10 Best Beaches in Koh Phangan You Don’t Want to Miss

  • Post last modified:Updated on
  • byPost author:Chloe Smulian
drone shot of turquoise crystal clear ocean and beautiful beach in thailand koh phangan island
Discover the best beaches in Thailand at Koh Phangan Island

If you’re looking for a quiet paradise, where the only items on your itinerary are exploring the island by motorbike and discovering heavenly beaches, then you won’t want to miss the amazing beaches in Koh Phangan.

Thailand is a highly popular travel destination for good reason. The country has some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in the world and is also affordable to visit.

The only downside to this, is that these places tend to become too commercial and overcrowded, which can dampen your experience there. If you understand exactly what we’re talking about and you’re looking for that quiet paradise in Thailand, then the beaches in Koh Phangan is the place to visit.

In this guide, we’ll list the top 10 beaches in Koh Phangan based on the type of experience you’re looking for. From the best beach to catch the sunset, the most vibey beaches, best beaches for snorkelling to the most pristine beach on the island.

Discover the best beaches in Thailand with us.

If it’s your first time travelling to Thailand, make sure you read our 7 Krabi travel tips. We may have written it specifically for Krabi, but most of the tips are applicable for travelling anywhere in Thailand. We share useful tips like how much to budget daily, whether it is card friendly and even how to rent a scooter in Thailand.

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How To Get To Koh Phangan

Thailand may be a developing country, but its public transport system is extensive and really affordable too. You can easily get from Bangkok or Phuket to Koh Phangan by bus and ferry. You can literally pick and choose depending on your budget and how much time you have.

Here are some of the most popular ways to get to Koh Phangan:

For more ways to get to Koh Phangan, make sure to read our Thailand transportation guide. It explains how you can plan your trip, compare prices and book your bus, train or ferry tickets online.

Day Trip From Koh Samui to Koh Phangan

If you’re short on time but want to catch a glimpse of the beauty of Koh Phangan. Then we’d recommend taking this guided day tour from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan.

It’s a full day tour starting with pick-up from your hotel in Koh Samui. This is followed by a light breakfast at the pier, before heading off to gorgeous Koh Phangan island via a unique junk sailing boat.

How To Get Around Koh Phangan

What’s the best way for getting around Koh Phangan? By scooter, of course! Koh Phangan isn’t a big island. You can easily travel from the north to south of the island in 45 to 55 minutes by scooter.

The only places you can’t get to in Koh Phangan by scooter, are some of the smaller towns and beaches on the east of the island. The only option is to take a boat taxi to reach these places. But otherwise, you can pretty much get around the whole island if you rent a scooter.

Is It Safe To Rent A Scooter or Motorbike in Thailand?

We’ve heard our fair share of horrible scooter accidents in South East Asia, but we still believe it is an amazing and affordable way to travel and experience the country like a local.

We are not regular motorcycle riders (we don’t even have a motorcycle licence), but we do have a driver’s licence, wear helmets and make sure to always drive at a safe speed (don’t drink and drive). We’ve rode scooters in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand and have had a great experience in all those countries.

Tips For Renting A Scooter or Motorbike in Thailand

Our top travel tips for renting scooters in Krabi is to test drive the bike around the vicinity of the shop you rented from for a bit to check if everything works. Lights, brakes, diesel gauge, basically all the important stuff before you get on your way.

Also, wear sunnies during your ride so the wind doesn’t dry your eye balls out. Not only will you look extra cool, but you’ll have a much better riding experience when you don’t have to squint your way through it.

What You Need to Rent a Motorcycle or Scooter in Thailand

  • Your passport (they will keep this until you return the bike)
  • Show them your drivers or motorbike licence
  • No cash deposit required

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against injury, illness, theft and even trip cancellation. It’s comprehensive cover in case anything goes wrong. We never go on a trip without it as we’ve had to use it many times in the past. Here are our favourite companies that offer the best value and service:

Best Beach For Snorkelling in Koh Phangan

1. Koh Ma Island

There are many tour operators that will take you snorkelling around Koh Phangan. But if you want to avoid the crowds and be able to snorkel right off the beach, then Koh Ma will be your best choice.

drone view of koh ma island in koh phangan
Koh Ma Island – the best place to snorkel on Koh Phangan Island

The best snorkelling spot is on the side of the island where the hut is (left on the image). It is best to snorkel during high tide as visibility tends to be the best. You’re also less likely to brush against the corals during high tide.

mae haad beach in koh phangan with koh mah island in the background
View of Koh Ma Island from Mae Haad Beach

If you don’t have snorkel gear, you can rent snorkel and fins at the bar in front of Koh Ma Beach Resort for 100 baht per hour. If you happen to be there during low tide, don’t despair. You can enjoy walking on the sand bank across to Koh Ma Island, or just chill on the beach.

family friendly beach resort in koh phangan
Relaxing in the swimming pool at Koh Ma Beach Resort

This beach tends to be busier than others around Koh Phangan. But it never feels crowded because it connects to a longer beach called Mae Haad Beach.

