make sure you check the whole bike for scratches or damages before renting a bike. the owners will make you pay outragous fees for just a broken mirror.
Unique Suggestions: if you must repair the bike for damges, bring it to another garage shop for a cost evaluation, tell the owner that you will repair it yourself.
Fun Alternatives: don't attempt to ride up the had rin slopes if you are a inexperience biker, let alone pillion someone else. the 45 degree slopes and the heavy traffic is no fun. my friend spun off and was only metres from plunging off the cliffs.
if you have to go had rin, ride the bike around thongsala to ban tai almost reaching the hills to haad rin, then take a taxi. beats having to ride mad slopes in the middle of the night drunk.
One thing that is not unusual in Thailand are vendors on the beaches. Here however there are children added to the mix, trying to sell you goods all night long. The main problem I have with this is how young some of these "vendors" were. The one that came up to us couldn't have been older than 6 (maybe) and she was quite hard to say no to. My brother warned me before that the parents usually aren't too far away and that they use the children to sell their goods easier, and also make more.
The child vendors will tell you that if you buy something that they will be allowed to go to sleep. Another way is that they hug and mob you with goods, until you finally give in to all the sad looking faces.
My cousin bought a few items from this one girl who told him she could now go home to bed. However a couple hours later we saw her out still selling along the beach.
Unique Suggestions: If you are on the beach at the Full Moon party, you will see this activity, and all I can say is try and buy your "beach goodies" somewhere on the way. This way the vendors are still selling their stuff and making money, but the little children don't have to be involved.
Fun Alternatives: I don't know what to suggest exactly, but if you do buy something I think it would only add to the problem. You can purchase goods all along the street heading to the beach, this could be another choice, instead of the on beach.
I know this won't stop the problem but at least it won't be adding to it.
We took a boat trip called the Munchies boat trip. Although our guide was friendly, the tour was really crappy! We were supposed to go snorkeling, but all the fungi-infested equipment was so old that you couldn't see a thing trough the masks, even if the there would be any visibility. Also, all the other tours where there at the same time, so i think there was as many tourists as fish near the (mostly dead) coral.
After this we went to a beautifull beach, but didn't go to any waterfalls. Instead we went to another beach that was filled with junk and broken glass!
To top it of, the dinner that was included was right in the center of hat rin in what looked like a McDonalds!
Unique Suggestions: 1 don't do it
2 don't do it
3 take your own snorkeling equipment
Fun Alternatives: rent your own boat! at the chicken corner in hat rin or at de pier you'll find lots of boatmen who offer taxiboats. I regret i didn't do this.
I menton Haad Rin in the tourist trap section because I think it would be a shame for people to go to Koh Pha Ngan and think Haad Rin is what it's all about. Haad Rin beach is lovely, but after seeing the treatment it gets during the full moon party, I would never swim here (at least after the party). The town itself has some character, but is a tad grotty and more touristy than the rest of the island. Take the place for what it is - expect to meet more backpackers than locals, look through stores aimed at tourists, be surrounded by hundreds of cheap, sometimes grungy bungalow operations and cope with the usual hussle and bustle of a busy area. If that's you're thing, you'll probably really enjoy Haad Rin.
Unique Suggestions: Look for some cheap souvineers, grab a cheap meal and meet other travellers, learn to fire twirl on the beach, sample the nightlife or relax on the beach.
Fun Alternatives: Haad Rin is not a bad place, so it;s worth checking out, but make sure you look at some of the more scenic parts of the island too.
You go to Koh Phangan for one reason, the full moon parties! There will be drugs ( mostly recreational ) and you will probably be offered some by a friendly Thai in a pressed white, button up shirt - BEWARE!!! he looks like a cop and HE IS..he will stand out like a sore thumb though. The penalties for drug offences in Thailand are severe and it has been known for the army to raid the odd beach party, don't believe me? just look at the notice board in your guest house where ever you are and see the postcards from incarcerated westerners begging for visitors to their hell hole jails, ever read the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Mexican Odyssey? it's just like that...you have been warned. By the way there are no sniffer dogs in Thailand outside the airport so get it when you can in the cities where its cheaper.Beware the mushroom omelettes ' cos the 'shrooms are usually magic ( actually i didnt mind researching this fact on your behalf ) There are shark steaks on most menus too and where do you think they get those from? have fun swimming!