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Longread: Ko Pha Ngan: Thailand’s tropical refuge, then and now

Ko Pha Ngan is infamous for its long–running Full Moon Party, but there is a lot more to this idyllic, palm–fringed island than sound systems and teenagers imbibing cheap alcohol. Just 125 square kilometres in size, nestled between larger Ko Samui and smaller Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Pha Ngan’s mountainous interior is drenched in evergreen rainforest, while its sandy beaches and coastal communities have been spawning subcultures from around the world for centuries.

Will the era of Covid19 provide a bookend on two decades of intense development, or will it enable the island to continue to offer new arrivals a sense of space, as well as a sense of place?

Published October 1, 2020.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s northern capital