About Koh Phangan

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Ko Pha-ngan: From Past to Present

     Ko Pha-ngan is a large island near Samui Island, located in Ang Thong Channel, off Surat Thani’s coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Dominating 122 square kilometers , it is the country’s fifth largestisland after Phuket, Samui, Chang and Tarutao.

    Based on historical and archaeological evidences, Ko Pha-ngan was believed to be first settled by men over 1,300-2,000 years ago. The first group of people arriving in this islandwas believed to be Chola explorers, better known as Tamils, who were natives of southern India and whose realm prospered during the 14th-18th Buddhist centuries. During the reign of King Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I, their influence expanded to Malay Peninsula, coinciding with the Thai kingdom of Srivichai. The Chola people often navigated to the peninsula for trade and finally settled on several islands in the area including Ko Pha-ngan.

     However, permanent settlements on Ko Pha-ngan were believed to begin in late Ayutthaya period. During early Rattanakosin period, Ko Pha-ngan was affiliated to Chaiya Town while Ko Samui was subordinate to Nakhon Si Thammarat. In the reign of King Rama IV, Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan were merged into one district called Amphoe Ko Samui, on 10 May B.E. 1897. The new district was under the jurisdiction of Kanchanadit Town, which later became Surat Thani Province. Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan had been made one district for 63 years, before Ko Pha-ngan was reorganized as a sub-district (king-amphoe) in 1970. Ko Pha-ngan was upgraded to Amphoe Ko Pha-ngan in 1977. 

     The word ‘Pha Ngan’ is said to have many origins. Some said it was an inconsistent form of an Indian or Malay word ‘Rahan’ used for sand bars. Rahan means indistinct shadow. Others believed this island was originally called Ko Ngan, a native word meaning sand bars which emergearound the island when tides are low. The phenomenon was specific to this island, resulting in locals to call the island ‘Lang Ngan’ (after tide), which was later shortenedto Ph-ngan. When Ko Ph-ngan Sub-district was established as a district, vowel ‘A’ was added after ‘Ph’. The name ‘Ko Pha-ngan’ has been used since then.


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