Published: July 18th 2012July 18th 2012
This is our great little bungalow.
It has been a couple of years since my last update. I’ve done some traveling during that time, but not much, and mostly to places I have already written about. I think an update is finally in order though because Saai and I just visited another place that was new to us. We spent the last couple of days on Koh Mook (also spelled Koh Muk), an island in the Andaman Sea (Thailand).
Before I get started with Koh Mook, however, I would like to mention the biggest news from the last two years – the arrival of our daughter, Kimberly Joy, on May 8, 2011. Since this is primarily a travel blog, I will focus on Koh Mook, but you can check out a couple of pictures of our little girl at the end of this update!
Koh Mook is an island in southern Thailand. It is in the province of Trang, which is south of Krabi (Koh Lanta, Railay Beach, etc) and north of Satun (Koh Lipe, etc.). I’ve written about those other places in Krabi and Satun previously, and they are more well-known. The islands in Trang province don't get nearly as many tourists. Saai grew
The view from our bungalow.
up in Trang, and since she has family that still lives there, it is a frequent destination for us. In spite of growing up there, though, she had never visited any of the islands in the province, and neither had I.
There are several islands in Trang with accommodation. The most popular one is probably Koh Mook, but Koh Kradan, Koh Libong and Koh Sukorn are some other options. Koh Ngai may get more tourists than any of these, and although very close to Koh Mook, it is officially part of Krabi province.
Koh Mook is heavily forested and fairly picturesque with some karst cliffs, but it isn’t generally known for its beaches or clear waters. Its main tourist attraction is the Emerald Cave, a sinkhole, which we did not check out on our short trip. There are reportedly around 2,000 people that reside on the island, and I would suspect that most of them are involved in fishing, agriculture or tourism. There are no ATM machines on the island, so we had to plan ahead by bringing enough money for what we would need for our trip. Since it wasn't a long trip, and we had prepaid
Sunset from the resort.
for our resort, it wasn't a problem, but it is something to keep in mind if you visit.
Our main purpose was to relax at a nice resort. I had researched resorts before arriving, and made reservations through agoda.com to stay at the Sivalai Beach Resort. Sivalai Beach Resort has 48 bungalows and is located on “the wing”, an area of fine white powder sand that extends to the east from the middle of the island. It’s by far the best beach on the island, and Sivalai is also the most upscale resort on the island. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the only upscale resort on the island. The rest of the resorts on Koh Mook are backpacker or flashpacker types that cater to the budget conscious who are not looking for as many amenities or comforts. The only possible exception would be Charlie’s Beach Resort, which is at Had Farang (Foreigner Beach). They are more of a midrange operation.
We traveled in July, during the low season, so most of the other resorts were either closed, or operating at a very basic level. The island does not shut
Leaving the Mainland
On the ferry heading towards Koh Mook. You can see the island in the background.
down during the low season since there is a Thai Muslim village and a fishermen's village on the island, but things were definitely quiet in terms of tourism. Sivalai Beach Resort had 12 bungalows in use at the time, but there did not appear to be any guests at the other resorts we walked through.
Traveling to Koh Mook is fairly easy. There are at least 3 boat options from the mainland, with a launching point from Koh Mook Pier (Kuangtungku Pier). Speed boats, long tail boats and a larger ferry (seating for about 40) are available. Speed boats and long tail boats can be arranged to leave at any time, but the costs can be expensive if you want to travel by yourself. We were quoted 500 baht ($16 U.S. dollars) per person for a speed boat (1,000 for the two of us), 700 baht ($23) for the long tail boat (up to 4 people), and the ferry is only 20 baht (65 cents) per person. The ferry was only making one trip each way per day, however, at the time of our trip in July. Thankfully, the ferry times worked for us. It departed the mainland at
The strip of land with beautiful white powdery sand where our resort is located.
around 12:30 p.m. on its way to Koh Mook, and we returned a couple of days later by leaving Koh Mook at around 7:45 a.m. The boat took about 45 minutes to cross the sea (longer on the way to Koh Mook, and shorter on the way back to the mainland), and there is no need to get wet since there are piers on both the mainland and Koh Mook.
