an island that caters for all holiday budgets.
Where to stay?
When visiting Koh Phangan, I like to stay away from Haad Rin beach (where the Full Moon party happens.) Even though (believe it or not) it’s actually quite quiet outside of the monthly debauchery fest and the beach cleans up beautifully, it tends to keep that crowd of youngsters who think they’re on a Thai version of Love Island. For some context, I visited this seashore once in 2015 and (the whole beach) witnessed a couple of frisky teenagers, obliviously banging in the sea. Although I’m sure it rarely happens, it left an impression.
But everywhere else goes. The rest of the island owns beaches that you’d happily migrate to- as a couple, with kids in tow or even if entertaining parents and grandparents.
What can you expect?
For me, as a young 30 something, budget accommodation is a part of my life that I left behind in my 20s. I love my creature comforts, like a good bed, air-con and space to unwind. Being a teacher, I obviously get a lot of holidays and can travel every couple of months (fu*k you Travel Mermaid!) so whilst luxury options happen on special occasions, my real penchant is finding those gems that give great value. From experience, I find that 5-star retreats don’t always provide that warm, personalised hospitality that smaller, family-run guesthouses do. If that’s you too, then I hope you find some of my top hotel picks useful.
Best Value Stays in Koh Phangan
Location: Hinkong Bay (west coast)
Price: from approx. £30 per night
Run by a totally loveable French duo Karine and Melanie, this place gives you a personal ‘French’ touch where you feel more like a valued guest than a tourist. During my first visit to Koh Phangan, I went past this place and knew it would be a fab set-up by the beach. After staying here just recently, I can confirm, it is.
Alcove only has 7 bungalows which add to the homely feel and makes it quieter than other stays. I’d recommend the Deluxe with Garden View (or above) to get the best rooms. These bungalows were tasteful, well maintained, clean and overlooked a peaceful garden.
However, it’s not just just the rooms that were an attraction. What ‘sold me at hello’ is their French bistro and wine bar on the beach. Serving more than 60 wines by the bottle and a selection of traditional French favourites (including pates, cheeses and cold cuts) it offers a relaxed and elegant environment, complete with a sunset view. Plus it’s only a few steps away from your bed- c’est parfait- and drink more wine!
Location: Nai Wok Beach (west coast)
Price: from approx. £41 per night
I didn’t actually stay here but I did stop by for a drink. However after gazing at one of the most stunning views on the island, I certainly wish I had. Just one visit to Bluerama and you’ll never want to leave.
Apart from the most admirable vistas and an impeccable design in the bar & restaurant area, they have an infinity pool sent from the Gods that overlook paradise. To compliment it further, the beverages were well-made (I can confirm it was the best Aperol Spritz in town) and surprisingly moderately priced. Its chic vibes also take you far away from the hippie grooves on Koh Phangan and make you feel like you’re at a high-end retreat in Sardinia or neighbouring Samui.
The accommodation is set inside modern Thai style bungalows with either a garden or sea view (sea views in my opinion are always worth the additional few dollars.) This may possible be the best sunset room in town.
These guys seem to book up quick so book in advance if you fancy a stay. Or you can always spend 600 baht (about £12 GBP) to hang here for a day and use the facilities.
Location: Baan Tai (south coast)
Price: from approx. £59 per night
This is another one I didn’t have the pleasure to stay at, but I dined here a few times and had a few spa treatments. On each visit, the service was very friendly and efficient, and the food easily became one of my favourite Thai eats around.
Set in between two busier locals of Thong Sala and Haad Rin, this gem is on the peaceful Baan Tai beach. It has all of the perks you’s want from a tropical holiday in paradise, a lovely sea-view pool complete with a pool bar, massages on the beach and great ocean views. If you’re looking to visit the zen den and really relax, then this resort will send you there.
The rooms look a modern Thai-chic, and are generously sized at 52 m². It comes complete with all the mod-cons, a balcony and the beds are extra long too.
