Koh Phangan is an island in southeast Thailand off the northern coastline of Koh Samui. It sits between two other well known islands. Koh Samui to the South and the tiny but beautiful Koh Tao to the north. Koh Phangan is small, the perimeter of the island is only 40 km (25 miles). The name means “sand bar” as there are many just off the shoreline. It is though these days more well known for bars of a different kind.
Throughout the course of the last century the population of Koh Phangan has steadily grown. Initially living off the sea, whilst cultivating coconuts on land. In later years, tin mining developed to provide a welcome boost to the local economy. During the 1970s, however, the tin mining industry faltered and finally stopped. During the 1980s, tourism took hold. Nowadays the island is primarily a tourist destination. Fishing and coconut farming have though remained an important part of the local economy.
Koh Phangan has nurtured a worldwide reputation as a party island and is famous for its monthly Full Moon Party. This is a wild all night long celebration, which is tied to the lunar calendar. It draws revellers from all over the world to its southeastern peninsula, Haad Rin. Most of the madness is centred on Sunrise Beach, where beach bungalows attract an enormous backpacker crowd. Motorbike and drowning deaths here occur with a frightening regularity.
It is a shame that all the island is known for is the raucous, drunken dangerous revelry. The island does have more to offer. On the north coast lie quieter, white-sand beaches including Hat Khuat and Hat Thian. However all this beauty gets forgotten when the monthly 30,000 party goers arrive.
There is little doubt that Koh Phangan’s reputation as the biggest beach party headquarters on the planet will continue. The amount of revenue this brings to the islanders cannot be ignored.