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It was like clockwork: after a little over a month back on Koh Tao, I was itching for a mini getaway again. Nothing major, just a teeny change of scenery to scratch my travel itch. So it couldn’t have been more perfect that I was already planning a weekend away on my neighboring island of Koh Phangan to meet up with college bestie and Meihoukai in Wanderland regular , who was visiting Thailand with two of her own high school best friends, Mikey and Mikel.

As I boarded the ferry, I was in serious vacation mode. Those of you familiar with my workaholic ways will know how enormously symbolic this gesture was: I didn’t even bring my laptop. The thirty miles between me and my Macbook was probably the furthest we’ve been apart since the day it was shipped to my door.

Koh Phangan Guide

Koh Phangan Guide

Prior to this trip, my experience on Koh Phangan consisted of two Full Moon parties where I partied till sunup and took the first boat off the island after less than twenty-four hours on the island, one weekend trip for a Half Moon Party, and a two day getaway at a villa with friends. So while I’ve disembarked from the ferry at Thongsala several times, there’s still so much of Koh Phangan I’ve yet to explore.

This edition’s destination? , a bundle of oceanfront charm in Baan Tai. I have to admit Baan Tai wasn’t my first choice of locations when my friend Kayla recommended the place to me, but I was quickly swayed by the convenience of being a five minute drive east of the pier, and a twenty minute drive west of seedy Haad Rin, where the Full Moon Party goes down — and where I definitely had no interest in staying.

Charm Beach, which has been running for an impressive thirty years, is currently owned and managed by the lovely and Ann, who’s three beautiful Swedish babies and two adorable little dogs can be found running around the resort’s restaurant, bar, pool, or beachfront.

Our crew of four slept soundly in a poolside bungalow, but next time I come I’m booking the treehouse — yup, there’s an at Charm Beach!

Charm Beach Resort Koh Phangan

Charm Beach Resort Koh Phangan

It didn’t take long for me to fall for the simple life at Charm Beach. Rustic beach huts, a thatch-roof beach bar, and a gorgeous stretch of sand — this is the kind of endearing accommodation people come to Thailand hoping to find. Ann’s passion for healthy living is reflected in the resorts regular offerings of yoga, beachfront bootcamp, stand up paddling, volleyball, and massage — and for the true fitness nuts, the resort is just a few moments from Kobra Muay Thai. In that vein, the only nitpick I can think of to offer about Charm Beach is I would have loved to have seen more healthy dishes on the restaurant’s menu to complement all the great activities on offer.

For those looking for a little more relaxing of a stay, there’s an abundance of hammocks, an onsite massage sala and occasional movies screened under the stars. While it was a little windy for paddleboarding and no movies or yoga were scheduled during our short stay, I did take advantage of both an onsite bootcamp class for 250 baht ($7), and an onsite massage for 400 baht ($12). I’m not sure which I loved more!

Once the sun sets, treat yourself to a drink at the resort’s beach bar. This is no generic menu of watered down classics — think creative cocktails like the Yellow Dragon, a potent mix of rum, lime, chili and mango, or my favorite the Gin and Yang, made of gin, fresh ginger, lime and lychee.

After a lazy first day of catching up on the beach and toasting to the sunset, I managed to talk Zoe and Co. into forgoing Thai food for a night so I could fulfill a major expat craving.

We don’t have a fantastic Mexican restaurant on Koh Tao, sadly, and so I was super buzzed to try , just a ten minute walk from Charm Beach. A cute seating area, guacamole by the bowl full and clever fresh juice combinations such as the Haad Rin Eraser — a mix of apple, carrot and ginger — had me smiling so big I barely had to move my mouth to shove a quesadilla in it. I almost ordered the pumpkin chipotle soup on the side but I’m glad I didn’t — now I have something to go back for.

The next morning, Zoe and I woke up eager to explore. Mikey and Mikel were still feeling the effects of a bug they’d picked up in their previous destination of Railay, so they stayed behind while we hopped on a motorbike and headed for the west coast of the island.

Renting a Motorbike, Koh Phangan

Renting a Motorbike, Koh Phangan

We stopped whenever and wherever something caught our eye, and otherwise meandered fairly aimlessly. Our final destination was , an organic vegan eatery in Sri Thanu that couldn’t be more Koh Phangan if it tried. We agonized over what to order before finally settling on Malibu Sushi, a plant-based power sushi rolled in nori with organic quinoa, beetroot and raw veggies and topped with organic tahini wasabi and a Karma Burrito, roasted sweet potato-pumpkin medley and black beans inside a homemade chickpea turmeric tortilla. We toasted with an organic hibiscus sangria infused with rosella, and soaked up every second of the good vibes atmosphere.

