If you’re looking for the kind of island and beach paradise you’ve only seen on TV or read about in adventure books, you need to get yourself to beautiful Koh Kood. It’s accessible only by boat and when you pull up at one of the rickety, weathered piers or right up on a white-sand beach, we’re sure that you’ll fall in love with Koh Kood.
Koh Kood is truly off the beaten track. Most travellers skip it entirely, choosing to stay on the bigger and much more touristy Koh Chang. They don’t know what they’re missing. Don’t make the same mistake – Koh Kood is magical. You can explore rainforests and mangrove swamps, kayak along the waterways lacing the island, motorbike along the few roads and chill out on the gorgeous coastline. The tropical beaches are mostly-deserted and the ocean is warm and crystal-clear.
Beach relaxation at it’s best, no banana boats ruining this view!
Koh Kood is in the Trat province, close to the Cambodian border. It’s the fourth largest island in Thailand. We cannot believe that this place is so undeveloped, but we sure are glad that it is! Despite being largely undeveloped, there’s plenty to do on Koh Kood and it has everything you could want for an adventurous, relaxing and perfect island stay… except for an ATM. Bring enough cash (and phone credit) to see you through your stay!
At night time, keep your eyes peeled in wooded areas for the sparkling lights of fireflies. Sometimes you’ll see thousands of them in one tree, glittering away like a giant disco ball.
Tip: If you come here expecting beach parties, raves and souvenir shops… you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Places to Stay:
You’ll find most budget accommodation along the Klongchao River. Rates vary according to season and whether or not the resort is empty. If it is, you can expect to pay a cheaper price. If it’s not, prepare for the price to inflate.
- Koh Kood Cozy Resort: Koh Kood Cozy is inexpensive, friendly and relaxed – the best place for backpackers on a budget to stay and meet fellow travellers.Rates stay the same all year round. You can choose the super-cheap fan-cooled shared-bathroom rooms for 250 baht a night, a nicer fan room for 400 baht or splurge on your own air-conditioned hut with private outdoor bathroom for 800 baht a night. There’s no hot water, which means that your morning shower should really wake you up!The food is great – massive plates of cheap, tasty and filling Thai and Western food. They also host BBQ nights most weekends. Koh Kood Cozy sits peacefully next to the Klongchao River and is only a five minute walk from a gorgeous beach and a ten minute drive from Klongchao Waterfall.You can rent kayaks and motorbikes.Koh Kood Cozy is very popular and the owner is reluctant to take bookings. You might have to stay somewhere else until a room becomes available.
- Doy Guesthouse: A welcoming home stay option run by a friendly Thai couple with a small family of children, dogs and cats. Doy Guesthouse is also on the banks of Klongchao River and offers simple, fan-cooled rooms for around 400 baht. You can rent a chartered speedboat from the couple, but it isn’t cheap.
- Klong Chao Garden View: Another budget option, almost next door to Koh Kood Cozy. Very simple fan-cooled private huts cost 400 – 1000 baht a night, depending on whether or not it’s high season. You’ll get a private bathroom with cold water and squat toilets. There’s a restaurant serving Thai and Western food.
- Koh Kood Ngam Kho Resort: At Ao Ngam beach, the very friendly owner here runs a simple, laid back and cheap resort, overlooking the ocean. Basic huts with shared bathroom cost only 500 baht a night, and ones with a fan and private bathroom cost 750 baht a night. All beds are covered with a mosquito net and the price includes a tasty breakfast with tea and coffee and free Wi-Fi. You can swim and snorkel right in front of the resort and they offer kayaks, motorbikes and speedboats to rent. There’s a beach-side campground to use, too! The food is delicious and you can even order fresh fish and seafood from the fishing boat in advance, ready to be cooked the next day.
Things to Do:
Swim in a waterfall lagoon: Klongchao Waterfall is seriously like a dream. In the wet season, cool water cascades from a jungle river into a big pool lined with smooth rocks and tropical plants and flowers. In the dry season it’s more of a trickle. Colourful butterflies flit over the surface of the water and rest on the sandy shore. The pool is deep enough to swim in and if you’re feeling brave, you can jump in from the rope swing. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the whole waterfall to yourself. Otherwise, you’ll share it with one or two fellow travellers or Thai families. Tourists from Koh Chang come to the waterfall by speedboat in the afternoon, and this is the only time of day it gets really busy. If you’re unlucky and arrive at this time, just wait it out – they’ll leave quickly and paradise will be yours! The best way to get to Klongchao Waterfall is to paddle up the Klongchao River in a kayak as far as you can go, then walk the short jungle trail the rest of the way. Alternatively, rent a motorbike and drive up to the waterfall trail-head or book onto an organized trip. Take drinks and snacks with you – there are no shops in this rainforest paradise! You can also swim in the natural pool at Klong Yai Ki Waterfall in the North West of Koh Kood.
