Koh Kood Visitor Information
Koh Kood is a great island to visit and probably the best in Thailand for lovers of beaches, jungles, waterfalls and deserted roads – which are ideal for cruising along on on your rental scooter. As with Koh Mak there isn’t a vehicle ferry to the island. So, along with the stunning scenery and crystal clear water, expect it to be quiet, even in High Season.
Koh Kood is far too large for you to be able to walk from beach to beach easily, it’s around 25 Kms long and 12 Kms wide, making it the fifth largest island in Thailand.
It’s appearance is that of a smaller less developed Koh Chang. With jungle clad mountains inland and beaches dotted along the west coast. But despite the size, there isn’t much in the way of public transport. Many resorts are located down dirt tracks, well off the main road and when you get to the main road you’ll find there are very few shops, bars or restaurants anywhere. You won’t find any 7-eleven minimarts, beer bars, tailors shops or other trappings of mass tourism here.
So you can find yourself spending most of your holiday in and around the same beach if you don’t have your own transport. For some visitors, that’s ideal – just kick back ad enjoy the sun for a week or two. But if you’re used to the conveniences of other islands then Koh Kood might not be for you. In 2014, The Guardian called Koh Kood ‘Thailand’s Last Unspoilt Island‘ and it still is.
There are pick up truck taxis but these mainly run island tours, taking families and groups, who don’t rent scooters on a day trip around the main beaches and sights.
The local population is estimated at under 2,500, so there aren’t any towns on the island. But there are four main built up areas. These are the fishing communities in Ao Salat, in the northeast and Ao Noi, in the south east. The hospital, police and local government offices are all located in the Klong Hin Dam area, on the west coast. The east of the island is inaccessible and inhabited. Dotted around the centre of the island are a handful of waterfalls which are all free to visit and great for a cooling dip.
The main beaches are spread out along the west and south coasts of the island and there are now over 50 places to stay. These range from a super luxury 100,000 Baht a night six star resort to homestays in fishing communities.
The area around Klong Chao beach and river estuary has become one of the busiest on the island for visitors. There’s a good choice of locally owned, mid-price bungalows by the river here. Plus mini-marts and cheap restaurants etc nearby. And it’s only 5 minutes walk to the beach which is home to some of the island’s high end resorts Tinkerbell, High Season, Wendy The Pool Resort and Peter Pan.
Koh Kood Beaches
There isn’t one beach that everyone will agree is the best beach on Koh Kood. Although I’d go for either Klong Chao or Ao Noi. They’re all worth visiting, take a look and decide for yourself.
Yai Kee beach & Soneva Kiri beach
These are located in the northwest of the island, quite a distance form the nearest shops and restaurants. Soneva Kiri is the most expensive resort on the island and until a couple of years ago had two beaches for their guests to use. One in the resort and one outside it. The latter has now been abandoned and is deserted with just the remains of the beach restaurant to be seen. It’s only accessible via a sandy track from the main road. Yai Kee is almost as inaccessible. It is close to the beautiful Baan Makok, a small hideaway resort built from recycled wood in a mangrove estuary. The larger Captain Hook Resort sits on the opposite side of the river mouth to the beach. So you’ll need to swim or take a kayak to get there.
Klong Mad beach
Just a small beach directly outside Suanya Resort, another resort which barely get s a mention on English language sites as it’s aimed squarely at Thai weekend visitors. The beach isn’t worth visiting but Klong Mad, the small fishing hamlet with a cluster of houses built around an inlet is quite interesting as you’ll get an insight into how subsistence fishermen live.
Ao Tapao beach
This is the longest on the island and until recently was home to just two resorts – the excellent Shantaa and the run down Koh Kood Cabana. That’s all changed and a trio of new resorts Koh kood Pradaise Beach, with 200 metres of private beachfront plus the smaller Medee Resort and Sea Far Resort all offer good 3 -4 star standard accommodation. South of Sea Far Resort is just 500 metres of quiet, undeveloped beach There’s a village, Khlong Hin Dam, 5 minutes scooter ride away so this isn’t too remote an area to stay in.
