Koh Phangan is the sister island to Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. This little island was regarded with disdain for years by mainstream tourists who went to Koh Samui. Many of these tourists thought of Koh Phangan strictly as an island for backpackers to stay cheaply in basic bungalows on the beach. The island, famous for being the home of the popular Full Moon Party, was not considered a great place for travelers looking for a relaxing resort vacation.
This perception is largely mistaken. Koh Phangan now has many fine resorts and hotels. Santhiya and Rasananda on Thong Nai Pan Noi rival anything on Koh Samui. The beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi, in its unspoiled beauty, beats any of the beaches on the sister island. Yes, backpackers do still go to Koh Phangan and yes, you still need to take a boat to get there, but this only adds to the charm. And due to changes in visa regulations, most of the long-stay foreigners have moved to other countries in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the Full Moon Party is no longer an event full of iniquity and crime. Far from it. These days the party is well organized and the worst thing that happens is that a few people wind up with sore heads the next day. While the party itself is not a place for families, it can be a lot of fun for responsible adults.
An Island of Beauty
The truth is that Koh Phangan is an island of great beauty and spiritual significance. The island was first visited by Muslim sea gypsies, but it was 600 years ago when the island was first permanently inhabited by monks who settled near Thongsala.
The Great Thai King Rama V visited the island 10 times and stayed with local fishing communities. He carved his initials on a rock next to Than Sadet waterfall. The present King has also visited Koh Phangan. It is for this reason that Koh Phangan is so popular with the Thai people while many Thais regard Koh Samui as the place where farangs go on holiday.
So, yes. If you are interested in beautiful beaches or enjoy the fun of a party atmosphere than Koh Phangan is certainly worth the trip.