Koh Kood (Koh Kut), Thailand

All the beaches in Thailand are overrun by tourists aren’t they? Sure southern destinations such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, you name it, they have more than their share of traffic. But to say there is no solitude in Thailand is a myth, one that is easily disproven by a visit to the small eastern island of Koh Kood (spelled Koh Kut by the locals). So why don’t people flock there? If you’re looking for nightlife, this place is not what you want. If you want fast easy transportation, then look elsewhere. But if you want your own little slice of secluded paradise, then you’ve found the right place.

After your arrival in Bangkok, you’re left with few options to get to the sparsely populated paradise that is Koh Kood. The nearest major city on the mainland, Trat, does have an airport but flights are infrequent and changeable, not to mention a bit costly. This narrows the options down to bus or private car hire. We opted to go through Koh Kood Catamaran, which has a complete roundtrip (from/to Bangkok) package including bus and ferry for about $50USD, well worth it in my opinion. They have two Bangkok pick up stations, one being the foreigner mecca of Khao San Road and the other just below the Phayatai BTS station downtown. From Phayatai, the bus departs at 5:30am or 7:00am, from Khao San only 7:00am.

After a whirlwind day of river boats, temple hopping, and playing with monitor lizards in Bangkok’s Lumphini Park, we got up at the crack of dawn to catch our 5 1/2 hour bus ride eastbound through Trat and on to Laem Sok Pier to hop on the catamaran.

Monitor Lizard in Lumphini Park

Monitor Lizard in Lumphini Park

The boat set sail first for Koh Mak, another small paradise just west of Koh Kood, and then finally off to Koh Kood’s Laem Him Dam aka the “main pier.” Starting from the Laem Him Dam area and heading south, you’ll find pretty much all of Koh Kood’s resorts and bungalows on the west side of the island (for obvious sunset benefits), say for a few exclusive ones in the north. The best part about Koh Kood’s beaches? You can use any of them. By law (apparently) no one can own the 20 meter wide stretch along the coast, not that it matters since the resorts seem open for non-guests to use their facilities. Because of this, we tried to hit up nearly every major beach on the island! So here is a run down, starting from the Laem Him Dam Pier located on Koh Kood’s west side about halfway down the coast, and heading south to the tip:

Immediately as you get off the pier:

Ao Ta Pao Beach: Just north of the pier is Shantaa Resort. Apparently it’s a very expensive 5 star outfit, though from the initial looks of it I can’t see why. Little to no beach directly in front, but you can walk south past the pier which is the amazing Ao Ta Pao stretch. Continuing your walk south on the beach you’ll run into Koh Kood Cabana, and then Sea Far Resort. Both of those looked empty, and Sea Far is new and still half under construction. We had a great day there and it has plenty of shady areas on the sand if you don’t want to get fried. The sand is perfect for swimming, and we had some good Pad Thai at Sea Far’s restaurant. Both KK Cabana and Sea Far are probably in the $125 – $150 per night range on the beach. If you keep walking south you’ll find a nice stretch of sand without a resort or even a single soul roaming the perfect sand.

Ao Ta Pao Beach facing north with Laem Hin Dam Pier in the background

Ao Ta Pao Beach facing north with Laem Hin Dam Pier in the background

Ao To Pao Beach facing south.....not a soul in sight

Ao To Pao Beach facing south…..not a soul in sight

Ao Noi Beach: This is one beach I’m sad to say we didn’t visit. If we’d had one more day, it was next on the list, but I’m sure it’s worth a look. Same deal as the rest, just walk into Ao Noi resort, grab a drink and some food, maybe a massage, and enjoy their beach for the day!

