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21.Aug.2013 to 23.Aug.2013 morning

Part 3 – Enchanting and Wild Koh Phangan

Cover Pix

This is the 3rd part of my journal. In this part, I’ll write about the 2 days discovering Koh Phangan and having a wild time attending the Full Moon Party. This was the reason I made this trip and 21.Aug.2013 was a full moon night.

21.Aug.2013

Crossing from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan

The ferry journey from Don Sak to Ko Samui to Ko Phangan

The ferry journey from Don Sak to Ko Samui to Ko Phangan

Anxious to board the ferry

Time Table – Ko Samui to Ko Phangan – 10.30AM, 1PM, 4PM, 6.30PM
I took the earliest ferry.

IMG_7912

As the ferry at Big Buddha Pier was a passenger ferry only, I left my luggage and riding boots in Kinnaree Resort for safe keeping. I only took along my camera bag and the waterproof bag containing my laptop and some clothings. I managed to park my bike under a shelter near the pier.

While waiting for the boat to pick us up, I had this Thai Mango, sweet and slightly sourish, just nice to wake me up for the ride.

Sea Flower

The ferry that took us to Ko Phangan

Mainly party goers in the ferry

Fellow passengers. The 2 smiling girls were from Australia

Haad Rin, Ko Phangan

Taken from the ferry as we approached Had Rin Nai (Sunset Beach)

Hunting for a place to stay

A week before my departure for this trip, I tried booking through Agoda.com and found that there were no more rooms available. With 30,000 tourists flocking to this small island attending the Full Moon Party, it’s a small wonder that I couldn’t find a place to stay in Haad Rin town.

After trying all the places in the town, I was disappointed and tired and settled down for lunch. With a full stomach, I went hunting again. This time, I booked a scooter (see picture of my rented scooter below) for THB150 and had to give them my passport as collateral. I decided to move away from the town and asked around at the outskirts and someone pointed me to a potential place where I could find accommodation for the night.

IMG_20130821_143623I managed to find a chalet for THB600 for the night at Rainbow Bungalow which was just next to the famous Coral Bungalow that caters to the Pool Party on full moon night. Normally, I wouldn’t have considered this place because it was not well kept and the room was Spartan. The bed was hard and I had to ask for towel which the landlady finally gave me.

There was only 1 plug point and I had to take turns to charge my battery and laptop. No hot water. Having said this, I was still glad that I managed to find shelter and bed for the night.

Just having a beer in Koh Phangan

After checking in, I decided to check out the bar.
It was nice and comfortable lying in a hammock with a bottle of beer.

Discovering Koh Phangan

Since I had some time to burn before party time, I decided to check out the island. If you are riding a motorbike, the map below will be a good guide to help you move around the island.

Please be aware that the roads on the western part of the island (in grey) are reasonably good roads. Even then, there are many parts along the road that can be intimidating to non-bikers as some parts of the roads have sharp bends and steep slopes. As the island is not very big, fine sand usually blows inland and many parts of the roads could be covered with sand. As such, turning corners at sandy patches of the road could prove disastrous for bikers and I saw a few skidded and fall.

Map of Koh Phangan including places of interest. An excellent map showing the good roads and their danger points. (Click to enlarge)

Map of Koh Phangan including places of interest. An excellent map showing the good roads and their danger points. (Click to enlarge)

Advice on places to stay

If you look at the map of this island, if you stay on the northeastern or eastern parts of the island, travel by road from ThongSala to the resorts would be very bumpy and expensive. Alternatively, they also have water taxi to those parts.

I would recommend that you stay at ThongSala, Ban Tai area, Haad Rin or the western coast of the island where taxis can easily transport you to your resort. Chaloklum Bay and Had Mae Had areas are also good locations.

If your intention is to attend the Full Moon Party, best to stay in Haad Rin. In the event you cannot get accommodations there, try the nearest place, i.e. Ban Tai or ThongSala. Other places would cost you too much on taxi fare.

ThongSala

ThongSala is the biggest town on the island. It has a well developed port to handle vehicles, cargo and passengers coming into this island from various parts of Thailand, especially from Ko Samui, Don Sak, Surat Thani, Chumpon and Bangkok. Except for the travellers coming to this island from Big Buddha Pier in Ko Samui, most of the ferry and boats will land here. The distance between ThongSala and Haad Rin is about 12 km by road.

Frankly, ThongSala caters to the more sedate tourist, unlike the wild party-goes in Haad Rin. I couldn’t see much action except for the night market. Nicer hotels and resorts are located along the beaches that dotted the coast of this island.