Location: Bottle Beach [Haad Khuad in Thai] (north coast)
Price: from approx. £35 per night
As we were kitesurfing on our recent trip to Koh Phangan, regretfully we had to skip Bottle Beach this time around. But in 2015 we had one of the most memorable stays at Haad Kuad, a resort at possibly the most lush beach on the isle.
Firstly, don’t be a cheapskate and go for a bungalow. We did (I was in my 20s at the time) and our room was dark, smelt of mould and didn’t have a sea view, so we upgraded to a Standard Double Room. It was definitely worth the extra few bucks – waking up to a view of Haad Kuad is priceless. I remember it being so quiet in the morning, that it literally felt like we had the whole beachfront to ourselves and it gave-off a castaway vibe. (Note: There are some day trippers who come late morning but then they’re all gone again by dusk.)
The rooms are comfortable and spacious at 40 m², with a modest Thai style decor. They have all the perks you need and best of all, a hammock just in front of your patio. Being able to merely take two steps from your door and feel the super-fine sand between your toes was ideal.
As it is a secluded beach (and you need a long tail boat to get there) I’d recommend 2-5 nights. That way you can totally chill and then enjoy the offerings on the rest of the island.
Location: Thong Nai Pan Yai (north-east coast)
Price: from approx. £58 per night
Although a bit busier than Haad Khuad, Thong Nai Pan Yai offers a more remote beach experience compared to the rest of the island, yet you’re not reliant on only a boat to get there. It’s only a 30 minute bike ride from Thong Sala that takes you through the gorgeous hills.
Thong Nai Pan Yai is the kind of place you could happily spend a 1-2 week holiday and leave feeling regenerated. The super-fine white sand crunches between your toes and the water is a still, warm turquoise. It also has a decent selection of restaurant and bar options if wanting to venture away from the hotel.
I haven’t stayed on this beach before, but after a recent second visit, the Sailor and I thought it was right up our street. So after scouring Booking.com I found The Great Escapes Chalets, a lovely resort only 2 minutes from the beach that has a Superb 9.1 review score.
A Superior Chalet here is surrounded by nature, offering views of either their tropical garden, the jungle-clad mountain or pool. It’s modest Thai style rooms are sized at a spacious 40 m² and offer all the mod-cons, a private pool, large double bed (and a single) with a balcony and terrace.
Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi (north-east coast)
Price: from approx. £87 per night
Located just north of Thong Nai Pan Yai, it’s sister beach ‘Noi’ is even more remote and promises a romantic getaway.
Scoring a very impressive 9.4 on Booking.com, value for money doesn’t come much better than this. In fact, it’s making me all tingly with wanderlust just thinking about it!
With most rooms boasting a sea view, they are also soundproofed and a generous 35 m², with each squared meter being considered for comfort and practicality. The service at Buri Rasa was also mentioned very highly, as being a perfect mix of professional yet personal.
As a 4* resort, it also comes with all of the bonus extras, like a spa, an open sala used for massages, a fitness centre and some rooms even have direct swimming pool access.
Special occasion and fancy splurging a little more?
Location: Thong Nai Pan Noi (north-east coast)
Price: from approx. £200 per night
Picked as one of the top hotels in Koh Phangan by The Telegraph (UK) and given a rating of 9/10, this lush 5* resort is perfect for treating yourself when vacationing on a honeymoon or that special holiday.
All suites feature a private pool, an espresso machine, and an impressive 39m² of living space with an additional 41m² outdoors. The resort itself is set amongst towering palms and thick tropical vegetation. It comes packed all of the facilities you could need- set with a spa, steam room, yoga sessions, a fitness centre and a series of restaurants and bars.
Even though it’s pricier than the other stays, it seems to offer that ‘value added.’ You are spoilt for choice with many things, like: should I swim in the ocean, the infinity pool, the outdoor pool or my private plunge pool? Or should I go grab a drink from the pool bar, the champagne and wine lounge, the beach bistro or Edge 20 beach bar? You get my point.
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