Why take a boat when you can walk?

There are many walks on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan with the most accessible the Haad Rin to Haad Yuan/Tien trail right on the doorstep of the popular resort town of Haad Rin.

Whilst living on the island for three months I spoke to a number of tourists on the island who had heard of but didn’t do the walk. Partly because they were too busy at various parties but also because they simply couldn’t find it! Well that’s about to change with the following outlining how to get to the walk, what you need to know, where you end up and everything in between.

THE LOCATION:

Everyone has heard of Haad Rin, a beautiful beach that once every month is covered in Full Moon party ravers. What most tourists don’t know is that just over the Northern ridge is Haad Yuan and the equally beautiful Haad Tien. This is mainly because the access road to both beaches is four-wheel drive territory leaving a long tail 15min boat ride the only access option (at time of writing about 300bht one way).

Haad Yuan and Haad Tien are both spectacular beaches with full resort, restaurant and bar facilities and I can assure you that the most satisfying way to enjoy lunch on either beach is when you’ve just walked over from Haad Rin (or vice versa).

For someone with average fitness the walk would be classed as moderate. The total climb is 280m and takes between 1 to 2 hours depending on fitness and the number of stops you make to enjoy the beautiful jungle environment you’re walking through.

The image below shows you the route with key points along the way. You’ll note the water dam, look-out junction and the two paths down to the Haad Yuan access road are noted in the GPS image – more detailed commentary follows.

GPS view of the walk, elevation and pace.

GPS view of the walk, elevation and pace.

The number one issue with this walk is finding the start! Haad Rin is a labyrinth of streets and alley ways so it can be somewhat confusing to figure out where to start. The below link takes you to a video clip of the first few minutes of the walk that will help you figure out where to start and where to go…

haad_rin_haad_yuan-start-point


Once you’ve found the start of the trek the path is well established and it would be very hard to get lost. The first quarter of the walk is a steady uphill climb to a dam. You’ll note as you’re climbing that the path follows a number of blue pipes. If you’re staying in North Haad Rin it is more than likely one of these pipes are providing you with your water!

There are two ways to get water on the island, pay and have the local council deliver some water via a truck or the more common way; gravity fed water supplies from the hills and this is a classic example of how the water supply process works. So as you’re climbing that hissing noise isn’t a snake stalking you rather a split in one of the various hoses that are providing water to settlements down at the beach.

Once you reach the dam you’re through the toughest part of the walk. From here the gradient, although still slightly uphill, is significantly more manageable.

Haad Yuan nature walk Damn

The above picture shows you the dam (you can see the blue pipes to the right heading down to provide water for North Haad Rin).

Roughly 10-15min after this walk the first of two T junctions appear. The following image shows you the view of the Junction from both the Haad Rin and Haad Yuan side. Currently there is a red bucket (highlighted in the right hand image) that I suspect won’t make it through the 2013 wet season so the most reliable sign is to remember to keep an eye out about 10min after the dam for a tree with the blue HT/HY markings.  The Lookout walk is only a couple of minutes from this junction (direction marked by the red arrows) and well worth your while.

haad_rin_lookout_turnoff

Once you’ve returned from the lookout once again there is another turn-off about 5/10 minutes further down the track. The markings are incredibly similar to above so I haven’t bothered to post an image. Basically you have two options –

1) Keep to your left (marked HT). This will follow the blue path as outlined in the map at the start of this post or

2) Take a right (marked HY). This will almost immediately descend rapidly downhill (if it doesn’t start to descend within the first two minutes turn back as you may have taken a wrong turn). This is outlined by the red path in the map at the start of this post.

Both have pros and cons. The more direct route (red) is obviously faster; by about 20-30 minutes but it is quite a steep decent. The Blue path is a more established and a more manageable gradient. Personally taking the longer route is my recommendation as I found the more direct decent slightly too steep and I spent the entire time stopping myself from slipping down the ridge rather than enjoying the hike!

So what happens when you reach the end of the walk? BLUE PATH:

Both paths spit you out onto the access road behind Haad Yuan. If you have taken the blue path you can follow this access road all the way to a building with satellite dishes or take any of the resort access roads that branch off to your left. The very first of these is shown below and is clearly marked by the highlighted sign. I would recommend this as the best turn-off option to take as you end up on the ridge between Haad Yuan and Haad Tien (behind Eden Bar) and therefore have easy access to either beach. Again this route is shown on the above map – marked in Blue. Note it takes about 10/15min to get to this point junction once you have reached the access road and importantly turned right (east).

 Haad_Yuan_Haad_Tien_Ridge_Turnoff-small

From here it’s about another 15min and you’ll find yourself at a lookout point for Haad Tien. If you want to go to Haad Yuan just head right – you’ve made it! Go get yourself something to eat and/or drink 🙂

If you are coming from either Haad Tien or Yuan (the reverse of starting from Haad Rin) the entrance to the Blue path is marked with a variety of bottles and streamers. Pretty hard to miss but just in case here’s another image for you –

Entry_Point_from_Haad_Tien-Haad-Rin-Nature-walk-small

Note that this is on the left hand side of the access road (which isn’t shown); so just keep an eye out on your left post the Haad Tien/Yuan access point turn off.

So what happens when you reach the end of the walk? RED PATH:

If you’ve taken the Red Path then you will be greeted by a a number of T-junctions once you hit the main access road. The only other access road branch I explored was the aforementioned Haad Tien/Haad Yuan ridge road however I’m sure that the other left hand (easterly) turn-offs will also take you to the back of the many Haad Yuan resorts and you should be able to gain easy access to Haad Yuan beach. In my case I continued along the path and encountered a satellite building that housed a number of dishes and mobile cell stations (for what purpose I have no idea as my Truemobile certainly did not have any coverage!). This marks the end of the access road and from here your only option is to go left through the back of the “Pariya Resort” – don’t worry you can just sneak around the gate.

Pariya_Resort_Access-small

Once you’ve weaved your way through the resort you’ll find yourself in quite a surreal situation in the middle of a high end resort. Quite the culture shock after an hour and a half in the bush (and by the way after three trips I didn’t run into one other soul on the hike)….!

Pariya_Resort_pool-Haad-Yuan-small

What else do you need to know?

Although the walk is sub 2 hours take water, your camera and some decent shoes. I did the walk in both jandals (thongs if you’re Australian) but found it more comfortable and faster in shoes. I also wouldn’t recommend doing the walk if it is getting dark as although the path is well established without a torch it could prove rather challenging. This trail is mostly an all weather track – I wouldn’t advise tackling it after a week of heavy rain but otherwise I’d be surprised if the track was impassible during the rainier months (May-Nov).

See this gallery page for some more pictures from the hike. If you like this walk check out the others listed on this site as there really are some spectacular walks to be had on Koh Phangan.

Related Links:

Haad Rin Radio Tower Walk
Khao Ra – Tallest Peak on Koh Phangan
Bottle Beach Walk

6 Comments

  1. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..

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  4. madhiker

    thanks for the info on the treks, it saved me lots of time searching around!
    for me the short cut to Haad Yuan is by far the most challenging and fun of all the treks, yes it’s steep in places, and it’s even steeper on the way up!
    I spent some time remarking the trail and bush wacking my way through the overgrown parts to open it up and make the route easier to navigate…
    thanks again 🙂

    • Pleased you found the information useful.

      And I agree the Haad Yuan trail is the best of the lot – Haad Yuan is a great beach to unwind after the trail.

      Thanks for the comment!

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