Koh Phangan is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 70 kilometres from the mainland. With an overall area of 167 square kilometres, it’s the fifth largest island in Thailand. The beaches there are some of the most stunning and serene in the world, living up to the cliche of dazzling white sands under cobalt-blue skies.
Koh Phangan is actually the embodiment of Buddhism’s idea of balance. Its beaches are comprised of very public stretches and private coves. There are places where people have fun, but there are also places — especially in the northern coast — where visitors chill out on tranquil beaches offering balmy bliss and sober solace.
If you want peace and quiet on your vacation, check out the following areas on the northern side of Koh Phangan.
On the north and northeast
Two adjacent coves, Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai, offer quiet yet contrasting choices on the northeast side, while Bottle Beach up north is located in a secluded cove that’s difficult to reach. Getting to these beaches requires some effort; naturally, not too many visitors flock to these places.
- Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach — From a quiet, secluded beach, rapid development in the past few years transformed this stretch of sand into the busier of the two beaches, with a village rising behind the series of resorts that line the waterfront.Most of the resorts here made an effort to blend into their environment, so the beach still looks pristine while the rooms stay hidden behind the trees. Because many of the resorts are high-end, Thong Nai Pan Noi doesn’t get too crowded.
The beach itself is gorgeous, thanks to the annual northeast monsoon generating huge waves that build beautiful beaches. Since there are no offshore reefs nearby, the beach has a smooth sandy bottom that runs all the way out into deeper waters.
- Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach — Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach shares the same beautiful bay with its northern twin, so the beach also has the same fine sand and crystal blue waters. But it is the more budget-friendly zone, with lots of two- and three-star resorts. Should you desire a more relaxed atmosphere, just hop on a boat to Thong Nai Pan Noi.
- Bottle Beach — Still considered by many travelers to be the best in the island, Bottle Beach retains its unspoiled beauty precisely because it is one of the hardest beaches to reach, ensuring minimum crowds and a leisurely development. You either take a boat or a two-hour hike to get there. Upon arrival, you’ll be charmed by the soft sand, clear waters, and tranquil atmosphere. No luxury resorts here, but simple bungalows with stunning beachfront views are available should you decide to stay overnight.
Related article: Koh Phangan, Thailand: A rejuvenating retreat at a seaside sanctuary
In the northwest
Koh Phangan’s tranquil northwest is the diametric opposite of the island’s active south, both in direction and atmosphere. And Mother Nature has blessed the beaches in the northwest with spectacular views of sunsets over the water.
- Salad Beach — Also known as Sleepy Hat Salad, this stunning stretch of pure white sand is a quiet respite for those looking to unwind. The beach has a relaxed vibe, a friendly atmosphere, and a picture-perfect bay. Cementing Salad’s restful reputation is The Yoga Retreat, a yoga-and-detox haven hidden in the jungle 10 minutes away from the beach.
- Mae Haad Beach — This popular beach is known for its sandbar that, during low tide, connects the beach to the small island of Koh Ma a mere 230 metres away. This sandbar cuts Mae Haad into two different beaches: the long main one facing west, and the crescent-shaped cove facing north. This unusual combination of beaches, sand bar, and island makes Mae Haad a popular destination. Before, Mae Haad had only basic bungalows and a chill atmosphere. Then in 2010, a main road was built going right to the beach, and in 2017, the road was upgraded. Today, there are four-star resorts in Mae Haad, but its relaxed vibe still remains.
Retreat to a sanctuary with Wheel & Anchor
You can visit any of the above-mentioned beaches if you want to experience the tranquil side of Koh Phangan, just a short ferry ride from Koh Samui, where Wheel & Anchor will be going for a 'LiveAway' vacation in January 2022. More details in your newsletter!