Koh Samui and Koh Phangan info guide, everything you need to know about sunbathing, dinning, partying and all other activities and interrest.
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Koh Phangan Koh Samui

You will find here general information about Koh Phangan and Thailand, the Thai culture and visa rules, the facilities available, with plenty of outbound links to help you explore the topics you are interested in. All and Everything that should help you to prepare your trip.

INFORMATION ABOUT THAILAND INFORMATION ABOUT KOH PHANGAN
Thai Visa & Passport
Politic & Religion
His Majesty the King
Public Holidays
Time & Electricity
Money & Banks
Learn Thai language
Communication & Internet
Photos & Digital Camera
Health & Hospitals
Drugs & Prostitution
Interesting books
Danger, annoyances & Police
Radio Koh Phangan
Useful Phone Numbers

To enter Thailand or to get a visa, your passport must have a minimum of six months validity. For Some nationalities (eg Russian) the length of stay is half.

If you stay less than 30 days.
You don't need a visa (for most European countries, USA and Australia). You will get a minimum 30 days free stamped visa on arrival at the airport or at the border if you arrive by road. With this type of visa, you can only get a 7 day extension.
If you expect to stay more than 30 days.
You'll have to get a visa in a Thai embassy in your country. You can get a 2 month tourist visa with two entries, which means you can actually stay 6 months in Thailand : after 2 months, you get one month extension at the immigration office, then, after this extra month, you'll have to get out of Thailand to do a "visa run" (you simply cross the border to get a stamp on your passport and come straight back in) and get two months more with your visa. Finally, you can apply for your last month extension at the immigration office.
visa and passeport to visit Thailand Visa extension.
Each time, you will have to provide 2 photos, your passport with your current visa, fill in a form and pay 1,900 Baht. There's only one immigration office nearby, it's located 1 km from Nathon, in Koh Samui. It’s open Monday to Friday, from 08.30 am. to 4.30 pm.
Get a new visa, VISA-RUN.
When you can not get extension anymore and you still wish to stay in Thailand, you'll have to make your way to a border to leave the country and come right back to get a brand new visa. Many agencies in Thong Sala or Haad Rin sell "Visa-Run" tickets to go there and back, all included. As you're staying in Koh Phangan (or not that far), you can then choose to go to :
- Burma (through Ranong), the trip is shorter and then faster, it costs around 1500 bahts, count a 10 dollars (new bill only !) extra charge to give to the immigration checkpoint in Burma. WARNING : some nationalities are not allowed to cross the Burmese border without a visa in order from a Burmese embassy (eg Russians), be sure you can before undertaking to do the trip there.
- Malaysia (through Padang Besar or Sadao) the trip is longer but cheaper, especially if you do it the rough way, with the governement bus (hardly 1000 bahts all included). You'll have to take the night boat there and back.
WARNING : Same as Myanmar, some nationalities are not allowed to cross the Malaysian border (eg. Israelis) be sure you can before undertaking to do the trip there.
- Singapore, but you'll then have to take the plane from Koh Samui. It's the most expensive trip, barely never offered by the agencies, except for people who can not cross anywhere else...

Since the 1st of October 2006, a new law application said that you are not allowed to stay more than 6 months in a row in Thailand if you entered with a double entry tourist visa on your passport (you’ll have to leave the country and ask for a new visa in a Thai consulate abroad). And only 90 days in 6 months if you entered the kingdom with a single entry or just got a 1 month free stamped visa when arriving at the border.
The thing is that this law does exist but is not always applied... In 2007, many people had problems staying long-term in Thailand and had to leave Thailand for a while (to Laos or Cambodgia, lucky for them...) while in 2008 nobody seemed to have that kind of problem anymore, and in-and-out are easy again to stay long-term. But anyway, the law exist, so be aware.

Overstay.
If you stay over the time allowed by your visa, you will have to pay a fine of 500 Bahts per day, with a maximum of 20,000 bahts. The fine has to be paid on your departure before passport control or when you ask for an extension. If you leave the country by plane and only have one day overstay, you won't be charged anything.
If you get busted by the police because you're on overstay or can not pay the fine at the border when leaving the country, you run the risk of being sentenced to up to 2 years of imprisonment.

You can check the latest official information about Thai visa from the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, where you can now even Download Application for Visa Form.


