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Koh Phangan Gay Travel

Koh Phangan gay travel advice for where to stay, attending the Full Moon party, bars & things to do.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Koh Phangan, Thailand

Making a journey to Koh Phangan for the Half Moon Festival with my and Italian local Thai gay friends, I discovered how beautiful and enormous the island is.

Koh Phangan gay travelers
Koh Phangan gay beach travel
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. I saw more ex-pats in Koh Phangan than any other Thai island.
Koh Phangan gay travelers
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 comprised of many small beach communities. The center of the island is less inhabited given its rough terrain. There is no “main district” on the island, so you’ll have tons of neighborhood options to choose from.

Thailand places to stay
Koh Phangan beaches gay travel

My local Thai friend recommends the northern and northeastern coasts most. But I’ll give you a run-down of the best spots for both the north and the south.

Koh Phangan beaches gay travel

South Koh Phangan: Where to Stay

My first night I stayed at The Sand Terrace Resort while waiting for my friends to arrive. The resort is a small group of bungalows not too far from Thongsala Pier.

Thailand places to stay

I loved this place because the owner, a man named Simon from Switzerland, is super friendly and has the same amount of love for hammocks as I do!

Koh Phangan sunsets beaches
Thailand sunsets

He has hammocks in front of every bungalow, in his restaurant and on the seashore. I must admit I had a good amount of Chang beer and fell asleep listening to the wind blow through the palm trees.

Koh Phangan sunsets beaches

I highly recommend The Sand Terrace Resort, especially for budget travelers. It was clean, cheap and right on the beach.

North Koh Phangan: Where to Stay

I shared a rental called Seaview Villa with three friends for the next three days of my trip. Seaview Villa is in the Thong Nai Pan neighborhood on the northeast coast of the island.

north Koh Phangan airbnb

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 local Thai friend from Chiang Mai. Plus, the local area is fantastic!

Seaview villa Koh Phangan
north Koh Phangan airbnb
Koh Phangan gay traveler

I spent a few nights at Secret Garden Resort toward the end of my trip, choosing to stay close to the Thongsala port in the Coco Garden neighborhood.  It was a very bare-bones, yet beautifully landscaped collection of guest houses. 

Koh Phangan gay traveler

They have a beautifully clean pool and each villa has a cozy front porch, so I recommend staying there, especially if you are on a tighter budget.

Seaview villa Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan beaches

Overall, I recommend choosing accommodations along the northern shore of the island for the best beaches. Besides this, the only other consideration for an easy trip to paradise is really the quality of your accommodation.

Koh Phangan beaches

You won’t find much variation in terms of the different towns in Koh Phangan. If you are headed to one of the moon festivals, you may also want to book something not too far from the venue.

Arriving in 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 a bunch of taxi services.

ferry boat to Koh Phangan
ferry boat to Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan beach

The truth is that these are your only option for transport around the island. There are no ride-sharing apps here!

Koh Phangan beach
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.

Koh Phangan boats

The drink shop inside this food hall make the most delicious blended sweet coconut milk iced cappuccinos. I left wondering why we don’t have this back in the United States!

Koh Phangan boats
restaurants in Koh Phangan
Thailand sunsets

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.

Koh Phangan gay travel
Most beaches around the island do not have any large waves. The water is especially calm on the south shore (during dry season at least) and is the best area for water-sport activities.
Koh Phangan gay travel
neon painting Koh Phangan

For dinner, we ate at Bamboo Bungalow and Bar in Thong Nai Pan. Everything was delicious, including the cocktails. 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.

restaurants in Koh Phangan

The island of Koh Phangan experiences nowhere near the same amount of tourism as bustling Phuket or Koh Phi Phi, and so you are much more likely to find delicious, authentic local food.

Beautiful weather in Koh Phangan makes outdoor workouts super easy. Aaptiv has awesome audio-based fitness workouts to keep in shape while traveling. If you’re interested, start a 30 day free Aaptiv trial.
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Koh Phangan Gay Travel: Nightlife

The nightlife of Koh Phangan is really about the moon festivals! Bars along the beaches are pretty quiet and close relatively early. 

neon painting Koh Phangan

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!

Koh Phangan Moon Parties!

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.

half moon festival gay party
half moon festival gay party
full moon party Koh Phangan

It is located further inland and you must purchase tickets at least a day in advance. I highly recommend the Half Moon Festival! 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.

full moon party Koh Phangan
The live DJ custom-remixed pop songs to amazing beats. I didn’t know what to expect for the music before arriving, but I ended up having a blast dancing all night! We ran into several other gay travelers at the party. The crowd spans all ages and cultures!

Koh Phangan Gay Travel Tips

Koh Phangan is not 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.

Koh Phangan gay travel party
Koh Phangan gay travel party
Koh Phangan restaurant food
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 the Seaview Villa, taxis will not enter the dirt road, and so we needed to carry luggage up the hill.
Koh Phangan hotels

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. As I mentioned before, the Full Moon Party is free.

local markets in Thailand
local markets in Thailand
Koh Phangan hotels

Try to buy tickets for the event at least a week in advance for the Half Moon Festival. Also, VIP tickets are not necessary in my opinion. The only thing they offer is an additional bar area, but it did not seem all that appealing since I would rather be dancing near the stages

Taxis in Koh Phangan

The most expensive thing about Koh Phangan is the taxis. Especially for a solo traveler, the costs can rival that of New York City! I’m not kidding…the taxi ride I took my last day on the island to the pier cost me 1000 Baht, or about $32 USD

Koh Phangan hotels and resorts

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.

rice at restaurant in Thailand

Solo travelers especially will benefit by getting a non-shared ride directly by motorbike. I paid 200 Baht to go about 25 minutes 

rice at restaurant in Thailand
Koh Phangan hotels and resorts

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.

Koh Phangan hotels
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 persons for the nation.

Locals in Koh Lipe with gay traveler
Locals in Koh Lipe with gay traveler
day trip to see elephants
Marriage of same sex couples is not legal in Thailand; however, the progressive country is making great strides toward legalization of gay marriage. As exemplified in Bangkok, there are vibrant gay communities throughout the country.
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Traveling to nearby Koh Samui? Find helpful tips in wolfyy’s Koh Samui Gay Guide.

Be sure to also read wolfyy’s Bangkok Gay Travel Guide.

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