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Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: An Honest Comparison (How to Choose)

By Chris QuanUpdated Oct. 13, 2023

Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are close to Koh Samui. They are both top destinations for island hopping trips from Koh Samui.

But, which is better to visit (for you), Koh Phangan or Koh Tao? Here we will show you the differences, and help you decide which one to go to.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: In an Instant

  Koh Phangan Koh Tao
Location 30-minute boat journey from Koh Samui 90-minute boat journey from Koh Samui
Main Activity Full Moon Party Diving
Recommended Stay 1–3 days 1–2 days
Top Beaches Haad Rin Beach, Bottle Beach, Malibu Beach Sairee Beach, Sai Daeng Beach
Best Times January to March, July to September January to March, July to September
Costs From budget to luxury Budget-friendly

We Recommend These Travelers Choose Koh Phangan:

Party girls and boys: The very famous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan draws revelers from all over the world.

Backpackers: Monthly full moon parties, affordable accommodations, and pristine beaches, and more attract backpackers from all over the world.

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We Recommend These Travelers Choose Koh Tao:

Divers of all abilities: Koh Tao offers the most cost-effective diving and snorkeling courses. The seawater environment is ideal for beginners and diving enthusiasts.

Couples: Besides the wonderful diving experiences, Koh Tao's quiet and stunning vibe and great resort are preferred by many couples.

Families: Koh Tao has many interesting activities suitable for adults and kids, like rock climbing, SUP, hiking, and yoga.

>>>How to Choose from Thailand's Islands (Your Island Hopping Guide)

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: How to Get There

Both Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are islands near Koh Samui. Koh Phangan is closer to Koh Samui than Koh Tao.

Many piers in Koh Samui have boats to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, like Maenam, Na Thon, Lipa Noi, and Marine Passion.

Getting to Koh Phangan: You can take a 30-minute speedboat or a 1½-hour ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan.

Getting to Koh Tao: The journey from Koh Samui to Koh Tao is longer. You can take a speedboat or catamaran, which needs about 1½ to 2 hours.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: Activities

Activities on Koh Phangan are mainly party and relaxation orientated, while Koh Tao has more outdoor sports/experiences on offer.

Activities on Koh Phangan: The monthly Full Moon Party is absolutely Koh Phangan's most famous and attractive activity. Fueled by alcohol and music, everyone is covered in fluorescent paint and dances under a full moon.

Koh Phangan is quieter when there is no party. You can relax on the sandy beaches, or visit the temples, waterfalls, and markets.

Activities on Koh Tao: Diving is the primary activity on Koh Tao. Known as the "World's Diving Factory", this island not only has breathtaking natural scenery but also cost-effective diving lessons and courses.

Besides diving, you can also go hiking, do yoga, try rock climbing, etc.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: Accommodation

Both islands offer enough hotel options and great overnight experiences.

Koh Phangan: Accommodation in Koh Phangan ranges from budget to luxury. Haad Rin Beach is the most popular area to stay in. You can also find luxury villas and resorts in Haad Salad.

Koh Tao: Similar to Koh Phangan, you can also find many economical hotels, which are very friendly for travelers who want to spend a long time diving there.

If you are looking for a great resort, you can choose to stay on Koh Nang Yuan, which is near Koh Tao.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: Beaches

Koh Phangan is bigger than Koh Tao. It has more beaches than Koh Tao, but both islands' beaches have stunning scenery.

Beaches on Koh Phangan: Haad Rin Beach is the center of Koh Phangan, where the Full Moon Party is held. Bottle Beach and Mabuli Beach are suitable for enjoying some quiet time.

Beaches in Koh Tao: Sairee is the biggest beach in Koh Tao, full of restaurants, spas, and bars. Sai Daeng and Sai Nuan beaches are quieter, and there are more dive sites around them. Mango Bay is also a good place for diving and snorkeling.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: Costs

Koh Phangan: The travel cost of Koh Phangan can range from budget to luxury. The average cost for a Koh Phangan stay is around 30–40 USD per day.

For better quality, the price goes up. You can enjoy a luxury hotel for 200 USD a night.

Koh Tao: The average cost to stay on Koh Tao is around 20–30 USD per day. The activity costs are higher than Koh Phangan's though.

Koh Tao also offers many economical options. Dive hotels and beach huts are easy to find. You can find a bed for less than US$10 a night.

If you want a more wonderful and luxurious experience, you can go to the nearby island of Koh Nang Yuan.

>>>How Much Does a Thailand Trip Cost?

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: Best Times

Koh Phangan and Koh Tao enjoy similar weather conditions to Koh Samui's. They are on Thailand's east coast, in the Gulf of Thailand, which has a later, more abrupt rainy season.

The best time to visit Koh Phangan and Koh Tao is late December to February. The weather is not-so-hot and mostly sunny.

Another good time to visit Koh Samui is from July to September, when the east coast suffers from high rainfall and the east coast is far less affected.

Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao: How Many Days to Stay

Koh Phangan: 1–3 days is recommended to cover the main activities in Koh Phangan, including the Full Moon Party, beach time, and sightseeing.

Koh Tao: 1–2 days is enough for sightseeing and snorkeling in Koh Tao. But if you want to take a diving class, you will need more time.

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