If you’re happy and you know it, Koh PhaNgan

November, 2016 / Words by Katie, Photos by Kevin

If you’re happy and you know it, FIND A BEACH
If you’re happy and you know it, FIND A BEACH.
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, FIND A BEACH.

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If you’re happy and you know it, GRAB A DRINK.
If you’re happy and you know it, GRAB A DRINK.
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, GRAB A DRINK.

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If you’re happy and you know it, HAVE A TREAT.
If you’re happy and you know it, HAVE A TREAT.
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, HAVE A TREAT.

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Sorry mom.

If you’re happy and you know it, DO ALL THREE (find a beach! grab a drink! have a treat!)
If you’re happy and you know it, DO ALL THREE (find a beach! grab a drink! have a treat!)
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
f you’re happy and you know it, DO ALL THREE (find a beach! grab a drink! have a treat!)

happyknowit-04

Koh Pha Ngan (pronounced Koh Pan Yang…or at least something close to that), was recommended to us by quite a few people before we finally decided to book our first trip in May.

Admittedly, we were skeptical. The island’s largest claim to fame is the notorious Full Moon Party, which tends to attract large swaths of 20-year-old bros who’s M.O. is to get fucked up and fuck (I know that sounds aggressive, but it’s largely true). These things make me cringe and nervous. I didn’t even like writing those words, let alone experiencing them. But alas, our friends and family repeatedly assured us that Koh Pha Ngan was amazing despite it’s monthly party, so we decided to give it a go.

OHMAGAHHH, I’m glad we did.

I write this now on our second trip to the island, and seeing as it’s the only place we’ve returned to throughout our journeys, I can safely say, this is my happy place. Indeed, this island is much more than it’s Full Moon Party (which is totally avoidable), and has something for everyone — even the fair-skinned beach-averse gal writing this post. Koh Pha Ngan is fun, it’s relaxing, it’s beautiful, it’s tasty, it’s mysterious, it’s All The Things you’d want in a vacation, which is why we’ll be back, Koh Pha Ngan. OH WE’LL BE BACK.

And though I’m going to refrain myself from a more writing long-winded post about the many virtues of Koh Pha Ngan (I’m pretty sure it would come out sounding like a stereotypical Burning Man rant), I’ll leave a few a few superlatives for those who are new to the island:

Best place to stay: Cookies Salad. Sure, there are fancier options, but at $30/night, this place is the best value on the island, with fantastic views, a lovely staff, a good breakfast, and spacious, clean rooms. (PRO-TIP: Unless you are opting for a villa, request the rooms that end in ’04’ for extra privacy). Also, my best high-dea ever?

Best place to eat (THAI): Ying Ying’s. Speed is not her strong suit (she cooks everything to order, and by herself), but the wait is worth it. Try the coconut shake, the Laab Salad, and the green curry. Also, this place, if you’re sick of the typical westernized Thai menu. 

Best place to eat (WESTERN): For pizza, Locco’s. For breakfast, Nira’s. For Mediterranean, Taboon. There are actually a ton of great western options on Koh Pha Ngan thanks to the large expat community, but those three were our faves.

Best place for a chill beach day: Coral Bay. This cove is tucked away in the north, but you’ll be rewarded with less crowds, and a REAL PIG at Coral Beach Bar.

Best beach overall: Can’t say. There are so many. But one our favorite things about Koh PhaNgan is just EXPLORING. You’ll always find a new and awesome and beautiful place to set up for an afternoon.

Best party: There are so many goddamn parties on this island that have some combination of the words ‘dark’, ‘moon’, ‘jungle’, ‘nature’, and ’experience’ (I really want to make a Thai Party Name Generator), and though we only went to two (including — and begrudgingly — the Full Moon Party, which, was exactly as lame as I imagined), I’d recommend the Eden Party (every Saturday), which is on a secluded part of the island in Haad Yuan, and attracts a much smaller, more “chill” crowd. I’m certainly not an expert partier though, so go ahead and try all the Half Jungle Moon Dark Nature Experience parties you want.

Best place for sundowner cocktails: Top Rock Bar. Sit above the tree line to watch those magical sunsets.

Best place for yoga: There are pleeeeenty of hippie-dippie retreat-esque yoga spots — most notably The Sanctuary on Haad Yuan — where, from what I could tell, a lot of rich people like to go; and Agama, which is basically a tantra sex-cult. If you want just GOOD NORMAL yoga by a THAI person, head to Sunny Yoga. She’s awesome, the classes are small, and you’ll get to enjoy the sight and sound of the ocean during class. Book ahead on Facebook since she maxes out with 7-8 people.

Bottom line: Koh PhaNgan is The Best, and you should go there. 

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