Ao Noi beach
A small beach with just one resort – Ao Noi Resort. Another older resort that originally catered to Thai package tour groups. But it’s a very picturesque setting. A lovely little bay with idyllic white sand beach and small jetty belonging to the resort. Access is via a dirt track through woodland, look for the sign by the main road a kilometre or so north of Klong Chao beach. Or rent a kayak and paddle around the headland north of Klong Chao beach and you’ll come to it.
Klong Chao beach
As mentioned earlier, Klong Chao is now the tourist centre of the island. A beautiful stretch of sand with the ideal mix of luxury beachfront resorts plus more wallet-friendly accommodation lining the river estuary 5 to 10 minutes walk away. And on the roadside you’ll find a handfull of small shops and restaurants. But unlike Koh Chang’s beaches you aren’t inundated by souvenir shops, tour agents tattooists or massage shops.
When I go to Koh Kood I always stay here in one of the locally owned bungalow resorts by the river – Mark house, Klong Jao Homestay or Mangrove Bungalows. It’s good being able to drop in to Peter Pan resort for one of the best sunset cocktails you’ll find anywhere then walk out to excellent Fisherman’s Hut restaurant roadside.
For the best views, head south up the hill to the aptly named Good View bungalows which have a small coffeeshop / restaurant with a panoramic view looking down along the length of the beach.
After a couple of small hills the road flattens out and runs behind Ngamkho beach. A lot of this area is undeveloped, with coconut groves lining the beachfront. At the north end you can access the beach via S Beach Resort or near the south, or Dusita Resort nearer the centre of the beach . And on the best stretch of sand. Or at the far south at the basic Ngamkho Resort, however there are a lot of rocks in this area.
Sai Daeng beach
Another small hidden beach around a rocky headland to the south of Ngamkho beach. This one is mainly used by guests staying at Analay Resort & Horizon Resort. A walkway from Analay Resort runs along the rocks to the mouth of a small lagoon. You just wade across the lagoon to the deserted 150 metre long beach on the opposite side. A lovely hidden spot and there are a log of fish around the rocky headland and Analay Resort pier.
A stunning horseshoe shaped bay. This is one of the most popular beaches on the island with a range of accommodation and some very good snorkelling. If you’re on a budget then Siam Beach Resort is a popular choice for families or if you want to splash out on more luxury then the new To The Sea Resort has some great views and stylish bungalows. only downside is that at high tide most of the beach disappears underwater. On the main road nearby you’ll find a few good restaurants, including the excellent Chiang Mai restaurant, and a couple of minimarts.
As you move south of Bangbao the shoreline begins to face southwest , as so the beaches get more of the prevailing winds and tend to have a more windswept feel about them. The sea is often rougher and on the undeveloped stretches of beach garbage, washed up from the ocean, accumulates. Takian ( Takean ) beach is another long bay with some rocky outcrops breaking up the sand. Access is via the dirt track signposted to Cham’s House, a very nice , but remote 4 star resort and the neighbouring, contrasting, Pa Hin Sai which has budget fan huts by the sand.
Klong Hin beach
400 metres long and with just a couple of locally owned and run bungalow resorts, it;s off the beaten track and a good spot to do nothing for a couple of days. But the budget resorts – Klong Hin Beach Resort and Montana Hut are popular with Russian package tourists so mealtimes can be an adventure.
Access is via the same track off the main road that leads to Takian beach.
Ao Jak beach
Another beach with only one resort on it. This is Neverland Beach Resort. Getting here isn’t so easy even in the dry season. It’s often a muddy, bumpy, sandy 15 minute scooter ride from the main road. The access track it;s a bit of a bumpy scooter ride to get here form the main road. It’s a fun ride though and it is a beautiful beach, although more exposed to wind than the west coast beaches. After the ride you’ll be happy to grab a cold drink at the beach bar or take a swim or walk on the beach. The main downside is the proximity to nothing else at all – you’ll be eating all your meals in the resort and that access to the resort is very difficult.
