A hot spot for beginner, advanced and non-yogi’s alike, Koh Phangan is pretty popular with everyone. The island is built upon quartz crystal, making many think it is charged with positive healing energy.
Koh Phangan hosts a load of yoga spots nestled along side vegan and vegetarian eateries. All this with the added bonus of the sunshine, beaches, jungle and parties, you can see why this Thai island is a hit.
Many come here for a short visit, then end up staying long term, or returning to stay long term. It is known as the ‘sticky island’ because people stick around or have some kind of invisible bungee chord attached to them, that pulls them back to the island.
On a budget, the dream of staying for a month to practice yoga and meditation, or just ‘be’ and enjoy the island can seem unachievable. However, with knowledge from the ‘long termers’ or ‘expats’, you can really extend your stay by being a bit more money savvy on the island.
Would you like to know how long term stay on Koh Phangan is achievable? Here are some tips and pointers!
Rent a House or Find a Bargain Long Term Beach Bungalow
Staying in yoga retreats or hotels is lovely, but for long termers, it breaks the bank. It’s really suited for people coming for a week or two, not a month plus.
If you look online at Facebook pages like ‘Koh Phangan rent a house‘ you can find really good deals on houses and beach bungalows for long term stays.
If you pop in to different accommodation places on the beach and state you want to stay long term, you can often get better deals. Also, its worth noting, that booking.com is a good site, as are the other similar sites for booking places to stay.
However they charge accomodation a fee for using their site.
Therefore it’s often worth conversing with places without a middle man, or speaking to the owners in person, to get good deals.
Find Affordable Yoga Schools
Search for reasonably priced yoga classes and get in touch directly with schools. Do not book 3rd party if possible.
Some yoga places can be quite pricey for drop in classes or even long term pass classes. So its good to do some research before dedicating yourself to a school or retreat centre. Ask to see schedules and ask for prices, shop around or ask locals where they like to go.
Places that I enjoy and that are popular with long termers include:
The yoga retreat – opposite Haad Salad beach (Ashtanga, Hatha, Philosophy, Meditation and Pranayama courses available, plus the place has a lovely vegetarian and vegan cafe). The Ashtanga here is Mysore style, the teachers are very experienced and dedicated. The Yoga Retreat is a wonderful place to learn, develop and grow in your yoga journey.
Sunny Yoga – with its jungle views and range of Hatha, Hatha Vinyasa, meditation and Kundalini yoga classes, this place is sought after .
Orion Detox and Yoga Centre – save money with month passes; it can be pricey to stay or for drop in classes, but if you get month passes, you can save a lot of money. This place is quality though and you get what you pay for.
The cafe is also quite expensive, but with the same premise, the food is amazing whilst being super healthy and unique.
The sunset from the cafe area is pretty spectacular too.
Samma Karuna – this place is always buzzing. It offers a wide range of classes from Hatha to Power yoga to Kundalini, as well as free classes taught by newly qualified yoga teachers, from their month long training.
This is all on the west side of the island, in the Sri Thanu area. I have heard good things about places on the East side also, it would be worth researching dependent on where you want to stay. If you check online, there are often events held at these places that are donation only.
I’ve never been, but a lot of wonderful teachers I have had the pleasure of sharing practice with teach at a place called Wonderland. This is also an affordable yoga haven.
BEWARE . Agama has become infamous on the island. It is not LGBT friendly. I would highly reccommend to do your research very well if you’re considering going here and come to your own conclusions.
– Food & Drink –
Eat Local Food
There are loads of amazing Thai places to eat that are super cheap. Anywhere you are, you will find them. Its nice to give back to the locals and support their businesses.
One of my good friends, Mark, owns a little quaint bar opposite 7-11 Sri Thanu and our Thai friend Pam does the most amazing thai and western food at really good prices.
One place I am really fond of is Big Mamma’s, or Mamma Gu’s, opposite The Challenge in Sri Thanu. It boasts to have the best mango & sticky rice on the island and I wouldn’t disagree!
It’s so local, I cannot find it on the internet.
The food market on a Saturday in Tong Sala is also worth a visit, locals selling good quality street food at very reasonable prices! It has a really nice vibe to it and is super fun!
Panthip food market is open daily and nightly in Tong Sala. You can get any type of Thai food, pizza, vegan food and even sushi here for good prices.
Use Water Filling Stations
Fill water bottles up at filling stations, 1 baht a litre. They are all over the island and can be found by being observant or asking around.
Buy smoothies, juices and fruit from local fruit stalls.
There are many stalls around the island that sell an array of fruit, vegetables and make smoothies and juices. I always get smoothies from a guy named Tee, on the corner opposite 7-11 in Sri Thanu.