Nang Yuan Island Snorkelling

If you really love snorkelling, then you may want to consider taking a full day snorkelling trip sailing on a catamaran from Koh Phangan to Nang Yuan Island for a full day of ocean indulgence.

This tour includes everything from transfers to and from your hotel in Koh Phangan, the entrance fees to Nang Yuan Island, snorkelling equipment, delicious food and non-alcoholic drinks.

All you need to bring is sun screen (a reef friendly one of course), your swimwear of choice, sunglasses, a towel and yourself!

If you love snorkelling, you’ll probably love scuba diving even more! Very few things compare to the happiness you feel swimming amongst the exotic creatures that live below the ocean’s surface.

If you are interested in learning how to scuba dive and don’t know where to start or what to expect. We’ve written a Scuba Diving Beginners Guide to help you.

Most Pristine Beaches in Koh Phangan

2. Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

Bottle Beach is our #1 favourite beach in Koh Phangan. The soft, white sand and crystal clear waters are some of the most pristine on the island. We’d even go as far as to say that it is THE best beach in Thailand.

No rocks, dead corals or broken shells to ‘exfoliate’ those feet. The perfect beach paradise for the ultimate beach bum experience. It is also very isolated and there are never many people on the beach. You can easily chill in the sea hammock all day until you’re nice and toasty.

sea hammocks on koh phangan beach
Sea hammock on Bottle Beach

How To Get To Bottle Beach

The only catch is that it isn’t easy to get there by yourself. The easiest and safest way is to take a taxi boat for 150 baht (per person one way) from Malibu or Haad Khom Beach to Bottle Beach.

You can also hike there but it will take 2-3 hours to climb over the mountain and on to the beach.

There is a motorbike option on Google maps which we don’t recommend. The roads are not paved and very rocky. That combined with steep uphills and downhills can make the trip quite treacherous.

Our recommendation? Take the taxi boat route for the most relaxing and enjoyable experience.

best of koh phangan in thailand
Bottle Beach, our favourite beach in Koh Phangan

Accommodation and Hotels on Bottle Beach

If you want to get the most out of your 300 baht round trip, consider staying overnight at Bottle Beach Bungalows or Bottle Beach Resort. They are both relatively affordable accommodation options.

That way you can have the beach all to yourself, when other day trip guests have to leave at 5PM to catch the last taxi boat.

To get the best prices on your hotel bookings, make sure to read our Travel For Cheap Guide. We show you how we save up to 53% on your flight and hotel bookings.

3. Malibu Beach

If a taxi boat isn’t for you, then Malibu Beach will be the next best option. Malibu beach also has soft white sand and turquoise waters, but is not as quiet as Bottle Beach. There are plenty of palm trees for shade and even a couple of beach swings too.

best beach for swimming in koh phangan
Beautiful palm trees

This beach is perfect if you have young children. There is a shallow side on the one end of the beach, as well as a deeper side for adults. 

There are a few boats docked here, but nothing too invasive or bothersome.

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4. Salad Beach

A great alternative if you’re exploring the north western side of the Koh Phangan island. The sand is not as soft as Bottle Beach or Malibu Beach, but there aren’t too many rocks or dead corals to watch out for either. The water is clear but there are sections with seaweed floating around if you’re sensitive to the smell.

swimming beach koh phangan
Salad Beach, Koh Phangan

Most Vibey Beaches in Koh Phangan

5. Haad Yao Beach

If you’re keen to meet other travellers, play beach volleyball and do some beach bar hopping, then Haad Rin Beach will be your best choice. It is a lovely long beach with a bustling beach vibe. The sand is fine but the waters are not as clear as Bottle Beach or Malibu Beach.

koh phangan hotels
The perfect beach vibe at Haad Yao Beach

On this beach, we were incredibly lucky to catch a glimpse of a baby turtle swimming close to the shore line!

6. Haad Rin Beach (Full Moon Party Beach)

Haad Rin Beach is better known as the Full Moon Party beach.