This meal might have been the highlight of the trip for me. Karma Kafe is infused with aloha, shakas, and hints of Oahu. Thailand meets Hawaii? It’s like they knew I was coming.

Karma Kafe Koh Phangan

Karma Kafe Koh Phangan

Karma Kafe Koh Phangan

Karma Kafe Koh Phangan

That evening was the big event, the one that had brought this trio to my neck of the woods in the first place — the infamous Full Moon Party. I have to admit that having attended twice in the past, I wasn’t exactly anxious to return to this lunar celebration a third time. But this yes girl wasn’t going to start no-ing no!

Around sunset, we rallied the boys and hopped in a share taxi down to Haad Rin to get painted and start partying. turned out to be the perfect place to stay for the party — easy and affordable to get to and from, yet blessedly removed from the madness.

I’ve written at length at the Full Moon Party and all my tips and tricks before, so I won’t rehash that here. What I will say is party has changed a lot since I last attended in 2011 and 2013. Things seemed considerably tamer, with more police and medic presence, very few fire swings or shows, just a handful of people braving the waterslide, and several disgruntled party-goers complaining about the lack of mushrooms available at Mushroom Mountain, a once popular bar that appears much less favored now that its drinks aren’t psychedelic-infused.

This is all probably great news to the emergency service providers on the island and travelers who may have left bandaged and bruised in previous years, but is also probably a bummer to some who have waited anxiously to travel to this once-legendary beach rave. I’ll never say never, but it’s quite likely this was my last ever Full Moon Party — though I’m more than up for returning to the island for some of their less overdone events, especially those that take place in the jungle.

Full Moon Party Thailand

Full Moon Party Thailand

The next morning, we slept in until check out and then nursed our hangovers over brunch at , which the internet sadly informs me was permanently closed very shortly after our visit. I’m bummed to hear it considering it was our third amazing meal of the trip, and I’d very much looked forward to recommending and returning there.

Koh Phangan, you are a beauty. I couldn’t have enjoyed this getaway more and love that despite living on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand, I can still go away for the weekend after less than two hours on a ferry. The tropical island scenery might not change too much, but who would want to stray too far from this?

Koh Phangan Guide

Koh Phangan Guide

Have you been to Koh Phangan? What favorite spots do I need to explore next time?

3-devide-lines

Many thanks to for their hospitality. As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.

3-devide-lines
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59 Comments...
  • Kacy
    July 25 2016

    What a gorgeous place! Every time you post my Thailand to-do list gets ever longer. I’m not sure I could hang at the Full Moon Party, but it’s nice to know there are plenty of other fun things to get up to on that little slice of paradise.
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 25 2016

      Yeah, I’m okay if I don’t hit another one up… but I’ll definitely be back to Phangan!

  • Michelle
    July 25 2016

    YES Ban Tai is amazing!! I used to stay at Coco Gardens when I visited and it was an absolute dream. Also really surprised to hear about the changing ways of the FMP. No mushroom shakes at Mushroom Mountain? Say what??
    Michelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 25 2016

      I guess eventually, everything goes official!

  • Gemma
    July 25 2016

    Certainly looks like paradise by day, party at night! I’ve only been to Koh Samui, many more islands to visit hit.
    Gemma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 25 2016

      Yes! Koh Samui is fun but it’s amazing to see how different the personalities are of all three!

  • Cate
    July 25 2016

    This looked like an awesome getaway! Glad you guys have fun- those sunsets are spectacular
    Cate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 25 2016

      They were a treat! I miss Thailand sunsets…

  • Laura Bronner
    July 25 2016

    So surprised to hear that the full moon parties are taming down. That hotel looks heavenly, though! I miss the beaches of Thailand!
    Laura Bronner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      I guess everything has to go official at some point?! It was bizarre to see though. Maybe it was just an off month, but it was pretty tame compared to what I’ve experienced in the past… and I have heard similar sentiments from other friends who have been lately.

  • Sarah
    July 25 2016

    Hi Meihoukai!

    You mention that Baan Tai wouldn’t have been your first choice of locations. If that’s the case, where is your first choice for a stay on Koh Phangan?

