It’s no secret, Thailand is a magnet for travelers and digital nomads alike. During my eight years of roaming the world, I was lucky enough to visit this beautiful spot of the world several times. But the last time was different. It wasn’t old backpacker-me ticking off tourist attractions this land of smiles has on offer. Nope. This time, I brought my little nomadic family along. Read on if you want to know where are the best places for digital nomads and how living on Koh Phangan as a digital nomad family looks like.
Note: This is a collaboration post, partially from people I personally know and have met on my travels, and partially from my blogger network. It aims to give you a not single-minded perspective on the island’s potential! You’re welcome! 😉
Why you should visit Koh Phangan
For us, the question of ‘where to next?’ pops up as soon as the days of our current visa come to an end. It’s mostly a challenge and it requires a lot of patience and travel planning skills if you want to slow travel as budget-friendly as possible. But there are a few things that can help you make a decision: One big factor is the weather. Yes, it’s that simple. Don’t visit Europe, for example, in the cold and grey months of November and January (December is fine if you like Christmas, then it’s actually lovely there!).
So, last fall, during our stay in Portugal’s scenic Algarve, we met so many families who travel and work remotely just like us. After a while, it happens so that you connect and exchange travel plans. Most of the other families already booked their flights to Asia. And since we now focus on what is best for our kids (back then, we were still with our first son only and me being pregnant again), we decided to follow along and meet with our and his playmates on Koh Phangan. Such a great decision!
Koh Phangan has it all! The (still!) laid-back island vibe you are looking for when thinking of an island escape. GORGEOUS beaches and lush green jungle spots! Oh, and boy, do I love Thai food – take me back, please, yum!
Best places to eat on Koh Phangan
Orion Healing Center
This place alone gives me a reason to go back to Koh Phangan. Seriously, I wanted to stay there as soon as we walked in the first time (and we came back many more times during our stay on the island). How can I describe it best to do it justice: you walk into the outside sitting area when you come from the parking lot and feel already peaceful and calm. It’s actually a healing center where people practice yoga and enjoy detox treatments. But you can (and should!) also eat in their fabulous restaurant and cafe.
When you have the time, then you should come several times as it is impossible to try all their food at once – which I really recommend – you can tell, I am absolutely in love with this place (and this is no paid advertisement, it’s my genuine opinion LOL). You can choose from Yogi breakfast bowls to yummy vegan dishes and, of course, sip your way through their healthy smoothies and freshly squeezed juices.
Seed to Feed
We love the idea of this place: they grow their own salads, herbs and green leaves right next to the restaurant. Besides this awesome fact, everything is nicely presented to the visitor and there is simply a relaxed atmosphere. Oh, and of course, the food is delish too! Try one of their yummy salads and you’ll see what I mean. It is a nice change when you want to eat something fresh instead of the evergreen Pad Thai dish. But, of course, you can also get traditional Thai food in case you’re wondering…
Vegan restaurants are on the upcoming as it is no secret that many travelers come to this beautiful island with a mission to heal, relax and exercise. That’s why you also see many yoga places and organic shops around. Eat.Co makes it a priority to serve creative dishes in a very laid-back and artsy ambience. You can even shop some organic clothes and hand-made jewellery as well as soaps, oils, incenses and non-chemical insect repellent.
Tip: The portions are rather small so if you’re hungry you will have to order two dishes each if you don’t want to leave hungry… But then again, I was there when I was pregnant, so perhaps you will be fine! LOL
As a digital nomad in Koh Phangan, you can’t eat out in restaurants all the time. Even in Thailand that can get pricey. One of the best solutions, other than cooking yourself, is to go eat at the Pantip Market.
Koh Phangan’s Pantip Market, also known as Pantip Night Food Market, is an all-day food market in Thong Sala, the largest town on the island.
Whichever time of day you come there, you’ll be able to choose from a wide array of reasonably priced meals. Ranging from the smallest snacks such as pancakes, doughnuts or meat/tofu skewers, to full-on meals such as Pad Thai and of course you can find also the beloved mango & sticky rice dessert. Many of the stalls have started using paper plates and banana leaves instead of the omnipresent plastic.
The market becomes the liveliest in the evenings. Around the Full moon dates, even stalls selling souvenirs pop up in Pantip and it can become quite difficult to find a free seat in the common seating area.
This tip comes from my friend Veronica from Travel Geekery. Check her also out on Instagram:
What to do on Koh Phangan
One of the greatest things to do on Koh Phangan is clearly to enjoy the countless beautiful beaches and explore the many hidden bays. See below for a full list of best beaches on the island. But one highlight you simply can’t miss is going snorkeling in the little bay of the so-called Secret Beach.
Snorkeling at Koh Raham – Secret Beach
Pass through the jungle-like resort and restaurant entrance from which you will get to the very far back of the sitting area. Once you’ve reached the end of the pathway, you will see people jumping off the little rock. You can also simply put on your snorkeling gear and climb down the stone stairs to submerge into the crystal clear waters.
