Ko Pha Ngan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in South East Thailand, and located in Surat Thani Province. It is famous for its full moon party at Haad Rin Beach and as a backpackers destination. Ko Pha Ngan has two sister islands: the larger Ko Samui to the south and the smaller Ko Tao to the north.
- Estimated perimeter: 40 km (estimate – 10hrs average walking time)
- From mainland: about 55 km
- From Ko Samui: about 15 km
- From Ko Tao: about 35 km
- Main town: Thong Sala
- Highest Point: Khao Ra, 630m asl.
The name of Ko Pha Ngan comes from the word ‘Ngan’, meaning ‘sand bar’ in the southern dialect, for there are many sand bars offshore around the island. Ko Pha Ngan has been a longtime favorite of past kings of Thailand. Specifically Rama V, or Chulalongkorn visited Ko Pha Ngan 14 times during his reign. The Bronze Drum of Dongson Culture (500–100BC) that was found on Ko Samui in 1977 is evidence that there were settlements of people on Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and their islets from more than two thousand years ago. Some historians and archaeologists believe that the first group who migrated to Ko Pha Ngan were the Muslim sea Gypsies (Pygmy, Semung, and Proto-Malay) who travelled by boat from the Malay Peninsula. However, nowadays there are few Muslims who live on the island. Over the last century the Island’s population has steadily expanded; first living off the sea and the land, farming coconuts; then tin mining also became part of the economy. In the 1970s the mining industry faltered and finally petered over the next decade as tourism took hold. Now the island is primarily a tourist destination; however fishing and coconut farming are still big parts of the local economy. Due to its topography the population remains based around the coastline whilst the mountainous interior is generally inaccessible. More than half the island designated as National Park and Ko Phangan has more than 80Km2 of pristine rain forest with diverse flora and fauna. It is also considered a spiritual place with numerous Buddhist temples around the Island and a thriving spa, retreat and meditation industry.
(data from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Pha_Ngan)