Places To Visit In Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan has a long history that stretches back over 600 years to when the first monks settled on a hilltop near Thongsala. Since then the island's spiritual traditions have grown and there are a number of other ancient and newer temples well worth visiting. Its rich tropical landscape is home to acres of undisturbed rainforest, thus there are some great jungle and beach walks, excellent viewpoints from the mountains and several waterfalls, with some enticing enough to bring Thai Royal visitors.
There are more than 20 temples around the island and all welcome well behaved visitors. Not only are they great historical and spiritual places, but they are also at the centre of the Thai community and often have temple fairs with dancing, singing, markets and stalls.
When visiting temples, please respect the Buddhist and Thai culture; always wear a shirt that covers your shoulders, shorts are ok but not too short, no shoes or headwear in the temples and never point your feetat any Thais, especially a Monk (sit cross legged or make a kind of "sitting kneel" with your legs under you and your feet pointing to away from the monks; never touch a Thai on the head either). Women cannot touch the monks, so if you wish to pass anything, do it via a male friend or put it next to the monk with your right hand.
Wat Phu Khao Noi (South West)
Wat Phu Khao Noi is the oldest temple on Koh Phangan and is situated on top of a hill just outside Thongsala near the hospital. It has some very interesting ancient buildings and Chedis, as well as amazing views over the island and beyond. The head monk there also speaks a bit of English; it's worth noting that the monks are only really around in the morning, though you can still visit until late in the afternoon.
Chinese Temple (North West)
The Chinese Temple exists today because of the faith of Mrs Malawan. In 1990, when Koh Phangan was still largely without electricity, Mrs Malawan came to Sangthom Temple on Koh Phangan for a ceremony of presenting the robes to the priests. During one night, sleeping outside with friends, Mrs Malawan dreamt about the Chinese Buddha, Jaomae Kuanim. The Buddha told her to build a firelight for the people. Mrs Malawan then returned to Bangkok to raise the funds and building was completed in 1992 (open from 8.00am to 5.00pm).
Jade Buddha (Central)
Near the entrance to Phaeng Waterfall, the Jade Buddha can be found on top of a small hill in the temple grounds.
Wat Pho (South West)
Wat Pho is located at the start (and level section) of the Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road where the monks operate a traditional
herbal steam sauna. Natural herbs such as lemongrass and other Asian remedies are heated by a log wood fire, creating steam that is filtered into the sauna. The herbal system has many health benefits from helping to reduce high cholesterol levels to improving skin conditions such as dry skin and eczema (open from 3-6pm).
Phaeng Waterfall (South West)
One of the island's grandest waterfalls is a steep 250m walk up a jungle trail, but once there it is quite an impressive fall. Walk a further 200m up the path and it brings you to a fantastic mountaintop viewpoint. Nearby, there is also a long winding foot trail that leads up the mountain Khao Ra peak and viewpoint.
Wang Sai (North East)
Wang Sai waterfall is situated on the northwest coast of the island near Mae Had. It flows best after heavy rains and has a number of pools to cool off in. It certainly isn't the biggest waterfall on Koh Phangan, but it's a beautiful stretch of fresh water in a lovelp spot.
HISTORY AND FACTS
Koh Phangan has always been a beautiful
and spiritual place for the Thai people, it has been visited by no less than four Kings of Thailand: with the Great Rama V coming over 10 times, leaving his royal seal engraved on a rock at T haan Sadet Waterfall; and the current King Hhtimibol following in his footsteps. the island was uninhabited until about 600 years ago when passing monks realised its tranquillity and spiritual importance and settled In Wat Phu Khao Noi just outside Thongsala. It is Thailand's fifth biggest island and has an area of 167km2, thus over 90% of Phangan is unspoilt tropical forest; and due to its granite structure, there are several small mountains where it's possible to trek and even camp. There is an abundance of wildlife from monkeys to birds of paradise and then there is the amazing underwater world that surrounds Koh Phangan; with over 10kms of vibrant coral and 20 local dive sites. And if you have any energy after that, there is the nightlife that the island became internationally famous for, with the globally renowned Full Moon Party and weekly outdoor events in jungle and beachfront venues; not forgetting the daily session that goes off in Haad Rin.
INTERNET & EMAIL
Koh Phangan has tons of Internet shops dotted around the island which are either independent or inside the hotel; the old dial-up modems are almost a thing of the past as most shops now have ADSL broadband services. For those of you with a laptop, you will find fairly good wireless network coverage around Koh Phangan and Samui.
Koh Phangan Hospital near Thongsala has a good standard of care but lacks facilities, there is an X-ray machine, excellent motorbike wound repair and a weekly dental clinic, but should really be considered as your family doctor and not as fully equipped as Thai hospitals can be. Samui offers several choices if you need good care and the Koh Phangan Hospital will quickly hand over cases they can't handle whilst arranging a speedboat if necessary.
If it is not too serious then there are numerous clinics around the island; three good choices being the Bandon Inter Clinic and Haad Rin Inter Clinic both in Haad Rin or the Phangan International Medical Clinic in Thongsala. Bigger Hospitals are available on Koh Samui and also in Suratthani.
DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Koh Phangan is a very safe place where most troubles are self inflicted; with drink driving and drug arrests the biggest problem makers. Motorbike accidents are fairly common; the unsightly scar has become known as a "Koh Phangan Tattoo" so you should always wear a helmet and shoes; most of the roads here are concrete now so they are crucial, jeans and a jacket are advisable. If you are an inexperienced rider, be careful on sandy corners and do not attempt the hills of Haad Rin or Thong Nai Pan. Taxis and rental jeeps are cheap, especially if you hire one in a group!
Our advice is don't be tempted by drugs; this island has had a bad reputation for a long time and the open taking of drugs is not
tolerated. Thailand has also had a crackdown and the police are very hot on stopping the problem. The days are gone when you could buy your way out for a few dollars and the penalties in Thailand are harsh to say the least - expect a hefty fine and possibly an extended jail term if caught.
Theft is uncommon, but if it does happen go to the police station (see map on page 158) and get a report for your insurance. Always leave your valuables in the resort safe (especially at FMP) and do not give opportunists the chance, as most theft is through an open bungalow window or from the front basket on the motorbike.
trekking and rock climbing without a guide or proper equipment is not recommended, the island is a big place and gets dark early. Guides can be contacted at the Phaeng Waterfall National Park.
| Police Station
Koh Phangan Hospital
Bandon inter Clinic
Haad Rin Inter Clinic
Phangan Inter Clinic
Haad Rin Queen Ferry
999 Government Bus
State Railway Thailand
Phangan Animal Care