Mu Ko Ang Thong: A highlight of the Gulf of Thailand

Travel log October 05, 2017 09:46

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A trip to the stunning Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is one of the highlights of any trip to Samui or Phangan



One of the top attractions for trippers to Ko Samui or Ko Phangan are the nearby verdant islands of the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is an archipelago of 42 islands covering 102 sq km of the Gulf of Thailand. It is 28 km from Ko Samui and 32 km from Ko Pha Ngan. The islands covers 18 sq km of the park, the major ones being Ko Phaluai, Ko Wua Ta Lap, Ko Mae Ko, Ko Sam Sao, Ko Hin Dap, Ko Nai Phut and Ko Phai Luak.

The islands are cloaked in forests, with mainly dry evergreen forest on the bigger islands and limestone forest and minor planted mangrove forest around the beaches and bays. Among the plants, Ang Thong Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum Ang Thong) is an endemic species found only in the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park.

There are a few diving sites on the northern islands, and many more places are ideal for snorkelling. The average depth of the sea is around 10 m with generally low visibility due to heavy sediment from the Tapi River on the mainland. Diving on one of the island’s coral gardens may give opportunities to see marine species like green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle and yellow-spotted trevallies. The ideal time for diving is February to October with the best visibility around March/April.

Ang Thong inspired the novel “The Beach” by Alex Garland and was one of the prime destinations for backpackers in Thailand for many years until the subsequent movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio came out. However, the beach scenes from the movie were filmed on Ko Phi Phi in Krabi Province and the jump scene from the waterfall was filmed on Haew Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park.

The park’s headquarters and some basic facilities are located at Ko Wua Ta Lap. The admission fee is 300 THB for foreigners (children 150 THB) and 40 THB (children 20 THB) for local tourists (July 2016 fee). Only licensed tour operators are allowed entry to the park. The recommended way of visiting Mu Ko Ang Thong is to hire a boat in a group and jointly decide on both the schedule and destinations. The national park is closed in November and the first three weeks of December.

Here are some comments on Mu Ko Ang Thong by TripAdvisor visitors from around the world:

Holly_Whitty from Salamanca, Spain says it was “a brilliant but tiring day out!”

We came over to the national park on a slow boat, which took nearly 2 hours. We got the tour with the kayaks, which was incredible. We kayaked around part of the island, seeing the rock formations and beaches. Then we had to climb some steps (quite steep) to see an emerald lake - wow what a view! Coming back down wasn’t for the faint hearted either as the steps are very steep and you end up being quite high up. From there we went to another island where you can climb up for some fantastic views of 42 different islands below. This climb up is not easy at all. If you are not in very good shape I wouldn’t recommend it at all. It’s definitely worth it at the top but it’s a hard slog to get there! And then we had some time to go snorkelling. I would recommend doing this trip as part of an organised tour due to transport issues and knowing where to go, etc. A really good day out but we were exhausted at the end of the day!

 

Warragul from Victoria, Australia describes it as a “beautiful day out”

We spent a beautiful day in the marine park with inseaspeedboat Samui tour and highly recommend. It is not the cheapest tour but was very well organised and well worth the extra $ - Joe our guide was excellent and was lots of fun. The lunch was great and all in all a great day out for our family with teenagers. Visibility for snorkelling was not great but still saw lots of fish and we enjoyed the kayaking and walk to the lookout for the blue lagoon. I was a bit worried after reading reports on how hard the walk was but it was fine - steep but quite manageable for this 50 something fairly unfit mum of three! Thanks Joe for a great day.

 

TinuKu from Taichung, Taiwan “Loved it!”

Went there with my wife and our two families; six people in all, with an age range from 35 - 65. We all had a lot of fun on the boat trip, canoeing to and between the islands and hiking around on two of the small mountainous islands. I’d go there again tomorrow if I could.

 

Jennifer H from Houston, Texas recommended the trip “not to be missed!”

We chartered a boat to Ang Thong through Samui Boat Charter (highly recommend them), and enjoyed a beautiful day in Ang Thong. Stunning views are all around you! Everything we saw was breathtaking. We saw the Emerald Lake, went snorkeling, enjoyed lunch at a fisherman’s village and went kayaking / swimming. The park is huge and SBC made sure we had a very private experience. 

 

Chummieee from London, United Kingdom says the park was lovely but complains that there might have been “too many tourists”.

As lots of people have mentioned, you should go with the right expectations - the park itself, the sandy beaches and the emerald lake were all very lovely but there were too many tourists to make this a relaxing trip. Snorkelling was average as the water wasn’t very clear - there were lots of white bits (plankton?) floating around.

We went with My Samui Island and the guide was friendly and spoke good English. There were around 25 people on the speedboat but there was enough space for everyone. We were herded around a bit but I guess that's what it's like when you go on group tours.