Sivalai Beach Resort is a short walk from the pier along the beach (about 10-15 minutes). It is a beautiful setting. Most of the bungalows are in the 1st
row along the beach. Although we reserved a “front beach villa sea view” for 3,000 baht ($100 U.S. dollars), we were upgraded to a “front beach superior villa sea view”. The main feature of these bungalows is that they are right on the sand with a wonderful clear view of the sea. If you stay here, definitely opt for the “front beach” to get an uninterrupted view of the sand and sea.
The rooms are nice, but basic in some regards. They offer quite a few conveniences, such as air con, hot water, a refrigerator, a TV, a DVD
Our bungalow's interior.
player, and a safe, but the furnishings and fixtures are fairly simple, and the bed is hard (typical for Thailand). In addition, the bathrooms are open air (gap between the walls and ceiling/roof), which results in many more bugs, and there is no internet in the rooms. Although they have internet in the restaurant and lobby, it was very inconsistent and slow during our stay. Considering the setting, it is well worth 3,000 baht during the low season. However, during peak season, rooms can approach 10,000 baht (over $300). That’s a lot of money.
The resort has a small swimming pool and a spa, but we didn’t use either of these. A breakfast buffet is included in the price, but it is pretty basic during the low season (several fruits, bread, ham, sausage (hot dogs), bacon, and made to order omelets). We felt the restaurant was good for simple Thai dishes. Dishes during the low season are generally 100-250 baht ($3-$8). They do, however, add a 10% service charge and 7% VAT which bumps up the cost quite a bit. By western standards, the prices are reasonable, but they are quite expensive for Trang. We liked the fried rice
On the porch of our bungalow.
with seafood, and chicken with cashew nuts. However, the fried prawns were absolutely horrible. Stay away from that dish! I’ve read that they raise the prices during the high season, but I’m not sure by how much.
On our second day on the island, we took a “taxi”, which was really just a motorcycle with a sidecar attached to it with seats for 2-3 people. We wanted to check out other parts of the island, so we got a taxi to take us to Had Farang (Foreigner Beach). This is the other main area of the island for tourists.
The taxi ride was quite an experience. The roads on the island are narrow, and only partially paved. There are no cars, just motorcycles. In back of the resort is a school, and that is where we got picked up to take the 10 minute ride to the other side of the island. Off we went on a decently paved road, but things changed dramatically once we came close to reaching Hilltop Restaurant. At that point, the road became dirt, or more appropriately, mud and rocks, and we had to get off a few times to walk through a
Saai @ Had Farang
The other main tourist area on Koh Mook.
few sections. A bumpy trip to be sure, but not too bad really. The cost was 100 baht ($3) each way, and we had our driver wait 45 minutes for us before riding back after checking out Had Farang.
So what were our thoughts about Had Farang? It’s a decent beach but nothing special. During the low season, there was nothing going on. I am not sure if any guests were staying in the area, but it didn’t appear that there were. Charlie Beach Resort’s restaurant was open, but only for basic Thai food. We were the only tourists there at the time. Charlie Beach Resort is the biggest resort operation in the area, and they have the prime location on the beach, but there are several other smaller resorts behind it, with a few restaurants and bars (which were all closed at the time of our visit). Our experience during low season was obviously quite different than how it would be during high or peak season. However, it didn’t look like it would be that appealing even during peak season.
We enjoyed our time on Koh Mook, and liked Sivalai Beach Resort a lot, but would not
In front of our bungalow.
visit Sivalai during the high season when prices skyrocket. The weather was perfect during our time and the seas were calm. Although it is the monsoon season, and rains are common, the weather was really good for us. Will we be back? We think so!
There are more photos below