If it’s an authentic island experience you’re after without hordes of tourists, then look no further than the quiet island of Koh Mook in the Andaman Sea. It is a small island – we walked across it in around an hour. The main mode of transport is the motorbike-taxi, which essentially a motorbike with a pipe sidecar attached. There are relatively few resorts for travelers on the island, but they range from $8/night dorms to $400/night resorts. We stayed at Mookies, which is located in a lush jungle setting about 5mins walk from Farang Beach (also known as Charly’s Beach). Our modern bungalow costs $30/night for a fan bungalow – sadly no hot water was available, but we survived 🙂
To get to Koh Mook, we flew from Bangkok to Trang with Air Asia where we spent the night at the delightful Sritrang Hotel. We visited the cool night market in Trang and bought some tasty food for supper, while mixing with the local community. We saw five other Western tourists during our time at the market. At 11h30 the following morning we caught the minibus to the port, which is an hour away, and jumped on the local wooden ferry to Koh Mook.
On arrival in Koh Mook a staff member from Mookies who drove us across the island to the resort met us at the pier. We had planned to come to Koh Mook to volunteer for two weeks at the luxury Pawapi Resort, but that assignment had fallen through a week before when the owner suddenly stopped taking volunteers. We had already bought our air ticket, so we decided to come anyway, as we wanted to spend three weeks in the Andaman Sea on a few islands. Volunteering can be unpredictable, and for a couple it is also not always easy to find suitable assignments, but we are happy to volunteer when it suits our schedule and we can find a good match for our talents.
Koh Mook has a real laid-back vibe, and we used the time to relax and stroll around to explore the island. After a few days locals started recognizing us and we began to really enjoy being part of the extended island population. I think that Koh Took is probably one of the few Thai islands were this is still possible, as the more popular islands like Phuket, Phi Phi, Samui and Phangan have been overdeveloped to such an extent that they have lost their island feel…For us Koh Food and Koh Mook were the most enjoyable to visit because of their lack of crowds and overdevelopment.
There are essentially two easy to reach beaches on Koh Mook – one surrounds the protruding natural spit adjacent to the village and pier where the luxury resorts of Sivalai and Pawapi are located. We took a walk around the length and breadth of this beach and found that it no longer looks much like the photographs on the resorts websites. It was dirtier and eroded away and we felt lucky to have decided not to book at either of these resorts for a day or two of luxury. The second beach is Farang Beach known locally as Charly’s Beach after the soon to close resort located on the bay. It is in our opinion a better natural beach… And the best spot to watch the sunset.
We stayed on Koh Mook for five nights and ate at the restaurant at Mookies each night, while we tasted meals at other restaurants for breakfast and lunch on most days. For us finding tasty, reasonably priced food has become a daily mission as in Thailand most menus consist of rice or noodles in various forms, soups and sometimes seafood. After several weeks it can become boring to eat similar meals every day. So we tend to try and find fresh fruits to eat for breakfast just to add some vitamins to our diet:)
It was actually with a bit of sadness that we left Koh Took on the ferry to our next destination Koh Fanta, as we had befriended Nick and Wan, the owners of Mookies, and enjoyed our chats with them every night over supper. We were even invited to join Wan and other guests to celebrate Loi Krathong, which involved placing an offering with lit incense sticks in the sea.Everyone makes a wish, and then sends the krathong into the water with a little push, to carry your wish out to sea. It carries away your troubles and offers up your wishes and prayers with the incense. Our offering made it far out to sea without sinking or being swamped which we took as a positive sign for the future It was so great to be included in a local tradition, and great fun being taken to the pier with three other guests in a traditional sidecar motorbike taxi. The headlight was broken so we had to light the way with a handheld torch…A memorable moment in time….
We can honestly recommend a visit to Koh Mook if you are not interested in parties and drinking, but rather enjoy peaceful, more authentic island experience. We were able to stick to our budget while eating tasty food and staying in decent accommodation – something not always that easy to achieve in Thailand.