Around Mae Haad
Mae Haad is a small area in the north west corner of Koh Phangan. It consists of the main southern beach, a sandbank to Koh Ma island and a small northern beach. There is also flat land behind the beach. There is one concrete road leading down to the beach, a main road and a handful of other tracks.
It is a small area easily covered on foot. Most of the accommodation is on or near the beach. Why Not Bungalows is up a slight hill, less then 10 minutes walk from the beach.
Driving to Mae Haad
The main road access is from the east-west road that starts at Chaloklum. The road is concrete and in fairly good condition. The only thing to watch out for is a sharp bend as you get into Mae Haad Village. The road is suitable for motorbikes, jeeps and cars. 4 wheel drive is not necessary.
Each resort and bungalow operation either has its own taxi service or can organize a taxi for its guests. Because Mae Haad is such a small area there is often only need for a few taxis to service the whole beach. The most common routes are to either Thongsala (normally to catch a ferry) or to Haad Rin and Bantai in the south east to attend a party. Shared taxis charge a flat rate per person depending on the destination. To get to Thongsala costs about 200 Thai Baht. Add at least 100 Baht extra to go the extra few miles to Haad Rin.
Most taxis leave in the morning (for ferries) and the evening (for parties). To take taxis at other times try asking at your resort or one of the small travel agents scattered around Mae Haad. There is usually a flat rate of about 1,000 Thai Baht for a 'private taxi'.
Getting Around Koh Phangan
You can get to nearly anywhere on Koh Phangan by taxi. To get to beaches like Thong Nai Pan from Mae Haad it will normally be necessary to make a connection at Thongsala. Although Koh Phangan is Thailand's fith largest island no journey takes longer than 40 minutes. Nearly all the roads on the island are concreted and in fairly good condition. However, there are a few potholes and some steep hills and sharp bends to look out for. You are on a tropical island; there is no real reason to drive fast or take chances overtaking.
It is possible to divide visitors to Koh Phangan into two categories: those who stay put on the beach and take taxis infrequently to go shopping, change money, catch a party etc., and those who like to come and go and treat their beach as a 'base'. For the latter renting a motorbike for 250 Thai Baht a day makes economic sense as long as the motorbike is returned undamaged. A passport is taken as surety when renting a bike and won't be returned if there is damage to a motorbike until a large repair cost is paid. Also those who rent private villas find renting a jeep for 1,500 to 2,000 THB a day is good value as it allows for easy self-catering.
Future Transport Options
Two important developments are underway in Koh Phangan that will change the transport situation in Koh Phangan:
1. Koh Phangan Airport - Work started in 2012 on the airport at a site on the east coast just south of Than Sadet. The completion date is not known. It will run two scheduled flights a day between Koh Phangan and Don Meung Airport in Bangkok. For updates see www.kohphanganairport.com
2. The island circular road - Currently the east and west coasts are badly connected at the top of the island. To get from Mae Haad to Thong Nai Pan you have to go all the way south to Thongsala, east to Bantai and then up the east coastal road. It takes nearly an hour. The rough road between Thong Nai Pan and Bottle Beach will be concreted and expanded and then pushed on to Chaloklum, thus creating a circular road around the island, and reducing the journey time of the Mae Haad to Thong Nai Pan trip to just 20 minutes. This project is currently on hold.
Koh Phangan is linked to the mainland (Suratthani, Donsak and Chumphon) as well as the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. All of the ferries leave from Thongsala port except the Haad Rin Express (Haad Rin to Maenam in Koh Samui) and the Thong Nai Pan Express (Thong Nai Pan to Maenam in Koh Samui). You can use the links on the right to check routes and time tables.
Buses, Airplanes and Trains - Bangkok to Mae Haad
The government 999 bus service goes from Bantai to Bangkok. The other cheap bus option is a combined bus/boat ticket. Seatran, Songserm and Lomprayah offer these types of tickets.
At present the quickest way to Mae Haad from Bangkok is to take the Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui and then transfer by 40 minute ferry to Thongsala, and from there a taxi to Mae Haad. There are several Bangkok Airways flights a day (one way tickets start at about 3,500 Thai Baht).
Cheaper but longer options are provided by Nok Air, Solar Air and Air Asia that offer flights from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon and Suratthani on the mainland. The budget carriers offer fly and ferry tickets that range from 1,300 Thai Baht to 2,200 Thai Baht one way. Taking the fly and ferry routes is about 2 hours longer than the Bangkok Airways option.
The mid-way option in terms of luxury is the train. The train goes from Punpin station, about an hour from Suratthani, and takes all night to make the journey to Bangkok. The cost for a second class sleeper is about 850 Thai Baht.