Renowned throughout the world for its Full Moon Party, many miss out on Koh Phangans more peaceful, undamaged side. Much of the island is only accessible by boat or four-wheel drive jeep, both of which you can hire, either for short journeys or for a whole day to explore the island. If you linger a little longer you will soon discover some incredible natural scenery and unique island communities.
Thong Nai Pan on the North East coast of Koh Phangan has some of the finest beaches in Thailand. In fact, Thong Nai Pan Noi (small) is already home to the island's three most luxurious resorts: Panviman, Santhiya and the recently opened Rasananda Resort. Less up market but no less appealing, Baan Pongs famous restaurant at the Flip Flop beach bar serves excellent Thai and Burmese food, while the village behind the beach is a home away from home for many of Thailands top artists, models and a whole generation of travellers who have based their holidays on Thong Nai Pan year after year.
Further inland, Thansadet is the island's national park, where past Kings visited the stunning waterfalls and spread Koh Phangans fame throughout the Kingdom. The north east coast is also the place to spot giant monitor lizards, which can grow up to three metres in length. Those with stamina can trek to the top of Khao Ra, the islands highest mountain for incredible panoramic views. A guide can be hired locally to help you locate paths through the jungle. Thrill seekers can also try kiteboarding, wakeboarding, elephant riding, mountain biking, and kayaking on Koh Phangan, or of course, you could just curl up in a hammock with a good book.
Koh Phangan is also now a Mecca for wellbeing with a choice of yoga, massage and fasting centres. Thai Chi and many alternative healing arts are taught in beautiful locations across the island, the most famous being The Sanctuary in Haad Tien, accessible only by boat. This renowned wellness centre attracts an international crowd who come to rejuvenate and recharge away from the stresses of global life. There is also a herbal steam and sauna at Wat Pho in Ban Tai village where you can make a donation and experience this relaxing treatment in a traditional Thai setting.
Thong Sala is Koh Phangans Thai capital with thriving markets selling fruit, vegetables and fresh fish. Enterprising Thais and foreigners have created a lively social scene in Thongsala, even building a small cinema so you can catch all the latest releases and timeless classics during your stay.
With mountain and tropical forests still making up over seventy percent of Koh Phangan, this beautiful island is a perfect getaway for those looking for nature, off the beaten track. Only 12km from Koh Samui, Koh Phangan has developed at a much steadier pace and although there's now a Tesco Lotus superstore and even an airport planned for the future, its national parks and sandy beaches have secured the island as a "green dream" in the hearts of many international travellers.
Flying out of Koh Samui is more difficult than flying in. Unlike Patrick McGoohan in the cult TV series 'The Prisoner', nobody wants to leave.
If you are looking for a a great wine and dine experience with a sea view, then visit a small beachfront restaurant called OCEAN 11.
Japanese couples are shy, so some Shinto shrines put on a demonstration of a traditional wedding ceremony to entice prospective brides and grooms to wed.