Koh Phangan Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Koh Phangan gay travel guide to hotels, where to stay, the Full Moon party, nightlife, & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: Koh Phangan, Thailand
Making a journey to Koh Phangan for the Half Moon Festival with my Italian and local Thai gay friends, I discovered how beautiful and enormous this island is.
Life here in Koh Phangan is very relaxed, and to my surprise, there are tons of European ex-pats peppered in the many small towns! Many of them own small businesses.
Koh Phangan is most easily visited with a group of friends, and I say this for more reasons than the fact that I happened to go with other guys. I’ll give you a quick rundown of this wonderful gay-friendly island.
Gay Koh Phangan: Hotels & Where to Stay
Koh Phangan is a considerably large island and is mostly inhabited along the waterfront. The island’s terrain becomes quite steep as you head inland, so most hotels and resorts are clustered on the north and south-facing shores.
While the towns in northern Koh Phangan are separated from one another due to the terrain, the southern shore of the island is flatter, making it easier to get around.
There is also no “main” town or district of Koh Phangan, so you’ll first want to figure out which part of the island has the best hotels for you.
South Koh Phangan Bungalows & Resorts
Accommodations in south Koh Phangan will generally be cheaper since most travelers arrive in this area by ferry to Thongsala Pier.
I stayed in a bungalow during my first night in Koh Phangan before moving to other accommodations on the island. Owned by a Swiss man named Simon, the resort had hammocks in front of every bungalow, in the restaurant, and on the seashore.
I loved falling asleep with a Chang beer while listening to the wind blow through the palm trees. While this place has since closed, there are similar villas and vacation homes in Thongsala not far from the pier.
The Pier is the closest and most inexpensive resort to Thongsala Pier with bungalows directly on the beach. It’s definitely more of a backpacker-style accommodation as opposed to something luxurious. The Pier bungalows can also be a great option for a single night upon arrival.
I also stayed at Secret Garden Resort for a few nights toward the end of my trip. It was an inexpensive bare-bones bungalow located a bit inland, but it was beautifully landscaped, had a gorgeous pool, and the staff made me feel right at home.
North Koh Phangan Resorts & Villas
Resorts in North Koh Phangan along the shore of the island are best for a serene beach experience. You’ll tend to find more spacious accommodations here.
The house was spotless, newly renovated, and included three large bedrooms, each with an on-suite bathroom. It was perfect to share with my two friends from Italy and a local Thai friend from Chiang Mai. Plus, the local area is fantastic!
Getting to Koh Phangan
Thongsala Pier is the main landing point for visitors. However, you may arrive at neighboring Songserm Pier. Upon disembarking your ship, be prepared to be greeted by a bunch of taxi services.
The truth is that these are your only option for transport around the island. There are no ride-sharing apps here!
This can be quite frustrating, especially so for budget travelers who don’t want to spend more than they need to. Check out the Koh Phangan travel tips section to learn how to navigate this!
Koh Phangan Gay Travel Experiences
Near the Coco Garden neighborhood, there is a huge food hall with cheap lunch and coffee options. You can find it by googling Ma-Tae-Khon Pad Thai or Jengor Fresh Market. I got three meals and a smoothie for under $7 USD.
The drink shop inside this food hall makes the most delicious blended sweet coconut milk iced cappuccinos. I left wondering why we don’t have this back in the United States!
Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach was wonderful. Clear water and many restaurants along the shore made for a relaxing time. There are no crowds or rowdy locals here. Life moves slowly and peacefully.
Most beaches around the island don’t have large waves. The water is especially calm on the south shore (during the dry season at least) and is the best area for water-sport activities.
We ate at Bamboo Bungalow for dinner in Thong Nai Pan. Everything was delicious, including the cocktails.
Beach Garden is a fabulously gay friendly restaurant to try if you find yourself further west along Koh Phangan’s northern coast. They serve French, Thai, and Japanese food and host regular events with DJ sets and other live music.