Ao Phrao beach
The southernmost of Koh Kood’s beaches, and one of the Top 3 on the island. A kilometre of south-facing, brilliant white sand. Ideal for sun-worshippers. Just three small resorts are by the beach with a couple of guesthouses nearby in the small fishing community that live on the estuary at the western end of the beach. The only downside to staying here is that when the wind blows the sea often gets very rough. And, as with the other beaches towards the south of the island, guests tend to predominantly be Russians on short package tours.
Getting here involves a 5 minute drive from the main road, just follow the signs for Ao Phrao beach where the main road splits. Turning tight leads to the beach, turning left to Ao Yai fishing village on the east coast.
Koh Kood Resorts, Hotels and Bungalows
Originally, Koh Kood’s resorts catered almost exclusively to Thai package tour visitors. Resort owners had their own boat services and would sell 3 day / 2 Night packages to groups of weekending Thai visitors. This meant that unlike most islands in Thailand, it wasn’t first a backpacker destination. In fact, it is only in the last decade, with the advent of more daily boat services from the mainland, that budget accommodation has sprung up around the island.
Nowadays, you can find a room from as little as 500 Baht / night, but if you want to be beachfront then you’ll be looking at around 2,000 Baht / night minimum. The most expensive resort on the island is the Soneva Kiri which has pool villas for over 100,000 Baht / night. A beautiful resort and one of the best in Thailand, but definitely for people who want to be sealed off from real life and any contact with islanders.
Overall prices are higher than they would be for similar standard accommodation on other islands, but given the lack of vehicle access to the island, means that the costs involved in building a resort and bringing supplies to the island are far higher than Koh Chang, Koh Samui or Phuket for example.
Tinkerbell Privacy Resort – Only 15 rooms. Eight on the beach and seven larger pool villas on the second row. It;s how you imagine an intimate 5 star beach resort should be. Great staff, good restaurant and a perfect beach. Plus shops and local restaurants within easy reach. The resort has got a great reputation for hosting wedding parties ans it’s relatively small size and great location make it ideal for families to rent the entire resort for a few days. From around 10,000 Baht / night
High Season Pool Villa Resort – As the name suggests, accommodation here is in pool villas. These are as good as anything you will find in the Maldives and the resort occupies a 200 metre long stretch of Klong Chao beach and is adjacent to Tinkerbell. Villas range from a 95Sqm to 180Sqm.
By the beach you’ll find a huge pool, beach restaurant and cocktail bar with Happy hour prices that make it affordable for outsiders to have a drink there whilst they enjoy the sunset. Stunning rooms, great beach, friendly and efficient staff. All you need now is 20,000 Baht / night – assuming you’re happy staying in one of the cheaper villas.
Shantaa Resort – It’s an older resort but one that keeps up the same super high standards year after year. If you aren’t sure where to stay and want to be guaranteed a great holiday, then you’ll be happy at Shantaa. Many guests return every year. It’s tucked away at the northern end of Ao Tapao beach, in the centre of the west coast. The bungalows are spread out in a huge gently sloping garden which features gazebos for guests to while away their time in peace and quiet.
There aren’t any televisions in the rooms, as the aim is to provide an environment for guests to chill out and re-connect with each other. The restaurant is also rated as one of the best on the island. There are no downsides aside from the beach at the hotel not being as long as at some other resorts. But a 5 minute walk brings you to the main section of Ao Tapao beach where there’s almost a kilometre of sand plus a handful of other resorts.
Mangrove Bungalows – I usually stay here or in the neighboring Baan Klong Jao bungalows. Both are around 1500 Baht / night for an air-con wooden bungalow by the river. Cheaper fan bungalows are also available. There are free kayaks so you can paddle down to the beach on head inland along the mangrove lined river towards Klong Chao waterfall – the largest on the island. The beach is 5 minutes walk away as as several inexpensive restaurants and a handful of local shops.
