Seahabilitated on Koh Phangan

Sawadee Ka and greetings from the beautiful island of Koh Phangan! 💜

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photo: pink and purple sunset on Haad Yao Beach

Koh Phangan is a unique island in the Gulf of Thailand that has really blossomed in the past few years. It used to just be a spot for full moon parties, but has since become a hub for both tech savvy digital nomads and artsy free spirits. While staying here, you’ll enjoy endless co-working cafes that are perfect for remote work, and plenty of healing centers for yoga, meditation and other creative pursuits. 💓

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left photo: heart at Zen Beach; right photo: vegan tofu burrito with rice, beans, cilantro pesto, homemade ketchup and cashew cream at Orion Cafe
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left photo: my Bohemian outfit to match the vibe here; right photo: Ashoka Vegan‘s tofu plant-based meat massaman burrito

Honestly, the people living on Koh Phangan feel like they’re walking to a different beat. During our time on the island, we heard people regularly chanting at sunset in ceremonial drum circles, we had to politely decline the invitation to a tantric healing workshop, and I was able to take part in a soothing shamanic sound healing session. 🎵

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photo: shamanic sound session with Davide at Orion Healing Center

Now after such a long year filled with stress and anxiety over the pandemic, I felt like this beautiful beachy bubble gave me everything I needed to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. ☺️

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After seven weeks on this island, I felt seahabilitated, or rehabilitated by the sea. 🏝️

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Koh Phangan beach life (photo: JJs Bar and Coco Locco)

Luckily, Koh Phangan seemed ready to welcome me as well. Apparently, I even had my own parking spot. 😉

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photo: funny Math Teacher Parking Spot on Koh Phangan

Now before I talk about our trip, let me first explain what made us decide to spend our summer there. As you may know, since April, the COVID situation in Thailand has become really quite depressing. Bangkok’s combination of increasing case numbers and low vaccination rates mean that lockdown restrictions keep tightening each month. It’s been truly sad to see the downfall of this vibrant, colorful place. 🌈

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photo: Samyan Mirtown decorated for Pride Month
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photo: colorful Illuminations near Bang Rak and Siam Paragon

As well, with such difficult re-entry requirements, the thought of traveling home and being able to come back into Thailand seemed extremely complicated and expensive. That being said, with pretty much everything closed in Bangkok, we had only one option if we stayed in the city…stay the f*** home and color. 😂

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left photo: my coloring book from Kinokuniya called “Stay the F*CK Home and Color”; right photo: Bangkok city scene

Let’s just hope that things can get back on track in the next few months and Bangkok can return to the place I know and love. 💜

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photo collage of all my favorites that are closed: parks, pools and cafes
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photo: pre-lockdown pesto panini at Thea Café
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photo: pre-lockdown meetup at Carrots Vegan Bistro with fried peanut tofu rainbow salad
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photo: pre-lockdown Turkish pizza and sea bass marinated in mustard sauce at The 51 Live Gastro
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pre-lockdown shopping in Siam Discovery

In the meantime, with great luck and perfect timing, my partner and I were able to get vaccinated, which made at least the idea domestic travel feasible. As such, we put the colored pencils down and hopped on a plane to paradise. ✈️

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before photo: happily getting our jab in Bangkok and pre-travel coffee at the airport
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after photo: beach bliss at Haad Rin on Koh Phangan
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after photo: hanging at Vagga Bar in a hammock by Haad Yao Beach on Koh Phangan

Now, I’ll be honest, since we’ve developed into such foodies, this blog is mainly focused on documenting all the wonderful restaurants we visited. Even if you aren’t a restauranteur though, I think you’ll still be impressed by the wide selection of cuisine you’ll find on this small island. 🏝️

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left photo: Russian Syrniki with apricot jam and coconut cream; right photo: spinach crepes with ricotta, avocado and salmon at La Datcha
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photo: Russian borscht and Oliver Salad at Friends Cafe 

Because in my experience, if you stay on a remote island, your food options are usually very limited. That’s what makes this place so alluring. It has a multicultural mix of foreign residents that bring recipes from their home countries and offer truly authentic international cuisine. 😋

