A month in Koh Phangan – My Review

Koh Phangan

Right now it’s almost 8PM, and I’m typing this on my laptop as I sit on the train headed from Surat Thani to Bangkok. The train left the station at 6:37PM and should arrive into Bangkok at approximately 6:30AM. It’s a sleeper train so I have a nice comfy bed.
Before that I caught a bus for 1.5 hours, and prior to that I was on a boat from Koh Phangan that took around 2 hours. Add in the waiting time in between each mode of transport, I’ve been travelling since 11:30AM this morning which is when I checked out of the room that served as my home for the past month!

Today I’ve had quite a bit of time to reflect on my last month, both the pros and the cons. I feel that I’m going to miss Koh Phangan a lot more than I had anticipated. After spending a month in a place, you get to know it rather well. You become somewhat attached to it. You develop routines, start making friends, find the best restaurants, the best places to work, the best places to watch the sunset from – and then it’s time to pack up, say goodbye, and move on.


For many people, living on a tropical island such as Koh Phangan is just a pipe dream. For me it was a reality – well for the month of March at least! While I’m sad to be leaving, I’m also excited for the next adventure! I’ll be staying in Bangkok for a few days, and then heading to Kuala Lumpur (most likely) for a few days to renew my VISA, and then I’ll be heading up to Chiang Mai to settle for a couple of months. I was planning to head to Vietnam, but I’ve decided to go to Chiang Mai first, for 2 main reasons:

1) I want to be in Thailand for the water festival called Songkran
2) I want to get more work done and be productive. For this I believe Chiang Mai is the best place.

The reason I’m so intent on getting more work done and being more productive is because for me, Koh Phangan wasn’t a productive place. It was an amazing place and yes I did get SOME work done, but not as much as I had aimed for.

I went to Koh Phangan with high hopes for taking my business to the next level. I’m now leaving, having had achieved a decent amount – but not an amount that is up to my (somewhat unrealistic at times) standards.

If you’re like me and want to get a heap done, then Koh Phangan might not be the best for a long-term location. Once again, there are 2 reasons why it isn’t an ideal working location for me:

1) There aren’t many other people working online. The co-working space I used was nice, but empty 90% of the time. I did make friends, but most were backpackers that stayed for 2-3 days and partied. If you were to do something social with them, it usually involved alcohol and late nights – things that aren’t very conducive to getting work done!

2) There are so many distractions! This is the island where the full moon party is. This is one of the biggest parties in the world, and regularly has 30,000+ people attend it! I knew this when I chose the island. In fact it was a big reason as to why I chose this island. What I didn’t realise was that the full moon party isn’t the only big party on the island. Each month there is also:
– 2 Half Moon Parties
– 2 Shiva Moon Parties
– 1 Black Moon Party
– 2 Waterfall Parties
– About a dozen other random parties/large events
Literally every 2-3 days there is a new, big party. Almost everyone you meet will be going, and it will be hard not to join them.

On the one hand, it was tough for me to get work done. But on the other hand, it was good to be able to enjoy my time on the island and blow off some steam. I think you need quite a mix of work and play, and that’s something I normally don’t balance well. Compared to the typical 22-year-old I am a lot more disciplined and obsessed with work. I push myself stupidly hard at times, and don’t take the breaks I should. Being on Koh Phangan almost forced me to take these breaks. Even if it didn’t allow me to get as much work done as I’d hoped for, I don’t regret it at all!

Koh Phangan is definitely not for everyone for a long-term location. While it can be a cheap place to live if you’re careful, drinking or going to the parties will quickly double your budget, and your productivity will half.
It’s not somewhere I think I would stay for longer than a month at a time, although I will definitely return!
If you’re not a partying type of person, then you may be able to stay productive and save money. But, then you are missing one of the main attractions of the island. Yes, it is a beautiful place to visit, and yes it can be cheap – but nearly everyone visiting the island is there to drink and party. Not to work and network. If you’re looking for a beautiful Thai island to get work done on and meet people, then I’d recommend Koh Lanta for you instead.
The island was awesome for meeting people, but as I mentioned, most of these people only stay a few days before jumping to another island. While I made some great friends and had some awesome times I’ll never forget, it’s not ideal to have all of your friends suddenly up and leave to be replaced by a new group.
You end up spending a lot of energy meeting people, and a lot of this time involves going to parties which once again detracts from work time.

A will do a full breakdown of costs in my monthly blog post looking back on the month of March. But, Koh Phangan (like most places in Thailand) can be very cheap. While it’s no way near as cheap as Chiang Mai, it was still good. I ate every day at Thai street food restaurants where every meal is just 50 baht ($2 AUD). If you love Thai food and can be disciplined, you can definitely live on this island for less than $1500 AUD per month. If you don’t go out at all, then under $1000 is do-able.

All in all, I’m extremely happy with my time in Koh Phangan and am genuinely sad to be leaving. It’s almost like a fantasy land. There are thousands of people coming and going every week, all friendly (in my experience) and looking to have a great time. Everyone is very care-free, and the nightlife is on an entirely different level. The cost of living is soooo cheap compared to Melbourne, where I come from. On a minimum wage, you can live like a King. For $1500 a month you can have your own room, eat out 21 meals per week, hire a bike, and party like a boss! If you’re looking for single women/men (whatever tickles your fancy) there are literally boat loads of them coming to the island each day – all looking to meet people! There are amazing sights that you must see – definitely spend a day at ‘Secret Mountain’, and go to the ‘Amsterdam Bar’ for the most amazing sunset you may ever witness. There is scuba diving, amazing beaches, food from all over the world, cheap gyms, perfect weather, and much, much more.
If you’ve ever dreamt of living on a tropical island – stop dreaming and start making it a reality.
Anyone can earn $1000 a month online. Within 3-4 months of work, it’s totally possible to build an online business that will bring you that much each month (or more) semi-passively.

As I said, I wouldn’t recommend Koh Phangan for more than a month at a time if you want to get work done (and not pickle your liver). However, you might be the kind of person that can stay away from the temptations, but that simply is not me (at least at this 22 year old point in time).

I’m looking extremely forward to ramping up my productivity and getting a lot done in Chiang Mai in the coming months. It truly is the place to go to ‘get shit done’. I’m not sure if it’s just because of how I’m wired, my plan for my businesses, or the fact that I’m listening to Tony Robbins as I write this, but I’m very optimistic for what the coming months hold for me.
Perhaps if I do well in business over the coming months and achieve my goals, then I might reward myself with another month of partying it up in Koh Phangan.

The full moon party

I truly love Koh Phangan, and absolutely, 100% recommend that every location-independent entrepreneur or employee tries the island out for a full month.

Too many people force themselves to work unnecessarily long hours at stressful jobs, so they can pay for things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t even like. Most of the world seems to be in a hypnotic state where they act like sheep and simply do what everyone else does. Living on a tropical island doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Break free from the mould, save some money or start some sort of online business, and head out to Koh Phangan. There, you have nobody to impress. You can simply lap it up for pennies, live the dream and experience life as a King on a tropical island. You live but once, after all.

I clearly love Koh Phangan, despite the flaws that I also see. All in all, I would recommend it for anyone for at least a month, perhaps more – depending on what you’re looking for.

Stay tuned, plenty more is coming on this journey. Follow along as I travel throughout South East Asia (next stop Bangkok), and build online businesses. Better yet, don’t just follow the journey, and instead join it. Anyone can do what I do, and create absolute freedom in their life. I truly believe that!

Anyway, that’s enough ranting from me. Time to try and get some sleep on this train and prepare myself for what Bangkok has to offer!

Until next time,

Adrian Ingram

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