Koh Phangan Attractions
What to See in Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan’s attractions are self evident: its beautiful beaches, peaceful vistas and powder-soft sand along with a dense jungle island interior are all aces in the island’s pack of cards. Along with this obvious draw, the spiritual side of the island is manifested through its 20 temples, each with its own serene and unique atmosphere.
There are no cinemas on Koh Phangan but if you are in need of an adrenalin rush then check out the Muay Thai kickboxing competitions where there are no need for actors or stuntmen – it’s the Real McCoy, knockouts and all.
Island’s Tallest Tree
With an impressive girth of some 14 metres, a monstrous tropical rubber forest tree (Dipterocapus Alatus Roxb.ex) stands by the side of the road nearby Wat Pho.
Definitely a good photo opportunity; a smaller but no less impressive neighbour is diagonally opposite.
Ra Mountain towers over the island and affords great scenic views. There’s a central ‘road’ running over the island’s crest from Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan Beach on the island’s northeastern side. The only trouble is it’s not finished, heavily rutted and unlit in places so it’s best to take an appropriate vehicle (dirt bike, 4x4, taxi) – do not attempt to drive a ‘normal’ car up Khao Ra, especially in the rain!
Muay Thai - Kickboxing
Regular Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing competitions do not always take place in the same location on Kho Phangan. Rather, locations are chosen by drawing lots. If you want to know where and when the next fight night will be, go to the nearest boxing stadium and ask. Both Haad Rin and Thongsala have impressive Muay Thai setups.
- Location: Several stadiums round the island, Jungle Gym in Haad Rin - Tel: 077 375115, Chorenit Boxing Thongsala - Tel: 077 377856
One of the largest on Koh Phangan, Phaeng Waterfall is easily accessible and really only worth visiting after steady rainfall during the monsoon season. Phaeng Waterfall has two levels, and offers many tracks leading to viewpoints in the mountain. Guides for hire are available. Phaeng Waterfall belongs to Thon Sadet - Koh Phangan National Park.
- Location: Off the Thong Sala – Chaloklum Road
- Remarks: Guides can be hired at Phaeng Waterfall National Park
- Tel: 077 238 275
The Kuan Yin Chinese Temple
On the road heading north from Thong Sala to Chaloklum stands the Kuan Yin Chinese temple. This temple is actually made up of seven different buildings – each attractive and with extensive views out over the countryside and nearby Chaloklum Bay. There’s an impressive ‘dragon drum’, several vividly coloured pagodas, a large golden Buddha image and wind chimes throughout.
The grounds are dotted with frangipani and bougainvillea and several golden warriors guard the inside entrance. The Kuan Yin, or Guanyin ‘Goddess of Mercy’ image has its origins in Chinese Taoism and in some cases is asexual or even male, sporting a moustache. Originally meant to be a lighthouse to aid fishermen, donations to build the edifice were so generous that a combination of lighthouse and temple was erected.
- Location: Overlooking Chaloklum Bay on the main road to Thongsala
- Price Range: Free entrance
Wat Pho is a popular Phangan attraction yet even when relatively crowded it retains its tranquility. Attracting many health enthusiasts, an inexpensive herbal sauna and massage centre is the main draw for this temple. The extensive grounds are made up of rudimentary buildings, and a large lily pond. Probably the best massage destination on the island.
- Opening Hours: 13:00 – 19:00
- Location: On the Ban Tai – Ao Thong Nai Pan Road
Wat Phu Khao Noi
The oldest temple on the island, Wat Phu Kao Noi (meaning ‘temple of the small mountain’) is the most tranquil location on Phangan due to the many retreats held there. It is an attractive, shady place with a devoted atmosphere and during retreats visitors are requested to maintain a respectful silence. Visitors are requested to park outside the grounds and to not pose with the Buddha images. Correct, respectful dress is a must. Wat Phu Khao Noi and its environs also has impressive vistas over the island.
- Opening Hours: Best to visit before noon
- Location: Between Thong Sala and Ban Tai