Southeast Asia is hardly the final frontier when it comes to backpacking. Buses specially tailored for foreign tourists line every Bangkok street corner; tubing the Nam Song in Laos ends with gift shops; pancakes and spaghetti are ubiquitous even in Burma.
When I first went to Koh Phangan in 2013, I was expecting this — just a few days in Southeast Asia and you quickly learn of Koh Phangan’s reputation as the go-to place for manufactured buzz and bliss. It wasn’t like we didn’t have a good time, but the days of The Beach were long, long gone. It felt more like a frat party than an underground adventure.