If you want to climb Ko Phangan‘s highest peak Khao Ra (627m), you don’t need a guide, even if many guidebooks tell you otherwise. If you are at least 2 people, this trip is not dangerous at all. Just make sure to have at least 1.5 liters of water per person with you.
The best way to start the trip is to take your motorbike to Khao Rha Retreat & Guesthouse (bad roads, but feasible), or you just walk there from the nearby crossing in Maduawan which you can easily reach by pick-up truck from Thongsala. This is a good Kha Ra hike starting point.
Take the little path between the bungalows which will lead you to a dirtroad. Follow this road uphill to the water basin and cross it.
After you’ve crossed the basin, DO NOT go straight ahead into the jungle! Instead walk along the water to your right until you see a sign.
From that point on it is hard to get lost as there is basically only one small path through the jungle. Always uphill! The sound of the bugs, louder than any conversation, is really impressive here.
Every now and then you will find another sign but these are not really necessary. A short distance before the top there is a second path on the right which leads to a viewpoint facing Southeast.
From the top of Khao Ra you will have a stunning view towards the Northeast, overlooking the picturesque bay of Chalok Lam. There is another path leading to a second viepoint facing North. Not many people make it up here. Enjoy the amazing scenery and the quietness!
It is best to start your trip early as it gets very, very hot in the jungle after noon. At a decent pace you can get up to the top in 1.5 to 2 hours, the way down is somewhat faster.
Once back down again, you should not miss out on the delicious food and the incredible hospitality of the Khao Ra Bungalows. There you can also get some rest, swing in the cosy hammocks and play with the puppies.
I personally really enjoyed this hiking trip and it gave me a whole new perspective of this amazing island called Ko Phangan!
This post is also available in: German