The most reliable option is the ferry to Had Rin
from Big Buddha pier - about five minutes drive from the airport, (10.30am,
1.00pm and 4.00pm). There's also a ferry from Nathon, which leaves for Thong
Sala three times a day at frequently changing times, and a longtail from Maenam
(just round the corner from the 711) that stops at all the beaches from Had Rin
to Tong Naipan when it's operational - check with Travel Solutions (see page 50)
Once you arrive at your chosen destination, the
best advice is to chill out and enjoy it - Phangan's roads are ten times worse
than Samui's and are often no more than muddy rutted tracks. Songthaews run
reasonably frequently between Had Rin and Tong Sala, but on the rest of the
island can be as infrequent as twice a day. Songthaews and private boats are
available for private charter, but only at exorbitant rates.
Had Rin West
is where the Big Buddha ferry docks and is shallow and very rocky. Had Rin East
is the home of the Full Moon Party (see Dusk 'Til Dawn) and is Phangan's
nightlife central. It's also the major hub for longtails, which means that
swimming is often out of the question on the otherwise very pleasant beach.
Bungalows and guesthouses are cheap and plentiful, but remember that even on a
non-Full Moon night, you're likely to be kept up until 2am by the bars sound
systems. Considerably quieter is Had Leela a short stroll to the end of the
a ten-minute longtail ride away from Had Rin, has excellent swimming and several
quality stilt bungalow operations.
is home to the Sanctuary Spa and Wellness Centre (www.thesanctuary-kpg.com),
which has a great vegetarian restaurant and a wide range of quality
accommodation. The beach isn't that great though.
The pristine Tong
Naipan is great for snorkelling and is
very popular with families. It also has plenty of decent accommodation including
Panviman Resort (077 238 543), the islands only three star option.
is considered by many to Phangan's most chilled beach and attracts many long
stay backpackers with basic, but very cheap, beach huts.
on the west coast isn't the best of beaches, but it is overlooked by Tantawan
Bungalows (01 229 4804), which boasts great French food and one of the islands
best swimming pools.
Eating, Drinking, Dancing
All the beaches have passable to excellent Thai
restaurants, for more international flavours, Had
Rin is the only place to be. Try Shell
(on the lake) for top notch Italian and
the best coffee on the island, Om
Ganesh (main road) for very cheap
northern Indian, Niras
Bakery (crossroads) for all manner of
pies, pastries and sandwiches or Bamboozle
(just off the main road) for authentic Spanish treats.
The beach bars are mostly of a reasonably similar
techno orientated ilk apart from Drop
Inn and Cactus,
which also play reggae, rock, and Euro-house. Alternatively, for less volume,
pub grub and a very friendly atmosphere, head for the Outback
Bar (main road).
The clubbing scene has cooled somewhat since the
social order crackdown started but Harmony
(behind Bamboozle) and Backyard
(road to Had Leela) are both packed most nights and play any kind of music as
long as its trance.