Immediately you will be surrounded by plenty of fish that hang out there and get attracted by the food people through into the water… (not my favorite part, as I don’t think humans should feed wild fish, but the kids loved to see them and swim with the little fishes…)!
When we travel, we always try to look outside the box and find activities that are not so common or done while in a destination. Our idea is, in this way, to generate content that is not very common and can help more travelers to plan their trip, and to us to increase traffic to our blog.
During our trip to Thailand, we went, of course, to Koh Phangan, an extremely popular island that almost every traveler to the country visits. But here we found a tour to a national park called Angthong National Marine Park which, despite widely publicized everywhere, very few people really did take. Everyone prefers to party at night and rest in the day…
So, we decided to go on a tour that left at 07:00 am and returned around 19:00 in the afternoon. We were surprised and loved it. We saw several nearby islands, hidden lagoons between mountains and paradisiacal beaches with practically no people. Without doubt, one of our favorite activities in the area, and for which to this day many travelers ask us about.
This tip is from Alejandra from Universo Viajero, you can find her also on Instagram:
Full Moon Party
No article about traveling to Koh Phangan should be without a short mention of the legendary Full Moon Party. It might not be for everyone and is clearly not for (anymore). But this Koh Phangan travel guide wouldn’t be complete without it. So, here is my honest opinion on this rather special event.
When I visited Koh Phangan the first time, back in 2011, I also went to see what it’s all about the Full Moon Party. The hype is huge, people who want to be part of this massive party at the beach, travel from other parts of Thailand (and even outside the country), just to be there when Koh Phangan goes wild. Prices go up, hotels fill up and alcoholic beverages get scarce. Everyone buys colorful (or white) shirts and those neon colors that reflect at night.
When you are in your mid-twenties celebrating with your friends, you might have the time of your life dancing the night away right at one of Koh Phangan beautiful beaches. But if you have kids and get a little older, like us, a wild party event like this just doesn’t do the trick any longer. I’d rather stay at home or sit by the bonfire at Zen Beach.
Should you go? Yes, sure. It’s one of those things you can tick off your bucket list. But no harm is done if you miss out. But that’s just my humble opinion… Please leave a comment at the end of this article if you agree/disagree. Thanks!
Check for more activities and tours on Koh Phangan here:
Where to stay on Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan, one of Thailand’s fairest island getaways, is known for its beauty but, too often, it’s party culture. The home of the infamous Full Moon Party, it can be a little tricky to find places to suit travelers who aren’t on their gap year.
That’s why Bluerama, a small hilltop resort about ten minutes from the port offers the best of all worlds. Situated at the top of a (very) steep hill, this small boutique outfit only has ten bungalows on stilts, each offering incredible views of the bay before them. The bungalows are tastefully decorated, beautifully air-conditioned and offer privacy from other guests.
However, because of the location, the hotel also has one of the world’s most stunning swimming pool views, as you are almost suspended above the ocean. And this poolside setting usually attracts a cool clientele with trendy music and a laid back cocktail vibe around sunset.
Bluerama is also ideal for digital nomads as it offers some of the strongest WiFi signal we’ve seen over South East Asia. Working by day at the pool and streaming Netflix at night means you’re easily connected, albeit in some beautiful surroundings.
This tip comes from James and Lee Scrivener from The Travel Scribes.
NOTE: This is not an ideal hotel for families, in fact, it is an adult-only spot. However, we wanted to include it in this post anyway as it can be interesting for couples and solo travelers who might stop by and read this post too.
What can I say – would I recommend it? Hm, not to everybody, I think. But here I am telling you that we had a wonderful time there. Why? Despite the somewhat rundown facilities and the not so ideal location, we can definitely say that it is worth to stay at Buritara if you are a digital nomad family.
Every year, during European winter, many German-speaking families have made it their habit to reunite on Koh Phangan to escape the cold. In fact, there is this one famous German travel family, the Horlachers, who started the so-called ‘Koh Phangan Winter Camp’ back in 2017.
The reason this is such a great resort to choose when visiting Koh Phangan as a digital nomad family is because you will be surrounded by not the ordinary hotel guest but with people who think and breathe exactly like you: travel, location-independence and anything that is related to an alternative lifestyle.
If you are interested to be part of such a community during your workation on Koh Phangan, check out this (German) Facebook group, or simply speak to anyone at one of the many beaches who looks German and for sure they can tell you where the next get-together will take place. Your best place to connect is clearly the god ol’ Buritara.
Song Pi Nong and Longtail Beach Resort
The reason I am listing these two hotels here together is that I cannot really speak from personal experience as we did not stay there. But from all the families we met on the island, who stayed at either of the two places, they highly recommended them. In fact, if you want to have a little more European standard and cleanliness, then you are better off at one of these places. Like I explained above, we didn’t mind the lower standard that Buritara had on offer because the people made it an overall positive experience, but as a travel blogger who recommends hotels and restaurants, I honestly have to say that I wouldn’t stay there under ‘normal’ circumstances.
