We were the only guests venturing out across the island after dinner.
Our taxi dropped us off on a dust track and an avenue of trees pointed the way through the forest, past stalls of Day-Glo tattooists and smiling people, their bronzed limbs shiny with body paint.
As smoke from the grills of street food vendors cleared, the path opened out on to a glen dominated by a pyramid-shaped stage, hurling out rhythms. On the mossy ground, dancers swirled by a waterfall that glittered with a rainbow of lasers.
This was a 'half-moon' party, like a notorious full-moon party but only half as manic. And, for a few hours, it was fun.
We danced, relived our backpacking days with a whisky bucket and then took a taxi back to a resort reassuringly full of people more sophisticated than us.
Koh Phangan is sophisticated. It may have the reputation of Thailand’s party HQ, but away from Hat Rin’s parties and a couple of forest venues, most visitors are families and couples, looking for world-class food, a moonlit stroll and a quiet night in.
You don’t need to have mastered the downward dog to realise that the island has, in the Buddhist sense, balance.
Over the decades it has remained one of Thailand’s most popular destinations because peace, serenity and good times coexist.
It has always been a spiritual place. It was monks who first came here, just 600 years ago, building Wat Phu Khao Noi outside the port of Thongsala.
From the hillside temple you can look out over unspoiled tropical forest that covers more than 90 per cent of the island.
Today, visitors are most likely to experience Koh Phangan’s tranquility on a hike, in a lemongrass-scented spa or by drifting alongside colourful fish at one of 20 dive sites.
Unhurried Development & Beautiful Beaches
As a hangover from its days on the hippy trail, the desire for eco-tourism is stronger here than in other parts of Thailand.
Development has been unhurried and a sense of respect for the island persists. In many ways, Koh Phangan has taken care of itself, with its dense interior and steep, granite hills guarding the coves and wild beaches that first brought it fame.
Although a new ring road threatens to make the quieter north and east accessible to day-trippers, a longtail boat is still the best way to reach some of the most beautiful beaches.
When the sea is choppy, the alternative journey by road can be rough. It took a 45-minute jeep ride over a ridge along a deeply rutted track to get to Had Yuan – there would be no popping out to get something from 7-Eleven.
But our reward was a golden beach set at the foot of the tumbling jungle, completely empty except for the dozens of tiny crabs that we sent scuttling back into their holes.
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Pariya Resort & Villas, where we stayed, tucks its villas neatly away among the trees so as not to spoil the impression of a pirate hideaway. Only one headland separates this bay from Hat Rin, but you could be on an entirely different island.
The north is where Koh Phangan’s quietest and some would say most appealing beaches lie.
The adjacent golden bays of Thong Nai Pan and Thong Nai Pan Noi, edged by lush greenery, make a perfect base for some beach hopping, as does the Anantara Rasananda spa resort, whose villas have private pools overlooking the beach at Noi.
Here the evening’s entertainment consists of genteel sundowners and dining on delectable modern Thai food (the resort runs a highly authentic cookery school, too).
From here you can visit Bottle Beach (Hat Khuat), one of the island’s most remote beaches. A longtail from the Rasananda – conditions permitting – will take 25 minutes to drop you at the wide, white bay, cradled by steep hills.
The north-west also has some tranquil stretches of sand. Sleepy Hat Salad – a bohemian crescent, flanked by jutting headlands – is a good place to start hunting down your favourite.
Just north of here, I liked Mae Haad, which has a long, white beach that tapers into a sandbar that arcs to connect to a tiny island, with good snorkelling either side.
Visit any of these beaches in the next few months – the drier, slightly hotter off season – and they will be quieter still. Even under a full moon.
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This article was written by Natalie Paris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.