I-Lay House – Probably the smallest beach resort on the island. Only eight new, air-conditioned wooden bungalows plus a couple of concrete bungalows in a spacious garden by Ao Prao beach. The rooms all have King size beds and all the comforts of home. Enjoy local hospitality and peace & quiet by a great beach from 2,000 Baht / night.
Jungle Koh Kood Resort – Quite a large resort inland in the Klong Chao area. Here you’ll find bright, stylish, modern, wooden AC huts. There are large garden areas , a pool to laze around and very good restaurant and cocktail bar. If you backed in your youth and swore never to stay in a wooden hut again, then this might just change your mind. Bungalows from 1,800 Baht / night
Backpacker friendly budget accommodation:
Relax house – Just two spacious, modern air-conditioned bungalows by the main road towards the south of the island. Owned by a very friendly & helpful local family. 1,300 Baht / night but this also includes breakfast and scooter hire.
Sand and Sea – Simple fan rooms in the guesthouse plus fan bungalows by the beach tucked away on the southern shore of Bangbao bay. About 10 minutes walk from Siam Beach Resort. Good for an ‘old skool’ backpacker experience. There’s no wi-fi. Rooms from 600 Baht in High Season
Gumm Lonely Club – Located in the fishing community near Ao Phrao beach, this is for anyone wanting to enjoy a real homestay experience in a renovated fisherman’s house. There are just two fan rooms with a shared bathroom. The English speaking, Thai owners will cook dinner for guests, take them fishing etc. Room rate is 700 Baht / night.
Activities and Attractions
Koh Kood boasts three waterfalls, all of which are free to visit.
Klong Chao Waterfall. The most famous waterfall on Koh Kood and the easiest to reach. Just follow the road inland from Klong Chao beach. Keep going after the road becomes a dirst track heading into the jungle and you’ll come to a parking area at the trail head. Most resorts will also run day trips here for guests as it’s one of the most famous sights on the island. Well worth a visit.
Klong Yai Kee Waterfall. Located on the way north to Soneva Kiri and Baan Makok. Look for the sign on the right hand side of the road. The access track leads to a car park from where it’s a short walk to the river and waterfall. This is a medium size waterfall but with a large pool for swimming. A great spot to cool off and always quieter than Klong Chao.
Huang Nam Keaw Waterfall. This was known as the secret waterfall, as until 2012 access was only possible by an arduous walk through the jungle and along the riverbed. However, in 2012 a road was built and also parking area with toilets for visitors. Then there is just a steep 100 metres walk down to the river. And then a short walk up the riverbed, scrambling over and around huge boulders, until you reach the falls. There are road signs in English to the falls. Basically you head towards the big trees and keep going
You’ll see this marked on maps, in the centre of the island, and probably won’t be too excited about going there. After all, it’s just a tree. But the Makka tree, which you’ll also see called The Big Trees, 500 Year Old Tree or ‘Sai Yai’ on roadsigns, is definitely worth a visit.
Deep in the jungle there are are two massive banyan trees in close proximity to each other. One estimated at 500 years old, the other around 200 years old. You won’t see the trees through the dense jungle until you are 20 metres from them. It’s only when you are up close that you can appreciate the sheer size of them. Very impressive and kids will love scrambling around the massive buttress roots.
Ao Yai Viewpoint
There’s a great viewpoint overlooking Ao Yai village. This is also another of the postcard views you see on most travel blogs about the island. There’s nothing other than a covered seating area where you can sit in silence and enjoy the panorama. You can also often see a few monkeys playing in the trees nearby.
Big Buddha Statue
Keep an eye out when your boat approaches Koh Kood for the gleaming, golden Buddha statue at Ao Salad temple. The seated Buddha is around 20 metres tall and watches over the fisherman in the village below.
Snorkelling and Diving
There are three dive companies on the island BB Divers, Koh Kood Divers and Paradise Divers – which was the first diving school on the island. All offer similar PADI courses plus fun dives and snorkelling trips. Expect to pay around 14,500 Baht for the PADI open Watrer course; 3,000 – 3,500 Baht for a dive trip with two dives. And 1,200 Baht or so for a snorkelling trip. Prices include all equipment and lunch on the boat.
