Rasananda, Thong Nai Pan Noi, Koh Phangan
Just a few years ago tourists would instinctively, it seemed, know which island was for them – Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. It is no doubt a matter of expectations. Those who wanted high quality service, family activities, good roads, big shops and the safety of a mainstream tourist location chose Koh Samui. And those who wanted a less developed place with cheap accommodation, parties and more of a free atmosphere chose Koh Phangan.
The difference between the two islands is slowly becoming less clear. Koh Phangan is developing better infrastructure – the roads are being upgraded. The electricity supply has been modernized. There is now a Tesco Lotus in Thongsala. In 2012 a new reservoir was built near Thong Nai Pan that will do a lot to stop water shortages in the dry season. In 2013 they will start laying a telecommunications underwater line so that Koh Phangan will be connected to the mainland rather than going via Samui.
And of course, as most people now know, Koh Phangan Airport is being built. Many of the things you can find on Koh Samui you can now find on Koh Phangan – good hotels, villas with swimming pools, car rental, scuba diving, kiteboarding, ‘Western’ supermarkets etc. The things yet to come are big shopping malls, cinemas and activities such as indoor bowling, go carting, golf and visiting the zoo.
Despite these ‘deficiencies’ Koh Phangan has one ace up its sleeve in the game to attract visitors – its unique partying atmospheres, typified by the Full Moon Party.
Thong Nai Pan Noi in Koh Phangan has become a small beach that resembles a Koh Samui beach in that it is lined with high quality resort accommodation such as Rasananda, Santhiya, Panviman and Buri Rasa.
The two islands have always been intimately linked in their history and culture. Moreover, they both have a similar geography and ecology. Before tourism both Koh Samui and Koh Phangan made their money from coconuts and fishing. They were both inhabited since possibly the Stone Age.
You can very much feel the difference between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan when you visit at present (2013); however, it is likely that this feeling will diminish in time. We should be happy that currently we do have the choice. Enjoy both island paradises!