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left photo: Indian Thali with vegetable curries, lentils, rice, papadam, naan and yogurt; right photo: potato paneer Amritsari Kulcha at Chana Masala
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left photo: chicken quesadilla at SOHO Bar; right photo: street art in Thong Sala
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photo: British minced pie with mashed potatoes and peas at The Mason Arms

Heck, the Indonesian food here at Warung Café is even better than the stuff I had on Bali. 😍 Now if only this blog had smell-o-vision. 😂

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left photo: Nasi Campur Bali with peanut tofu lemongrass skewers, turmeric rice, stir fried egg with greens, eggplant, tempeh, mashed potato balls, rice crackers and sambal chili sauce; middle photo: homemade tempeh burger with fries; right photo: berry smoothie bowl with homemade granola, almonds, chia, flaxseeds, goji and banana

During our stay, my partner also had to work everyday and I had enrolled in an online German course. As such, most mornings were spent at a different café to enjoy some stellar brekkie and get our work done. 💻

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left photo: German Strammer Max at Nira’s Bakery; right photo: granola bowl at A’s Famous
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left photo: shakshuka with feta at Indigo Café; right photo: oatmeal, fruit, local honey and homemade yogurt at Cookies Café
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photos at The Factory Café: poached eggs with potato pancakes, spinach and tomato relish; acai smoothie bowl with coconut
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left photo: pad Thai at Cookies Salad; right photo: vegetable coconut curry in a coconut with rice berry at Taste from Heaven
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photo: yellow curry basil barracuda in a coconut at Beachlounge 
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left photo: barracuda khao soi at Siri’s Island Café; right photo: pork larb at Koh Raham

Pura Vida Café in Haad Yao was definitely my go-to most mornings. The staff was super friendly, and I absolutely loved their hearty panini with caramelized onions, mozzarella and cilantro garlic mayo for dipping. It’s normally with chicken, but they modified the dish with a chickpea patty just for me. ☺️

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I also loved this local spot in Haad Yao called Madii Cafe. The owner loved to chat and was super attentive. If I didn’t eat one ingredient, she made sure not to put it in the dish next time. 😂

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The variety and quality of the coffee beans on the island is also quite impressive. Here you can find strong Italian espressos, organic blends, cold brews and even vacuum coffee. ☕

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left photo: La Vela Italian coffee shop; right photo: vintage coffee décor at Bake Sense
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photo: vacuum coffee at Hundred Islands Coffee Bar

And of course, each café has its own charming furnishings. The only standard requirement is to leave your shoes at the door. ☺️ 👟

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welcoming décor at Hive Café

Now since many restaurants cater to yogis and health enthusiasts, you’ll find most menus have lots of plant-based options and nutritious, wholesome ingredients.

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left photo: vegan coffee and treats at Lekshop Organic; right photo: tropical island walkway
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photo: bacon and egg sandwich at Seed to Feed using ingredients grown on-site
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photo: salmon and caper bagel at Buddha Café 
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photos of Eat.co: meaty mushroom BBQ bowl with coleslaw, pickled veggies, brown rice and cashew cream; teriyaki tempeh with marinated carrots, avocado, seaweed, brown rice and tahini miso
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photos at Pure Vegan Heaven: Mexican bowl with quinoa, tofu chorizo, vegetable bean chili, pico de gallo, avocado dressing and chipotle cream
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photo: tempeh turmeric wrap with cashew cream cheese at Foods & Roots on Chaloklum Beach
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left photo: chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl from What’s Cup; right photo: protein oatmeal with cinnamon, peanut butter and pumpkin seeds from Karma Kafe

For the best fruity smoothie bowls, I’d suggest Art Café. They let you mix and match ingredients and the ambience is also very calming and Zen. They have relaxing music playing, floor seating with soft pillows, a fresh breeze flowing through their open windows, and incense permeating the air. ☮️

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photos at Art Café: two different piña colada bowls made with banana, coconut, pineapple and mango, and topped with nuts, granola and dried fruit