Since Tee and I have become friends and he makes the most amazing, fresh and healthy banana, mango and coconut smoothies!
Cook at home
If you have the facilities to cook at home, then why not? There are some shopping centres in Tong Sala where you can buy food to cook up your own culinary masterpieces at home.
On a health kick? Ever thought about intermittent fasting?
Whilst I am here practising yoga and meditation, I intermittent fast.
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, as well as it being a good way to save money. I eat a meal after my morning practice, about 9am, have a smoothie in the afternoon (around 1pm) then eat my evening meal around 5pm. I’m not super strict about this and have Sundays off, but doing it a few weeks at a time and being dedicated to it improves my health and bank balance for sure.
This is not for everyone, so please check with your teacher before doing this.
– Get Thrifty With Saving –
Thrift means the quality of using money and resources carefully and not wastefully.
Is there anything you can give up, to save a bit of money?
Smoking, chocolate, that extra beer on a night? All these things add up and maybe could help you extend your stay if you can give them up. Good for your savings and waist line!
Bring Toiletries From Home
Toiletries on this island can be quite pricey. If you have room in your suitcase, it can be beneficial to buy sun tan lotion and conditioner at home and bring it with you.
Do Your Own Laundry
If you buy a bucket, you can easily do your own laundry. There are also many washing machine stations dotted around the island that are 20/30/40 baht per use and can fit a large amount of laundry in.
Washing powder can be bought at most local shops. This is much cheaper than using laundry services that charge 40 baht a kilo. I think the laundry service is more for holiday people than long termers.
Hire a scooter
Most places charge 250 baht a day.
Let them know you’re staying long term and you can haggle a good deal.
You can normally get them down to 100/150 baht a day. If you get any cheaper, please let me know! Bikes and roads here can be dangerous, so:
Ensure that you get a helmet // go slow // be very conscious of yourself, others and the conditions when riding // watch out for oncoming traffic when turning left or right (road rules do not apply here with some people) // watch out for wildlife // watch out for sand // set off in plenty of time so you can take the journey nice and slow.
I rent from a nice family in Sri Thanu called LA bike rental and repairs and always get a good deal.
DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, or do anything else and drive!
I have seen too many bad accidents & a death of a friend still plays heavy on my heart. It’s just not worth it. Take a Tuk Tuk to the parties.
Make sure you take pictures of your bike before and point out to the rental place that you are aware of damage, just in case they are awkward when you return the bike.
Get a Number For a Local Tuk Tuk/Songtaew Driver
If you are planning to party, or need to go to and from the island, a great way to save money is to get a local’s number who is cheap and reliable. They will be grateful of the business and will probably become a local friend! Normally the accommodation you are stayng at, or yoga places can recommend a good place, just get chatting and ask around.
– Get to know the locals –
Join Local Facebook Groups
By joining facebook groups, you’ll get information on up and coming events and parties.
The most popular one is Koh Phangan Conscious Community. which can have a lot of useful information on it. People often ask questions and get good answers. There are some internet warriors on there also, so beware, but most is in good jest and harmless.
Hang Out Where the Long Termers & Thais Hang Out
There are loads of local hidden gems which aren’t mainstream parties, but still loads of fun. These are usually where the locals hang out.
Wednesdays you can listen to a live DJ at Seaboard Bungalows (Haad Yao) playing cool chill out trance, house and techno whilst the sunsets. Then it turns into a bit of a beach rave.
Friday’s are the host of Rasta Home on a friday which takes place in a cool wooden bar near Haad Yao Beach that has local reggae bands on.
Saturdays is Hollystone dance music and good local vibe type party.
All these places are free! (at the time of writing this post)
Other parties can be super expensive, so it is good to know where the free ones are.
A lot of local expats often sit outside of Cookies Cafe. This is a good place to get talking to people and to meet over a good coffee..
Zen beach is a buzz spot for sunset, often with drum circles, which turns into a bit of a party at times.
Pop into see Mark in his little Rasta Bar ‘Jahminn’ opposite Sri Thanu 7-11. Him and his Thai friend Pam are lovely and know the island inside out, so its good to pop in and see them and have a chat.
So if you get to know the locals, it’s good to converse and see what is on offer!
If you follow these tips, it will help you to save some money whilst staying on Koh Phangan and still having a blast. These are interchangeable and can apply to other places in Thailand and the world!
Do you have any other tips? Find these tips useful?
I’d love to hear from you!
Touching The Summit Team
About The author:
Aimee is a Yoga, Meditation and Move It or Lose It! teacher in located in Middlesbrough, England, UK.
To find out more, visit www.amalateesside.com