You’re always asking us about Thai islands and beaches, which is why I thought it would be best if we kept you posted on what’s cool and what’s not that cool 🙂 Ko Pha Ngan was our first destination after we got used to a different time zone in Bangkok, enjoyed the colors and scents of our beloved Chinatown and ate Chinese food on Yaowarat and dim sums in Din Tai Fung. We were looking for some place we could run to from all the noise of Bangkok. We were planning to do it on KO PHA NGAN 🙂
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE ISLAND
Ko Pha Ngan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand. The closest islands to this one are Ko Samui and Ko Tao. Everyone will have a different opinion on when it’s best to come here 🙂 Sometimes you will read that January is perfect but it may rain a little… sometimes you will read that with Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan you never know, and it’s December and January that are the worst months to go there. We risked and there is not much space left for sun in Ko Pha Ngan at the beginning of January for Thailand, it may rain too, but it wasn’t as bad as Ko Samui.
They also say that the weather in the Gulf of Thailand is good when it’s not in other parts of Thailand – which is since June till September.
The island itself is not too big, there are no big resorts or big hotels on it, but there are smaller recreation centres, bungalows, hotels with cheaper or more expensive houses. There are a lot of parties – the island is famous for Full Moon Party, which is a huge party happening once a month. They say that the Haad Rin beach is the most fun, the most commercial and the loudest but we didn’t check 🙂 There are also veeeery peaceful places, like our Salad Beach (Haad Salad) where even the New Year’s Eve was peaceful and pretty romantic – a few people, dinner on the beach, Chinese lanterns flying above 😉 We recommend highly!
HOW TO GET THERE?
There are two ways to get to Ko Pha Ngan from Bangkok:
1) buy a flight to Ko Samui and take a ferry from Nathon Pier to Thong Sala on Ko Pha Ngan
2) buy a flight to Surat Thani, catch a bus to Donsak and take a ferry to Thong Sala on Ko Pha Ngan
We chose the second option because tickets from Bangkok to Ko Samui for the four of us on New Year’s Eve were expensive. A flight from BKK to Surat Thani was 900 PLN (for the whole family), the transfer to the ferry and the ferry – 150 PLN, and the taxi – about 100 PLN. The last part of the trip can be cheaper if you get on the pick up truck with other people and the driver needs to go to other hotels too. We just felt like getting ‘home’ as fast as we could after hours of travelling with two kids 🙂
We bought our ferry tickets in RAJA FERRY – you can buy them online. If you need plane tickets in Thailand, you should check out Thai Airways, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air (our choice) or Air Asia first.
When it comes to important information – you can eat lunch (pad thai and my favorite flat noodles are waiting for you ;)) at the Donsak ferry station.
Considering the weather, we didn’t get a chance to explore the island, see various beaches and hidden places, but even the small part of the island that we saw showed us that this is the kind of place that we’d love to go back to. If you find your peaceful, quiet beach, you can be sure that there won’t be crowds or parties there. Haad Rin was probably crazy on New Year’s Eve. We found out about it on January 3rd while waiting for a ferry in Thong Sala to go to Ko Samui – wiiiiild crowds!!!
Our beach, even though there were houses, small hotels and restaurants there, reminded us of the edge of the world that we looked so desperately for 🙂
Driving on the island was like our travels across Indonesia – the green, palm trees, motor scooters. Luckily, there is definitely less motor scooters here, you can feel safe on the roads. There are many tourists and places for them – 7eleven, Family Mart and other shops, pharmacies, stores with clothes, accesories for snurking (you can do it here too!), etc. There are usually two options to explore the island – it’s either a motor scooter or a pick-up cab. Exploring is more about seeing beaches and feeling the climate because from what we managed to see, there’s not much to see 😉 I only wish we’d gone to sea park Ang Thong (you can go there for one day), but the risk of rain on a boat with a small child is a little scary 🙂
HOTEL IN SALAD BEACH: GREEN PAPAYA RESORT
The hotel where we started our adventure on Thai islands was Green Papaya Resort – small, intimate one. Cool houses placed in a garden by the pool, by the beach, with a perfectly located restaurant. With a view at the sea and the beach – fairy tale!!! Do you need anything else to be happy??? Our stay started from a dinner at the beach on New Year’s Eve, then we had fireworks, lanterns and relax. The rooms were nice and spacious – even for the four of us 🙂 Most houses had a front porch with a table, chairs, a sunlounger and a bed – full relax 🙂
With the first morning of the new year came a disappointment – breakfast wasn’t spectacular, although the place where you eat is! You can choose from basics – cereal, toast bread, bacon, sausages, fried rice, fruits. You can ask for an omelette or scrambled eggs, sometimes they will also make funny little flat-cakes – coconut rice pudding. Seeing what breakfast is like, I was scared of lunch, but we didn’t feel like looking for some other place to eat… and? Turns out Thai cuisine in our hotel is delicious and if Maks gets bored of pad thai, rice or other Thai treats, he can get pizza or chocolate pancakes. We couldn’t get enough of delicious pad thai, yummy vegetable spring rolls and panaeng curry that you can easily fall in love with! If you need some diversion, you can get massaman curry, tom kha gai or chicken with cashew nuts. If you mix it with coconut water and a view at the beach, you can call it PARADISE! 🙂
If only the weather had been better, we would still be sitting on Ko Pha Ngan. We recommend it! 🙂 Details about Green Papaya Resort can be found HERE.
If you wanna know more about Ko Samui, unfortunately we can’t say anything good about it – our hotel was a disappointment, the rooms were fine, but the beach and the food still need a looooot of work. Luckily, we found a nice, family restaurants nearby. They served great food and the best mango sticky rice I’ve ever had 🙂