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Politic.
flag of Thailand The Flag of Thailand has three colors, blue, white and red. Its design shows 5 horizontal stripes, 1 large blue stripe in the middle, surrounded up and down by two thinner white and red stripes.
Thailand is divided in 76 provinces, each administrated by a governor. The provinces are divided in districts, sub-districts and villages. Rama IX, the King, has no political powers as such but he exerts a very strong influence and is respected and loved by all Thai people. The government is run by a group of ministers and a Prime Minister. They vote the laws and establish the Budget. Recently, Taksin Chinavatra, the former Prime Minister, had launched a war against corruption to "clean up" the administration.
At the same time, he also started a campaign against drugs to get rid of Thailand’s reputation and of all the people involved in. These strong initiatives have lead to hundreds of arrests and convictions, that set Thailand much safer and better adapted for family holidays. During year 2006, Thailand encountered a small crisis with street protests and army taking over power after. There again, the king did exert his influence to make new elections organized. If the government governs... the King is insuring the stability of the state for the happiness of his people !
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about Politics of Thailand

Religion.
Theravada Buddhism is the national religion. 95% of Thai people are Buddhists. Other religions like Islam, Catholicism, Hinduism, Taoism are also practised. The "Buddha Days" are very much respected, and on those dates the Full Moon Party may be moved to the next day, as alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Islam is well settled in the South of Thailand, and there are some Muslims in Samui and in Phangan. There are no religious quarrels in Thailand, except may be at the Malaysian border, where some groups have run into trouble with the police, but nothing to worry about, more like small separatist groups than fundamentalist organization.
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about Buddhism in Thailand


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His Majesty the King of Thailand, Rama IX His Majesty the King of Thailand, Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej), is revered like a god. And everyone has to show respect to him.
And the Thai people recently showed him its veneration and attachement during the celebration of the jubilee, 60 years of reign, in june 2006. And if you see people, especially on monday, wearing yellow shirts, sometimes even with the armorial bearing of the Chakris (dynasty of Ramas) on it, it is simply a way for them to pay tribute to their beloved king, as yellow is the color of the Thai Monarchy. If the shirt is blue... then its for the Queen, the beloved mother of all thai people.
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about The King of Thailand and his role in Thai politic

The Royal family has a kind of private history with Koh Phangan, as 4 Kings did actually visit it during last century :
Rama V, Rama VI, Rama VII and RAMA IX. And their royal signatures can be seen engraved in the rocks near Than Sadet.

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It can be very useful to know the Public Holidays when all administration (and Banks) are closed, when you are travelling around, so here is a list of the official Thai Public Holidays:

THAI PUBLIC HOLIDAYS & CELEBRATION DAYS
31st Dec
1st Jan
New Year May Full Moon "Visahka Puja", Buddha day, holiday for the birth of Buddha
Mid-Jan (2nd Saturday), Children's Day End of May Samui International Regatta - NOT a holiday, just celebration
16th Jan Teachers' Day. Schools are closed July Full moon Buddha days, 2 days off, the full moon is delayed for 2 days
Jan-Feb Chinese New Year 12th Aug Birthday of the actual Queen Sirikit, alcohol prohibited. Also Mother's Day
February Full Moon "Magha Puja", buddha day, everybody go to the temple, no alcoholic beverages 23rd Oct Remembrance of the dead of Rama V, the most loved King of Thailand with the actual one, Rama IX
6th Apr Chakri Day, for the King Rama I, the first King of the Chakri Dynasty November Full Moon "Loy Krathong" festival. every Thai people put a "Krathongs" on the waterways to honor the spirits of the water - NOT a holiday, just celebration
13th to 15th Apr "Songkran", Thai New Year. It's the water festival, for good luck, everybody throw water at each other 5th Dec Birthday of the King Rama IX, alcohol prohibited all day
1st May National Labour Day 10th Dec Constitution Day
5th May Anniversary of the coronation of the actual King Bhumipol (Rama IX)    

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Time
Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT + 7) that is actually the time in London.
What time is it ?

It is now  In Koh Phangan  

Electricity
Electricity is a standard 220 Volts in Thailand. Europeans (except for the British) won't need an adapter as European plugs fit Thai plugs perfectly. For our British chums and all those who may need an adaptor anyway, you’ll easily get one from any supermarket around.
If you have 110 volts at home, you better manage to come with a correct power transformer to use safely your materials and to avoid having to get cheap chinese one here....
There are frequent shortcuts, which can be quite long, especially in may (when the winds change and the West monsoon is starting) and during the rainy season.
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about Electricity power plugs, voltage and frequencies for Thailand

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Today in Phangan

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Time in Koh Phangan

Thai money is the Baht (THB).
Check the rate for the Baht in your currency

Banks are open from 08.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Many money exchange offices are open 7 days a week, in the main town until 10.00 p.m. All foreign currencies are accepted in cash and traveller’s cheques in any bank or exchange office, it is actually very easy to change money and get cash.
Visa card, Mastercard and American Express cards are accepted in all banks and exchange offices...

