I’ve been living on Koh Phangan for almost a year, happily settled in the rural hideaway of Hin Kong. Haad Rinn—home to the full moon parties that attract thousands of partygoers to the island annually—is half an hour away by car…but a world away in terms of lifestyle.
The Koh Phangan I’ve discovered is a relaxing paradise, where I can spend my weekends taking long walks on secluded sands after bathing in the warm azure waters of Haad Yao beach…or make my way across a golden bank to explore the island of Koh Mah.
It’s also a food lover’s dream, with some of the finest Thai cuisine I’ve ever tasted being dished up daily. Prices vary across the island, western style food is more expensive, but $10 will get you a lovely meal for two at one of the local eateries. I always look forward to a creamy Massaman curry or a tasty Pad Thai with fried broccoli.
My Koh Phangan is also a place of adventure. The island has several must-visit waterfalls and is certainly not shy of hills to trek up. The views from the summit of Kao Rah are far more breath-taking than the climb, with lush green forests as far as the eye can see. But there’s more than one route to the top. I take my moped for a spin up the winding mountain roads which are dotted with stopping points offering jaw-dropping views and handy bars—ideal for a refreshing drink.
Since I’m here to stay, I bought my moped for $460, but they can be rented from around $7 per day, as can cars, which will set you back about $40 per day.
The amazingly diverse habitat of Koh Phangan is spell-binding…giant butterflies, slow loris, monitor lizards, monkeys and geckos. One of my favourite creatures are the sea eagles that glide above the northern coastline, swooping low enough for me to marvel at their beauty and size. The island is also home to working animals, with monkeys used to gather coconuts for locals to sell. It’s not uncommon, but never unsurprising, to see a monkey hanging off a motorbike as you go about your business.
This exotic haven became home for me in a very short space of time. I wake up to sights that spring straight out of a postcard and eat delicious, healthy food that would cost me three times the price at home. I live comfortably in a cosy one-bedroom bungalow with a shared swimming pool for $380 a month. It’s paradise on a budget…
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