If you ask anyone which is the best beach on Koh Phangan, most people will say Bottle Beach.
Despite its name, it’s actually a very clean and pristine beach, located in a secluded cove on the northern side of the island.
Its remote location means that it’s undisturbed by crowds of people, allowing those who go there a chance to sit and relax on a pure white sand beach, unspoiled by throngs of tourists, and in a peaceful and tranquil setting.
If you think you’d like to visit Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan but are not sure how to get there, what to do there, or what facilities there are, then this guide will tell you everything you need to know.
How to Get to Bottle Beach
Bottle Beach is located on the north side of Koh Phangan, 19km away from Thongsala and Haad Rin. It’s one of the most remote beaches on Koh Phangan, which makes getting to it an adventure in itself.
But don’t worry, it’s really easy to get there. You just need to know how.
Here is a map that shows where the start of the hiking trail is and also where to find the boat from Chalok Lum.
There are three ways to get to Bottle Beach: hike, boat, or taxi.
The quickest and easiest way is to get a boat from Chalok Lum. The boat takes about 30 minutes and costs 400 baht each way.
The boats run throughout the day, from about 8.00 am until 5.00 pm. They leave whenever the boat has 4 or more people, so if you are traveling alone you may need to wait until more people arrive. You usually don’t have to wait long since it’s a popular route to get to Bottle Beach.
You will find a small hut on the north side of the pier, right by the main road in Choluk Lum. This is where you hire the boat from.
The cheapest way is to hike. The hike takes about 1.5 hours and starts from a viewpoint near Chalok Lum.
You can reach the start of the hike by driving a scooter or taking a taxi from Chalok Lum.
There are two trails, a coastal trail, and a jungle trail. The jungle trail is faster but the coastal trail has nicer views.
One thing to consider when hiking to Bottle Beach is how you get back. You can hike back, or you can get a water taxi back.
If you choose to get a water taxi back, you should ask to get dropped off at Haad Khom Beach and hike back to the start of the hike to collect your scooter. This is about 10 minutes (though it’s all uphill).
If you got a taxi to the trailhead, you can get the water taxi straight back to Chalok Lum.
You can also get a taxi to Bottle Beach. This is expensive as they charge a premium for driving down the dirt road.
You may also struggle to find a taxi back. You can ask the resort to call one for you, but they might not be able to drive to you.
You can take a taxi to the beach and take a boat back. If you’re visiting for a day, remember the last boat leaves Bottle Beach at 5.00 pm.
How not to get to Bottle Beach: Drive
While in theory, you can drive to Bottle Beach, the road is very steep, dusty, and treacherous, and can only be accessed by a 4WD vehicle.
Those on a scooter will not be able to drive this road (you might get down, but certainly won’t get back up again).
We know people who have attempted this road on a scooter, got themselves stuck, and had to call for a taxi to come and collect them and their scooter, which cost them more than if they just took a taxi and they also had to wait over an hour for someone to get them.
No matter how confident you are on a scooter, we really don’t recommend this as an option to get to Bottle Beach.
Things to Do at Bottle Beach
Bottle Beach is a serene and remote beach, so of course the number one thing to do here is to relax and take it all in.
The shore is shallow and the water is warm, which makes it the perfect place for a swim. You will also find that the shore is deeper than other beaches on the island, which makes it better for swimming than most.
Aside from lying on the soft white sand and reading a good book, you can also do some of the following…
1. Go Snorkeling or Kayaking
Like most beaches on Koh Phangan, Bottle Beach has a reef just a few meters off the shore. It’s thriving with marine life, such as small fish and sea cucumbers.
You can sometimes see turtles swimming in the bay, if you’re lucky.
Be mindful of the boats when snorkeling and kayaking. Water taxis frequently arrive throughout the day and park up right by the beach, so be mindful of them when swimming and snorkeling.
You can rent snorkel gear from one of the dive shops in Chalok Lum before visiting, or you can ask the reception at Resort 1 or Resort 2, but you will probably find cheaper prices in Chalok Lum.
2. Stay at a Beach Bungalow
There are four resorts at Bottle Beach and they all offer basic, budget-friendly accommodation.
There are two resorts that are aptly named Bottle Beach Resort 1 and Bottle Beach Resort 2 (which offer basically the same thing).
The bungalows are located right on the beach and are kitted out with double beds, private bathrooms, and either a fan or air conditioning.
They also have a private verandah with seating or a hammock.
For those looking for more luxury, head to Smile Bungalows or Haad Khuad Resort, which offer 3-star luxury. Haad Khuad Resort offers hotel rooms, whereas the Smile Bungalows offer a private bungalow.
3. Hike to the Viewpoint
The Bottle Beach viewpoint is one of the most popular viewpoints on the island, and there are actually two ways to get to it.
You can hike directly from Bottle Beach, which takes about 30 minutes and is all uphill through a steep jungle.
Or you can take a taxi to another trailhead and hike for 15 minutes through a jungle and onto the rocky surface. Since taxis are hard to come by, I recommend taking the trail from the beach.
You will find the start of the trail behind Bottle Beach Resort 2 and there is a signpost stuck to a palm tree.
The trail is pretty obvious all the way, so just follow the trail and you will reach the viewpoint in no time.
Note that there is some scrambling over rocks involved, and you will also pass through the jungle which is swarming with mozzies, so wear insect repellent.
I also recommend you do this hike early in the morning as it gets hot in the afternoon, and it’s treacherous to walk down after sunset.
Facilities at Bottle Beach
Bottle Beach is somewhat lacking in facilities, which is part of the appeal. It has a few restaurants which are part of the resorts, but not much else.
You can rent kayaks and snorkel gear from the resorts, and also use the restrooms of the restaurants if you buy a drink.
There is a public shower you can use, which is located in the center of the beach by Bottle Beach Resort 1.
Tips for Visiting Bottle Beach
Because Bottle Beach is a remote beach on Koh Phangan, you should make sure you consider the following before visiting…
- Bring snacks and water, as much as you need for the day. There are resorts at Bottle Beach but no general stores.
- Bring cash. You can pay by card but there is usually a 3% fee for using a card machine. You can also only pay for taxi boats with cash.
- Wear insect repellent. There are a few sandflies at Bottle Beach which can be annoying.
- Keep an eye on the time. The last boat leaves at 5 pm so don’t miss it.
- Wear reef-safe suncream. There is beautiful coral off the shore of the beach, but traditional sunscreens harm the coral so try to buy a reef safe option if you can.
- Bring a trash bag. This is a beautiful beach, and it would be nice if it stays that way. There are no trash containers on the beach so bring a bag for your trash to take back with you.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Bottle Beach
So there you have it, this is everything you need to know about visiting Bottle Beach. As you can see, there isn’t much to do there, and the highlight of the beach is the beach itself.
If you’re looking for a quiet, remote setting to relax in and escape the party crowds of Koh Phangan, it’s the perfect retreat.
That being said, it’s booming in popularity, so if you want to stay at one of the resorts you should book ahead to avoid disappointment.