Have you ever wanted to go back in time? Have no choice but to relax and not be distracted? Before we headed to Koh Mak as part of an island hopping schedule, we were told that it would put us in a coma. Coming from Koh Chang, it was hard to imagine. Surely there would be WiFi and cocktails, so there’d be something to do. There certainly was, and we didn’t fall into a coma, but it was pretty damn relaxing! Let’s see if our Koh Mak guide can help you do the same thing!
We took a bus from Bangkok Ekkamai station to the bus station in Trat, which took us about 5 and a half hours. (We were told this was lucky as usually it’s an hour more). From there, you will be piled into a songthaew for another 20 minute ride to the pier office. Switch out your ticket there, another 2 minute tuktuk to the pier and there you are. All of this was because the straight bus to the Koh Chang pier was full, so we had to take a little detour. We didn’t find it too bad! From Koh Chang we hopped to Koh Mak, but if you’re wanting to go straight there, there is a speedboat that departs from the same pier and will take you about 40 minutes.
Upon arrival, you will be directed to a small office with a sign saying ‘ask for your free transfer’. The European lady in there (who seems to forever be in a bad mood, don’t let her throw you off) will call to your resort or guesthouse if you haven’t already and they’ll come pick you up.
On the island, the only way really is to get a bicycle, or a scooter! It really is small enough for cycling, and completely flat. The only thing that will make it challenging is the heat! Scooter rental was our preferred choice. We got one at our guesthouse (shame on us, no helmets) and spent 2 happy days driving around. There is no public transport on the island, and the few taxis they have are pricey.
Koh Mak’s Best Beaches
You would have to try pretty hard to find an ugly beach on Koh Mak, but these 2 were our favourites. At both, we had been the only ones there for stretches of time, unbelievably so.
Ao Tan Beach
There’s a few resorts here, but again, hardly anyone on the beach. The sand is a bit darker here, and by midday, the shade of the palm trees reaches into the water which allows for a swim in the shade! Perfect for pale people like us. The water was the clearest we have seen till date!
Turtle Beach might not be a complete secret, but the hard to find (for us, at least) definitely keeps the crowds away! Both times we were there, there was absolutely no one. Driving up there, you will come to a dead end. You can do 2 things here; park the scooter and follow the trail to walk (take the first left), or go back a little bit and scooter through the forest. Look for 2 white poles on your right and the path in between. Whatever you choose, the scenery is beautiful!
We loved Koh Mak so much, we regretted only staying for 2 days. Even though there’s no bustling nightlife or fancy restaurants, the vibe is so easy going we could have stayed longer easily.
Scooter around, walk the pier at the Cinnamon Resort, rent a kayak, have an amazing breakfast at the Food Art Hut, good(!) pizza at Little Red Oven if you’re pressed for Western food, or get your seafood fill at Koh Mak Seafood. In short, allow yourself to wind down!
Good to know’s
- As of January 2020, there is 1 ATM on the island, and it almost never works. 361 days of the year, it will have a sign on it saying ‘no cash inside’. Bring plenty cash yourself!
- For a great sunset (and good cocktails!) head to Banana Sunset
- Wanting to give back? Every Saturday, Trash Hero Koh Mak meets to clean up its beaches!
Where to stay
We splurged a little and stayed at the Bamboo Hideaway Resort. Apart from the fun that owner Jake is, (he does a lot of poolparties throughout the season), the bamboo bungalows are super cute, there is a clean swimming pool and believe it or not, they do pretty good Mexican food! It’s not at the beach, but inland (as fas as inland goes) and thus quiet and secluded.
We loved Koh Mak and if time had allowed, we would have loved to stay a little longer, but Koh Kood was calling for us!
Island hopping around Thailand’s southeast coast might be a little more well known with the Phi Phi islands, Koh Lanta or even around Koh Samui, but we quite enjoyed the lack of mass tourism and party backpackers. We’re old.
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