Snacking your way around Thong Sala
The best day to explore Thong Sala is Saturday during the Thong Sala Walking Street, when things are at their busiest best, but at other times, follow this walk to discover interesting cafes or to wander the lazy local back roads.
Walk past old traditional shopfronts with wooden doors; many are shops owned by the Thai-Chinese, hence the red and gold Chinese couplets bestowing good fortune and fortuitous symbols, including bagua trigram mirrors to ward off the dispositions of evil and bad luck.
Grab a Gelato
Turn the corner as Taladkao Rd bends right next to houses lined with potted plants and stop off at Satimi to cool down with some excellent gelato or sorbets. There are several interesting shops for you to browse in, too.
Soi Phupattana Market Street
Soi Phupattana is a bustling, traditional market road where locals shop for fresh veggies, seafood, dried chilli and other herbs.
Thong Sala Food Market
The food market is the hub of street food life in Thong Sala, a bustling galaxy of stalls that open in the early afternoon and steam on till around 11pm, serving everything from omelettes to curry, kebabs and spring rolls. It's always heaving, so sharpen your elbows and join in.
Phantip Food Center
After exploring all the snacks on show at the food market, if you want a sit-down meal instead, head to the Phantip Food Center at the rear of the market, where delicious Thai staples await – take a seat at one of the communal tables.
For smooth coffee, Dots is a perfect place for a latte or a cappuccino in trendy surrounds and an opportunity to relax. It also sells cool shades in wooden frames, natural creams, oils, clothes, candles and necklaces.
A pint at the Hub
To round off your day, have a pint of beer or a glass of wine at Hub, wander down to the seafront and bask in the sunset, watching local kids running around and playing football.
- Chinese shopfronts
- Thong Sala's back streets
Walk along Taladkao Rd to the Fat Cat.
Ban Tai to Than Sadet by Scooter
This terrific 10km scooter, motorbike or bicycle journey takes you from Ban Tai to the gorgeous beach at Hat Thong Reng, to explore Thai temples, a traditional village, and the heart of Ko Pha-Ngan’s jungle interior before plunging down to the sea, past waterfalls, to an azure bay pinched between rocky headlands.
At the 7-Eleven in Ban Tai you'll see a sign pointing to Thong Nai Pan Beach (13.5km) leading you north along the 2079. Wat Pho, with its imposing gateway, has large grounds and a herbal sauna opposite.
Ko Pha-Ngan's Tallest Yang Na Yai Tree
This terrific tree seems to poke into the Ko Pha-Ngan clouds. Garlanded with ribbons, it's encircled by a protective balustrade with a small information board explaining the tree’s significance.
The small village of Ban Nok has a diminutive temple that peeks from the foliage along the signposted dirt path beyond the tree. Though the temple is a very simple one-hall affair and very easy to miss, the village around it offers glimpses of traditional Thai life, a million miles from the coastal settlements that revolve around tourism. Return to the fork in the road by the Yang Na Yai Tree and turn right to continue along the 2079.
Big Bang Art Cafe
Continue for around 6km as the road climbs steeply into the dense jungle interior of the island. Around 600m before you reach the roundabout, look out for the Big Bang Art Cafe up the steps on your left, run by a Swiss graphic designer and his local wife.
Turn right at the roundabout and zip down towards Hat Than Sadet. There’s a string of falls here, leading to the sea, but the best is Deang Waterfall. Explore at will; if the water is in full spate, it’s quite a sight.
Hat Than Sadet
This lovely white-sand beach is beyond the palms, so park your scooter and wander along the sands. Hat Than Sadet still has a rather isolated feel, despite the road now running all the way to it.
Hat Thong Reng
Cross the bridge over the river at the south end to the Mai Pen Rai bungalows – taking a look upriver – and consider clambering around the rocks to the beach of Hat Thong Reng. If you find it too hard going, just sit on the rocks and gaze out to sea.
- Ko Pha-Ngan's Tallest Yang Na Yai Tree
- Deang Waterfall
Scooter from Thong Sala towards Hat Rin to turn left at the 7-Eleven in Ban Tai.