Updated: May 16
LIFE OUTSIDE THE SANDBOX
If you've read some of our past blogs then you may be aware that Danielle and I visited Phuket and Koh Samui initially, two places which welcomed tourists via the sandbox scheme. After a few weeks in Koh Samui, we ventured into unknown territory. Koh Pha Ngan was the first place outside of a sandbox scheme that we'd visited. We had no idea what to expect! Our main concern was whether anything would be open. We'd seen how much was closed everywhere else, and more tourists could visit those places. The last thing we wanted was to be stranded somewhere without anything to do, see or eat! We decided to go for it as there are always Seven Elevens, beaches, viewpoints and places to snorkel anyway.
We went to the pier in Samui and booked a boat to Koh Pha-Ngan for 350THB each. After showing our negative antigen test results, proof of vaccinations and evidence of completing a sandbox quarantine...off we went. Our Airbnb host at Nai Wok Hills collected us at the port, which was a real help. We would recommend them to anyone visiting the island as a great place to stay. There were a bunch of ex-pats who'd all lived in Kloh Pha Ngan for years and gave great advice on where to eat and what to see.
While driving around we were astounded at how busy the island was, it was unexpected. We still spent most of our time frequenting beaches, viewpoints and snorkelling but at least we had no problem somewhere great to eat at the end of the day!
WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
BOTTLE BEACH & BOTTLE BEACH VIEWPOINT
A word of warning as this incredible beach is impossible to get to with a motorbike, and wear trainers for the viewpoint! Unfortunately, we had to pass on the beach because we didn't have this forewarning. Rather than call the day a waste we went to the viewpoint and made the perilous trek in flip flops. There were times we should have probably turned back, but we powered through. Sidestepping a ledge on a cliff face in flip flops was a bad idea in hindsight, but we did get to see the unbelievable view that followed.
SALAD BEACH & SECRET BEACH
These beaches are very close together so it makes sense to see them back to back. Secret beach is great for snorkelling, you can stay here during the day and then Salad Beach is perfect for sitting and watching the sunset. If you rent a scooter then there are a tonne of incredible roads to drive in Koh Pha Ngan. This one leads you winding around the island with great scenic views the whole way.
HAAD RIN BEACH
This is the beach where Full Moon parties used to reign supreme! It had certainly taken its toll on this beach in the past, however, it has had an incredible resurgence since. I visited here in 2014 for one of the parties and had advised Danielle we should probably skip it because of the damage these parties did for so long. Luckily we spoke to some ex-pats who said we had to go and see the difference for ourselves. The beach is beautiful, scenic and the perfect place for a day of rest. If you want white powdered sands, crystal clear blue water and a few bars for food and drinks then this is the place for you!
EAT AMAZING FOOD
We were both very impressed with how many places were open, and we managed to find some great food spots. One of our regulars was a local food market, which has every type of food you could hope for. It's all delicious and all very cheap! Both the Phantip Night Market and Market Ko Pha-Ngan are great options. As travellers from the UK, we loved stumbling upon The Masons Arms. It's a quaint British style pub that gave a real taste of being back home again, just in warmer climates. The friendly owners even helped us sort out our boat to Koh Tao after we finished breakfast.
We were so happy we took a leap of faith and chose to see what else Thailand could offer us during this time. It surprised us in the best possible way and gave us the confidence to go see other islands. Next up was Koh Tao, which also did not disappoint!