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Welcome to what is known as ‘Low Season’ here on Koh Phangan. A time when the exciting celebration of Songkran has passed and the hottest humid days are upon us. There are less holidays around the globe and so visitors are fewer, plus the Summer has reached our far away friends so they have less reason to come, Summer here on Koh Phangan is hot, only the true hardcore can deal with it.
Lots of people call themselves ‘locals’ when they spend time on the island, even if they visit for just 3 months per year yet great numbers of these ‘locals’ run away during low season, back to refill their bank accounts until next time, to return when the sun is milder, the parties are busier, when all their friends are back and to soak the energy that lots of people bring to the end of year high season and when the Western world permits more holiday.
What is left in low season are the ‘real’ locals, the Koh Phangan Thai community, the families that have known this magical island all their life, they don’t run away, life continues as normal as it always has on Koh Phangan and also there are some non Thai people here too…
For the sake of this article let’s call these people ‘long termers’, a kind of standard description of the people who stay on Koh Phangan during low season, in fact all year round.
This is just a generalisation though, there will of course be younger folk, those who have a job in a hotel, hostel or bar maybe, those who are studying Thai language on their education visa and also people visiting, not living, but staying for a year or so maybe trying out yoga, training in something or just simply being.
For many long termers on the island low season is a beautiful, peaceful tranquil time. Breathing a sigh of calm as you know that everywhere will be more at ease, you can go do your weekly grocery shopping like a normal person, you can drive to your destinations in normal traffic, even the main roads are not so busy and you have time to wave and stop to catch up with your friends as they drive past. Families can spend more time together, parents and children can enjoy the island and take part in activities safely and in a less crazy environment, just like ‘normal life’ as you might say...
Once per month the island still gets busy of course with the Full Moon and Party crowd but honestly, once you have been here through high season you really do notice that it is not as busy and it is manageable, you are well equipped to survive the 5 days of madness by now.
The typical outlook for a business owner on a tourist island like Phangan is that it can be a struggle depending on how you look at it but most importantly on how you have prepared. As there are less visitors to the island you make less money but as long as you have worked your butt off during high season then you will have reaped the rewards and will be able to survive and even thrive during low season.
Many businesses are in fact booming more in low season, a time when people fix repair work, do up their house or establishment, make all kinds of positive changes, economise on the quiet time to improve on themselves and so utilise many other businesses which are here.
During low season you have the time to think of new ideas because in high season all you do is work, work, work.
Low season is a time of restoration, both physically and mentally, for human individuals and the island itself. We are sure that the Thai community probably relish during low season, a break from the chaotic visitors of high season and their high demands ha-ha.
As a long termer here on Koh Phangan you can go and actually enjoy the island, reminding yourself of why you are here in the first place. Putting yourself in the tourists shoes, doing the ‘tourist things’ like visiting the waterfalls, trekking, simply driving round the island or taking a class knowing it will not be over full and you will get the attention of the teacher.
You can go to your favourite parties knowing you will see people you know, there is space to dance and you can meet new faces who you have never met before in the knowledge that maybe they are here long term also but your paths had not yet crossed, now in low season the time is right that you do. A chance to make some proper real friends here.
Parties call for DJs of course and low season is a time when we all support each other. The DJs who live on the island are in higher demand to keep the music pumping and there is a sense of love on the dancefloor as the long termers party to the music of their friends.
So if you happen to visit Koh Phangan during low season, after reading this you might now have a new perspective of other non Thai people you encounter, not everyone is just visiting, not everyone goes to the Full Moon party, some people even have kids here, crazy right?!
Don’t be put off by the ‘low season’ reputation, Koh Phangan is still alive and if it is a more community vibe that you are looking for then possibly this could be a great time for you to stay a little longer.
And for those of you here who survive high season and thrive in the low then we salute you! The hardcore hot sun survivors, hard workers, carers of the people and low season optimists, we’ll see you on the next beautiful dancefloor, where we’ll have space to hug and chat...