Many ATM and agencies of all Thai Banks are now widely available in Koh Phangan.

Contact number in case of loss of your Credit Card:
Visa & Mastercard (Bangkok) 02-299 1990
American Express (Bangkok) 02-273 0020


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Thai alphabet counts 44 consons and 32 voyels Thai language might sound difficult to most westerners, due to its tone rules. Nevertheless, it is not that hard to learn the basics, as most words are mono-syllabics (only one syllab), so very easy to remember and with a bit of practice you will soon be able to speak thai and have small conversation with locals.
There are numerous books to learn Thai in most of Thailand Bookshops and if you like foreign languages, Thai people will be very happy to see a Farang speaking their mother language.

If you want to experiment different relationship with locals and need Thai basics, here are some basic Thai words and Thai expressions for the everyday conversation:

The first word you definitely need to learn is FARANG which means literally FOREIGNER, you will hear this word everywhere you will go in Thailand...

ENGLISH THAI ENGLISH THAI
Hello
Goodbye (barely used)
Yes
No
Thank you
That´s nothing, it is Ok
Sorry
Sawadee
Laa Kawn
Chaï
Mai chaï
Kop kun
Mai pen raï
Kow Tot
How are you ?
I am fine, thanks
What is your name ?
My name is...
Where are you from ?
I am from...
See you soon
Sabai dee mai ?
Sabai dee
Kun cheu araï ?
Cheu ...
Ma jak Tee Nai
Ma jak ...
Pop kan maï

Where do you go ?
I go to ...
Where is the ... ?
the... is here
here
there
this
that
Pai naï ?
Pai ...
... you tee Naï ?
... you tee Nee
Tee Nee
Tee Non.
A-nee
A-non
Do you Have ...
Yes I have
No, I haven´t
How much is this ?
this is ... bahts
Just wait
I come back
Where are you coming from ?
Mee ... Maï
Mee
Mai Mee
A-nee Tao laï ?
A-nee pen ... bahts
Dio
Dio Klaap Ma
Pai nai ma ?

You have to notice that you should add "Krap" (if a man is speaking) or "Khaa" (if a woman is speaking) at the end of each sentence as a mark of politeness.
i.e: you should say "Sawadee Krap, Sabai de mai, Krap ? instead of "Sawadee, Sabai dee mai ?. To make a long story short, consider using Krap or Khaa as you will use "sir" in proper british language.

Of course, you might like to properly learn Thai while you are in Koh Phangan, there is a good "school" where you will learn to speak Thai as well as write and read it, in an easy and comprehensive way. It is in Thong Sala, little bit outside actually, just take the road to the hospital, turn left at the first junction (to go to the west coast) it is few tens meters from there, on the left side of the road, watch for the signal.

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Post Office.
In the big cities of Thailand, post offices are open between 8.00 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. However, in Phangan they only open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and between 8.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m. on Saturdays. Their services are quite good and there's also a packing counter where you can buy envelopes, boxes and everything else you’ll need to send your parcels. The staff can help you to make up your boxes. If you send a parcel by boat (the cheapest way) it will take about 2-3 months to get to Europe. A letter or a postcard takes between one and two weeks.
Check here for information about services offered by the Thailand Post.

Public Telephone.
Overseas calls are available in almost all post offices, hotels and travel agencies as well as street phones (with phone cards or credit cards). Collect call is also possible in some places.
Mobile Phone.
To take advantage of the competitive international fees of local providers, you can easily get SimCards from local phone shops, to put in your mobile. You just refill your credit using pre-paid cards. The international access code for discount prices is 008 or 009 instead of the standard 001.

Check here to have all international dialing codes and know how to call from one country to another

Internet.
Thailand has numerous Cyber-cafes, and it is very easy to get connected all around the country (except of course in the small villages of North East Thailand). High speed connection (ASDL) and Wi-Fi is now widely available in many Internet Shops in Phangan with over 2MB/s speed available. The price is about 1-2 baht/minute with a minimum of twenty bahts.

You can also find now many places offering free Wi-Fi to their customer, like the Yellow Café or the Cool Runnings... Bar in Thong Sala
Check here for a list of registered Wi-Fi locations in Thailand. (Note: Krungthep means Bangkok)

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Photos. For those still travelling with older camera, there are plenty of shops selling films and developing pictures, it's much cheaper than in Europe and the quality is very good. The service is quite fast as you can get your photos in a few hours or the next day. Beware if you use ektachrome, as not many shops are equipped to process it and don’t sell it either.

