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An Expat Guide to Living in in Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

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Ever considered moving away to a tropical island? If you're looking for a beautiful island with plenty to do and a vibrant community of people from around the world, look no further than Koh Phangan, Thailand.

Koh Phangan is a beautiful, small island on the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand, Surat Thani province. Phangan does not have an airport so visitors can take ferries either from the mainland or from Koh Samui (a bigger island located only 12km away).

Over the years Koh Phangan was best known for its full moon parties, but there is much more the island offers other than partying. Koh Phangan is home to almost unspoiled beauty with a hilly, tropical jungle interior, as well as, long white-sand beaches.

The temperature on Koh Phangan generally fluctuates between 24 and 32 C but can dip as low as 20 C and rise to 36 C on occasion. The tropical climate is highly humid. However, in spite of the high temperatures, sea breezes keep things fresh. 

There are two weather conditions to take into consideration while staying in Koh Phangan; The hot season from January – April and the rainy season from May to early December. Regardless of the time of the year, you'll love all the best things to do in Koh Phangan.

Find your neighborhood

Koh Phangan is divided by a few main accessible areas: 

Haad Rin

This is mainly party area. 

Baan Thai

You can find hospitals in Baan Thai as well as many coffee shops, grocery stores, and the international elementary school. 


Thongsala has the main pier and a district of small shops, banks, coffee shops, markets, etc. 

exploring a waterfall in koh phangan, thailand
Exploring the natural beauty of the island

Sri Thanu area

Here is residential area and resort that spread over the coastline. This area is considered one of the spiritual areas of Koh Phangan. You can find many vegan coffee shops, meditation, and yoga centers. 


This ia fishermen village with plenty of restaurants and sightseeing.   

We have been living in Koh Phangan since September 2019, in Baan Nai Suan, which is an area nearby Thongsala. Thongsala has a lot of the basic necessities: Bank and ATMs, a police station, various clinics, and pharmacies, etc. 

My best advice for those of you who are considering moving to Koh Phangan is that you should come in the low tourist season.

Low season is the rainy season, excluding July and August, which is the summer break almost all around the world. Phangan is a desireable destination these months despite the rain.

If you instead come either in May-June or the end of August-November you are in a good position to find low rates for accommodation and you can get an even lower price if you are signing a long-term contract.

Working in Koh Phangan

As a foreigner, it can be pretty hard to find a job on the island. If you're interesting in teaching English in Thailand, find out some tips to getting hired or check out the requirements to getting the Thai ED visa to live in Thailand for a year while you study.

Most expatriates around the island open their own businesses or are working remotely. Want to start your own online business? Check out how to make that happen with Wired Creatives (plus a $100 off their courses). Koh Phangan is like a magical island of opportunity, where if you’re working towards a business goal, you will most likely get help from the expats around you that already possess the knowledge you’re seeking.

a cat and pig eating lunch in koh phangan, thailand
Two friendly neighbors enjoying their lunch

There is plenty to see and do across the island, whether you would like to explore the unspoiled nature and waterfalls around or enjoy a vivid nightlife scene. The islands offer all of it!

You can enjoy a good meal in a fancy restaurant or a simple spot; you can dance your night away at a party or sip your beer in a bar; you can choose to sit inside a well decorate place or to relax outside and enjoy the view of the moon and the open sky.

There are a lot of foreigners on this island which makes English one of the most spoken languages around. The locals are also amicable and helpful.

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Although it's not recommended you seek employment under a tourist visa, it will be enough to rent a house. Note that you will have to renew this visa every 90 days and get to the nearest border out of Thailand to get an exit stamp and a new visa.

young girl kayaking in koh phangan, thailand
Kayaking around the island with my daughter

Cost of Living in Koh Phangan

Expats can have a high quality of life broadly speaking since the cost of living in Thailand is cheap. 

As of writing this article, you can definitely find a two-bedroom basic accommodation for 500 USD. If you are after a beach house or something with more luxury, it can get more expensive. 

If you like Thai food as well as we do, you can get it in the markets and all over the island and its remarkably cheap. A full meal with a soda can cost you around 5-6 USD. Sometimes we like to treat ourselves with an Italian or another European restaurant, and it gets more expensive, around 10-20 USD for a full meal.

Surprisingly, buying food in the grocery shops and cooking your own meals will genuinely cost you more than eating out.

 motorbike driving in on koh phangan, thailand
My favorite way to explore the island- by motorbike!

There are other things you should consider when you are trying to calculate the cost of living for a family around here. 

First, your visa will cost you money.

You need to plan for visa price itself but also you will need to get out of Thailand every three months or so and renew your visa in the Thai embassy, depending on your nationality.

Second, there is no public transportation.

Aside from the pickups trucks that are used as taxis. It is hard to walk from spot A to B as none of the island roads are paved. Most people buy a motorcycle or scooter, which is less expensive than buying a car.

To sum up as an expat in Koh Phangan you won’t miss out on anything.

You can find everything in Thailand. One of the most important things for your own good feeling of freedom is to learn how to ride a motorcycle and explore the island for yourself. 

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