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The ambiguous answer to that question is No and Yes. No, Koh Phangan is not an expensive place to visit but depending on your budget and the type of experience you want to have, yes it can be. Expense is also relative depending on your own personal income.
But let’s break it down a bit…
Koh Phangan has always been a famous stop on the backpacker route through Asia, famously for its Full Moon Party and laid back atmosphere. Backpacking culture is not meant to be an expensive way to travel, with travelers choosing cheap hostels to stay in where they can meet other people in the shared dorms and getting from one destination to the next is done the cheapest way possible.
On the other side of things, Koh Phangan does cater to more expensive tastes. However, what is seen as expensive here is still incredibly good value for money compared to other parts of the world. You can stay at luxury 5 star resorts here in paradise for much cheaper than you would anywhere in Europe for example.
As well as local Thai cuisine and simple places to eat, Phangan has a wide variety of Western restaurants of good quality including high end dining experiences for something special or romantic. There are also more ‘expensive’ Thai dining options around the island or situated within resorts themselves.
The growth of the island means that more people are investing to build luxury villas, usually in the mountains with gorgeous views overlooking the ocean equipped with their own swimming pools and luxuriously decorated and equipped to western standards. These types of villas are available to those with more of an expensive budget and are perfect for couples getaways or friends wishing to share and have a more upmarket experience.
You can rent a car or a jeep rather than a moped which is more costly but as we said before, although these are the expensive options they will still seem affordable to many people in their 30s, 40s and upwards compared to youngsters just out of college in their late teens or twenties.
And so, there is no real answer to the question of ‘Is Koh Phangan Expensive?’, we believe it depends on the context of who you are and what you want. There is something for every different kind of budget and all types of travelers here on magic island, come find out yourself!