Situated in the gulf of Thailand, the island of Koh Phangan is a vegan paradise that offers an absolutely staggering amount of choice for meat-free travellers. Famous for its Full Moon Party at the end of each month, we visited Koh Phangan way before the party hit. While we enjoy a few beers, enormous parties aren’t really out thing – plus the price of accommodation shoots up. It’s fortunate we did, really, as otherwise we may have been tempted to choose accommodation near the party, which takes place on the south-eastern beach of Haad Rin. Instead, we chose the port town of Thongsala as our base. And we’re very glad we did…
Thongsala is just south of Srithanu, which is the true vegan heaven in the island – there’s even a restaurant named exactly that. It’s an area of yogis and vegans – but it’s also pretty upmarket and expensive so doesn’t suit a backpacking budget. Thongsala, with its long stretch of beach, good access to the rest of the island and backpacker friendly accommodation, fits the bill.
The thing is though, you’re pretty much likely to find ‘vegan’ written on signs almost everywhere on the island. It’s evidently a word that’s caught on in Koh Phangan. While other islands may understand what you’re asking for when you’ve asked to remove fish sauce and egg from a Pad Thai, in Phangan the word vegan is often enough to make sure your food is animal free. We had a long list of places to visit, and even still we saw plenty of random eateries by the roadside with vegan emblazoned on a sign. If Phangan is a sign for the future, it’s a bright one.
Stall at Phantip Night Market
Thongsala has a tourist-trap walking street market each weekend, but it also has a daily night market that is full of food stalls. Most of these, sadly, are horrifying displays of dead animals on sticks. However, one of the carts features an entirely vegan stall where a lady serves up a wide choice of western and eastern style dishes such as a vegan burrito, pesto pasta and coconut curry.
In the same night market there’s a food court to eat your dishes. Nestled back there are some fantastic choices. Soul Organics in the back left is a thai kitchen offering fully vegan meals for just 80 baht a dish, which is ridiculously cheap for the deliciousness on offer.
We had a green curry, pad thai, tom yum and a massaman from there and all were great. All food used is organic and they don’t use MSG, which is a big deal out here in Thailand despite it having never previously been a concern for me.
Right next to Soul Organics is a beautiful little restaurant named Capana – which is something really special as it’s run by two lovely Europeans who really care about the quality and ingredients in their food, with a menu full of fresh handmade meals that provide a real plethora of wholefood options. They offer burgers and plenty of other choices – but we can only comment on the burgers as we both scoffed the tofu and chickpea burgers two nights in a row when we needed a break from Thai food. The only caveat here is that Capana is pricer than many other food choices in the area – especially Soul Organics and the stall in Phantip.
Pure Vegan Heaven
This place does what it says on the tin. Fully vegan, set in a garden-style setting and serving up heavenly food, what more could you want? We had a mexican bowl and smokey barbecue bowl which were both super filling. The mexican bowl was full of guacamole and picco de gallo, which I absolutely love. The BBQ bowl was made with jackfruit and was really meaty. Overall, just a lovely environment and a great place to eat.
Roots Corner Reggae Bar
This isn’t a vegan restaurant – in fact it’s not even vegetarian and didn’t appear on Happy Cow. We stayed in Mae Haad in the north of Phangan for two nights and found it very lacking in options. Roots were happy to offer a wide range of tofu dishes and understood omitting egg, milk and fish sauce so we ended up enjoying a green curry and pad thai in a relaxing outodor environment. We were feasted on by mosqitoes though, so bring repellent if you end up in Mae Haad. The ability to get a vegan meal in the least busy area of the whole island serves to demonstrate just how great the understanding of veganism is in Koh Phangan.
Make It Pizza
We spent a rainy night at the Moonlight Cinema – a cinema that shows western films in English in a screen that’s so laid back you actually lie down. They serve vegan popcorn here, which we both had during the movie. Whilst there, we noticed a sign for a pizzeria that offered vegan choices. What’s better than pizza after a night at the flicks? We arrived at Make It 15 minutes before closing and were greeted as if they’d just opened. It’s a bit like Subway in that you choose your toppings as you go, but we selected a vegan offering and shared it. Thin, crispy and tasty as hell, it was just what we fancied!
Unfortunately, as backpackers you can’t spend forever somewhere – so we didn’t get to try the many other vegan choices on the island. Fortunately, we now know just how amazing Koh Phangan is , and we’ll be able to return to it at another point in our lives to eat even more delicious vegan food. Until then, know that eating vegan food in Koh Phangan is the easiest, most pleasurable vegan experience in all of Thailand.
To check out all the vegan food we ate in Koh Phangan, check out our YouTube channel!