To us, Koh Mook (Koh Muk) in the Southern Thai province of Trang is everything a Thai island should be. It boasts stunning white sand beaches, clear blue seas and is still just far enough off the mass tourist radar that it’s managed (so far) to escape the tourism boom that has plagued the popular islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. Don’t get me wrong, there are resorts on Koh Mook but they have managed to strike the right balance between making it an attractive spot for tourists and keeping the island relatively unspoiled.
If you like mass beach parties with thousands of backpackers, Koh Mook is not going to be your cup of tea. If you love relaxing, strolling along pristine, quiet beaches and taking in the sunset with an ice cold beer, then keep reading.
Helen and I have travelled to pretty much every Thai Island in the guidebook and if we had to pick an Island to go back to then Koh Mook would be sitting very close to the top of the list.
What’s the beach like?
As I said earlier, the beaches on Koh Mook are amazing. The sand, the water clarity (we went in February) and the choice of beachside accommodation makes it a perfect spot for all you beach bums out there. There are a few beaches on the Island; Ao Kham, which is by the village and has a rustic feel, Ao Wua Nawn (which includes Sivalai Beach) and Farang Beach on the other side. All the beaches have their plus points but we like the laid back, Ao Wua Nan to the more holiday package, sun lounger vibe on Farang Beach.
It doesn’t make too much of a difference where you stay on Koh Mook as it is just about small enough to navigate by foot. You can walk from one side of the island to the other in around thirty minutes so it’s not like you’re stuck on one particular beach. A motorbike taxi from one side of the island to the other will set you back 30-50 baht per person and scooters can be rented around the island for 250-300 baht a day so you have options. We rented a scooter from De Tara Beach Resort and drove to Charlie Beach for sunset most nights.
How’s the food?
I resigned myself long ago to the fact that I’m not going to get the same food on an Island that I get on the mainland. That being said, Koh Mook has some solid options.
The two standout dishes we ate on our trip were at the De Tara Resort on Ao Wua Nawn. The masaman curry at De Tara tops the list without a doubt. There is definitely something about the Trang Islands and massaman curries because I had another amazing version on a recent trip to nearby Koh Libong.
I can’t mention the De Tara without talking about the Gaeng Som Pla – a spicy southern Thai served with a big chunk of stewed fish on the bone and pieces of cooked green papaya and pineapple; it’s spicy, sour and utterly delicious!
The prices at the resorts are a little higher than the local places so if you’re on a budget, I’d suggest heading down a bit from De Tara to Sugar’s. Here they serve up a variety of good local dishes starting at around 80 baht (£1.80/$2.50.) I had the tom yum soup with seafood which had plenty of prawns, squid and veg thrown in. It’s different from what I’m used to in Bangkok with the use of celery and carrots but thoroughly enjoyable none the less. Helen went back a couple of times for their french toast (always a good sign if you like sweet treats) and they also serve a pretty decent coffee.
There are a few local options around the village such as Good Luck Restaurant offering great value seafood and classic Thai dishes. Don’t miss the Pla Nueng Manao (steamed seabass in lime sauce) here.
What else can I do there?
Koh Mook has one main tourist attraction, The Emerald Cave or Morakot cave as it’s known locally. It’s a cave (obviously) that you swim through in the pitch black with a torch to get to a stunning natural lagoon. I’d say it’s worth a look but it does get extremely busy as tourist boats come from Krabi as well as Koh Mook itself. We took a private longtail boat at 8 am hoping to miss the crowds but there was already fifty odd tourists there when we got into the lagoon.
If you want to see the Emerald cave then I’d suggest doing what we did and going there as part of a private island tour of Koh Kradan or Koh Ngai (or both.)
There are plenty of long tail boats on Ao Wua Nawn that are more than happy to take you around the Islands for a reasonable price and I’d say it was one of the better boat trips we’ve been on in Thailand (and we’ve been on a lot!)
We didn’t make it to Koh Ngai but Koh Kradan is something else. The beaches on Kradan are even more spectacular than Koh Mook’s with powdery white sand and turquoise, clear waters. After walking around the island, however, it would have been a little too remote for us to stay on ourselves, however, it’s well worth checking out if you love that desert island feel.
There is an amazing little cove on Kradan, a ten-minute walk across the island from where the boat drops you, where you can chill out for a couple of hours and have a swim in the calm, clear water.
Also, there’s an incredible viewpoint above the little bay overlooking the Andaman sea which is a must-do if you’re on the island. It’s one of the easier viewpoints to tackle that we’ve come across in Thailand!
Where should I stay?
A little slice of luxury.
The standout beachfront option on Mook is The Sivalai Beach Resort. Set on the point separating Ao Kham Beach and Ao Wua Nawn Beach. This stretch of sand is our favourite on the Island. You definitely have to pay for the privilege as a beachfront bungalow will set you back around 7000 baht (£160/$220) in high season or a bargain 3500 (£80/$110) baht in low season. The downside is that you are limited to where you can swim at low tide so if dipping in and out of the water all day is your thing, then maybe consider Charlie Beach on Farang Beach where swimming isn’t affected by the tide.
A decent midrange beach option.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to the Sivalai but you still want direct access to the beach then you could go for the Koh Mook De Tara a little further down Ao Wau Nawn Beach. The accommodation at De Tara ranges from 2000 baht a night ‘Tented Villas’ to 3500 baht Deluxe Ocean View rooms with a balcony overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Andaman sea. They serve a couple of excellent dishes at De Tara as well as some average resort food. The massaman here is a must try, even if you’re staying elsewhere. Oh, and they have ‘The Words Best Margherita’….allegedly.
A wallet-friendly jungle stay.
If you’re not too bothered about being in a resort and you like a more local, rustic vibe then you could check out Koh Mook Coco Lodge, a short walk from the pier. They have classic Thai Bamboo huts for 900 baht (£20/$28) with a fan and air conditioned concrete bungalows for 1500 baht (£33/$47) a night. You still get beach access here, albeit the beach here isn’t quite as picturesque as the Sivalai or Charlie Beaches but if you’re watching the pennies, Coco Lodge is a solid option.
Getting to Koh Mook
The easiest way to get to Koh Libong is to fly from Bangkok to Trang with either Nok Air, Lion Thai or Air Asia. From there you can head straight to Khuan Tung Ku Pier by minibus or private taxi, or you can take our advice and spend a night in Trang town to sample the fantastic local dim sum and roast pork there.
Once in Trang, you can pick up a combined minibus and ferry ticket for 250 baht per person from any travel agent in town. the bus Once you arrive at Koh Mook, you can take a tuk-tuk to your accommodation for 50 baht per person.
If you’re looking for a clean, budget-friendly option for Trang town, then we suggest you check out Ban Ao Thong next to the Night Market. Rooms start at 800 baht a night with airconditioning and a hot shower. They have just opened a wine café downstairs serving pretty good Thai food and Western pasta dishes.
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