History of Haad Rin
Haad Rin is the economic focus of the small island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. Until the 1970s it was an obscure island in the south of Thailand that survived mostly on fishing and coconut plantations. That changed when the first backpackers started making the boat trip over from Koh Samui. The first place these backpackers went was Haad Rin. It was the obvious choice because it was close to Koh Samui and it is an area blessed with both sunrise and sunset beaches. In 1987 the first Full Moon Party (FMP) was held. Within just a few years it became the biggest monthly beach party in Asia. It bought wealth and fame to the island.
Geography of Haad Rin
Haad Rin is on a narrow peninsula in the south east of Koh Phangan. Haad Rin is effectively prevented from expanding by the sea on both sides and a steep hill that separates it from the neighboring village of Ban Tai. This has meant that Haad Rin has not become a sprawling urban center by the beach such as is the case with Chaweng in Koh Samui. The advantage of this is that you can walk everywhere in Haad Rin.
Beaches of Haad Rin
There are 3 main beaches on the peninsula: Haad Rin Nok (sunrise beach), Haad Rin Nai (sunset beach) and Sarikantang (just south of Haad Rin Nai). There are very few beach resorts on the main beach of Haad Rin Nok. The notable exception is Palita Lodge that used to be a cheap backpacker place but now has some of the most expensive rooms on the island. The beach front of Haad Rin Nok is devoted to bars that roll out sound systems on the night of the full moon.
Most of the bungalows and hotel rooms in Haad Rin are in the town and on the opposite beach of Haad Rin Nai. This beach also has a ferry port with regular boats to Maenam in Koh Samui. The beach while it has white sand is not good for swimming. The advantage of Haad Rin Nai is that it has a sunset over the ocean and it is a quieter spot for those wishing to escape the noise of the bars.
The most peaceful beach is Haad Sarikantang. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the party from Haad Sarikantang. It is a long narrow beach good for swimming and sunbathing. There are just a couple of mid-range resorts at Sarikantang and is perhaps the best place to stay during the FMP if you have the money.
Haad Rin accommodations
Resorts and hotels in Haad Rin do not offer great luxury. Many have pools and air-con rooms with TV but nothing over 2 or 3 stars could be attributed to these accommodations. Haad Rin resorts charge peak season prices during the Full Moon Party and also insist on a minimum stay of between 3 and 6 nights. Much better value accommodation can be found elsewhere on the island.
However, birds of a feather flock together: party people want to be at the heart of the action and so staying in Haad Rin will continue to be popular despite the bad value it represents.