Koh Phangan is synonymous with full moon parties, and it’s likely if you’ve ever visited or planned to visit the Thailand destination that your intentions are to party majorly on the beach.

But the beautiful tropical island is far more than just a party destination. In fact, when I went last month, I didn’t party at all – instead I headed to the north area, which is less bustling backpacker vibes and more lush jungle and secluded resorts, from the $$$ to the super affordable.

I stayed at the LUSH Anantara Rasananda Villas, where many of the villas are right on one of the most perfect beaches I’ve ever honestly encountered in Thailand.

I arrived via private transfer from Koh Samui, with the boat literally dropping me on that beach ^^ which made for a really easy trip from Samui airport.

The resort is all about privacy and relaxation – a far cry from the partying south vibes, you can genuinely just laze around the resorts grounds – which include two gorgeous pools, multiple restaurants and that phenom beach.

There’s also a spa on site that’s literally built into the jungle, which is an experience and a half. Walk up flights of open-air stairs to the treatment rooms, which also feature open-air (yet private) change rooms surrounded by palms.

The north of Koh Phangan is pretty isolated. But that’s what’s so great about it – there are spots to eat in the small town that is situated just outside of Anantara Rasananda and the other resorts, which are affordable and varied. But I ate in house at Yukinoya, a Japanese restaurant with ridiculously fresh seafood and the most delicious dessert of my LIFE, lemongrass creme brulee.

That being said, on some nights I hired a scooter (PSA – don’t hire a scooter on Koh Phangan unless you’re PROPER experienced driving them, the roads are windy, steep and dangerous) and took the 25 minute trip down south to Thong Nai Pan, the main town on the island. It’s INTENSE, but great for the experience.

One fab restaurant I ate at was Nine in Ban Thong Sala. It’s run by a British expat, but the kitchen is run by local Thai chefs, meaning the food is delicious, THAI spicy (not British spicy, like you’ll find at a lot of places!) and damn good. Also, the beers are cheap. Big plus.

The Thong Sala night markets are also a must if you want to try crazy stuff like fried crickets (!!!) and local delicacies. Very popular with locals, the food is about as authentic as you can get in Thailand – easily the most legit street food I tried between Koh Phangan, Phuket and Koh Samui.

Another great thing about Koh Phangan is it’s proximity to the Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park. The 42 islands are protected, but tours run constantly – the one I went on was a bit of a “McTour” but it did only take 45 minutes to get from Koh Phangan to the Park, and even on a McTour you’ll get to do amazing stuff like hike up to an insane viewpoint that allows you to see all the islands.

Fun fact – The Beach in The Beach was meant to be inside the Marine Park. So if you can work out where the secret paradise is, call me yeah?

Image: Anantara