Ko Pha Ngan
|Ko Pha Ngan
Ko Pha Ngan from the air
|• Total||125 km2 (48 sq mi)|
|Time zone||Thailand Standard Time (UTC+7)|
Ko Pha Ngan (or Koh Phangan, Thai: เกาะพะงัน, RTGS: Ko Pha-ngan, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ pʰa.ŋan]) is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand in Surat Thani Province. It is part of the Samui Archipelago. It is famous for its full moon party at Haad Rin Beach and as a backpacker destination. Ko Pha Ngan has two sister islands: the larger Ko Samui to the south and the smaller Ko Tao to the north.
- Estimated perimeter: 40 km (estimate—10 hrs average walking time)
- From mainland: about 55 km
- From Ko Samui: about 15 km
- From Ko Tao: about 35 km
- Main town: Thong Sala
- Highest Point: Khao Ra, 630 m
The name Ko Pha Ngan derives from the word "ngan", meaning "sand bar" in the southern dialect, for there are many sand bars offshore around the island. Ko Pha Ngan has been a longtime favorite of past kings of Thailand. Rama V, or Chulalongkorn, for example, visited Ko Pha Ngan 14 times during his reign.
The Bronze Drum of Dongson Culture (500–100 BCE) that was found on Ko Samui in 1977 is evidence that there were settlements of people on Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and their islets more than two thousand years ago. Some historians and archaeologists believe that the first group who migrated to Ko Pha Ngan were the Muslim sea gypsies (Pygmy, Semung, and Proto-Malay) who travelled by boat from the Malay Peninsula. Today there are few Muslim inhabitants.
Over the last century the island's population has steadily expanded; first living off the sea and the land, and farming coconuts; then tin mining also became part of the economy. In the 1970s the mining industry faltered and finally petered out. Over the next decade tourism took hold. Now the island is primarily a tourist destination. Fishing and coconut farming remain important to the local economy.
Due to its topography, the population hugs the coastline whilst the mountainous interior is generally inaccessible. More than half the island designated as national park and Ko Pha Ngan has more than 80 km2 of relatively unspoiled rain forest with diverse flora and fauna. It is also considered a spiritual place, with numerous Buddhist temples around the island and a thriving spa, retreat, and meditation industry.
Ko Pha Ngan has only 1 international primary school, Si Panya School in Baan Tai. Si Panya is a private primary school which follows the British national curriculum for girls and boys aged 5–12 years old. It was established in March 2012. Its opening was welcomed by many families as a necessary educational amenity, although some saw this as the first step towards over-development of the island.
An airport is currently (Dec 2014) under construction.
Originally the island was administrated from Ko Samui district. The minor district (King Amphoe) Ko Pha Ngan was established on October 1, 1970, then consisting of the two tambon Ko Pha Ngan and Ban Tai. It was upgraded to a full district on April 12, 1977.
Parts of the tambon Ko Pha Ngan and Ban Tai form the township (thesaban tambon) Ko Pha Ngan. There are further three Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).
Ko Pha Ngan featured prominently in Alex Garland's 1996 novel The Beach and is also mentioned in the 2006 song Magick by the new rave band Klaxons' (but probably[original research?] more as a reference to the 1996 novel The Beach than the island itself).
The world renowned Full Moon Party is a monthly dance music festival set on Haad Rin Nok Beach scheduled every month at full moon. The event primarily features electronic music and attracts anywhere from 40,000 party-goers in a normal month. Recently steps have been taken to make Ko Pha Ngan into a more family-friendly tourist destination, promoting the island's wealth of natural attractions and also stepping up the police presence; road blocks with stop and search procedures are commonplace and undercover police also patrol parties.
DJ/producer Ashley Wallbridge titled his 2012 song "Kopanang", an anglicized version of Ko Pha Ngan.
The British psychedelic rock band Ozric Tentacles featured a song called Ko Pha Ngan on their 1989 album The Bits Between The Bits.
- "Si Panya School". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- "Our Family Adventure- Si Panya School". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- "Koh Phangan International School". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง แบ่งท้องที่ตั้งเป็นกิ่งอำเภอ (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 87 (90 ง): 2790. September 24, 1970.
- พระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภอปลายพระยา อำเภอห้วยเม็ก อำเภอละแม อำเภอแม่จริม อำเภอหนองกี่ อำเภอโคกปีบ อำเภอเกาะพะงัน อำเภอสนม อำเภอโซ่พิสัย อำเภอโนนสะอาด และอำเภอนาจะหลวย พ.ศ. ๒๕๒๐ (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 94 (31 ก): 326–330. April 12, 1977.
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