Tong Sala, Ko Phangan ThongSala Port Tong Sala, Ko Phangan
The pier for the ferry to dock
Boat to Surat Thani, Tong Sala, Ko PhanganSurat Thani Ferry Tong Sala, Ko PhanganPark near the port
Tong Sala, Ko PhanganBeach @ ThongSala Tong Sala, Ko PhanganBeach @ ThongSala
Entrance to Tong Sala, Ko Phangan

Entrance to ThongSala

Pantip Market, Tong Sala, Ko Phangan

The Pantip Night Market @ 3.21 PM

Had Mae Had

Travelling 9 km north from ThongSala, following the signage to Chaloklum, I came to a junction that branched left to Had Mae Had. Curious of what I may find, I decided to check it out and the following was what I discovered upon arrival at Had Mae Had.

Island View Cabana @ Haad Mae Haad

Koh Ma @ Haah Mae Haada view of Koh Ma Haad Mae HaadNice beach
Haad Mae HaadNice beach Haad Mae HaadNice beach
Haad Mae HaadRestaurant Massage Centre @ Island View CabanaMassage Centre

Chaloklum Bay

Ao Chaloklum is an area north of Ko Phangan. This bay is not as developed as Haad Rin and was told to me by the Ko Phangan tourist guide as the best beach on the island. In my opinion, Had Mae Had is a nicer beach but crowded with foreigners. Ao Chaloklum is a quieter beach and is not monopolised by a resort. There are a few resorts along this bay and also some nice food outlets.

Chinese temple overlooking Chaloklum Bay

A Chinese temple overlooking the Chaloklum Bay

Chaloklum Beach - West

Western side of Chaloklum Bay

Chaloklum Beach - East

The Eastern side of Chaloklum Bay

Haad Rin

Haad Rin

The view of Haad Rin from a high vantage point. Sunset Beach can be seen here.

And yes… the main objective of my trip. This sleepy village wakes up, every full moon, to an invasion of party goers, estimated about 30,000. Interestingly, this village has more action than the main town of ThongSala.

On the map, Haad Rin sits on the narrowest part of the “toe” at the south-eastern part of the island. This village becomes super crowded during full moon. Make sure you book early before you come.

Good Morning Haad Rin, Ko Phangan

Sunrise on Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin

Flying Anchor

Flying Anchor

Full Moon Party

FullMoonPartyPoster

click this picture for a comprehensive review on the Full Moon Party.

As this “Full Moon Party” takes a lot of space due to many pictures and is a chapter by itself, I’ve written in-depth on this in another blog. Click here to read more about this party. WordPress does not allow slideshow from Flickr.

Having fun after the party

Having fun after the party

Going Back to Koh Samui

On the second night (22.Aug.2013) on Ko Phangan, I stayed in Delight Resort. It’s a nice, friendly and cozy resort set in the middle of Haad Rin village and only 3 minutes walk from the beach. Behind this hotel is a Primary School.

Twins or Not? Trick question.

Having fun with PhotoShop… Twins? The Primary School playground.

With much time to spare, I went for a Traditional Thai Massage for THB300 and left feeling much rejuvenated.

On the second night, not much to do after dinner in the hotel, I powered up the laptop and did some posting to FaceBook. Had an early sleep since they don’t provide TV for my package.

The next morning, after a good complimentary Continental breakfast in the hotel, on the rented scooter, I went out and surveyed Haad Rin. Saw this resort on the northern part of Sunrise Beach which looks interesting.

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With nothing much else to do, I decided to check out and head back to the jetty at Haad Rin after returning the rented scooter and retrieving my passport.

The ferry that took me back to Ko Samui.

The ferry that took me back to Ko Samui.

The ferry time-table from Haad Rin jetty to Big Buddha Pier;
– 9.30AM, 11.40AM, 2.30PM & 5.30PM

I took the 11.40 AM ferry and saw the big crowd of ferry passengers and I was wondering how they could fit 300 people into the small boat. Then as I board the ferry, I saw a standby ferry positioning to pick up the balance of the passengers. I was worried that the ferry would be over-crowded. Fears allayed!

The ferry journey took about 50 minutes and when I saw my beloved bike parked at the ferry terminal, it was covered with fine sand.

my bike covered with dust

my bike covered with dust. had to use a mini towel to clear the dust.

The continuation of my trip will appear in the last part of this journal.

Thank you for visiting this blog.

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