Did you know that the Full Moon Party originated in Koh Phangan in 1985? We didn’t either. So of course we went to experience it when we happened to be on the island on full moon.

what does full moon party costs
Full Moon Party beach in Koh Phangan

Now, we don’t recommend going to this beach a few days before or after full moon (too busy and dirty). But we do recommend going there outside of this period, as it is one of the only beaches in Koh Phangan that has waves.

If you’re staying on Koh Samui but want the original Full Moon Party experience on Koh Phangan, then book this Full Moon Party Transfer. It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off for both van and speedboat so you can enjoy the Full Moon Party to the max!

Best Beaches For Sunsets in Koh Phangan

7. Secret Beach

Secret Beach is not that ‘secret’ compared to other quieter beaches we visited. It was still very romantic and beautiful though. There were some dead corals on the beach, but the sand was still soft.

sunset beach in koh phangan
Giant swing on Secret Beach

The sunsets here were the best we experienced in Koh Phangan. Although Malibu and Bottle Beach is better for its crystal clear waters, you can not watch the sun setting on the horizon on either of those beaches.  

instagrammable beach in koh phangan
Best beach in Koh Phangan to watch the sunset

You can take amazing sunset pictures at Secret Beach and even take a few on the huge swing close to Koh Raham restaurant.

The Quietest Beaches in Koh Phangan

8. Haad Khom Beach

If you’re looking for a beach with very few people, then Haad Khom Beach is for you. But be wary that this beach is quiet for a reason. The sand is course and there is quite a bit of rocks and dead corals on the beach and ocean floor. This may be a bit of a nuisance for swimming, but if you’re just planning to sun bathe or read a book, this beach is a great option. 

best sunsets in koh pha-ngan
You can take a taxi boat from Haad Khom Beach to Bottle Beach

9. Zen Beach

If you want peace and quiet, but also a more swimmable beach than Haad Khom Beach, then Zen Beach is your answer. The sand is soft and there are minimal rocks, dead corals and broken shells around.

There were also no boats docked on this beach, which is rare and wonderful. This beach doesn’t have much shade though, so be prepared to sunbathe on this beach. 

beaches in koh pha-ngan
Zen Beach is very quiet, but there isn’t much shade

10. West Coast Beach

This is a small beach on the west coast of Koh Phangan, and probably the most isolated one that we visited. Including the two of us, there were only 6 people on the entire beach.

scenic places in koh pha-ngan
Beach swing on West Coast beach

We loved the huge beach swing between the palm trees but the beach wasn’t the best for swimming. Close to the water’s edge the ground is more pebble than sand and there are quite a few large rocks on the ocean floor. The gradient of the beach also dramatically dips after a few steps, which is not family-friendly or suitable for kids.

The Best Beaches in Thailand

So now you have it, a guide for finding the best beach for you in Koh Phangan Island.

If riding a scooter isn’t for you, then consider staying on different parts of the island so you can explore its many beaches.

There are a few beaches on the east coast such as Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach and Haad Than Sadet Beach that is only accessible by boat too. In that case it may be better to stay there for a few nights to maximise your boat transfer.

Click on the map below to compare Koh Phangan hotel prices.

budget accommodation koh phangan thailand
Click on the map above to compare Koh Phangan hotel prices

Best Beaches in Koh Phangan

If that was too much to take in, here’s a quick summary:

  • Koh Ma Island – Best for Snorkelling
  • Bottle Beach – Most Beautiful Beach in Koh Phangan
  • Malibu Beach – Best Beach for Family with Kids
  • Salad Beach
  • Haad Yao Beach – Most vibey beach
  • Haad Rin Beach – Full Moon Party Beach in Koh Phangan
  • Secret Beach – Best sunset in Koh Phangan
  • Haad Khom Beach
  • Zen Beach
  • West Coast Beach

Where to after Koh Phangan

After experiencing some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, why not explore the most ancient and majestic rainforests and lakes of Thailand?

If you love nature, hiking and going on a cave adventure, check out our Khao Sok Lake Tour guide or 3 day itinerary in Krabi.

If you can’t get enough of the ocean, then make sure to add scuba diving around Similan and Surin Islands in southern Thailand on a liveaboard to your itinerary.

top things to do in krabi
Discover the top nature spots in Krabi in our detailed itinerary

If you love beaches as much as we do, make sure to read our Zanzibar Beach Guide. It’s one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches we’ve ever seen (and we’ve travelled quite a bit).

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