Digital Cameras. Nowadays it is very easy to use digital cameras in Phangan, as many shops are now equipped with the appropriate softwares and tools. If you use a digital camera don’t forget to bring the USB cable and the CD with your camera’s software. This way you'll be sure you can get anything done. Some internet shops even burn CDs.

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Health in Koh Phangan.
No specific vaccines are required for travellers from Europe. It's better to drink bottled water, as the water from the tap is not always safe. Bottles of drinking water, and even mineral water, are available everywhere and cost very little. The water carafes and the ice cubes served in Thai restaurants are generally safe purified water. Just beware of crushed ice.
Nevertheles, if you are the hypochondriac kind of person, you can check here to get all advices about the traveller´s Health.

Hospital on Koh Phangan.
The staff in Koh Phangan Hospital is well-trained for motorbike accidents as many tourists come there with their bruises, cuts, scraped backs and much worse... But if you have a serious injury, it's much better to get it checked in Samui. Check our page on health and hospitals in Koh Samui for further information

Phangan Rescue
It is a rescue service, which have 2 vehicles they make available to take injured or sick people to the hospital or any health facilities as quick as possible. All the people involved there are volunteers.

Phangan Animal Care.
Since 2001, a small clinic is taking care of our fiends the animals. Phangan Animal Care, generaly refered as PAC. It's a non-profit association, run by volunteers from all over the world with a thai assistant as wll, all year long. Vets from everywhere follows each other here and spend from few days to few months in the clinic, helping all thoses who need. They practice surgery, neutering, vaccination and love providing to all these cute animals from the cat and dogs to the monkey, turtles and even pelicans... they run on a short price basis (only to cover their charges !).
Many donation boxes can be found in different businesses on the island, any help will be grantly appreciated (money, of course, but not only, any old clothes, hammock, whatever may help to provide beds or else to animals...). If you need them, they can be found just outside of Thong Sala, on the road to Haad Rin, behind the School.

Clinic and Nursing Unit.
There are also plenty of small private clinics and nursing units managed by doctors or nurses which provide good advice and are ok for minor injuries.

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Drugs.
Exactly what you houlkd avoid, otherwise straight to Samui district prison.Il est important de se rappeler que les drogues sont strictement interdites par la loi thaï et toute possession ou usage de drogues sont sévèrement punis. You need to be aware that drugs are prohibited under Thai laws and use or possession are punished with very strong penalties. The most common drugs in Thailand are marijuana ("ganja"), opium and heroin ("yaa-fin") and "yaa-ba", a Burmese methamphetamine of very bad quality, which is very dangerous and has already done a lot of damage among Thai youth all around the country, another purer quality is available since early 2007, better known in western countries as "Ice". To these local drugs, some more can be found, like LSD (liquid acid or acid blotters) and MDMA (ecstasy pills or crystal mdma), that are actually brought back here in small amounts by unscrupulous travellers. In February 2003, The former Prime Minister, Taksin Chinavatra, did launched a countrywide war against drugs in Thailand. There were many arrests, money and goods confiscated and many received the death penalty (over 3000 dead in as less as 3 months...).
Anyway, even if things seems to have slowed down nowadays, and drugs are not that difficult to get by now, remember that the use of drugs is dangerous and it's better to stay clear of them, bearing in mind that the Prisons in Thailand are about of the same standards that they were in Europe 100 years ago... So better beware !

Prostitution.
In Thailand, as suprising as it may sound, Prostitution is prohibited by the law, and not only pimping as some people like to say.
And from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, from Pattaya to Pukhet, from Hat Yai to Koh Samui and even in Koh Phangan, the many beer bars, massage parlours and karaoke places heat up the night.
For your information, know that the girls working in the bars for Farang are "independant" workers and therefore do not work for anybody but themselves (or their family...)
No bought children from the North or forced prostitutes working here, but it does not mean it doesn´t happen, it actually massively exists around Thailand, and since a very long time, but it is a hidden business only for locals.
Most of the time, the ladies you will find in the tourist areas are girls from a poor family who left home in the hope of making better money than in a factory or in the rice fields. Often, they are just hoping to find a husband who will give them money, protection and a better life. Remember that in Thailand, love has much less to do in "love relationship" than money does...
You also need to know that prostitution is not exclusively feminine and that you will also find many "Lady-boys" (Katoeys), that do not tell you they are and might look amazingly sexy (take care of bad surprises...). There are also few Gay Bars (with or without prostitutes) in Bangkok and in Koh Samui.
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about Prostitution in Thailand

Interesting Books:
If you like to go deeper with this topic, some very good travel books exist and are available in Thailand. We advice you "Private Dancer" and "Confessions of a Bangkok Private Eye" by Stephen leather, "The scribe" by David Young or "My name is long, you like me ?" a very interesting book, written by a former prostitute in Pataya, speaking about prostitution in thailand and education and lifestyle of women in the North east of thailand.
All these very interesting books, and more, are edited by Bamboo Sinfonia Editions in Bangkok and are available in many languages (English, Swedish, German, French...), don´t miss them !

