Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park, Surat Thani, Thailand
Ang Thong (translates as “golden bowl”) National Marine Park is an archipelago in the gulf of Thailand, Surat Thani province and consists 42 small islands featuring tropical rainforests, hidden lagoons and sandy beaches.
This breathtaking group of islands located just a few miles away to the west of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan is geographically different from the other islands in the region. It occupies almost 250 sq km and includes 50 sq km of limestone islands and karst topography which rise from the sea as dramatic rock cliffs and bizarre rock formations. Erosion has shaped some interesting formations and all islands are different sizes and shapes and named after their distinguishing geography such as “Tripod Island”, “Sleeping Cow Island” and “Three Pillars Island”.
Its mainislands are Phaluai, Wua Talap, Mae Ko, Sam Sao, Hin Dap, Nai Phut and Phai Luak.
Ko Wua Talap is the island that contains park headquarters and tourist information center, a restaurant, Buaboke Cave, tourist bungalows as well as the famous view point from where you can see the panoramic view of the National Park. Ko Wua Talap has two beaches. Both beaches are located on opposite ends of the island and it is possible to go from one to another via a short but not easy jungle trek (around 30 mins) the Pha Jun Jaras Nature Trail, which offers the perfect opportunity for those on adventure tours in Thailand to spot examples of this wildlife. There is a rope all along the trail which ensures you do not get lost. The view at the end of the route, which is possibly the best in the whole of the archipelago, is the reward for all those who complete the trek.
But be warned, this is not a hike for the faint-hearted. Make sure you have good footwear as there are sharp limestone crags which will be your foothold, especially towards the peak. Beware though, the hike is very steep in some sections and offer questionable ropes to hang on to. But this hike alone will justify your trip to Ang Thong.
There is a considerable amount of wildlife inhabiting the islands including the Asian long tailed monkey (langur), hair nosed otters, pacific reef egrets, white bellied sea eagles, ashy drongos, tortoises, sea turtles, lizards and pythons and with some luck you will have the chance to see the rare & wonderful white dolphins of China (also known as pink dolphin), as well as the playful Irrawaddy river dolphin, which both are on the endangered list or at some months the Minkle Whales passing by during their migration through the oceans.
Small coves and white sand beaches, caves and hidden lagoons waiting to be explored. Daily excursions with sightseeing, snorkelling among the shallow coral gardens and kayaking to Angthong National Marine Park makes it an amazing day trip. But to truly appreciate the heaven that this place is, it is recommended that you stay atleast 1-2 nights in a bungalow or a tent.
The park has 5 bungalows which are of different sizes. The costs are quite low: 500 baht per day for a 2 bedroom cottage. The cottages are set against a beautiful backdrop and the park staff are very friendly.
If the cottages are full, you can rent a tent for 2 for 250 baht. You can also bring your own tent and camp at the campground. But you will almost always find a tent to rent.
However, please note that the park is not for the resort seeker. Facilities are basic. No hot water. And the park shuts off its generator at 23:00. So no electricity at night (which only adds to the appeal of the place).
The reservation for the bungalows can be made by thai government website. Reservations should be made in advance as they tend to get booked pretty fast.
Discover the natural beauty, explore the caves and tunnels by kayak and marvel the underwater world while snorkeling in the famous Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Tours from Koh Samui by a Lonely Planet recommended Partner can be booked here:
Please note: The Ang Thong National Marine Park is closed during the month of November and the first 3 weeks of December to allow for the natural rehabilitation of the environment.
Thale Nai or Lake in the Mountain at Mae Ko Island. Koh Mae Ko (Mother Island) is a must-see. Encircled on all sides by limestone cliffs, the emerald lake in the middle of the island is linked to the sea by an underground tunnel. The exhausting climb to view the lake is well worth the effort as you gaze down on the stunningly beautiful water and are rewarded by a spectacular view across the whole park.
Wua Talap Island (Sleeping Cow Island)
Wua Talap Island situated in Kha Bay. The National Park Headquarters locates here.
The clean white sandy beach is appropriate for water activities and recreation.
At the viewpoint at the top of the mountain after you survived the Jaras Nature Trail (about 500 meters) you will have a breathtaking view over Ang Thong islands with his strange-looking shapes mounted in the sea.
There is also Bua Bok Cave with it beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, unique in its geology condition.
Samsao Island (Tripod Island)
Samsao Island located opposite Mae Ko Island with its extensive coral reef, natural stone bridge curves out into the sea and clean white beaches appropriate for camping and swimming or snorkeling to admire the beautiful underwaterworld.
Thaiphlao Island and Wua Kantang Island
There are beautiful coral reefs and white sand beaches in Thaiphlao Island and Wua Kantang Island.
There is a 500 meter trekking trail called “Jaras Nature Trail” or “View Point Trekking Trail” located in Kha Bay in Wua Talap Island, and two kayak/boating trails called “Studying Nature by Boat”. The first boating trail is app. 600 meters and surrounding Phi Island, and the second is about 2,200 meters between the beach of Kha Bay and the Nathap Beach.
There are also three snorkeling routes called “Studying Nature Under Water” about 200 meters long near Thaiphlao Island, about 150 meters long near Samsao Island, and about 150 meters long in Kha Bay in Wua Talap Island.