Koh Pha Ngan is not really the destination to head for if you are looking for gourmet cuisine, as the upmarket restaurants that are common on Samui and on other highly developed islands are absent here. What visitors will find, however, are abundant cheap to mid-priced establishments offering traditional Thai dishes and a selection of Western fare.
Since there are so many places competing for business, the standard of budget food is invariably high and popular dishes such as noodles, green, red and yellow curries, and fried rice of various descriptions are churned out with consistent quality.
Of an evening, visitors can choose to drink at their own guesthouse, head for the bustling scenes of beaches such as Had Rin or enjoy a movie and quiet game of pool at any of the less frantic venues. Many visitors invariably end up confined to their resort’s restaurant unless they are residing in a busy area and can stroll along the beach and take their pick. Don’t expect five-star service on this island though.
Here is a collection of places we suggest, but there are many more if you wander around. Just try to stick to places that are consistently busy for decent odds of an above-average meal.
More on Baan Tai restaurants and bars.
Recommended Koh Pha Ngan restaurants
Sandy Bay Bungalows: this popular eatery serves a good selection of traditional Thai dishes as well as the obligatory international staples. Staff members are friendly and the food is consistently good. Upstairs, there’s a movie room where you can watch DVDs when your belly is full. Had Yao.
Outback Bar: Australian themed/owned establishment that offers a good selection of Western dishes for those visitors who have overdosed on the chilli and fish sauce and are in need of something a little less pungent. Had Rin.
Bamboo Hut: non-meat eaters will enjoy this place with its great selection of tasty vegetarian dishes which include traditional Thai curries and stir-fries as well as Western creations such as tasty tofu burgers. Had Yuan, tel: 087 888 8592.
Casablanca: boasting a menu with Italian and Mexican food as well as steak dishes, this might be just the place you are looking for if you’ve eaten one too many bowls of tom yum kung and are craving something Western. Thai food is also available. Had Rin.
Nice Beach Bungalows: the restaurant at this accommodation establishment is set on the beachfront and is an open-air affair. Thai and Western dishes are available, but the former are by far the most popular with a good selection of traditional creations on offer. Ao Tong Nai Pan Yai.
More on Haad Rin restaurants and bars.
Bars and nightlife on Koh Pha Ngan
The island has an abundance of places to enjoy a drink of an evening and since most guesthouses have their own bars, visitors need not stray from where they are staying if they are feeling less than energetic.
For those wanting to venture out somewhere a little livelier, Had Rin’s beachfront is brimming with bars which are busy regardless of whether full moon, half moon or black moon parties are in progress. During these events (essentially every weekend), expect accommodation to be full and the beach to be crowded. More on Koh Phangan Full Moon Parties.
The island’s other beaches vary somewhat in their nightlife offerings, with the level of development directly proportional to the liveliness of the scene. Tong Nai Pan is considered one of the favourite backpacker destinations and hence here you’ll find a variety of bars with bohemian atmospheres and plenty of opportunities to partake in the infamous ‘buckets’ (a mix of Coke, Red Bull, Thai whisky and ice in a mini bucket). More on Thong Nai Pan restaurants and bars.
In the north of the island, Ao Chalaoklum is home to a good selection of evening drinking spots although the scene is definitely more subdued that at Had Rin. Visitors wanting a quiet evening will find plenty of guesthouses and quieter bar-restaurant venues showing movies including up-to-the-minute releases. More on Chaloklum Bay restaurants and bars.