Exploring Koh Pha Ngan: West Coast Beach Hopping, a Temple & Some Ice Cream

With so many upscale resorts popping up on the island, I suspect more and more visitors are getting a taxi from the pier to their hotel, situating themselves on a beach chair and not leaving for their entire holiday. It’s a common form of holiday-making, but not one I’ve ever understood. Being an island, there’s no denying that many of Koh Phangan’s things-to-do are visiting other beaches, but it is still an island worth exploring.

There are several means of getting around, but as I’ve said before, mopeds are by far the easiest and most fun.  Taxis can be found but I know from experience that depending on the time of day, you may end up waiting around quite some time for one to happen down the road you are headed along.  The price can add up as well if you are taking several taxis a day, with fares being 100-200B/person/ride depending on how the driver feels at the time.  A moped will set you back 200-250/day and can fit two people, so do the math. Did I mention they are fun? I’ve seen people cycling, so that’s an option. I guess. If you want to heavily exert yourself on long, steep hills in 30+C weather, glaring sunlight and ridiculous humidity.  Be my guest. You’ll certainly be a fitter person than I, because I’ll be on a moped. The island is too big for walking to be much of an option, unless you just want to visit an attraction nearby to where you’re staying.

Any itinerary kind of depends on where you’re staying because your base location will likely predetermine your starting point for the day, but If I were to suggest some ideas for exploration (and I guess I am) then here’s the first:

Thong Sala is the largest town on the island, so let’s star there.  If you don’t have your own wheels then you can get scam-free, well-maintained bikes from The Hub, a sports bar across from the main pier. Bikes cost 250B/day, or 200B/day if hired for a week or longer.  You’ll need to leave a passport with them. Transport sorted, head a couple of doors down to Nira’s Bakery and partake of some coffee and a delicious breakfast – Thai or western, take your pick.

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Nira’s in Thong Sala
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Street art in Thong Sala

One beach-hopping option is to head out of Thong Sala and follow this route, along the western coast. Stop in at any (or all) of the beaches along the way, making your way up to Mae Haad Beach and Ko Ma where you can do some great snorkelling if you’re into that, as well as taking in some beautiful views along the way.

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Hin Kong at low tide. At high tide there isn’t much beach above the tide-line, what is there can be a bit scrubby and the water is too shallow to really swim. Nicer for a stroll, or chilling out at some of the restaurants along this stretch of coast than it is for sunbathing,
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Haad Yao. Dominated at the North end by the large HadYao Bayview Resort, but featuring some smaller restaurants and guesthouses further south along the beach.
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Massages on the beach at Had Yao.
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Haad Salad. Fine, soft sandy beach. At high tide if you want to sunbathe, you may feel a bit cramped up against the beachside restaurants and resorts, as you can see in this pic. That may or may not bother you.

This jaunt up the coast could take you as little as 45 minutes, or as long as you like, depending on how many beaches you want to stop at, and how long you stay on each one. You won’t be short of opportunities to grab a bite to eat, with restaurants on every beach ranging from simple, to upmarket at the fancier resorts. You’ll find some budget-friendly options along this coast in my food post here.

Heading back to Thong Sala, follow this route, and continue from Mae Haad along the north coast to Chaloklum.  Take a wander through the small village, perhaps stopping for a bite to eat or some coffee. From Chaloklum you can take a detour up to Haad Khom if you aren’t beached-out and you’ve got some extra time. Coral Bay had snorkelling equipment, as well as a kayak available for rent.

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Haad Khom
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Home to Coral Bay bungalows…
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…and a very large pig.

Returning to Chaloklum, head south on the main road and make a stop at the Guanyin Temple, signposted as the “Goddess of Mercy Shrine Joss House”.  This will be on the right hand side of the road as you travel south. See this post if you’d like a more detailed account of my visit here.

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After the temple, continue south, making a pit-stop at Phangan Homemade Ice Cream which will be on your left hand side. I can especially recommend the coffee flavour. Yum. You can sit in and eat food as well as have ice cream, or they can prepare ice cream to takeaway. My kids definitely appreciated the ice cream pots I brought back to them!

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A short ride further on will see you back in Thong Sala.  Should it be nearing nightfall, the Phantip Plaza Night Market is a good place to grab something to eat. If you want to know more about the market, or other cheap places to eat on Koh Pha Ngan check out this post I wrote.

More ideas for island explorations to come!

 

All content including images © Leigh Eros 2017. Do not reproduce without permission.

 

2 thoughts on “Exploring Koh Pha Ngan: West Coast Beach Hopping, a Temple & Some Ice Cream

  1. Bear, you should be writing for a travel mag – your writing is fun, funny and informative! And such great pics. Sounds like you’re all having an amazing time.
    Dan and I were at the cottage this weekend to re-shingle the shed. Chilly nights and mornings but nice during the day. Stunning sunny day yesterday, we walked to the point and the Chance before we left. Max and Thom arrive Thursday for Thanksgiving weekend at the bay. Should be fun! Love you. Xoxo

    Like

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