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      I really love the beaches along the west coast, but they are pretty far of a hike if you’re going out to the Full Moon Party. There are also beaches along the northeast coast and southeast coast that I’ve been dying to check out but still haven’t seen! (The roads out on that side are pretty rough, so mostly you’d have to access them by boat.) But Baan Tai totally won me over.

  • Dominique
    July 25 2016

    I didn’t see these parts of Koh Phangan when I visited back in 2009. The first hostel I checked out actually looked like the set from the chainsaw massacre! It’s beyond me how you always manage to find these cute places! šŸ™‚
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      Ha, in this case I am lucky to have a friend who lives on Koh Phangan and recommended the place! I love finding cute accommodation šŸ™‚

  • becky hutner
    July 25 2016

    The Gin and Yang though. And the first photo of Zoe on the tree branch!! So much good stuff happening in this post.

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      Oh my gosh, those cocktails were so good. That is one thing we are missing in Koh Tao, a great cocktail bar on the beach.

  • Sarah
    July 25 2016

    Sounds amazing! I have to say, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years now and you have actually inspired a few trips of mine already! You might have done a post before that I missed, but do you have tips/an itinerary for a 10-14 day trip to Thailand? I feel like that would be a very good post for probably a lot of us to read!

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      Hey Sarah! I haven’t done a post like that but… I’ve recently started drafting one! Great minds think alike!

  • janice
    July 26 2016

    I fell in love with the green of the floor cushions!
    janice recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      Yes! With the blue pool, it made for a beautiful palette.

  • Stacey
    July 26 2016

    Sad and also good that the full moon is calming down, sure there is a lot more to the island no one sees. Can you tell me what camera you were using at the full moon? I can imagine you would take your SLR and I am not sure if your camera list in your FAQ’s is up to date?

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2016

      Hey Stacey! I brought my Canon G7X šŸ™‚

      • Stacey
        July 28 2016

        Thanks.. great shots šŸ™‚

  • Maria Han
    July 27 2016

    Wonderful pictures and I really enjoyed those plates of Sushi. You wrote each and every detail about the trip and that lovely moon party. Love it. šŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      July 27 2016

      Thanks Maria! That “sushi” was delicious!

  • devesh
    July 27 2016

    Another great post by you. I must say you have a knack of writing in this field. Thumbs up. Hey I’m also blogging about India from quite some time now.

    • Meihoukai
      July 27 2016

      Isn’t blogging fun? šŸ™‚ I love it. Thanks for the kudos!

  • OK, fall 2017, the van Lunas want to do Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Can you make time for us with that kind of notice? šŸ˜‰
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 27 2016

      Absolutely! Add it to the list šŸ™‚ (But first… return to Roo!)

  • Kimberley
    July 27 2016

    girlllll! Your pictures have me seriously lusting right now! Loving your blog it is so packed with goodness <3 Kimberley
    Kimberley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 27 2016

      Aw, thanks Kimberley! You’re too sweet. Hope to see more of you around here šŸ˜‰

  • Tess @ Words and Money
    July 27 2016

    This sounds like a perfect getaway! I’m so tempted to move myself to Thailand and find little beach resorts like this to camp out at every weekend. I love your stuff – Thank you for sharing!

    • Meihoukai
      July 27 2016

      I will DEFINITELY be back to this resort when I need a little close by weekend getaway. I really felt like I was on vacation!

  • Lauren
    July 27 2016

    As a former raver, I have to commend the extra medics being around LOL- dying at a party is just a tragic way to go in my humble opinion… I’d love to bring my man on my next Thailand trip, any suggestions for a more romantic spot?

    P.S. I always lurk on you when I need some beach porn >:)
    Lauren recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 28 2016

      Definitely! I don’t think the medics being there is BAD, it’s just different. I found Tonsai Beach in Railay to be incredibly romantic… though pockets of Koh Phangan can be as well. Try Haad Salad!

  • Beth
    July 27 2016

    Looks like I’ll have to pay Koh Phangan a return visit after all these years apart (last time there was 2012)!
    Beth recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 28 2016

      I believe that’s when I first visited! Time flies.

