Thong Nai Pan (or just TNP among backpackers) is an area on the northeastern tip of Ko Pha Ngan that includes the two beach resorts of Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi and Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai. They are maybe the most secluded yet developed beaches on the island.
Yai means "large", and it's the larger and more developed of the two beaches. Noi means "small", and the beach here is about half the size of Yai. The two are a 15-minute hike apart.
From the island's harbour at Thong Sala, there will be one or more songthaews waiting, holding up signs with their destinations. Price is a fixed 300 baht/person. Some taxis don't go to both beaches, so check for the Noi/Yai extension on their signs. As the beaches are less travelled and a long ride, sometimes you'll have to wait for the next boat to arrive, or even the boat after that, because the driver won't drive up and down for just 1 or 2 passengers. Once they do take off, the trip is about half an hour.
Since you've chosen this destination you're unlikely to be in a hurry. But if, for some reason you are and you are a little bit more adventurous, then catch a quick ride to the town (or even walk. From the harbour, take a left on the main street till the roundabout). Here you can rent a typical Thai 125 cc motorbike (~200 baht/day) or a 4 x 4 for 700-1,000 baht/day. It's about 15 km and it will take you around 30-40 minutes to drive.
The road to Thong Nai Pan begins at Ban Tai village (on the main road between Thong Sala and Haad Rin). The road from Ban Tai to Thong Nai Pan is 13.4 km and about half of it is now paved. From the first mountain outside of Ban Tai to the Than Sadet turn off, the road is unpaved all the way and has some nasty hills with lots of dust and gravel. Once you get to the Than Sadet turn off, the road is concrete the rest of the way (7.5 km) and much better. Care should still be taken as there are some deceptively sharp dusty corners. The improved road from the Than Sadet turn off to Thong Nai Pan has greatly reduced travelling times.
- Try to catch a glimpse of the huge, harmless lizards that are unique to this area.
- Older, mostly European men, wearing thongs, Speedos, or other skimpy bathing attire.
- Walk to the waterfalls. Noi (more beautiful, but more strenuous) and Yai each have a waterfall. Ask locals for directions.
- Yoga classes at The Yoga Studio located on Yai, en route to Wang Thong Waterfall.
- Get a massage from Susie or Lee on Noi Beach.
- Big Magic Tattoo (Big Magic Bamboo Tattoo), Thong Nai Pan Noi (behind Handsome Sandwich), ☏ . Get a traditional Thai bamboo tattoo. Mr Big has been doing bamboo tattoos for over 18 years and is serious about his art. Big Magic Tattoo is a relaxed space where you can discuss tattoo ideas or just hang out and have a beer.
- Tanaporn Massage House, Noi (behind Handsome Sandwich). Professional massage and spa therapies in a beautiful Thai house and garden at reasonable prices.
There is really not much to buy here. There are, however, 3 ATMs within spitting distance of each other in the financial district of Thong Nai Pan Noi. Also in Thong Nai Pan Noi you'll find a pharmacy which also sells second-hand books. Don't expect much of it, but when you have decided to stay one extra week in this little paradise, it might come in handy.
Fresh, deliciously steamed or grilled fish. Available at a few places, usually advertising the fish by having them on display on ice in front of the restaurant.
- Better Than Sex. Good Thai and foreign food. They do an excellent pizza.
- Handsome Sandwiches. Excellent 24-hour hamburgers.
- Luna. Great Western and Thai food.
- Me'n'u. Signature restaurant of Rasananda Resort serving expensive modern cuisine.
- Rasta Baby. For decent Thai and foreign food.
- Sala. Lunch only. Luna's sister restaurant serving excellent sandwiches.
- Chai Ya Bar & Restaurant. Good Thai food.
- Try Memory Bar (just off the main road through the village, near Nu Bar). Best home cooked Thai food around. Give it a try and you won't regret it. They'll even prepare dishes not on the menu if you ask them!
- Under Sky Restaurant. Has excellent seafood and traditional Thai dishes.
All places in town are very much alike, i.e., open bamboo construction with cold beer in the fridge, Western music on the stereo, and a very relaxed atmosphere. Also on the beach you can find a couple of these bars. Some of them, being part of a guest house, close between 22:00 and 23:00. Others stay open till around 02:00.
- Easy Corner (in the village).
- I Sea Bar (at the far end of the beach).
- Indigo Gecko (in the village).
- Dolphin Bar and Cafe (in the village), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. For great Western breakfast, lunch, and early evening tapas. Magical lighting.
- Flip Flop. Formerly on Noi beach. Now on Yai next to Central Cottage.
- Nice Beach Resort Bar. For heavenly piña coladas. Made of freshly opened coconut and freshly pressed pineapple served at the beach. To die for.
- Nu Bar. Has ladies nights W and Su.
There are villa rentals in the area with private pools as well as guest houses of different ranges all along the beach plus a couple of hidden places in the village. Prices for a bungalow at the beach range, depending on the season, from 200 to 1,200 baht. So drop your bags at one of the bars and start picking out the ones you like best. At both ends of the Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi there are some classy resorts in the splurge range. Accommodation is cheaper on Yai Beach.
The village rooms will give you a more local experience so don't be afraid to go back from the beach a bit.
- Baan Panburi Resort, ☏ . Very lush, yet inexpensive, resort with an extremely friendly and helpful staff. Not many amenities in the cheaper rooms. Free Wi-Fi in the reception area. They are simple huts but offer great access to the beach. Great value for the money. 600-1,500 baht.
- [dead link] Rasananda Resort and Spa. 44 private villas, all with swimming pools. The resort features a spa and a restaurant, the menu offering modern European cuisine. 9,000+ baht.
- Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa, 22/7 Moo 5 Bantai, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Luxury wooden villas, private pools. 8,500+ baht.
- Sunrise Villa (800 m from Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 11:00. 3 bedroom luxury villa with fantastic sea views. from 6,000 baht, minimum 4 nights.
- Villa Vadee (500 m from Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach). 4 bedroom luxury villa with swimming pool. 7,500 baht, minimum 3 nights.
- 1 Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas, 5/5 Moo 5, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. They have the Koh Phangan’s only sea-view wine cellar. All 64 suites and villas have plunge pools. Guests can participate in Yoga classes, and Cooking school sessions. Starting from $ 160.
There are several Internet cafés charging steep prices for Thai standards of 3 baht/minute. There is also Wi-Fi available on both beaches (Ban Pong on Noi Beach, Indian Bar on Yai Beach) for around 150 baht per hour, so bring your laptop.