Dreamy destinations are not always cheap to come by. Koh Phangan in Thailand is one island getaway which can be more expensive than cities that are otherwise landlocked. Luckily for backpackers on a budget, there are many things to do in Koh Phangan that are free! Here, 12 awesome things to do in Koh Phangan that won’t cost you a single baht, as suggested by Mad Monkey.
Lounge by the Beach
There are plenty of white, sandy beaches along the stubbly coastline of Koh Phangan. Most of these are absolutely free to enter, as well. The only beaches that cost a few hundred baht or so to enter are those that require a boat to reach them, like Bottle Beach and Haad Yuan. Otherwise, just select the nearest stretch of sand near you and call it a day … for free! Stopping by one of the best beaches on the island is a must, and the top ones include Salad Beach, Secret Beach, Son Beach, and Leela Beach.
Go Swimming or Partake in Some Water Sports
While you are at the beach, you might as well partake in some water sports and go for a swim. The beaches of Koh Phangan usually are quite mellow, allowing you to get in the Gulf wherever it is you please. Getting in the ocean on the free beaches obviously won’t cost you a single baht, and renting out things like paddle boards, and kayaks are relatively affordable, as well. For example, a kayak can be rented for about ฿100 (about $3) for an hour.
Party at Haad Rin
Speaking of beaches, you can also party on the infamous Haad Rin, the island’s most famous stretch of sand, for quite cheap. This is where the Full Moon Party goes down, and it is only ฿100 (about $3) to go. If you do not want to spend the money to go to the craziest party in Thailand, the beach is otherwise free, and it is usually crowded with partiers and beach-goers looking for a good time. The Full Moon Parties in 2018 are scheduled to take place on September 24, October 25, November 22, and December 22, so be sure to mark your calendars.
Watch the Sunset
Sunsets do not get much dreamier than those on the island of Koh Phangan. Select a jungle cliff or white beach to watch the sun go down. While favorited venues like Blue Rama and Top Rock Bar will cost you a cocktail or two to watch a sunset, there are a few spots on the island that offer visitors just as good of views for scot-free. If you are backpacking on a budget but still want to go to a stellar spot to see the sunset, be sure to visit Leela Beach, Haad Son (Secret Beach), or Haad Rin Nai.
Check out a Market
The Walking Street Market is a unique hodgepodge of culinary delights intertwined with Thai souvenirs and more. It is in Thongsala in the southwest area of the island. Every Saturday from 4-10 p.m., locals congregate and showcase their best cuisines and goods for purchase. One other market that is worth checking out includes the Panthip Night Food Market. If you are on an incredibly tight budget, simply browse and window shop!
Visit a Waterfall
There are several waterfalls on the island that will not break your bank to visit. Found in the southwest region of the island is the Phaeng Waterfall. This waterfall can be reached by bicycle and is one of the largest ones on the island. To get there, you must first hike a 250-meter long trail into the Thai jungle, but the end destination is certainly worth the trek. Other top waterfalls on the island include Thaan Sadet, Wang Sai, and Thaan Prawet. Keep in mind that many of the waterfalls won’t be as pretty during the dry season, which usually takes place from March to June.
Go to a Temple or Shrine
Over 95 percent of the country’s population practice Theravada Buddhism, and this certainly reflects in the sheer number of temples found around Thailand. With that being said, the island of Koh Phangan has its fair share of temples, as well, and all are free to enter. There are about 20 temples on the island, and the top ones to visit are Wat Phu Khao Noi, Wat Pho (not the same one as in Bangkok), and the Chinese Temple. Remember that these temples are places of worship and should be treated as such. You should also be sure to wear clothing or bring items to put on that covers your shoulders, knees, and chest.
Watch the Locals Search for Shells
One of the most picturesque scenes on the island is found at Ao Hin Kong at sunset. It is during this time that many locals will gather around with their friends and family and collect shells to sell and snack on. Mangrove trees line this low tide coastline during the dry season, though the bay does become a good spot for water sports during the cool and hot season. Vibrant sunsets shimmer off the sand as locals take to their tools and look for something to snack on. Many people gather out of curiosity or because they want to take a photo. If you want to stay even longer, there are a few restaurants and accommodation options on Ao Hin Kong, as well.
Go to Chaloklum Beach and Photograph the Fishing Boats
Arguably just striking as the sun setting over the shell-ridden beach are the fishing boats found scattered around the shores of Chaloklum Beach. It is here that these colorful entities reside and sit on the picturesque water before heading back out for work. This area is the main fishing port on the island. This is certainly reflected in the sheer number of fishing boats found here!
Walk the Sandbar to Koh Ma Island
Koh Ma Island is one of the most recognizable features of Koh Phangan. This island connects to Koh Phangan by a slender trail of white sand. Hot days bring in herds of people all eager to walk across the Gulf, often without even having to get their feet wet (weather permitting). In addition to walking across the water to Koh Ma, the area is home to a vast array of marine life and is one of the top snorkeling spots on the island. If lounging is more your thing, there is plenty of sand to accommodate you and a towel or two. The beach is also home to a restaurant and several bungalows should you want to prolong your visit to Koh Ma Island.
Visit an Animal Center (PACS)
What better way to spend your time on the island of Koh Phangan than by giving back to the animals that reside there? One place in which to do so is at Phangan Animal Care for strays (PACS). If you do not want to volunteer long-term, fret not, as the doors of PACS are open to the public for free tours every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the tours, PACS showcases some of the remarkable work that they do. Visitors also get the chance to play with the animals and get some much-needed puppy love while learning about PACS ongoing projects on the island. If you are missing your furry best friends back home, be sure to add this free tour to your itinerary of Koh Phangan.
Trek up Khao Ra Mountain
Khao Ra Mountain has the highest peak on the island. It stands at some 630 meters high and is absolutely free to trek up! Grab a buddy to go with you, especially if you are not an experienced climber. From the top, you can see the beautiful Thong Nai Pan and Chaloklum Beach.
More Information About the Top Free and Budget-Friendly Things to do in Koh Phangan
Did you love this article about things to do in Koh Phangan that are free? Do you want even more information on the top things to see and do on the island if you are traveling on a tight budget? Then be sure to check out these articles that we have rounded up to help you make the most out of your time on Koh Phangan. See you on the island!
- Activities to do on Koh Phangan whatever your Budget by Phanganist
- Travel Budget for Koh Pha Ngan by Budget Travel
- Koh Pha Ngan Travel Guide by Nomadic Matt
- Backpacking For Under $25/Day: Koh Phangan, Thailand by Agness Walewinder for eTramping
- How to Travel Koh Phangan on a Budget by Kelly Iverson for Mad Monkey