Tip: Check for availability at Longtail Beach Resort and Song Pi Nong way ahead of time, these are popular places and sell out fast during December till March!
Search here for your Koh Phangan accommodation:
These beaches on Koh Phangan you have to see!
Often we are asked which beaches we find the most beautiful. To answer this question is not so easy, because one beach is more beautiful than the other, that’s how we feel. But here are our two most favorite beaches:
1.) Srithanu Beach (Nice Beach)
Our house beach in Srithanu. We have consciously decided to stay only a few minutes by motorbike from Srithanu Beach. This is where we are most frequently found. We like the clear, calm water, the small bay, the white powder sand and the Nice Beach Restaurant with the delicious Thai cuisine. This beach is particularly suitable for families with children of all ages.
One can walk very far into the water, as the beach doesn’t drop much towards the sea. Since there is very little current in this bay, the water is clear and calm. Here you will find the ideal bathing fun for the whole family but be aware that there are only a few shady places…
From approx. 6 pm you can enjoy here also daily beautiful sunsets. For us, the Srithanu Beach (Nice Beach) is the number one beach on Koh Phangan.
2.) Malibu Beach
Malibu Beach lives up to its name. If you didn’t know you were in Thailand, you might think you were in Florida. It has the finest, whitest beach in the north of the island. From afternoon (approx. 2 pm) more and more shade falls into the bay and thus also on the beautiful beach. Therefore we recommend a visit in the morning. Like at Srithanu Beach you can walk far into the sea. So you can relax on the beach while the kids play in the water.
There is only one restaurant on the beach and it is highly overpriced – on top of that bringing food is not allowed. However, as far as we know, the beaches in Thailand are mostly public, so we decided to bring small snacks, fruits and drinks with us. Tip: Just don’t sit directly in front of the restaurant.
3.) Bottle Beach
This beach in the northeast of the island is very difficult to reach by land, so the best way to get there is by taxi boat. You can book the trip directly at the port in Chaloklum and it should not cost you more than about 300 BAHT for both ways. For children up to 11 years of age, there is usually no need to pay. The travel time is approx. 20 – 30 minutes. It is best to start in the morning at the harbor in Chaloklum. If you are traveling with a larger group, you can certainly negotiate a group discount.
At Bottle Beach, you will find a handful of hotels and restaurants, so there is plenty to eat and drink. Best time to visit: Avoid the weekend! Then, you might be lucky to find the beach all to yourself!
4.) Haad Khom / Coconut Beach
Coral Bay Beach, as it is called by most people, is well known for its pet: a huge and friendly pig. In the spacious bay, you will find many cozy places in the shade. Children will love the swings that are hanging down from the palm trees. The restaurants offer good Thai food and the beach pig is, of course, an attraction. As the name „Coral Bay” already suggests, the sand is not the finest and in the water are sometimes some stones and corals. This makes a good snorkel spot though, so don’t forget to bring your goggles.
5.) Zen Beach
Zen Beach is not very suitable for swimming, especially for families with children. Apart from its strong current and the fairly deep entrance right after a few steps into the water, there is a high chance of being stung by a sea urchin. It happens quite frequently that people come out of the water with one of the long spines in their feet.
Nevertheless, this beach has an absolute special vibe. At sunset many alternative free spirits, musicians and acrobats meet here to make music, dance and enjoy a huge fire show. It is a special experience to soak up the colorful hustle and bustle with music, acrobatics and dance around the campfire. Many practice yoga or simply enjoy a coconut and watch the beautiful sunset.
More beaches on Koh Phangan
These were our top five beaches on Koh Phangan. As you can imagine, there are many more beaches. Here are more beautiful beaches we recommend to visit:
Thong Nai Pan
Thong Nai Pan is located in the east of the island. With a scooter, it takes about 30-45 minutes to get around.
Famous for its legendary swing, this beach is worth a visit. Make sure to enjoy some delicious food at the Cocohut Resort.
The bay at Haad Yao is relatively large and offers plenty of space for families with children.
The bay is very, very beautiful. However, you can always find sea cucumbers (harmless) or sea urchins when snorkeling further out.
Although we have already spent 7 months on Koh Phangan, there is always something new to discover. We can recommend the „Koh Phangan Travel Guide” from „Home is where your Bag is”. We were surprised ourselves about what we discovered in this pointed travel guide.
These tips are from our lovely friends Sabrina and Holger at Worldsafari Family. Check them also out on Instagram:
Koh Phangan is a very special place – either if you are after the colorful Full Moon Party or if you simply want to stay for a few months and use it as your nomad base. Especially for digital nomad families, this Thai island has a lot on offer: calm and beautiful beaches, friendly and relaxed people which is probably the reason why there is a healthy mix of both travel families and solo travelers.
If you liked this post, please share it with your family and friends. Also, leave a comment to let us know what part of Koh Phangan you like best or if you are still planning to visit this gorgeous island. Stay tuned for more Thai content as we will be back there from January-March 2020!
PIN THIS BABY! 🙂