Kow Tham Center and the Kow Tham Monastery (Wat Kow Tham) are in the forested hills above Baan Tai town, on Koh Pha Ngan (Pha Ngan Island), north of Koh Samui (Samui Island), in the Gulf of Thailand.
Kow Tham Center and Monastery, and Baan Tai area
Click map image ↑ for larger image
Click link → for Kow Tham/Baan Tai interactive map at OpenStreetMap.
How to get here
Koh Pha Ngan is only accessible by ferry (or boat).
You can fly to the town of Surathani or to Koh Samui, take bus to Surathani or to Donsak Ferry Port, or train to Surathani, and from one of those places get to ferries to the Thongsala Pier on Koh Pha Ngan.
From the Thongsala pier you can take a motorbike taxi, or a songthaew (a pick-up truck, always called here a "taxi"), to your bungalow or resort, or directly to Baan Tai and Kow Tham. The drivers know the names of every lodging on the island, as well as Kow Tham. The normal price to Kow Tham of a songthaew taxi is 150 baht, but if you are lucky and more people are on the taxi heading there, you can try to bargain. To Baan Tai at the bottom of the hill it's just 100 baht, and then you can walk up. It's only about 1 km — a good way to settle your mind into the peace of your coming retreat, and less disruption to the neighboring homes and Kow Tham as well!
Below is some general information about getting to Koh Pha Ngan from Bangkok as of September 2017. It's probably best to find the most up-to-date information on the Web at travel sites and forums, and from other travelers.
From Bangkok by bus:
Bangkok′s new and modern Southern Bus Terminal, Sai Tai Taling Chan, is a far piece to get to, but not difficult. You can take a taxi for around 200 baht, and it takes only a bit less time than the city bus no. 511, which will take you directly there for 21 baht. This bus runs along Sukhumvit and past Democracy monument, Sai Tai is the end of the line. The Sai Tai bus terminal is easily identified by the SC Plaza sign, it is the same building — and a great place to do some clothes or gadget shopping and have a meal while waiting for your bus to leave in the evening.
Different types (24-, 32-, 40-, 50-seaters) of air-conditioned buses depart here for southern Thailand. The most convenient is the Government VIP bus which runs overnight to Donsak Ferry Port, where it drives right onto the ferry with your luggage, which you pick up off the bus after arriving at the pier at Thongsala, Koh Pha Ngan.
- Go to Sai Tai several hours in advance to book (around 3 or 4pm; even earlier during busy seasons such as full moon party time, and Thai holiday periods).
- If you book from a travel shop, you will probably end up on a lesser tourist bus and may not get the high standard of the national buses.
- Be especially careful with private buses departing from the Khao San Road area, as theft and other problems have been reported repeatedly on these buses.
From Bangkok by air:
Surat Thani and Koh Samui both have airports, and you can even transfer to one of those flights directly from your flight into Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. Check on the Web for the most current info about flying.
From Bangkok by train:
You can take a sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, and from there a bus or taxi to the Ferry Port. Check on the Web for the most current info about train, taxi, and ferry alternatives.
Where to stay
Koh Pha Ngan has just about every guesthouse, bungalow, resort imaginable, from the cheapest to the fanciest, and they just about all have a presence on Agoda.com and Booking.com with reviews on those sites, Travelocity, and other sites as well.
It can be good to allow a few days in some nice place on Koh Pha Ngan to wind down before your retreat, and to ease your re-entry into the daily world after.
You could also stay on Koh Samui — we would recommend the comfortable accommodation at the Sirin Samui Boutique Hostel on Koh Samui.
- book online: Agoda.com
- phone: +66 8375 76668, +66 81827 1498
- at front desk mention you are a meditator at Kow Tham, and get a discount.