And although there were occasional distractions at the café, I found it very easy to focus and get my work done. 🐱

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photo: cute cat distraction and avocado toast at Bubba’s Roastery in Haad Yao
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photo: avo feta bagel and vintage decor at The Fat Cat

Many of the cafes even had outdoor pools and sea views. 🤩

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photo: Tomorrow X pool and restaurant
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photo: chilling at Tomorrow X with toasted ham and cheese
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photo: pad Thai and seafood fried rice at High Life Bungalow and co-working space
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left photo: bagel & lox at Common Grounds Coffee; right photo: berrynana smoothie bowl at La Casa Tropicana co-working space
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photo: chicken pumpkin curry and fruit at Benjamin’s Hut on Haad Chao Beach
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photo: fruit and porridge at Phangan Cabana Resort

We also spent one day at the luxurious Panviman Resort. By spending at least $18 at their restaurant, the two of us could use their pool facilities free of charge. Due to COVID, the place was completely empty and we could enjoy it all to ourselves! 🤩

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photo: Panviman Resort pool with a sea view and crab papaya salad from their restaurant

Overall, my favorite foodie highlight had to be the copious amount of Middle Eastern Cuisine here. I am a self-proclaimed tahini queenie and love anything topped with za’atar spice. 👑

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left photo: chicken sofrito stew with tahini at Taboon; right photo: coffee at Little Cookies
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photo: falafel pita with tahini and chickpea salad at Jaffa Hummus
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photos at Capara Restaurant: Israeli bourekas filled with spinach, cheese and tomato served with tahini; omelet brioche sandwich with tahini and cilantro hot sauce
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photo: falafel and hummus with Israeli salad at SeaTara Restaurant on Haad Chao Beach
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photo: lamba kebab pita with tahini at SeaTara Restaurant
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photo: falafel burger with fries and homemade tzatziki at Coco Locco
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left photo: lamb meatball sandwich with tahini and pickled veggies at Wowness Café; right photo: chicken gyro at Sirtaki Taverna

And with my German roots, I was even more impressed to see they offered fusion fare. Schnitzel with tahini? Yes, please! 😋

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photo: chicken schnitzel with eggplant hummus, tahini and pickled veggies on homemade brioche at Wowness Café

And after a long day of work and German study in the cafes, the two of us could put our laptops down and enjoy a romantic date night at one of the many cozy, candle-lit restaurants. 🕯️🍷

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photos at Nena Locanda Italiana: stuffed calamari with shrimp on potato cream and slow-cooked pork belly with roasted potatoes
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photo: plato cubano with roja vieja beef and fried plantains at Peyote…my partner also loved their pisco sour🍹
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photo: Wagyu burger with cheddar and bacon at Winery Koh Phangan
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photos at Winery Koh Phangan: garlic shrimp with crusty bread, seared tuna with peppers and Spanish patatas bravas with spicy tomato sauce
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photos at Seoul Vibe Korean Restaurant: kimchi pancake and vegetable bibimbap
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photo: lamb ragù rigatoni at Barrique
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left photo: homemade spinach ravioli at The Rolling Pin; right photo: drinks and pasta at Romanzo Tropicale
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photos at Rimini Ristorante: seafood gnocchi in a creamy sauce; mussels and clams in a white wine sauce with crusty bread
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photos at Kika Splace: anchovy artichoke flan and eggplant sausage rigtaoni
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photo: tofu larb at the beachfront French restaurant, L’Alcove
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left photo: penne pesto at L’Alcove; right photo: chicken parmesan at Loccos Pizza Bar
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fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar in Ban Tai

By far, one of the most popular restaurants on Koh Phangan is Satipot, with reservations being a requirement. Their cozy and charming eatery serves hearty Persian fare with mouth-watering flavor combinations.😋

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mizra eggplant dip with homemade bread, roasted chicken and pistachio ice cream

We tried just about everything on the menu, but the most impressive had to be the King’s Rice, which is a lamb shank slow cooked in saffron and yogurt sauce served with yellow rice, caramelized onions, pistachios, paprika and raisins. It’s baked in the oven and topped with a crispy pie crust. The lamb bone seriously looks like a tree sprouting sprigs of herbs out of its base. What a phenomenal presentation! 😲

