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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island?

Caitlin Ashworth

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia
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OPINION

Koh Pha Ngan was voted third best island in Asia in the 2020 Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards. The island is widely known for its monthly Full Moon parties on Haad Rin beach, but Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto, who boasted about the island’s recent rating, said there’s more to Koh Pha Ngan than Haad Rin.

Condé Nast publishes a monthly travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, as well as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s safe to say the publication’s target audience is more interested in luxury resorts than dirt cheap party hostels and monthly beach raves. For example, for the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was voted number 1. It’s a golf lovers paradise and a popular vacation spot for suburban families.

A trip Koh Pha Ngan can be a completely different experience depending on where you go and what you do. Some stay on Haad Rin on the southeastern side of the island and have a trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fueled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” while some go to the western side for a yoga or healing retreat.

The Full Moon parties, which would draw more than 30,000 mostly foreign tourists, was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Thailand. But before the outbreak, the parties were known to be crazy with neon glow paint, fire jump rope and cheap buckets of alcohol and use of illicit drugs. The sand was so sticky that people were better off wearing shoes, and just about everyone pees (and pukes) in the ocean.

Even on the west side of the island, where it’s more known for yoga and meditation retreats, things can sometimes get a little weird. A tourist said she did a “spiritual healing” ritual on the island known as a kambo cleanse where secretion from a South American frog is applied to burnt skin. She said “I feels like you’re dying” but “it’s great.”

While the west side of the island has trendy resorts and bungalows, as well as a variety of yoga retreats and pricy vegan food, some people also live on a budget – a very tight budget. Some tourists even camped out on a hidden beach during the pandemic, a tourist claims. A local artist said he lives in a cave on the same beach.

Koh Pha Ngan topped Bali, Indonesia, which was number 9 on the list. Phuket was number 8 on the list and Koh Samui was number 10.

Here’s what made the top 10 Asia islands in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards 2020.

  1. Cebu & Visayas, Philippines 95.83
  2. Sri Lanka 95.45
  3. Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand 95.30
  4. Palawan, Philippines 95.22
  5. Siargao Island, Philippines 95.19
  6. Boracay, Philippines 95.06
  7. Lombok, Indonesia 94.59
  8. Phuket, Thailand 94.12
  9. Bali, Indonesia 93.27
  10. Koh Samui, Thailand 92.73

SOURCES: Condé Nast | Bangkok Post

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Cliff

    October 29, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    We have lived on Koh Phangan for 9 years. Getting to know the people and living here has been the most perfect experience ever, never a day goes by without being thankful to my best friend who invited us to retire here . Mostly an Eco island with excellent fresh food available every day, a quiet island with little traffic it’s the perfect place to enjoy a life away from the Mad Mad world with all its bad news and crazy politics. Here you can walk around without fear of being assaulted And you can sleep with open windows and never need to lock your car. The Buddha way of life provides serenity where people still help others….just saying it all depends on who you are and how you wish to live your life….no fear and loathing, no jumping dragons or hidden paw !

    • Avatar

      James

      October 30, 2020 at 5:38 pm

      Cliff

      There are many places in the world like that.

      I live in a village in England and I never lock my car, the worst thing that has happened here in the last 25 years is someone got a puncture in a car wheel.

      We all take in each others deliveries if no one is at home, but most of us just tell the deliveries to be left on the doorstep as they are never stolen.

      But it does not mean I bury my head in the sand and ignore the politics which is going on around me as you are doing it seems, you have not seen what is going on in the rest of Thailand?

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    October 30, 2020 at 12:31 am

    Well maybe for you but a night in this wonderful place costs B5000 a night in a resort right?
    That is why Cond’e Nast that advertises after shave for a $100 a bottle thinks this place is so great.
    Check the reviews – plenty of excellent fraud reviews, who never posted before or since.
    For instance Boom Boom C has supposed to have 18 contributions, wrong, only three reviews, the rest were photos.
    Do not pay in advance.

