Recently, large sums of money have been invested into improving Koh Phangan’s infrastructure and road network. Due to the island’s mountainous and rocky terrain, the roads have been treacherous in the past, made up of dirt tracks and lined with potholes. After seeing an increasing number of visitors each year, the authorities realised the island’s potential as a tourist destination and commenced a mass road-improvement program. The recent road improvements have made parts of the island, previously rarely visited, much more accessible and thus created more of a sense of community. Lined with palm trees and effervescent wildlife, the new roads make for an exciting drive where you are never too far away from anywhere on the island.
Here’s what’s new on the island:
The East of the island has the least coverage in terms of roads due to the steep mountains that dominate this side. The newly-built Thong Nai Pan road has only just been completed this year. What was previously a dirt road with very little paving is now fully concreted and is possibly the best road on the island. Before its renovation, the road would shift after heavy rain, making it impossible to drive down. The road is now wide and modern, accommodating for heavy vehicles and increased traffic. Driving down this road offers some spectacular views of unseen parts of Koh Phangan, including vast canopies of dense jungle and natural rock formations.
Also soon to be completed on Koh Phangan’s East side is the road that will connect to Than Sadet. This road will branch off from the new Thong Nai Pan road and head down to the village, secluded beach and large National Park of Than Sadet. The access to Than Sadet is currently limited due to the dirt road that leads there, although this will soon be replaced with a concrete one.
The Eastern beaches of Haad Yuan and Haad Tien were once only accessible by longtail boat from Haad Rin. A nerve-racking drive in a 4X4 from Haad Rin across a dangerous dirt road over steep mountains and precarious ravines has been a more recent option, although it is not advisable. However, work has begun to construct a new road, replacing the perilous dirt one, which it will allow for a much safer journey to Haad Yuan and Haad Tien, opening access to the stylish resorts, beautiful backdrops and stunning beaches in this part of the island.
The new Southern road has also been completed this year. It connects from the Chaloklum road and cuts through dense jungle before climbing a steep hill and finishing in Baan Tai. It offers road users a shortened route where they don’t have to drive to Thong Sala to get to the Eastern parts of the island. There are spectacular views along this route with designated areas to pull-in on each side for people to stop and enjoy the scenery.
Koh Phangan’s Northern road network remains quite underdeveloped, although expansion is planned for later this year. There is already a road that travels from East to West following the North coast from Chaloklum to the small beach of Mae Haad and Koh Ma Marine Park. A little further along is the untouched shore of Bottle Beach, currently only accessible by boat. However, there are plans to extend the main road in the North to reach this beach and also link to the other roads on the island.
The flatter, western side of the island already has quality road networks that are regularly maintained. There are three roads – one coastal, one highway, and one “Goldilocks” road in the middle, which connect all the towns and beaches from the Southern town of Thongsala all the way to the most Northern tip of Chaloklum.
The road networks are quickly improving on Koh Phangan with the aim being to build a circular road to connect to all the beaches, similar to Koh Samui’s “ring road”. This will open up a host of opportunity for investors as areas become more accessible and tourists stay longer to explore more of the island.