Klong Chao Beach: The most popular stretch of beach on the island, and for good reason. It’s absolutely stunning, perfect for swimming, easily accessible, almost 2km long, and did I mention stunning? You can walk on to the beach via the south entrance where the local road meets the sand just outside the Tinkerbell Privacy Resort. There are 4 resorts on this stretch: Tinkerbell, Wendy the Pool, High Season, and Peter Pan. We had lunch as well as caught the Saturday evening fire show (free) at Peter Pan’s on the north end of the beach, and thoroughly enjoyed the sand out front which stretched northbound into a peninsula where you can sit in the shade and set up a hammock….which is exactly what I did. Eating and staying at these resorts is going to cost you for sure, so the best alternative in my mind is to stay at one of the many off-beach bungalows nearby. Cozy House, Garden View, and Mangrove Bungalow all looked decent and are situated about about 5 minutes walk from Klong Chao, and you have access to the same beach for pennies on the dollar. This area is considered the “bustling center” of the island if you could call it that, and by bustling I mean a few restaurants, resorts and a tourist information office. Speaking of the tourist office, be sure to check out Fisherman’s Hut right next door. Their Pad Thai is an off-menu item, but it was by far the best we had on the island.

Klong Chao Beach Sunset

Klong Chao Beach Sunset

Fire Show at Peter Pan Resort

Fire Show at Peter Pan Resort

S-Beach: This is a very small beach with just one resort on it (S-beach resort) but it’s got great sand and privacy. There are rocks to the north and south, like all beaches on Koh Kood, but in the middle is perfect for swimming. Seems all the guests there were Russian, also common for Koh Kood. I only mention this because some of the resorts sell packages exclusively to Russian travel agents, so you may not even be able to book some of these places at all. We waded/swam over from neighboring Ngam Kho Bay where we were staying and had a bottle of Chang.

Ngam Kho Bay: The beach where we stayed…..sort of. Our first resort was a place called A-Na-Lay, and in my opinion it’s the best value on the island. They have a small private beach, a pool, great snorkeling off the rock point in front of the resort and top notch Thai food to boot. Sure it’s not a 5 star resort, but it’s got anything from basic fan bungalows ($30-$40/night) to fully furnished air-conditioned units right next to the water. The only downside? It’s got a partially obstructed view of the sunset. After our stay at A-Na-Lay, we moved right next store to Horizon Resort (A-Na-Lay and Horizon share a rock point with beaches on each side), a French owned joint that is also a very good value ($60/night). The rooms are all the same, but nicely decorated, A/C, and an outdoor shower which was amazing. From Horizon you have to walk a few minutes down to what it is….. like I said, sort of a beach. The beach is virtually inaccessible during the morning due to high tide, so you’re best bet is to take advantage of more amazing snorkeling off the rocks, or check out another beach via scooter. Horizon had a good breakfast (included), top notch service with western standards, the only small problem we had, or they had I should say, was that their cook had been in a bit of an accident with some hot cooking oil, and wasn’t around for the duration of our stay. No matter! They did the best they could and besides, there was plenty of awesome places to eat outside the resort.

Ngam Kho Bay

Ngam Kho Bay

Bang Bao Beach: The next beach south is home to a few resorts of various price ranges, and a really pretty stretch of sand to chill on for a day. At the north part is Koh Kood Resort and just south of it is Beach Natural Resort, both were lacking a sandy beach but were swimmable, and boast amazing sunset views. There’s a new resort being built there now, right next to Beach Natural, however it still lacks a sandy beach. Walking south a 100 meters or so you will run into Siam Beach Resort. This place has quite a few bungalows and is more for people on a budget who want to be on the water. The beach is amazing but the resort environment isn’t kept up very well. However they have some great places to chill and get some food and a drink by the beach, or a massage for 300 Baht ($10). You get what you pay for, but at $40-$100/night, I’d still say Siam’s a great deal for being right next to the beach, just have proper expectations. Further South is a little place called Sand & Sea Resort. You have to walk over a small bridge to hop onto Bang Bao from S&S, but it is nicely secluded if you want something quiet in the shade and not too pricey. Overall Bang Bao is a great beach with fantastic swimming, and you can watch the fishing boats go out at dusk and disappear into the sunset.

Bang Bao Bay Beach

Bang Bao Bay Beach

Bang Bao Bay Boats

Bang Bao Bay Boats

Takien Beach: Moving south from Bang Bay Bay, you’ll arrive at Takien beach. This beach is home to only one resort: Cham’s House. Again, and unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend time at Takien, but since Cham’s is a high end resort and the only place there, I’m sure it’s top notch if you want privacy and sunsets.

