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If you’ve just arrived on Ko Pha Ngan and you’re in need of a good beach read, you’ll be pleased to hear that the island is home to quite a few book shops, selling both new and used books, where you should be able to find a treasure or two to keep you happily swinging in a hammock for days.
For new titles, the best place to try is BooksMark in Thong Sala (near the main pier). Here they sell new releases, with an emphasis on those books of particular interest to travellers — you’ll see lots of titles written by Westerners who’ve wound up in Thai prison, travel guides, chick lit and so on, all wrapped up neatly in plastic so that you know they are new. They’re a bit pricey, but if you want a new book, it’s going to cost you a bit more on the island. This is also a good place to find Western magazines, though be prepared to be shocked by the prices. Find it just opposite Pantip Plaza and Pantip Night Market.
Otherwise, some of the 7-Elevens, ubiquitous across the island, do sell some new books, but the selection of English titles is very limited and if you’re looking for something specific, definitely don’t count on them.
For used books, one of the best is located in Chaloklum, aptly named Chaloklum Books. Staff don’t speak a word of English, but they are lovely and the selection of books is huge. They don’t just come in English either, but traverse an array of languages, including Swedish, German and French.
The sections are not particularly well organised, so you may need to do some hunting to unearth something that interests you. Prices however are decent (around 150 to 200 baht per book) and it’s kind of a fun treasure hunt. Bonus: they also rent out pedal bikes for 80 baht a day. Find it just opposite the Italian pizzeria, Cafe Della Mocha, in the Chaloklum horseshoe.
Another popular used book store is Island Books in Thong Sala, near the market street and just opposite the 20 baht shop on the main Thong Sala road. Here the books are a bit better organised, and everything seems less crowded. There are a host of treasures in here, many of which are well-known titles that you may be surprised to see winding up in a used book store on Ko Pha Ngan. Keep in mind that it’s possible to bargain here — not always the case at other used book stores you’ll come across.
By Kaila Krayewski
Last updated on 18th March, 2015.