Kayak: Many resorts provide kayaks for their customers, for free or for a small fee. Make the most of this and grab a kayak and an oar to explore the island’s waterways and seas. One of the best kayaking expeditions is up the Klongchao River to the waterfall (as above). On the way back you can explore the mangrove forest waterways. If you take your kayak out at dusk, you’ll see thousands of small, glowing jellyfish in the water beneath you. We’re not sure if they sting or not so we wouldn’t recommend swimming with them, but they sure are beautiful in a surreal, mystical way! The river is also perfect for lazy, late night star gazing from your kayak. If the sea is calm you can kayak around the edge of the island some way to find totally deserted beaches that are inaccessible by road. Ask the staff at your resort for other kayaking adventures.
Why not be the captain of your own boat for the day?
Be a beach bum: There are around twenty beaches to discover on Koh Kood, though some of them will only be found by intrepid travellers with a boat and a great sense of adventure. You’ll find that every visitor has a favourite beach. Find your own favourite by visiting the ones near you and venturing further out if you have time.
Drive: There are no tuk tuks and it’s expensive to hire transport. A public taxi service was introduced very recently, but rates and times remain unstandardised. The best and cheapest way to explore the hilly island is by motorbike. The mostly empty roads pass through gorgeous scenery and are a great way to see the island – just park up when and where you like! As well as the beautiful beaches, you can find huge, ancient and locally significant Macca trees, hidden waterfalls, secluded lagoons, creepy caves and refreshing pools. Keep your eyes peeled and you might even find things that aren’t on the map. Just remember that when you go exploring on foot you should watch out for wild dogs. You can rent decent motorbikes from most resorts by the day or week. You’ll get the best deal at inexpensive resorts. You’ll find just one or two petrol stations on the island, but most people fill up their tanks with fuel decanted from big Fanta bottles at small grocery stores for 80 baht a pop. Tip: Don’t try to bicycle around the island unless you’re extremely fit!
Two wheels ready to take you where ever you’d like.
Dive: The clean, crystal clear sea around Koh Kood hides a treasure trove of exotic marine life. There are several PADI certified dive schools on the island, each offering dives and courses. To get a great price, find out if any of them are running promotions and book a dive trip you won’t forget.
Snorkel: Many resorts provide snorkels to rent and you can just head on down to the beach and jump in. If you want to snorkel further out to sea and around coral reefs then you’ll need to book onto a snorkelling trip. Most of the dive centres and resorts offer snorkel trips.
Go to a fisherman village: A real, not-for-tourists fisherman village lies in the extreme South-East of Koh Kood. You can watch the fishermen at work and eat super-fresh seafood.
Drink under the stars: Plenty of resorts offer beach-front cocktails or an ice-cold beer. Otherwise, Sunset Bar on the Klongchao River is a good place to meet fellow travellers, as is the nearby Tawan Eco Bar.
When daily life consists of nothing much more than zipping from beach to beach, swimming in the sea, eating delicious food and meeting locals and fellow travellers; you know you’ve got it good.
Getting There and Away:
First, get yourself to Trat town. You can take a bus, minibus, car or a Bangkok Airways plane from Bangkok. There is no train. Many people choose to spend one night in Trat town centre before making the journey to Koh Kood. The pier that boats leave from is not in Trat – it’s in a small village nearby called Laem Sok. Most boat operators will pick you up from Trat.
Once you’re in Trat, the fastest and most hassle-free way to get to Koh Kood is by speedboat or catamaran.
A reliable speedboat operator is the Siriwhite and Laem Sok Group. Currently the speedboat costs 600 baht per person and takes about an hour. A boat leaves daily at 9am and at 1pm. A reliable catamaran operator is Koh Kood Fantasea Catamaran. The catamaran leaves at 1.30pm daily. This trip also costs 600 baht and takes the same amount of time, but you can book a minibus transfer from Bangkok with these guys.
Both operators pick you up from your accommodation in Trat, take you to the Laem Sok pier, get you on the speedboat and then drop you off as close to your island accommodation as possible. Book your transfer in advance to avoid disappointment.
The cheaper option with Ko Kut Express takes longer but only costs 350 baht. They pick you up from the market in Trat at 11:30am and take you to Laem Sok pier ready to get on the boat at 12:30pm. The boat drops you off at the main pier on Koh Kood 75 minutes later. From there, you’re transported across the island to the various accommodations as necessary.
To get back to Trat simply book with the same boat company.
Where to Go Next:
- Koh Chang: Koh Kood’s more popular neighbour Koh Chang has plenty to offer when you’ve had enough of the simple life. There are more resorts, more shops, more bars and more people, which means the island is a lot livelier! To get there directly from Koh Kood, take a speedboat for 900 baht.
- Other neighbouring islands: Why not spend a few days or weeks island-hopping? As well as Koh Chang, you can also get a speedboat to the tiny tropical islands of Koh Mak or Koh Wai directly from Koh Kood.
Written by: S.E.A. Backpacker Ambassador Amy Burbridge.