Klong Hin & Neverland Beaches: Continuing south you’ll be able to visit my favorite beach of the trip: Klong Hin. From Klong Hin, take a short walk south on the paved path that straddles the rock point and you’ll be lead to Neverland Beach, home to, you guessed it: Neverland Resort. Klong Hin has absolutely spotless perfect sand and a nice wide stretch of beach. This stretch gets even wider when the tide goes out, and it’s just the quintessential Thailand blue water bay you see in the pictures. Klong Hin Beach Resort dominates the beach. It’s another Russian tour package destination, so booking may be challenging, but I’d definitely consider it if I went back to Koh Kood someday. On the south end of Klong Hin is a small inlet from a brackish backwater bay. If you cross the short bridge or walk across the stream you’ll be at Montana Resort, a few nicely situated bungalows built over the backwater bay. It shares all the great benefits of the beach but it’s back in the shade a bit, and has a much more private feel. At $50-$70/night, it’s certainly a great value near an amazing beach. From Montana you can walk around the point on the aforementioned path to a dilapidated bridge, which is not possible to cross. No worries, just wade across the shallow river and you’ll be at Neverland Beach. I didn’t find anything impressive about the beach or the resort there, especially considering it was supposed to be a top-notch facility. I’d book next door and save your Baht for massages at sunset on the beach at Klong Hin (yes, I tried it and it’s as amazing as it sounds).

Klong Hin Beach

Klong Hin Beach

Ao Phrao Beach: This brings us to end of the road for beaches on the western side of Koh Kood. Ao Phrao beach is shared by two resorts, Koh Kood Ao Phrao Beach Resort which caters mainly to Thai tourists, and Sunshine Resort which was completely full of Russian tourists. I had initially tried to book at Sunshine, but didn’t have any luck. We were probably better off since it seemed to be the most crowded place on the island I had seen during our time there. Ao Phrao also features a nice wide beach with yet again, perfect sand. It has a beautiful environment but once more you are sure to find it challenging booking this place. At $100-$200/night, Koh Kood Ao Phrao Beach Resort really looked worthwhile, though you’d likely be the only non-Thai non-Russian there. But who cares? Make some local and foreign friends and just enjoy the beach.

Ao Phrao Sunset

Ao Phrao Sunset

Besides the beaches, Koh Kood has several great waterfalls that can all be reached via a scooter ride and a short hike, including one known as “the Secret Waterfall.” When we went (February 2015) the so called ‘Secret’ looked to be under development, so it won’t be secret for much longer. It’s not on any of the current maps, but with a little effort you can find it, just ask the locals.

Secret Waterfall

Secret Waterfall

Also, don’t forget the quaint fishing villages, a must if you want the freshest of fresh seafood. Locals are very friendly and can take you fishing if you like, or just enjoy a nice fresh plate of jumbo shrimp for lunch over the water. There are two, Ao Salad in the northeast and Ao Yai in the southeast.

Ao Yai Fishing Village

Ao Yai Fishing Village

If you go:

-Get a scooter for the week. It just makes things easier, especially if there are two of you. $10/day to do whatever and go wherever. They are everywhere, and gas is sold along the road.

-After chatting with Dick at the View Point Cafe, it turns out mid-December to mid-January is the peak tourist season on Koh Kood due to many Europeans having holiday and taking there families on vacation. But outside this time frame (we came right after in late January), the island seems to hardly have enough people to sustain business, giving you great value for your money.

-There are currently NO ATMs on the island, but lots of places will do credit for cash, but they charge 5-10%, worth it in a pinch I suppose.

-Wi-Fi was available at most resorts, and we had no problems with it, even streamed the Super Bowl one morning.

-My recommendation: Go…..go now before it is over-developed and overrun!

 

One Comment

  1. Wow! Great times! I’m glad you’re still rocking SE Asia.

    Hope life is grand!

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