Perfect place for a quiet beach escape
If Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang are just too crowded and busy for you, there are some special places in Thailand you really need to know about. Places the tourist brochures rarely mention, where the beaches are pristine and endless, where the water is warm and opal blue, where life is still laid back and peaceful.
One of the nicest is called Koh Mak (also known as Ko Maak or Monkey Island), a small island in Trat Province of Thailand, about 20 km from Koh Chang, which was voted as one of the world’s top 10 beaches by the Sunday Times newspaper. You can easily get to Ko Mak by taking a bus (every hour) from Ekamai or Morchit bus stations in Bangkok or by minivan from Khao San Road. There is also a coach from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. Boats to Koh Mak leave from Laem Ngob (Krom Luang) pier. Bangkok Airways also run flights to Trat two or three times a day, depending on season.
Although Koh Mak has just 27 kilometres of coastline, it has lots of long, sandy beaches with very few tourists and is a perfect place to get away from it all for a couple of lazy weeks in the sun. The island itself is only about 16 square kilometres and it’s mostly flat terrain, so you can easily walk or cycle across and around the island, making your way through coconut plantations and small villages.
While it’s very small, Koh Mak boasts some 25 resorts ranging from the Ao Pong Sea View at around 400 Bt per night through to the Makathanee Resort at around 3000 Bt a night. You can even splash out on real luxury at the Cinnamon Art Resort for around 5500 Bt a night, but you’re there to get away from it all, right? Seavana Koh Mak Beach Resort (2700-3900 Bt) and the Bamboo Hideaway (2950 Bt) are two of the best rated resorts on Koh Mak – travellers always say good things about both of these resorts. There are also lots of great places to eat on Koh Mak.
Find more hotels and guesthouses on Koh Mak.
And if you find Koh Mak itself to frenetic, there are escapes from here as well. Koh Pee island is much smaller and lies just 1 kilometre north-west of Koh Mak. It’s easily reached by sea canoe from the resort properties on the western coast of Kho Mak, as is the even smaller island of Koh Kham. Both have great snorkelling spots. You can actually walk to Koh Kham at low tide, but if you do (or if you’re snorkelling there) you need to watch out for black sea urchins that hang around near the rocks – they have very long, sharp spines and can do a lot of damage if you step on one.
Here’s a map of Koh Mak and the surrounding islands with the various transport routes marked on it to help you get there. Click on the map to see full size and print.