I’ve been exploring…
A day and a half in Chiang Mai again on the way back down from Pai (see last week’s post for more on Chiang Mai and Pai).
Here are the highlights…
My journey from Chiang Mai to Ko Phangan was pretty long — an overnight bus to Bangkok (turned out great as I got a seat by the fire door = tons of leg room, good sleep), a night in Bangkok (crashing by the airport, first private room of the trip was much needed), a flight to Surat Thani (quick and painless), a bus to Donsak ferry terminal (missed the first bus as I went to get food… doh. So lots of waiting around) and then a ferry to Koh Phangan (pretty good).
Me and friend Nick stayed at Echo Beach Backpackers hostel in Baan Tai on the south side of the island for the first night. This was super cheap (around £2.50) because it was still 5 days until the Full Moon Party… but for the weekend of the party it was already fully booked. So we searched for other options and found a pretty sweet bungalow on the beach just down the road — a perfect option as we had two other friends coming later in the week who we could just about squeeze in (although you’d have to ask my friend Haldan whether a hammock hung up across the bungalow was really that great an option…). At <£10 each per night we couldn’t complain — many people would be paying more than that for a hostel room over the Full Moon Party weekend.
The view wasn’t too bad:
The easiest way to get around the island is on mopeds, so we rented some from Echo Beach hostel. This was a great way to see some more isolated beaches which would be a pain / expensive to visit if you had to get around via taxi.
It was also an easy way to access the hike up to Khao Ra, the highest point (at around 630 metres) on the island. The hike up was pretty steep but the view made it worth it:
The highlight of the trek was actually the way down — we took an alternative trail which was seems to be used pretty rarely / not at all, meaning it was pretty overgrown. It was pretty crazy to go from the madness of Haad Rin (the town where the Full Moon Party happens) to a genuine jungle trek — it just shows that you can find some less travelled spots wherever you go (if you’re lucky like we were).
Our evenings were spent at the Echo Beach Hostel bar (meeting cool people and playing on the free pool table), at other bars in Baan Tai (good fun) or in Haad Rin (confirming every stereotype about Koh Phangan).
Oh, and Full Moon Party. We started the night at Three Sixty Bar in the north-east corner of the island (near Haad Salad beach from the photo above). Amazing views and a great atmosphere — live DJs as the sun set and the stars started to appear.
Then the Full Moon Party. And you know what? I’m not even going to describe it. I’ll just say that everything you’ve heard about it — good and bad — is probably true. I’ll leave you all to judge it yourselves if you choose to go…
The night ended with a new morning starting — sunrise ahead of me, full moon still behind me.
But that wasn’t the end for our adventures on Koh Phangan. We still had one more night and we made the most of it. Taking our mopeds out for one last tour we headed to Than Sadet beach via a couple of waterfalls. I decided that some extreme swinging was called for:
We then headed up the cliffs to a small restaurant that overlooked the sea. We ate as it got dark, watching the waves smashing into the rocks below. On the way back we stopped at the side of the road at a spot with very little light pollution, getting an awesome view of the stars. A great end to a crazy 7 days on the island.
Until next week!
I’m currently in Khao Sok National Park — I’ll write about it next week but here’s a teaser photo: