The perfect time of year to visit an island paradise in Thailand is when it’s right for you.
If you arrive May-September the consistent monsoon rains mean low season prices, no crowds, lush vegetation and saturated waterfalls.
I visited Koh Kood (Koh Kut in Thai) last weekend (high season) and anticipated crowds and noisy bars. Instead I found inspiring countryside, traffic-free roads, a scene mercilessly free of ‘boom boom’ music, wicked sunsets and tasty food.
Koh Kood remains relatively unspoilt in my opinion without the addition of a large town, in contrast to its larger neighbour Koh Chang. The havoc of development of some of the more popular islands such as Koh Samet (although the beaches are stunning there) is noticeable – building rubble strewn everywhere and the ubiquitous litter problem being the most prominent ‘nasties’.
Fourth largest island after Koh Samui, it is the least developed island and it is the Thais themselves who spend most time here. With a small population of around two thousand, small businesses concentrate mostly on accommodating tourists with sidelines for kayaking, snorkelling and diving offered by most guesthouses and resorts.
Situated in the gulf of Thailand near the town of Trat in the lesser travelled south-east (as opposed to the extremely popular party islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan in the south-west), it is an accessible weekend trip from Bangkok (4-5 hours – minibus or bus).
The Koh Kood express boat from Laem Sok pier, a thirty minute drive from Trat town, will take one hour to the island. The seating area is slung low to the water and glides efficiently over the waves. There are great views of the island along the way.
Many good quality resorts cater to the higher-priced market but from what I saw remain nature-considered in their construction and pleasant. More of a family or honeymoon option.
The backpacker guest houses are close to the beaches. What more do you need!
Hiring a 125cc motorbike is a great option for most as the roads are free of traffic and easily navigable, but there is one major safety consideration however. The winding roads have many steep inclines and care is needed to navigate corners and slopes at speed.
The Thai custom of carrying their babies helmetless, between father and mother on a bike, has never seemed a good idea at best, but Thais at least have experience with this. Bangkok demonstrates to me the ultimate hazard – carrying siblings side-saddle (sometimes a family pet too). On Koh Kood, I saw families attempting the same with two bikes. I winced and hoped they’d be safe.
Extensive rainforests harbour some interesting waterfalls. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself island-hopping in October, the falls will be at their most resplendant. I visited Klong Chao waterfall, an easy ride from the guest houses. Although low in water volume at this time of year it is a lovely place and a popular swimming hole (see pic at bottom).
Many major fishing villages dot the coastline and you will enjoy some great seafood and photo opportunities.
Koh Kood’s mountainous terrain in the central region is mostly off-limits in this hot, humid environment but it adds such grandeur to this gentle island. The extensive tropical rainforest and groves of coastal palms maintain the allure of a pristine natural environment.
The west coast of the island promises magnificent sunsets and I guess that’s why development is ultimately concentrated here?
Winter is a good time to enjoy a setting red sun – one of my favourite spectacles in nature. On this particular evening the sun grew heavy and I anticipated its glow resting briefly on the horizon until the invisible cloak of clouds stole the finale, hiding the orb.
Whether my continued visits to and promotion of Koh Kood’s assets add to the environmental pressure is a fair debate, but if you do visit you will see the argument for leaving only footprints.
Map: © Google Maps
© Warren Field 2013
Taken on OLYMPUS E-System Cameras and Zuiko lenses.