How Clear is the Sea?
If you have been researching Koh Kood then you’ll no doubt have heard how clear the brilliant blue water is. But a video is worth a thousand words and this was made by a couple of our guests who also stayed on Koh Kood in early 2017. Filmed by Marc and his drone and edited by his daughter Dominique . . .
How to Get to Koh Kood
Ferries to Koh Kood depart from the mainland pier at Laem Sok, Trat. There aren’t any vehicle ferries, just passenger-only boats. During the High Season, the first boat of the day is at 09:00 and the last at 14:20. Therefore if you are coming from Bangkok you will need to make an early start. Most people opt to stay a night in Trat and then the next morning come to Koh Kood. The boat companies all provide free transfer from hotels in Trat to the ferry pier. Boats run daily all year round, but there is a reduced service from mid-May to mid-October. And all hotels can book boat tickets for you. Ticket price ranges from 350 to 600 Baht per person.
If you are coming from Koh Chang, both Bangbao boat and Kai Bae Hut speedboat run speedboat services from Koh Chang to Koh Mak to Koh Kood during the high Season. These usually start running on 1 November and stop on 30 April. Buy tickets from any tour agent on Koh Chang. The one way price is 900 Baht per person.
You’ll find detailed timetables and more information about the different boat services to Koh Kood on KohKoodFerries.com
An Island Tour
This video was made by Mantas, an expat resident on the island who also runs the Sabai Dog organisation that cares for the island’s stray, sick and injured dogs. It gives a good overview of some of Koh Kood’s sights.
Cash is king
Bring cash with you. As there is only one small bank and one ATM on the island. These are located adjacent to Koh Kood Hospital. There are a few resorts that will give cash advances for non-guests. But they will charge around 5% commission. It is also possible to exchange USD, GBP or EUR at some resorts and shops on the island. But don;t expect a great rate. Far better to exchange the money on the mainland or on Koh Chang before you arrive.
Food & Drink
There are quite a few small restaurants on the island. Here are a few to try which are on the west coast within easy reach of most resorts. It’s also well worth heading to the fishing villages of Ao Yai or Ao Salad for some delicious, freshly caught seafood in a ramshackle restaurant built on stilts over the sea.
View Point Café – For a coffee, cake or a relaxing sunset beer.
Sunset Bar – the only bar with some music for a late night drink.
Relax House – Probably the best Thai food on the island. Reservations are required.
Chiang Mai Restaurant – Good restaurant with northern Thai food and large portions.
The Fisherman Hut – Funky restaurant with popular seafood barbecue.
Chaiyo Restaurant – Small local Thai restaurant with surprisingly good food.
Pizza & Pasta – Run by Italians who understand what is good food is all about.
You’ll need a scooter if you want to really appreciate the island. It’s too large and hilly to walk around and the public taxis usually only take people on day tours. If you want to explore, rent a scooter. The bikes are mostly 125cc Honda or Yamaha automatics. Figure on 250 – 350 Baht / 24 hours depending on its age and condition. Buy fuel from the gas station just north of the hospital. It’s cheaper to fill up there than buy bottles from roadside stalls.
Expect some sandflies, as they prefer quieter beaches. Not everyone reacts badly to their bites. But if you are susceptible then it’s worth packing some extra strength hydrocortisone cream to stop any itching. Locally made ‘Yellow Oil’ also helps reduce the swelling from bites and reduce itchiness. There isn’t one definitive method to keep them at bay but coconut oil seems to work pretty well. Buy locally made oil in small glass bottles ( recycled energy drink bottles ) from shops or your resort.
There isn’t much street lighting, so bring a headtorch or flashlight with you when you go out in the evening. Especially if your resort is along a dirt track leading off the main road. Trying to find your way along a potholed road in the darkness isn’t fun.
And the best tip . . . For lots of more detailed information on Koh Kood see DestinationKohKood.com which has all you need about the island.