Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood instead

Head to the islands on the far east of the Gulf of Thailand where you will still find sun-drenched beaches that remain sunny well into August. The country’s fourth largest island Koh Kood, is far quieter and less developed than its better-known neighbor, Koh Chang. Roads are narrow and beaches devoid of fancy facilities—the whole island doesn’t even have public electricity—but this just adds to its unspoiled charm. In fact, many have dubbed it the Maldives of Thailand thanks to white, powdery sand, crystal-clear sea, pristine forest and inland waterfalls. Shops, restaurants and nightlife might be few and far between, but that’s why we love it, and there are still plenty of other ways to spend your time.

Beach Hopping

, Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood insteadView Point Cafe

There are a bunch of beaches on the island but not all have public access or pristine sand. Your two best options are Klong Chao Beach and Klong Hin Beach, both of which have places to eat and drink. On Klong Chao, make your way to View Point Cafe for Thai-Western meals like spaghetti and hor mok (steamed seafood curry cake, THB100 ($4.10)), as well as a highly recommended rich coconut ice cream with banana split (THB100($4.10)) and cocktails like mojitos (THB100($4.10))—best enjoyed with one of the most amazing sunset views on the island. They’re closed annually close during rainy season between May and Nov, though. A laidback bar to hangout at is Tawan Eco Bar (121/1 Moo 2, 098-337-4223, ) that also offers live music. The owner of this earthy wooden hut, Jongkol Chompupetch, leads jam sessions every night with various visiting musicians. At Klong Hin Beach, take advantage of the long white stretch of sand during the day, then grab some drinks and a meal at Bombyx Beach Bar, which serves international dishes and cocktails (starting at THB260 ($10.80)). They also do a beachfront barbecues on Saturday nights at THB1,200 ($49.80). It’s also worth checking out the Ao Phrao beach that’s a 20-minute drive away. It has one of the longest stretches of sand on the southern part of the island. 


, Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood instead
Coral reef at Koh Kood
BB Divers is one of several operators who offer everything from snorkeling trips to PADI-certification. Highlight scuba spots include Hin Loy, Ao Yai, Koh Rang National Park and Koh Raet, where you’ll get to see stingray, moray eels and an abundance of fish species. All these islands are within 20-30 minutes of Koh Kood. Dive trips at BB Divers start from THB3,000 ($124) while snorkeling starts from THB1,000($41). PADI courses in open water start from THB14,500 ($602) and typically takes three to four days.

Fishermen’s Villages

, Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood instead
Fishermen Village
There are two main fishing hubs on Koh Kood, one at Ao Yai in the south and another at Ao Salad in the northeastern part of the island. The latter is also the island’s main pier, where you’ll find plenty of seafood restaurants and fishing tour operators. If you somewhere quieter, Ao Yai features a beautiful bay where locals still very much live a traditional way of life. There, you’ll find the Chonticha Seafood restaurant that also doubles as a homestay. 


, Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood instead
Klong Chao Waterfall
Though Klong Chao Waterfall is the island’s most well-known, there are actually three waterfalls on the island. Klong Chao and Hua Ngu are both inland, while Klong Yai Ki is over on the west coast. Klong Chao is the most spectacular, thanks to white rapids that flow down into a giant pool. It can be reached by car followed by a 500-meter hike. For the adventurous travelers, take a 30-minute paddle from Klong Chao Beach to the pier near the waterfall. Trekking to Hua Ngu can take up a good portion of your day, but it’s worth doing it for the giant Makka tree that’s believed to be 500 years old. 

Spa Retreats

, Skip Phuket and head to Koh Kood instead
Weave Spa
Though Koh Kood is blissfully free of the usual touristy massage places, there are a couple of beautiful spas to really spoil yourself. Weave Spa at Cham’s House hotel (2 Moo 5, Klong Hin Beach, 082-878-2878) offers unique treatments involving silk worm cocoons, rich in the anti-oxidant sericin. The hotel owners are descendants of the Cham people, long known for their silk-making skills, and the grandmother of the family was actually one of the first  people to produce silk for Jim Thompson. For a more upscale experience, the five-star Soneva Kiri is home to Six Senses Spa where you’ll find a complete range of spa activities including Ayurvedic massage, yoga, detox and weight management programs. 


Where to stay
Cham’s House is a charming four-star resort with tropical-style beachfront rooms and villas ranging from THB4,501 ($186) and going up to THB14,697 ($609) for a pool villa.
Soneva Kiri is the island’s most upmarket resort, with rooms ranging from THB22,300 ($925) (Bay View Pool Villa Suite) to THB40,727 ($1,689) (Ocean Front Pool Villa).
How to get there
Plane: You will have to fly to Trat via Bangkok. Airlines like Singapore AirlinesAirAsiaThai Airways and Jetstar offer daily flights from Singapore to Bangkok with return tickets costing under $200 on Tigerair.  Flights from Bangkok to Trat take 45 minutes with Bangkok Airways with round-trip tickets starting at THB5,400 ($224). Do note that the transfer from Trat airport to the pier takes 45 minutes, and some hotels will arrange the transfer for you. The airport limo service offers private transfers at THB1,800 ($74). 
Boat: Traveling from Trat to Koh Kood is easy thanks to Boonsiri Speed Boat, which now offers 1.5-hour catamaran boat trips from Laem Sork to Koh Kood’s Ao Salad pier in. A one-way ticket is THB500 ($20).
On the island: You won’t find any public transport but you can rent a motorbike for THB300 ($12) per day or hire a local taxi that starts at THB500 ($20).