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Ko Pha Ngan

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Ko Pha Ngan

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Half way between the islands of Koh Samui and the lesser known Koh Tao is Koh Pha Ngan, land of the coconut palm and full moon parties. It's easy to get there - just step off a bus in Surat Thani, capital of the region, and you will find yourself inexorably swept up in the machine that will, several buses and at least one ferry later, spit you out on the rusty pier of Thong Sala.

Like the rest of tourist Thailand, to find accommodation, transport, food, you need only need to respond to one of the many touts that accost you on arrival - but don't be afraid to check a place out, and look elsewhere - there is a wide range of standards , and they don't necessarily coincide with prices. If you're after party heaven, you can't go past Hat Rin, and expanded village of beach bars, cheap chicken burgers, and low cut figure-hugging outfits. I reccomend it only for one night a month - the night of the Full Moon. every bar is hopping, the beaches packed with trance, dance, buckets, and various other suspicious substances. For a cheap bungalow, literally moments from white beaches (but no surf whatsoever), turn left from Thong Sala and you will pass strings of quiet bays, each with one or more 'resorts', featuring a bar, a restaurant, rooms and bungalows, and a few dozen laid back tourists and travellers for company. Try Hadd Yao, Hadd Son, or any of the others along the same strip.

For getting around, bikes can be hired for 150B a day, or take the songtheow things (sp??) for around 50B a ride. Check out the beautiful waterfalls and lookouts in the interior of the island, or cruise the bays wityh your snotkelling gear until somewhere takes your fancy. If you're riding, avoid sundown, when the bugs are out en masse, and result in brief periods of riding blind, while you desperately try to clear your corneas. Try not to go home with a 'KPN tattoo' - the result of your tender-skinned body sliding along a bitumen road at high speed with few clothes on.

If you're into fire, you'll find spinners and twirlers on many of the beaches, teachers abound and poi are easy to find. That's why I'll be going back in a couple of weeks time...