Our Favorite Things to Do in Koh Phangan
You may have heard of Phuket, Koh Samui or Krabi when researching islands in Thailand. However, don’t let Koh Phangan go unnoticed as a killer travel destination. We found it through a stroke of luck while looking for yoga retreats, and it’s climbed up to one of our favorite places to chill and vacation of all time. We stayed on the island for two weeks and put together a list of our favorite things to do in Koh Phangan. We hope this helps you when planning your next trip!
1. Attend a Yoga Retreat
There are several yoga retreats you can attend on Koh Phangan. After a good amount of research, we chose to stay at Wonderland Healing Center because it had everything we were looking for in yoga classes, was budget-friendly, included a full vegan and plant-based buffet, and had a pool. The rooms and grounds looked beautiful as well.
We found this resource to search for and book yoga retreats online to be really helpful. You can list your needs and do price and feature comparisons. However, if you book with Wonderland, you can sometimes get a better price or quicker responses directly on their site so try that out first.
Here is our more in-depth post and video about our time at Wonderland!
2. Chill Out in the Northwest
After our yoga retreat, we headed up the northwest side of the island. Word on the google street was that the northwest would be a quieter scene, with less tourists and less partying. And although we’d been able to find vegan and vegetarian Thai food with no problem on our trip, this area was close to an entire row of vegan and plant-based restaurants we were interested in checking out.
- We decided to stay at a smaller hotel run by a local family just around the corner from Haad Yao beach. Our hotel didn’t have a pool like many of the resorts around us, but it was budget-friendly, had all of the amenities we needed, and again – we were right around the corner from nature’s pool :).
- Haad Yao is one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Phangan. You can relax on the beach or eat at one of it’s many ocean-side restaurants (both affordable and upscale options). Or there are many other restaurants nearby, and other activities like yoga or cooking classes.
- We really enjoyed having the tofu scramble at Pura Vida Cafe, a very inexpensive, home-cooked Thai lunch at Ying Ying’s kitchen and working from Palm Society Cafe (their mango chia pudding is delicious!).
- If you take a 10 minute scooter ride south of Haad Yao, you will find Haad Son. Home of Secret Beach. Secret beach is a smaller beach that is supposedly quieter than many of the other beaches. A little bid told us people gather there at night to play music around a bonfire but we didn’t have a chance to check it out. Next time.
- This area of Koh Phangan is also host to many incredible vegan and vegetarian restaurants, which aren’t all Thai focused. You will find Middle-eastern, Japanese, Chinese, American and many other fusion dishes donning the menu’s. Several are very healthy, raw and plant-based if you need a break from junk food. It’s fun to check out the different options, compare prices, have a full meal or snack at a few and revel in the opportunity for so many vegan options in one place.
3. Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter is a must in Koh Phangan! Sure, you can easily take a Songthaew since they can be found driving by and available to you every few minutes. However, a scooter makes the experience much more fun and freeing. You can explore the many beaches and small towns such as Chokulum in the north, or head down south of the Full Moon Party is your thing. We used our just to get over to Haad Son as whenever we wanted for dinner or our cooking classes.
It was Andrew’s first time driving one and he had no problem. He definitely took it slow and was careful on the turns which we heard could be problematic for tipping over. Then, I took my turn at driving one toward the end of the trip and it was not bad at all. If we went back I’d take the driver’s seat more often. For such a low cost, it’s worth the effort to rent one!
4. Take a Cooking Class
You can’t miss a cooking class when you’re in Thailand. Learning the secrets and nuances behind the tasty Thai dishes will enrich your trip. We’ve taken several cooking classes since being in Asia which were incredible, but the Green Gallery cafe was a special experience. The restaurant and cooking school are run by two passionately vegan plant-based sisters, whose love for food come out in their dishes. Check out our cooking experience in our video if you’d like a glimpse! Of all of the cooking classes we researched on the island, this stood out as the top choice.
That wraps up our must-do’s on Koh Phangan. We didn’t take yoga classes on the island outside of our yoga retreat but there are a TON to choose from that are easy to get to, with multiple times offered throughout the day. Add this to your list for sure!