Koh Phangan is an island in the southeast of Thailand. It's a great place for digital nomads - with a ton of options for work-friendly cafes, yoga studios and restaurants.
Koh Phangan is for you if:
- You’re into yoga, meditation, breathwork, ecstatic dance, sound healing and the like.
- You’re a cafe enthusiast and foodie.
- You're a digital nomad.
- You’re looking for very laid-back island vibes.
- You love driving a scooter. The island is still mostly trees, so you'll be driving through beautiful roads with so much greenery around you.
It might not be for you if:
- You’re looking for luxury accommodation at a budget price. In this case, Koh Samui might be a better fit for you. There are luxury villas in Koh Phangan with amazing views over a cliff, but they get very expensive during high season - thousands of dollars.
- You’re a city person.
- You hate ants, mosquitoes, spiders, etc. You’re surrounded by nature here, so these creatures will be part of day-to-day life. I am personally not bothered by them, but I grew up in Southeast Asia.
- You prefer food delivery over eating out. Food delivery takes a lot of time here and the fees are high.
Those aren’t deal breakers. If you check off some of those things on the list, it’s still worth checking out. It’s hard to explain, but this island is definitely something. I can stay here for 6 months without getting bored.
I’m a city person. And I’m too lazy to eat out every day. But when I came here, I loved it instantly, and I became less of a homebody. I go out every single day now.
This is all based on my experience around Sri Thanu - Haad Yao - Haad Salad area - which are my recommended areas to stay. As of March 2022, accommodation is expensive and hard to find, so book in advance.
Table of Contents
- The best time to come
- Cost of living
- Where to stay (the best hotels)
- Work-friendly cafes
- Breakfast spots
- Cafes for chilling
- Yoga studios
- Facebook groups
- How to get there
The best time to come
The best time to come to the gulf islands of Thailand (Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao) is February to October when it's sunny most of the time at 30-40 °C.
The monsoon season is around November to January. In some years, the rain is tolerable, but this year (2021-2022), it was full-on rain every day.
Cost of living
You can get by with $1000/month, or you can live in luxury for a few thousand.
Here's how much things cost on average:
- Coffee - 100 baht ($3)
- Bike rental - 2500 baht/month ($75)
- Breakfast meal - 200 baht ($6)
- Massage - 400 baht for 1 hour ($13)
- Personal training - 1000 baht per session ($30)
For a more detailed cost of living estimate, check out Nomad List.
Where to stay (the best hotels)
- Bay Villas - Absolutely stunning views and well-designed interiors, but you'll pay the price accordingly. They have villas and 1-bedroom apartments. Right next to it is Flow Cafe, a great place to work from and have a cup of coffee.
- High Life Villas - The same stunning view as Bay Villas but for a lower price. They have 2-bedroom villas and 1-bedroom apartments. Right next to it is Tomorrow x High Life which is a cafe/restaurant/bar with nice sunset views.
- High Life Bungalow - An alternative to High Life Villa, but in a more central location. They also have a cafe/coworking space.
- Zee Luxury Boutique Hotel - Get a 1BR with well-designed interiors, and a shared pool. This is in Sri Thanu - where a lot of the cafes, restaurants and gyms are located. Ideal for those not wanting to drive a scooter.
- Koh Ma Beach Resort - Wake up to one of the best beaches on the island right in front of you. Tourists come here for the beach despite not staying at the resort.
- Sunset Hill - Great for digital nomads wanting to get some work done because of their complementary access to the coworking space. It has cliff-side views, but be prepared to drive up a steep hill.
- spacing coworking area at the second floor
- outdoor area and AC area
- great coffee
This one is another branch of Indigo located in Sri Thanu. The outdoor space is bigger but the coworking area is smaller, but still great.
- “coworking” area at the second floor
- great coffee
- standing desks
- AC area and outdoor area
- good affordable food
- standing desks
- comfortable seats
- AC area and outdoor area
- good chairs and desks
- nice interiors
- quiet surrounding area with lots of trees
Cafes for chilling
It’s a nice quiet spot surrounded by trees. It’s a bit hidden. Great for journaling or reading a book.
Stunning view with a pool overlooking the sea. Working from here in the mornings is good, but there’s no AC room. I prefer to come here to chill and journal. The food isn’t great, so I just come for the coffee or some fresh coconut.
I'm not sure which category this falls into. I see people working from here even though it doesn't look like a great place to work from in my opinion. I come here for the nice view and some breakfast. It's a bit too crowded for me to chill here.
Easily the best spot for breakfast on the island. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. My personal favorites are the eggs benedict, pancakes, avocado toast, the lox, and of course - the coffee!
DON'T MISS THIS!!!
The place is pretty basic, but the food is great. I come here for salmon bagels, bacon and cheese bagels (ask for some cream cheese), and the acai bowl with peanut butter as add-on. It's right next to Bubba's and it's my second favorite!
More salmon bagels! This is my goto whenever I go to Thong Sala.
- Belgian Beer Bistro - lot’s to choose from! Mostly meaty stuff like cordon bleu, schnitzel, burgers, etc. Their mussels are also popular.
- Satipot for amazing Persian food. I always get King's Rice with mashed potato. 😋 Make sure to reserve as they're always fully booked.
- Senses for burgers and dessert (vanilla profiteroles). Get a starter too! Eat everything if you can 🙃
- Rolling Pin for pasta. My favorites are the bolognese, carbonara and truffle pasta. The gnocchis are pretty good too.
- Mojos for burgers, steak and poutine.
- Seed to Feed for salads, but not those salads that are 90% air. They have a great mix of veggies and meat, and delicious dressing.
- Nena Locanda for Italian. The best lasagna!
- SOHO for Mexican food.
- Mae Haad Tree House for amazing Thai food. They have a small menu but everything is 💯. It also has great vibes, live music and a nice sunset view overlooking the sea.
- Mama Kop, Pumpui, Sangsom for more Thai food.
- Wasabi for sushi.
- 350 baht ($10) per class
- Go to The Shell Lounge after class for some fresh coconut
- 400 ($13) baht per class
- There's a restaurant inside where you can get some coconuts and chill by the beach. As you can tell by now, I'm all about them coconuts.
Basic gym with open-air weights area, calisthenics area and airconditioned cardio room. It costs 150 baht ($5) for a day pass, a bit more if you wanna use the ice bath and sauna.
Even more basic open-air gym which costs 150 baht ($5)
How to get to Koh Phangan
- Take a flight to Koh Samui (yes, they have an airport. yes, it's very cute)
- Contact Joyze Travel on WhatsApp and ask them to reserve a ticket for you on the 30-minute boat from Samui to Phangan +66805196694. Ask them about any requirements to get on the ferry. You probably don't need anything if you're vaccinated, but better be safe than sorry!
- If you can, have a few hours between your flight arrival and ferry departure. Use this time to go to Cafe KOB by the Sea. The place is beautiful and they have delicious food! You can get some work done here as well, but sometimes it gets a bit crowded.
- Walk to the pier, as it's right next to KOB.
- Arrive in Koh Phangan 30 minutes later. If you're renting a bike (which I recommend you do) and don't have a lot of luggage, you can walk to Budget Two to rent a bike and drive to your hotel. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or ask for your hotel to pick you up.
Let me know in the comments if I missed anything!