Koh Phangan has garnered a reputation as Thailand’s party mecca. And while the Full Moon blowouts that erupt on Haad Rin each month certainly are some of the biggest shindigs in Southeast Asia (be sure to bring the neon face paint!), there’s actually much more to this tropical isle than you might think. Up north, secret beaches are threaded with coconut plantations and peppered with thatch-roof bungalows. Elsewhere are yoga schools nestled by bays of azure waters. Then come rugged shores that crumple into forested peaks where there’s hardly another soul in sight.
If all that’s stoked the wanderlust, then there’s even more to come. Airbnb on Koh Phangan is a montage of tempting villas, cool condos with sea views, and sleek cabanas that open onto the sands. This guide delves into all the various areas of the isle, so you can be sure you’re picking a pad in the place that suits you best.
There’s a bit of a grey area hanging over the status of Airbnb in Thailand as a whole. Officially, private rentals of 30 days or less are against the law unless they are in a registered hotel or resort establishment. Unofficially, it seems as if the rules are hardly ever enforced. Only a few reports of fines have emerged, and they’ve been against the owners of properties, not the traveler.
Still, some listings on Airbnb in Koh Phangan might not have the right documentation to allow for vacation-style trips. If you’re worried about the risk, it’s always best to check ahead of time with your host. Alternatively, book for at least a month at a time, or go with listings that are in established hotels across the island.
Where should I stay in Koh Phangan Airbnb?
Lots of people think of Koh Phangan as just the home of the Full Moon Party. The reality is that happens down on the white sands of Haad Rin (1). Simply move a little north-west to Baan Tai (2)and things calm down a lot. Move again to the east coast and you can discover the gorgeous double act of Panburi Village and Thong Nai Pan (3), where there’s even more luxury and fewer crowds. Meanwhile, Haad Salad (4) is a yogi’s and diver’s haven on the west coast, while Thong Sala (5) is the bustling island capital and hub for the ferries.
Loads of music venues and pubs
Your chance to attend a bucket-list Full Moon Party
Usually quite busy
Pricy when there’s an event on
Anyone who’s ever been to a Full Moon Party will know the legendary name of Haad Rin. This is the place where those great lunar nights began way back in the 1970s. It’s where they still go on today, drawing upwards of 40,000 revellers per time. When the party is on, this place is rammed to bursting. When it’s not, the beach is actually relatively quiet and clean. Either way, you’ll get probably the most varied selection of bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants and hotels in this part of the island.
Thong Sala is likely to be your first port of call on the island of Koh Phangan. All the main ferry companies coming in from Samui and Surat Thani to Koh Phangan land here, so you can imagine a spot with all the bustle and grit of a transport hub. These days, there’s also a down-to-earth selection of sports bars and international eateries (much-loved by the expats), not to mention excellent transport links going all around the island. This is also the pier you use to leave and go back to Surat Thani.
Baan Tai is a collective name for the multiple kilometres of beachfront that fringe the southern side of Koh Phangan. Facing the island of Samui, it’s got a great view of distant jungles and mountains. On top of that, the region strikes a balance between affordability and connectivity. You can be in the Full Moon Party mecca of Haad Rin or the port at Thong Sala after just a quick tuk-tuk ride. The sunsets here are another highlight, and there are loads of fantastic open-air bars right by the sand to help you enjoy them with a cold Chang in hand.
Haad Salad is like something lifted straight out of a travel brochure. Green-blue sea waters, cloud-coloured sands, and dashes of nearby coral reef make it the picture-perfect location for a relaxed Thai break. But there’s more, because Haad Salad (also known as Salad Beach) is a hubbub of yoga studios and wellness spas. It’s the place to head if you’re looking for morning downward dogs and detox sessions.
You get two really gorgeous beaches connected by a boardwalk
Calm seas thanks to protection from the bay
Tricky to get to
Some pricy resorts
Like the north coast of Ibiza is where you catch the quiet of the island, so the north coast of Phangan offers something chilled for families. Cue the duo of Panburi Village and Thong Nai Pan. Tucked into a gorgeous horseshoe bay with a boulder-rimmed headland in the middle, these two beach towns are laden with lovely cottages and romantic flats. The pace of life is slower up in these parts. There are no Full Moon blowouts, just easy-going reggae bars and seafood restaurants by the lapping waves.
With Baan Kai Beach on the doorstep and a huge terrace, this spacious two-bedroom apartment has plenty up its sleeve. Inside seems to merge with outside as the big French doors slide to reveal a fully fitted kitchen with island, a lounge with coffee table, and a dining area all pushed into one. There’s enough space for five guests in total.
Chic, artsy and simply luxurious, Coco Lilly comes with an intriguingly shaped pool spreading through its walled gardens. Hanging chairs and sunbeds are tucked into little nooks and crannies, shaded by fig trees and orchid plants. The style continues inside, with rooms that seamlessly fuse white concrete and natural woods, offering low-lying beds and the occasional balcony. The highlight? It’s got to be that swim-up bar slash sitting area!
Offering oodles of square metreage between the coconut plantations of Srithanu on the western haunch of the island, this 10-person home is a great option for family vacays. It’s focused on a beautiful pool with enough space for multiple sunbeds and hammocks. Lots of the bedrooms open directly to the outside, but there’s also a large and modern communal lounge with a L-shaped sofa.
200 square metres of space, four bedrooms holding eight queen beds, multiple balconies and several storeys – there’s enough capacity at this gorgeous villa for up to 12 guests. Little deck spaces seem to poke out in all directions, offering prime sunset-viewing territory in the evening. The pool is also a temptation, sitting literally feet from where the waves lap against the Phangan rocks.
Wedged between pockets of big coconut palms right on the edge of the beach, this treehouse-style duplex has to be seen to be believed. Wood runs throughout, going from the breezy bedroom to the veranda, where you’ll be able to survey the turquoise Thai Gulf each morning. Downstairs is a shaded eating area and a half-outdoors kitchen. Oh, and you even get your own swing over the waves.
Airbnb in Koh Phangan is brimming with tempting bargains that might just get you booking down on the Thai party island. You can score luxurious beachside homes with pools for around just $30 per person, per night. What’s more, it’s possible to get great discounts of 10-50% on long-term stays, so there’s an incentive to hang around and soak up the rays even longer.
One downside of an Airbnb – and the reason you might find it’s a more affordable way to go – is the lack of hotel-level service. Somewhere like the Chantaramas Resort might cost a little more than some of the Airbnb down on Ban Tai, but guests there enjoy daily room cleaning, an in-house spa, and even a private tour organiser for any trips that might be on the itinerary.
Koh Phangan is about way more than just monthly parties in honour of the full moon. Palm-topped beaches of pure sugar sand string along the northern shores, empty bays with yoga studios await there too, and there are oodles of enticing Airbnb options that are sure to get you reaching for the passport!