Ko Pha Ngan is an island with no airstrip, so the only way of reaching it is by sea. That makes getting there a question of how and where to catch the ferry. One way to fly to a ferry landing is to hop from Bangkok to Koh Samui, a neighboring island that does have an airstrip. From here, an inter-island ferry or speed boat can be used. The alternative is to take the bus to Na Dan or Surat Thani, both of which have ferry lines to the island. Bankok's tourist areas are stuffed with travel agents selling transit packages for Ko Pha Ngan that includes both the overnight bus and the ferry the next morning, but these buses are uncomfortable and the entire package is overpriced. A better option is to get a 1st Class ticket on a state bus to Na Dan, and then buy the ferry ticket independently upon arrival.
If you are looking for a quiet, rustic beach experience with a shack and a hammock strung between some palm trees, start by looking at the north beaches and villages, such as Ban Mae Hat. At the other end of the spectrum are the posh resorts on Haad (beach) Chao Phao and Haad Salad. Haad Rin, setting for the island's famed Full Moon Party and its girlie bars, is the center of everything hedonistic about Ko Pha Ngan. There are beaches on the island that have received little or no development, and these include Thong Nai Pan and Thonglang Bay.
Public transportation in most of Thailand, including Ko Pha Ngan, is done by songthaew. This is a pick-up truck that has been converted into a public bus. There are no formal routes, and riders usually just ask the driver if he is going to the desired location and how much a ride will cost. Also, there are plenty of bicycles and motor scooters for rent, although renting a scooter means surrendering the renter's passport.
Ko Pha Ngan has some sites around the island that are suitable for snorkeling and diving, but the major sites are accessed on daylong boat trips from the island and in the surrounding seas. The typical dive outing to a site like Sail Rock will be a two-dive day, with lunch included. In July 2009, a trip like that cost about $100. There are many dive shops operating on the island, and all offer both diving trips and courses.
The Dive Inn
Ban Chaolklam, Koh Phangan
Tel: +66 77 374262