  3. Avatar

    murika

    October 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

    i lived there 5 years, it’s not bad but it’s not Thailand, local people see you as a mean to get income and have become racist after encounter too many drunk disrespectful farangs, i live now on the main land in a small village and my relationship with local is much more healthy, they don’t need foreigners to survive so if they interact with me it’s a genuine relation, everybody here call me by my name, while after years in phangan people always ask me where i come from, even if i already meet them many times… as i can speak thai, i also often catch phangan people talking shit about farang in front of them, while it almost never happened in a non touristic place…

  4. Avatar

    peter pope

    November 1, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards means nothing ! Ko Phan Ngan is actually a shithole for druggies and backpacking ignorants from western countries. During my time there Israeli’s ran the drug business and every year we had boats from koh samui to Koh Phangan going down because they had the overloaded boats run by a drunk addict which gave a fiddlers fart about the weather conditions and the rough sea. OK, this was between 2002-2005 and i don’t believe it got any better. Koh Samui itself had to get used to the sound of chainsaws cutting down coconut palm trees day and night to make space for ever more resorts. Waste Management got stuck cause the waste incinerator was way too small. At times water had to be shipped in by tankers cause not enough water on the island. That is by no means a prime holiday destination either.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Tourism

Academics call on government to hurry up and help the tourism industry

Maya Taylor

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Academics call on government to hurry up and help the tourism industry | The Thaiger

Leading Thai academics are calling on the government to get a move on and help the tourism industry before it’s too late. Addressing a gathering arranged by the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion, Kiriya Kulkolkran from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Economics, pointed to the 80% drop in international tourism as a result of the Covid-19 fallout. His estimate includes the first few months of the year when there was actually a functional tourism industry in Thailand.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Kiriya says just 4% of businesses in the tourism sector say they’ve made the same amount or more than they did before Covid-19. She adds that a survey shows employees in the industry are concerned about debt accumulation and “extremely worried about the future”.

Bovorn Subsing, from Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute, has backed up the comments, saying tourism workers have seen their wages drop by 60%, while still facing the same, or higher, cost of living. The result is that most are now in debt.

Kiriya predicts the devastation could continue for over 3 years, affecting not just tourism operators but the entire supply chain, as well as new graduates and those seeking their first job. She says that until the sector recovers, the government needs to provide tailored help for businesses, singling out Phuket hotels, who are struggling to survive without foreign guests.

The islands of Phuket and Samui, plus the other ‘tourist’ islands around Thailand, are facing a particular problem as they’re mostly geared for the international tourist market. Domestic tourism, rebooted last July when the local airlines were permitted to fly again, has mostly shunned the popular tourist islands.

One worker at a Phuket hotel, 52 year old Anchisa Sirinanthasak, addressed the forum in support of a possible co-payment scheme for hotel workers. It’s understood most hotel operators are paying employees 62-75% of their normal salary, which works out at around 8,000-9,000 baht per person and is not enough to cover their costs.

Meanwhile, Manop Kaewphaka from Homenet Thailand, a non-profit that protects home-based workers, has called on the government to allow foreign tourists back into the Kingdom and to provide more support for informal workers, in the form of wage guarantees and co-payment.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Visa

Foreigners report alleged visa scam in Koh Samui

Caitlin Ashworth

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Foreigners report alleged visa scam in Koh Samui | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

A Thai woman in Koh Samui allegedly ripped off at least 8 foreigners by offering visa extension services and taking off with the money. A group of foreigners reported the scam to officers at the Bo Phut police station, saying they placed deposits ranging from 10,000 baht to even 100,000 baht, but the services were never fulfilled.

A man posted a video on Facebook warning people about the alleged scam and saying he believes the woman stole around 10 million baht. A Thai TV news report shows a J&R Accounting business card for “Joy” which advertises accounting and work permit services.

“Be careful with your visa… There are a lot of people that just want your money and they don’t give the service.”

Apparently, some of the foreigners paid a deposit 6 months ago. They say Joy kept reassuring them that their applications processing. Now that visa amnesty is up, the foreigners worry about potential problems with immigration, Thai media reports.

Police told Thai media that this isn’t the first time they’ve heard of Joy. They issued a summons for her in the past. If she does not respond to the second summons, the police may go to court and request a warrant for her arrest.

A little over a week ago, at the neighbouring island Koh Pha Ngan, a language school allegedly ripped off more than 100 foreigners, claiming they were able to issue them with a 1 year education visa.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Tourism

Phuket & Koh Samui face financial ruin in the short to medium term – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Phuket & Koh Samui face financial ruin in the short to medium term – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Phuket and Samui are both islands, fed mostly by arrivals at their international airports. Of course, both remain closed and the islands are trying to survive on a dribble of domestic tourists. And there’s no sign of hope any time soon for the future. Bill Barnett is ‘Mr Hotel & Hospitality’ for Thailand and the region. What does he see as the short and long term solutions? Your comments are also welcome, below. You can also watch our stark report about how empty Phuket actually is HERE.

Bill is the MD and leading consultant forc9hotelworks.com

 

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