Chaloklum (Koh Phangan)

Yes! Places like this do still exist! Chaloklum is the quintessential fishing village forgotten by time (and tourists). While the southern part of the island parties into the next day, life in northern Koh Phangan continues in blissful ignorance.

Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan
The village of Chaloklum, Koh Phangan, Thailand, as viewed from North Beach Bungalows.

Fishing boats arrive some time around mid-morning and the catch of the day is hauled into the village — about as exciting as it gets in Chaloklum.

But you don’t come to this side of the island to join a sea of Farang (i.e. white people) engaged in varying levels of debauchery.

Oh no, you come to Chaloklum seeking a very different variety of hedonism:

The pursuit of absolute tranquility.

Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan map
Map of Koh Phangan (from

Here’s a map of Koh Phangan, easy enough to find on google maps in the Gulf of Thailand, so I haven’t provided a country map.

We took the SeaTran ferry from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan, arriving at Thong Sala.

From there, we hopped a pickup taxi (not actually a proper songthaew, more like some guy’s pickup) to the northern coast of the island and Ban Chaloklum (or Chalok Lam or Chalak Lam, depending on which map you’re looking at).

Yes, we completely bypassed Haad Rin. I hear it’s very nice…just not our scene.

North Beach Bungalows, our home for four nights on Koh Phangan.

For us, Chaloklum is proof that the universe has a funny way of getting you what you really need, even if you’re convinced you want something completely different — like that Rolling Stones song.

I wanted a resort. I wanted a big freakin’ resort with an infinity pool and waiters and fancy food and all of it.

After almost four months of hauling around a backpack, I was filthy, sleep-deprived, and exhausted. I wanted to feel “human” again.

At this point, I knew we had chosen the wrong island. If we wanted resorts, we should have gone straight to Koh Samui. But budget was also an issue.

For most backpackers, budget is ALWAYS the issue.

Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan

Lori didn’t seem to care at this point where we stayed, and that drove me crazy, because that made ME the diva in the relationship.

Nonetheless, we hauled our bags off the pickup that brought us from the ferry and headed to the only resort in town.

I don’t even remember how we picked Chaloklum.

Koh Phangan is a sizable island with numerous villages dotted along its entire circumference. What led us to pick this tiny little fishing village, I’m not so sure.

A part of it had to do with its neighbor — Bottle Beach. We read somewhere or someone had suggested that it was an idyllic stretch of beach with a chilled out vibe and a good range of cheap accommodation. It sounded lovely, but I wanted the resort.

After walking for a while in the tropical midday heat, we finally reached the resort. But alas, the seemingly deserted place was completely booked. The manager suggested we walk up the beach, so we did.

We walked back through town, then made our way up the sand-fringed coastline. There wasn’t much of anything it seemed, but we kept the faith that there would be somewhere we could crash just for one night before heading on to Bottle.

And then, we came upon North Beach Bungalows.

Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan North Beach Bungalows
Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan North Beach Bungalows

The place immediately struck our fancy — picturesque thatch bungalows with private porch and hammock overlooking the bay. And best of all, the place was empty! Not another guest in sight.

We “checked-in” and claimed our bungalow. US$9.75 per night, private bath and a room with a view. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan Thailand

Ahead of our arrival in Chaloklum, we read several negative reviews of the eastern stretch of beach (“north beach”). Most of these reviews claimed that the water was filled with trash and debris from fishing activities and the village itself.

Honestly, in early October, we couldn’t figure out what all the negativity was about.

The stretch of beach in question, just south of North Beach Bungalows, was about as pristine as it gets this close to civilization these days. With the exception of the occasional errant plastic cap or small baggie, we found the water to be clean and clear. The sand was white, soft, and extraordinarily clean, given that this was indeed a fishing village and not a resort beach.

Depending on the seasons and weather, your mileage may vary. But our experience was extremely positive.

long tail boat Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan Thailand
Longtail water taxi to Bottle Beach.
Bar & Tattoo! Now that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan Thailand
Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan Thailand
spirit house on Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan

Spirit Houses like this one (above) are a common sight throughout Thailand. This spirit house sat on the North Beach Bungalow compound and the owners burned incense and lovingly maintained it throughout our time there.

Dogs, unfortunately, were a bit of an issue in Chaloklum Beach, as small packs would roam the area looking for scraps, harassing visitors, and picking fights with the odd straggler mutt.

The folks at our place had an interesting solution that seemed to do the trick for a day or two: Firecrackers.

If the pack became too cozy on the grounds, the owner would come outside, light a big long strip of fire crackers and throw it up in the air above the dogs, which sent them scattering in all directions. We generally didn’t see a single dog on the compound for another 24-48 hours.

reading a book on the beach

There aren’t any photos of it here, but one of the absolutely amazing aspects of Ban Chaloklum was the food!

The tiny village is home to about a dozen excellent mom & pop eateries, mostly serving one thing: freshly caught seafood.

The grilled red snapper at Nong Nook on the village waterfront was phenomenal. We split a huge fish with sides and drinks for about US$8.00.

We splurged a bit one evening on lasagna and wine, of all things, at the very good Caffe Della Moca, which also had outdoor seating facing the water.

Also scattered about the village were a number of good expat-oriented restaurants and cafes, in addition to numerous local [Thai] food places.

All in all, we were very impressed by the variety and quality of the food we had in Chaloklum.

rowboat Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan

I also don’t have any photos here of Haad Khom, a small cove just north of Chaloklum that’s said to have the best snorkeling on the island.

We made the hike up there, but caught it at an awkward time, I guess, as the seas were a bit rough for good snorkeling.

All of the guidebooks said that Haad Khom is a bit more relaxed, but I didn’t buy it.

There’s only a handful of guesthouses right on the beach, but everyone walking around seemed to be a Farang and, due to the tiny size of the place, seemed to congregate in one small area.

In Chaloklum, we generally had the entire western beach to ourselves.

mobile office Chaloklum Beach Koh Phangan Thailand

A picture-perfect office in paradise — ok, I can’t really call it an office because, let’s be honest, I really didn’t have any real work to get done on this trip.

But for bouts of blogging and such — between meals, swims, and strolls around town — perfect.

Someone’s fresh catch drying in the sun.

Long after our visit, I still see this place in my dreams and find it hard to believe we made this peaceful and less-visited corner of Thailand’s Gulf Islands home for four nights.

That is, after all, the beauty of extended travel — if you stumble upon some place that speaks to you and you have enough flexibility built-in to your adventure, you can stay as long as you darn well please.

Southeast Asia makes that a bit easier with the low cost of food and lodging.

We never did make it up to Bottle Beach. We truly didn’t believe that place could offer anything that Chaloklum could not.

We stayed four nights in all in this sleepy little paradise before moving on to Railay. But nothing else in Thailand quite compared to our stay on Koh Phangan’s north shore, and Lori and I are already looking forward to our return.

2 thoughts on “Chaloklum (Koh Phangan)”

  1. I now know where I want to live when I grow up…and know where my next vaca will be!
    Also, a friend of mine has a son who was working at a resort in Thailand! (He just moved last week to Australia)
    I love your blog, keep traveling, keep taking photos and keep on keeping on!

  2. Oh my goodness another paradise! Wonderful pictures!
    Thanks for sharing.


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