Ko Pha-ngan, Thailand

This is the last in our series of Thailand blog posts. To read from the start of our Thailand travel journal, click here

Sam came up with a brain-wave, that instead of flying between Cambodia and Indonesia, as we’d planned (to meet my old work buddies, out on their sabbaticals), we would instead travel overland to Malaysia and squeeze in the Malay Peninsula first. This meant we found ourselves passing back through our beloved Thailand, and we simply couldn’t resist popping back somewhere en route. Given we’d only been to a few islands (because of the rainy season before), we thought we’d swing by backpacker favourite Ko Pha-ngan and see what all the fuss was about.

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Despite it being Full Moon Party time, we decided to skip it (having heard horror stories about it being full of terrible wrecked people, and a bad vibe) and instead made a bee-line for the North West of the island, Huaad Graad. We’d met a hawker early morning at the ferry port who offered us a bungalow for a bargain 600B (£12) then he promptly disappeared, so we feared we’d been scammed – until we were picked up by his colleague on the island! After an exhilerating ride on the back of the jeep through the jungly bumpy roads, passed pristine beaches, we arrived at tiny Huaad Graad Villa.

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The place was super remote, with a 20 minute (scenic) walk along the jungly paths to the nearest strip of shops/restaurants. It had its own private beach and infinity pool, and was nicely tucked away from everything. The restaurant was pretty spenny, so we settled into the rhythm of buying in breakfast snacks from the local 7/11 and trekking to a nearby Thai restaurant – Ying’s – where we could find delicious curries and noodles for a quid. We picked up some smokes and settled into five days of this relaxing routine, swimming in the pristine sea, larking about in the pool, and sunbathing.

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After five days, we were rudely turfed out by the unfriendly staff as they had a gang of Full Mooners arriving. We didn’t really mind, as we’d visited nearby Salaad beach before and found it even prettier than our little private beach, so we hit the road and enquired at My Way – some bungalows we’d had our eyes on – and they miraculously had a bungalow at an even cheaper £8/pn, with hammocks out front! We settled in for another few days of chilling between bungalow, restaurant and beach.

We were pleasantly surprised by the island, and found the North especially to have a really nice chilled, slightly older backpacker vibe – lots of cool jungly roads to walk on (or bike, if you’re brave!), chilled restaurants and bars that shut shop on the right side of midnight. Definitely a great pick for the thirties and up crowd.

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After nearly eight days of wonderful, pure relaxation, we managed to dig ourselves out of our hammocks and make our way to Malaysia, via an agonising journey of late boat, late bus, missing the last train, waiting until 4am at the train station, then catching ANOTHER train, then a bus… to PENANG!!

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