Another very smart book to better understand Thai culture and relationship between Thais and Foreigners, especially if you plane to marry a Thai, is "Thailand Fever" by Vitida Vasant (a Thai woman living in LA since more than 20 years) and Chris Pirazzi (an american living in Thailand since more than 15 years) at Paiboon Publishing, explaining the basis of the Thai culture and education compared with the western one. A very interesting book, that helps you better undersand local people and makes you realize how far from each other our different cultures are, despite the apparent modernism of Thailand... It is already available in English, German, Dutch and Italian.

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Dangers and annoyances.
Thai Prison, far away from the 3 start comfort, with cells for 80 to 100 persons ... To avoid at any prioe ! Except, of course, if you get caught with drug (and it often arrive that unlucky tourists with little amount of Ganja get searched at a police check on the side of the road, and go straight to the brand new district prison, in Lamaï on Koh Samui), Thailand and especially Koh Phangan is a safe place. Sure, apart from the drugs risks, there are scams, especially in Bangkok, around tourist places, but they are now so much reported in all travel guides that everybody knows about them... check here to learn the latest information about Bangkok scams. Whatsoever, you need to keep your wits about and take care of your belongings, especially when travelling by bus, as there are many thefts reported every year. The trains are rather safe as they have security guards on board. We have also heard about problems in some bars where the girls working there would have slipped some sleeping pills in their customers’ glass to rob them off. But these reports are quite rare and usually related to "Lady-boys" (Katoeys) rather than to "regular girls".
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the theft reports involve foreigners, often desperate backpackers who have run out of money and have developed a sharp eye for easy targets. Hence, we strongly recommend to be very careful with your belongings and not to trust anybody to look after them.
On party nights, take care of your valuables (better not take 'em with you and give 'em to your hotel)

Police.
If you run into problems and have to go to the police, you need to be aware that there are two different police forces in the tourist areas. First, you'll normally have to go to the Tourist Police. They speak English and are dedicated to the foreigners. Then you'll have to go to the Royal Thai Police with the form from the tourist police. In Koh Phangan... No tourist police, so run directly to the Royal Thai Police station... Don´t expect too much help from them, just official loss or theft papers, no more.
To deeper explore this topic, Check the public relationship web site of the Thai Police here.

If you have the time, you can visit foreigners in Thai prison. It is much more easy than you may think, and can provide hope to a grateful soul.
Check also this very good site about Life in the Prisons of Thailand if you want to know more about the living conditions of the inmates here !


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Koh Phangan Radio
Since 2006, Koh Phangan Radio is broadcasting on the air on 88.8FM.
They play Thais standards, with a relatively modern programmation, you can listen to tracks from legends, like Carabao or Losso, and most of the "RS promotion" production, but you can also hear some local prod (?) as well. Some talk-shows are on also, where you have local officials speaking about local problems or projects.
It's obvious to say that it's very popular among people on the island (it's the only radio you can tune to around here, anyway...) and you'll hear it everywhere around the island in many shops (thoses who don't play TV) broadcasting the radio hit of the moment and also advertising local shops in typical local style.
If you fancy to listen to some special songs, they also have a hotline for "most requested".
Just dial 077.238.948

You can also listen to some Thai Radio right now, try it, you will really feel like in Thailand ! (WMP© is needed).

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Emergency
Boat Companies
Emergency call
Koh Phangan Police
Koh Phangan Rescue
Koh Phangan Hospital
Haad Rin Inter Clinic
Phangan Animal Care
191
077-377-114
077-377-500
077-377-034
077-375-342
089-875-7513
Haad Rin Queen
Lomprayah
Raja Ferry
Seatran
Songserm
077-375-113
077-238-412
077-377-452/3
077-238-679/80
077-377-704
Bank/Credit Card
Plane, train, bus
American Express
Visa/Master Card
02-273-0020
02-299-1990
Bangkok Airways
State Railways
VIP Bus 999
077-425-012
02-220-4334
077-238-505/762


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