  • Leah
    July 29 2016

    No mushrooms at Mushroom Mountain? The nerve! Sounds like it really has been tamed quite a lot. Also, Zoe’s shorts! *Swoon*
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 29 2016

      Girl always has a rad outfit for every occasion šŸ˜‰

  • Lorna
    July 29 2016

    Lovely photos (as always)! I’ve never been to Thailand – although the more I read your blog, the more appealing it looks!
    Lorna recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 21 2016

      You’ve gotta go! Clearly, I’m biased šŸ™‚

  • Julia Nix
    July 30 2016

    The return of my favourite models. Haha. I must say the 3 identities I love seeing on your blog is Tucker, Zoe and Paavi. Zoe is definitely a fashionista. GLAD you didn’t shun FMP totally. Looking at your photos make me smile. If I could return, I would just to see how much things have changed. Mind you, my last one was more than 10 years ago. Think about that. (Food was great in a mexican restaurant called BAMBOOZLE and an indian eatery, OM GANESH – the naan and curry, yum!)

    • Meihoukai
      August 3 2016

      She is a fashionista indeed! And she’ll be making a few more appearances around here coming up!

  • Those poolside bungalows are adorable! Sounds like the perfect place to stay. Tree-house sounds too buggy for my taste šŸ˜‰
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 3 2016

      I don’t know… that treehouse had some amazing ocean views šŸ™‚ Hopefully someday I can stay there and report back on the buginess!

  • Jeanette D. Carroll
    July 31 2016

    Awesome pictures! And you wrote about your lovely moon party. I wish I could have such a gorgeous party like yours!

    • Meihoukai
      August 3 2016

      Head to Koh Phangan — the Full Moon Party is open to all!

  • Morgan
    August 9 2016

    Wow, these pictures are incredible! This place looks absolutely amazing, and it sounds like you guys really enjoyed yourselves! Thanks so much for sharing a part of the adventure with us!

    • Meihoukai
      August 10 2016

      I can’t wait to go back! It was a great little weekend in paradise.

  • Marni
    August 17 2016

    Charm Beach Resort looks like a dream! It must be awesome to be able to have that kind of destination so close.
    Marni recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 17 2016

      I know! I actually didn’t know this level of chill still existed on Koh Phangan, ha ha. Definitely my new go-to when I need a getaway!

  • Nikki
    August 21 2016

    Thanks for sharing this! Headed to Thailand in October and wanting to get a good sense of where to go! Your blog is so cute šŸ™‚

    Nikki recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 24 2016

      Thanks Nikki! You’re so sweet! Have fun in Thailand — hardest part is narrowing down where to go!

  • Neil
    August 30 2016

    Hi Meihoukai,

    Heading to Thailand for nearly a month with my girlfriend in November.

    Seriously thinking about staying at Charm beach the whole time I am in Koh Phagnan. Is it worth staying here and going into Haad Rin for the one day for the full moon and use it as a base for other parts of Koh Phagnan?

    I use your blogs to get me inspired about my trip soon….Keep it up šŸ˜€

    • Meihoukai
      August 31 2016

      Hey Neil! Definitely! Like I wrote in the post I found it to be the perfect Full Moon base camp. It’s also super convenient to the west coast beaches that I love and near the pier and main town. I think it would be a great home base for a month in paradise! Tell Ann I said hi!

  • Victoria
    September 18 2016

    Hi Meihoukai!

    I am traveling to Thailand November 12 for a few weeks. I hear that’s it’s rainy season on the eastern gulf. Is it worth visiting during that time or should I stick to the western islands (phuket koh phi phi, etc). We want to attend the full moon party but if it’s going to be rainy for the few days we don’t want to waste the 5/6 days or so we have available. We are definitely going to the western side so it’s more of a should we try to do both or stick with one? The full moon party also coincides with yi peng, so being in chiang mai is also a possibility. What do you think?

    Thanks for all your awesome insight!

    V

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2016

      Hey Victoria! Yeah, it can be really wet in those weeks. It’s kind of hit or miss. You might luck out and have amazing weather, you might get stuck in a miserable rainstorm for a week. If you have limited time I’d stick to the West coast. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • Logan
    January 12 2017

    Hey Meihoukai! Just wanted to let you know Charm Beach Resort is now a part of the Goodtime Thailand family as Goodtime Beach Backpackers @ Charm Beach. You did a cliff jumping trip with us last year(great article by the way!) and now we are on Koh Phangan! We’ve given the resort a bit of a facelift and converted a number of the bungalows to a/c dorms. We’ve kept the treehouse and some of the beachfront bungalows as private rooms. Just wanted to let you and your readers know that we now use Hostelworld as our sole booking agent so find us there. The link you have to book on Agoda is no longer valid. šŸ™‚ Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2017

      I just sent one of my friends to stay there actually and she had a great time. Congrats on the acquisition!