Chances are you may not end up in the exact same area that I stayed in. So, I’ll just tell you that many of the restaurants along the sides of the roads are perfectly fine and delicious. I’ve never been sick from street food in Thailand.
The island of Koh Phangan experiences nowhere near the same amount of tourism as busy destinations like Phuket, so you are much more likely to find delicious, authentic local food.
Koh Phangan Gay Nightlife
Nightlife in Koh Phangan is really about the moon festivals! Bars along the beaches are pretty quiet and close relatively early.
Remember that the Full Moon Party and the Half Moon Festival are two completely different parties, promoted by different companies and held in different locations. Don’t get them confused!
The Full Moon Party is held on a beach and is by far more well-known worldwide. Droves of international tourists flock to the island for the event. The party is also completely free.
The Half Moon Festival, in contrast, is held in an outdoor tropical-feeling concert venue with multiple stages.
The fire dancers were fantastic and they had an edgy style that I love. I think gay travelers will be pleasantly surprised that the music is quite close to “circuit party” music.
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of music before arriving, but I ended up having a blast dancing all night! The live DJ had custom-remixed pop songs to amazing beats. We ran into several other gay travelers at the party. The crowd spans all ages and cultures!
The Half Moon Festival is located further inland and you must purchase tickets at least a day in advance.
VIP tickets aren’t necessary in my opinion. They just get you access to an additional bar area, which didn’t seem all that appealing since you’d probably prefer to be closer to the stages.
Koh Phangan Gay Travel Tips
The Terrain Can Be Rough
Koh Phangan isn’t the most developed island in Thailand. It is very possible that you may need to climb small hills or steep paths to reach your accommodations.
For anyone with any knee/ankle issues, or that travels with immense amounts of luggage, try to find a place to stay you know will be easy to get to. For instance, at our Sea View Villa, taxis won’t enter the dirt road, and so we needed to carry luggage up the hill.
Pay Attention When Using ATMs
Be careful using the Thai ATM machines, because they often don’t give your card back until after you take the money and then select one final exit option on the screen. It’s easy to leave without your card.
Pack Your Tropical Vacation Essentials
Before you head off to paradise, check wolfyy’s useful list of what to pack for tropical destinations. You’ll find my favorite waterproof gear, lightweight clothing ideas, rain gear, and tons more.
Taxis & Getting Around Koh Phangan
The most expensive thing about Koh Phangan is the taxis. Especially for a solo traveler, the costs can be burdensome.
I’m not kidding…the taxi ride I took on my last day on the island to the pier cost me 1000 Baht, or about $32 USD—definitely not the Thailand price point we’re hoping for!
One way to save money when you arrive in Koh Phangan and see the many taxi services is to find someone who will take you by motorbike. If you find a local rental service nearby, renting your own motorbike is also always an option.
Solo travelers especially will benefit by getting a non-shared ride directly by motorbike. I paid 200 Baht to go about 25 minutes.
Koh Phangan has quite a hilly terrain, and so prepare yourself for winding taxi rides if you traverse the island through the center. Most likely, this will happen once or twice during your trip. Along the south shore though, things are flat and easily navigable.
For more comfort, request a regular vehicle instead of the open-air buggies. Again, there are no ride-sharing apps, so you will need to walk to the nearest taxi service agency.
Gay Rights in Thailand
Thailand attracts many LGBT travelers given its reputation as a very tolerant nation. Same-sex relations were legalized back in 1956.
In 2015, Thailand passed the Gender Equality Act, banning discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, a huge leap for Thailand! This was the first law mentioning homosexual people in the nation.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Thailand; however, the progressive country is making strides toward its legalization. As exemplified in Bangkok, there are vibrant gay communities throughout the country.
Traveling to nearby Koh Samui? Read wolfyy’s Koh Samui gay guide.
Or, for wild nightlife, see wolfyy’s Bangkok gay travel guide.
For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.