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Walking on Koh Phangan

1 Sep

When you don't drive a motorbike, going around on the island can get pretty expensive. And you can't always jump on the back of your hostel's roommates to go on adventures. So you use your own way of transportation: your two legs. But it's hard isn't it? When you don't come from a hot country, half an hour of walk in Koh Phangan equals to one and a half in France. But walking on the island has its perks.

You end up in places outside of the touristic guides, you see more local areas and hidden gems. You feel like an explorer. So grab your shoes and walk... But let me give you a few tips first!

Plan your trip, with a lot of stops

Are you a nature lover, a temple aficionado, a snorkeling enthusiast or a beach napper? Look on the map and see what's there, what makes you curious. There are so many interesting places on Koh Phangan that the difficult part will be to stop yourself. It's very easy to walk one hour to a place, chill there and relax for some time, then walk another hour or more to another destination. It's better to have an idea of where you're going so you can pack accordingly and warn people, but the island is small enough to just grab your bag, start walking and see where you end up. I would recommend to always have a map with you, either a paper one or on your phone. If you get tired sooner than you expected it will help you find a place to relax or find new points of interest you didn't notice before.

Pack your bag

Depending of your path you might need different things. Sunscreen and water are of course the most important. Think about a hat as some roads have almost no shadow and you really don't want to get a heatstroke. A towel and your bathing-suit are also recommended. There are many beaches and waterfalls on Koh Phangan, so it's unlikely that you won't see a single one during the day. If you're a girl visiting temples, think about something to cover your legs as you'll have to in some places. You can take some snacks with you, but it's pretty easy to find food. A fan can be really helpful when you walk just under the sun, and if you want to be extra-careful mosquito repellent and a cream if you get bitten. But it's better to carry an extra light bag as the weight of the sun will already be heavy on your shoulders!


Be flexible

Even if you have your day completely planed out, leave space for improvisation. You never know what you might see on the road, when you'll need to have a break or when the path suddenly disappears. There are always other options, that might bring you to new places. When I walked from Haad Salad to Haad Yao there was supposed to be a path connecting the two. Unfortunately it wasn't there... or I couldn't find it. But taking the main road was too dangerous, without any safe space to walk, so I looked around and ended up walking between the rocks near the water instead of going over the hill. I found beautiful photo spots and felt like I was discovering hidden secret. And the face of people who saw me enter the beach from the water was priceless. Be smart, be careful and don't force yourself. Stop and have a break if you feel like you need it.


Enjoy

It can sometimes be hard to remember why you're doing that to yourself when you've been walking for one hour, your shirt is drenched with sweat and your skin is sticky from too much sunscreen. So look around, take pictures, observe. It makes the walk go faster. And when you arrive to your destination, when you can finally cool down in the waterfall or see this amazing view, you remember that it was completely worth it! You savor it even more when you struggled to get there!


Don't be scared of the dogs

When you walk in Koh Phangan you meet a lot of friendly and less friendly dogs. Don't panic. Most of them are very nice and just want to say hi. I once had three massive dogs run at me. The only reason I didn't flee, screaming, was because it took me too long to decide what to do. Then I was covered with paw prints and drool while they were introducing themselves. The rest of the dogs usually calms down if you stay away from the property and walk fast. But if you feel like they're too aggressive, leave the area and find another path. Maybe this will lead you to an even more beautiful place!


Come back safely

After a whole day walking, you deserve that ride back. If you didn't plan for a loop, hop on a taxi and let it brings you home safely. Even if the temperature drops during the night, even if you still have some energy (in which case, could you please share your secret?), I would advise you to come back in a taxi. A lot of the roads don't have safe spaces for pedestrians and it can get very dangerous at night.

Here you are, ready to go! To summarize: plan, pack, improvise, be safe and, most importantly, enjoy!

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