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photos at Satipot: king’s rice, veggie bandari and lentil stew with raita yogurt sauce

And in order to stay fit after all that chow, my partner completed a kiteboarding course and we both visited the local open-aired gym. 🚲

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photo: using a day pass at Evolve gym

The remaining freetime there was spent exploring the beautiful beaches and jungle landscape. Our favorite spot had to be Haad Than Sadet Beach located within the Namtok Than Sadet National Park. There is a 3 USD entrance fee to enter, but it’s absolutely worth it. The stone beach is just lovely for lounging and swimming, with minimal sand flies or jagged coral, which we found at most other spots. Within the park, there’s also a few waterfalls to visit, and a hidden beach called Haad Thong Reng, which can only be accessed by a rickety foot bridge. 🌲

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photo: exploring the jungle path and waterfall of the national park
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photo: Haad Thong Reng Beach and national park entrance booth

You might have guessed it already, but having a scooter to get around here is essential. Luckily, we rented one from Mongkon To Travel for only 3 USD per day.

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left photo: riding the scooter in Koh Phangan; right photo: German sticker we found from my partner’s home province

In terms of accommodation, we split our time equally at Sunset Hill Resort in Sri Thanu and Bay Villas in Haad Salad. 🤩

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photo: Sunset Hill Resort balcony

The advantage of Sunset Hill Resort was that it had a beautiful rooftop co-working space and lots of social events. 🎵

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photo: concert at the rooftop co-working space of Sunset Hill 

And of course, Sunset Hill also had stunning sunset views. 😉

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photo: sunset at Sunset Hill

On the other hand, the advantage of Bay Villas was that it felt like our own apartment. It had a full kitchen, laundry and a separate bedroom.

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photo collage of Bay Villas courtesy of their Facebook page

Overall, we loved our whole stay on this gorgeous island and we were sad to say adieu.😢

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left photo: sporting red, white and blue to celebrate 4th of July on Koh Phangan; right photo: green curry with rice shaped in a heart

Of course, returning to the real world meant we also had to abandon our hippie lifestyle. Say goodbye to the drum circles and hello again to daily showers. 😂

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funny memes about Koh Phangan

And since salons are currently closed in Bangkok, I made sure to take care of all my beauty essentials before I left. 💇

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photo: massage at Pure Relax, hair cut at Alisa Beauty Salon, pedicure at Passion Beauty Studio

Travel Tip: To get to Koh Phangan, we first took a 1.5 hour flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways. After enjoying a few hours at the Karma Sutra Resort on Koh Samui, we took a 30-minute catamaran with Lomprayah to Koh Phangan.

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photos at Karma Sutra Resort: ceviche, cappuccino and hotel décor

On arrival in Koh Phangan, we had to go through a thermal body scanning room and show all the necessary travel documents. 👮

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Leaving the island though was a bit trickier, since all domestic flights stopped due to the lockdown. After extending our stay for an additional two weeks, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer for flights to resume, so we took a private taxi back to Bangkok. The journey took about 14 hours and cost roughly the same amount as a flight. 😬

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photo: announcement of domestic flight cancellations until further notice 😮

Now the reason we really needed to come back was that both our leases were up and we were due to move into a beautiful brand-new flat! 😍

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common space, pool, sauna and yoga room
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bedroom, kitchen, living room, balcony and soaking tub

As well, next week marks the start of the new academic year, and although I’ll be teaching online, there’s still much to be done and it’s better to be close to school to gather resources. Anyway, stay tuned for more updates on my expat life in Bangkok! Until then, take care and stay safe everyone! Thanks for following along! 👩‍🏫

2 thoughts on “Seahabilitated on Koh Phangan

  1. Wow so many beautiful and colourful photos and just look at all those yummy vegetarian dishes! Would love to try them one day ☺️ Thanks for sharing and wishing you all the best especially as you return to teaching. In Ireland, kids are going back to school in two weeks! Aiva 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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