Haad Rin Koh Phangan
Haad Rin Koh Phangan is located on the south east coast of the island, pretty much as far to the bottom right as you can get on Koh Phangan. It’s about 11km away from the main town of Thongsala – approximately 30 minutes by taxi or motorbike. Haad Rin Koh Phangan is the name given to Koh Phangan’s most famous stretch of sandy beach. Loosely translated, the term in Thai means Sunrise Beach and on the night of the Full Moon you will find several thousand revellers greeting the dawn at the ocean’s edge, having partied the night away to the sound of types of dance music.
But Haad Rin Koh Phangan is more than just a place to party. Thanks to the enduring popularity of the Full Moon Party, the streets behind the beach have developed into a sophisticated tourist town with a good choice of accommodation, restaurants, bars and retail options – serving the constant stream of visitors that arrive in the week leading up the the Full Moon Party. If big beach parties and crowds of young backpackers are not your thing, then choosing to stay or visit Haad Rin well away from the Full Moon Party night, will show you a completely different side to the area – especially during the low seasons. You will have the beaches virtually to yourself where you can relax, sunbathe and swim – and if you like to shop, this is one of the best area on the island.
Haad Rin Koh Phangan has a huge choice of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes – From backpacker dorms and bungalows to pool side villas. If your are thinking of visiting in and around high season, especially around the time off the full moon, be sure to book at least a month or two before heading out.
Depending on the type of music you like, if you’re after party heaven you can’t do much better than Haad Rin. Of course there is the Full Moon Party every month, but during the weeks in between this crazy beach party you can still find plenty of dance spots on or near the beach. There’s plenty of commercial dance music, RNB and trance on offer every night – dancing, buckets and fire shows will keep you entertained throw the night. If you’re more into deep house, techno and underground vibes, head to Eden Garden or Guys Bar.
Restaurants are plentiful in Haad Rin Koh Phangan – offering everything from local Thai cuisine to dishes from different places in the world. You can eat a Thai dish for only 50 THB at most of the restaurants here – even cheaper food is available from the carts that setup along the streets heading towards Haad Rin Nok Beach. There’s also plenty of fast food burger joints for those hungry after a night out. For the best dining experience we recommend heading to one of the resort that line the beaches in the evening. Here you can sit and enjoy a meal right on the beach, listening to the ocean waves and relax with a cocktail or two.
Haad Rin Koh Phangan actually offers a good shopping experience. Up and down the streets of the Haad Rin area, there are plenty of interesting shops, stands and stalls with a little something for everyone’s taste. You will find pretty much everything on offer here, from hand made leather bags, belts and clothing, hand made jewellery, beach wear and accessories, urban clothing and Thai souvenirs – there’s also 7-Elevens, pharmacies, tattoo parlours and other niche type stores throughout the town. There are no supermarkets in Haad Rin, so you will need to head into Thongsala for these. Prices are good here and the shops are always open to some friendly haggling. There’s many different currency exchange booths, banks and ATM’s throughout the town. For those looking to explore further you will find lots of motorbike rental shops so you can take a tour of the island and travel agencies who will help you book your onward journey.
Haad Rin has 3 main beaches – Haad Rin Nok (Sunrise Beach), Haad Rin Nai (Sunset Beach) and Leela Beach. Haad Rin Nok is the busiest beach and home to the Full Moon Party. Haad Rin Nok Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Phangan with powder like, white sand and clear, turquoise water. The beach is named for its beautiful sunsets, which many people visit early mornings for the sunrise. During most of the year, the beach is excellent for swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking, but go to the beach during the monsoon season, the waves get quite big.
Haad Rin Nai Beach is the neighbouring beach of Haad Rin Nok. Haad Rin Nai is the quieter side of Haad Rin, but the beach is not nearly as beautiful as Haad Rin Nok. The sand is more coarse grained and the water is not that good for swimming as it gets quite shallow. The beach still has the look and vibe of Koh Phangan 10 years ago and offers low cost beach side bungalows.
Leela is very peaceful with only a few small resorts along the beach. They are at either end of the beach and with never getting too busy, it feels like you have your own private beach. The beach has soft white sand that gently slopes down to the turquoise sea. There aren’t any corals off the coast but swimming is good. The beach is fairly narrow and is lined with small trees and tropical fauna, which is ideal for shade.