The ULTIMATE Guide to Koh Mak, Thailand
Koh Mak is a beautiful little undeveloped island between the popular Koh Chang and the growing in popularity Kod Kood. If you have been looking for an island that takes you back to the days before tourism boomed in Thailand, this is your pick.
Much of the island (approximately 90%) is covered in coconut plantations. Don’t go expecting jungle-clad mountains with hidden waterfalls here. And, unlike Ko Chang and Koh Kood, there are also no inland rivers on Koh Mak. However, don’t let that disappoint! What Koh Mak lacks in jungle, it more than makes up for with beautiful beaches and its super authentic vibe.
There are amazing beaches right around the island. The main spot (which is still fairly undeveloped) is Suan Yai Beach on the west coast. If you’re planning to stay here, we recommend the mid-ranged Koh Mak Cococape Resort. (Note that a minimum 2-night stay is required). I have suggested a few other mid-range and budget accommodation options further down in this article.
I’ve included a rundown of the things to do on Koh Mak. You will find plenty of stunning and secluded beaches but also other activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, Muay Thai, and yoga. At the end of the article, I’ve also suggested some fantastic islands to visit nearby, either as a day trip or for your onward journey.
Right, enough of an intro, let’s explore Koh Mak!
Things to do on Koh Mak
Koh Mak is a relatively small and undeveloped island, however, don’t let that trick you into thinking it is a boring place. You don’t have to look too far to find loads of amazing things to do on Koh Mak!
I’ve found that other travel websites include a few bits and pieces here and there. However, I’ve made it easy by compiling everything into one epic guide including; beaches, snorkeling, diving, Muay Thai, and nearby islands.
Explore the Beaches
The beaches on Koh Mak are typically quite long and undeveloped. Instead of large hotels and shops, you will find coconut trees rustling in the wind and typically be able to enjoy the stretch of sand almost to yourself.
Here we will give you an overview of seven beaches on Koh Mak which suggest are worth visiting.
Ao Suan Yai Beach – this 2 kilometer stretch of sand is one of Koh Mak’s two main beaches. It is also where you will find a couple of small beachfront resorts. This beach is located on the northwest coast of Koh Mak facing Koh Chang. There is a good viewpoint at the far western end of the beach at Thaidaho Vista. From here you will even be able to see Koh Wai and Koh Chang.
Ao Kao Beach – this 5 kilometer beach is the most popular and developed beach on Koh Mak, located on the southwest of the island. There are about 12 resorts along the coast. Behind these resorts, you will also find a bunch of restaurants and cafes open throughout the day. You can get a great sunset view of Koh Rayang Nok and Koh Rayang Nai from Ao Phrao Beach.
Laem Son Beach – this is one of the more remote beaches on Koh Mak, located on the far northeast end of the island. At Laem Son Beach you will find a wide stretch of empty sand, crystal clear waters, and a forest of shady Casuarina trees. The beach runs all the way around “Laem Son Cape” offering views both north and east. Don’t expect many facilities here, there is just one small shop offering an assortment of Thai dishes, cold drinks, and fresh seafood.
The tiny island of Koh Kradat is located about 1 kilometer across the water from Laem Son Beach. If there is a local fisherman around with a longtail boat, you can request them to take you there for a couple of hours.
To get to Laem Son Beach you will need to follow a partly paved, partly dirt track. It is a bit of a challenge for those not overly confident on a motorbike.
Ao Pra Beach – this is a long undeveloped beach on the north coast of Koh Mak and regarded as one of the nicest beaches on the island. It is quite easy to get here, located just one beach to the west of Suan Yai Beach. The only resort here is the luxury Mira Montra Beachfront Resort, with the rest of the beach being otherwise completely empty.
Ao Tan Beach – this is another small beach located on the northeast of Koh Mak. There are only some short stretches of sand here so it is not regarded as the best place for swimming. Ao Tan Beach Is quite a deserted spot that you can enjoy mostly to yourself. Check out the Cinnamon Resort if you would like to stay on this quiet part of the island.
Ao Tao Kai (Turtle Beach) – this is by far the most remote beach on Koh Mak located on the far northern tip of the island. Compared to the other beaches, it is extremely difficult to get here as the road (more like a trail) is in very poor condition. However, the remoteness makes this one of the most stunning beaches on the island and one you will likely have entirely to yourself.
Ao Nid Bay – this bay doesn’t really have any beach worth visiting. Ao Nid Bay is the commercial hub of Koh Mak with the main pier where the cargo boat and Boonsiri Catamaran stops. You can get a good view looking south towards Koh Kood from here. We suggest skipping the beach and visiting the nearby temple called Wat Samakeetham instead.
Visit the Local Villages
There are two traditional villages on Koh Mak which you can visit. Baan Ao Nid is located on the southeast of the island where you will find Ao Nid Bay and the main pier. This is a fairly large village with a temple, school, and a medical center. The other village is Baan Laem Son, located on the far northeast of the island nearby Laem Son Beach.
Train Muay Thai
If you have been thinking of training Muay Thai on your trip, then Koh Mak might be the place to start. Phoenix Muay Thai gym offers lessons for people of all skill levels from beginner to advanced. There are two daily classes (starting at 10.30am and 4.30pm) apart from Tuesdays.
A single 90-minute class costs 500 THB (USD 20) per person, and get cheaper when you purchase multiple classes in weekly or monthly packages. Phoenix Muay Thai also offers accommodation for those people training for longer durations. The gym is located a few minutes back off Ao Kao Beach on the south coast of the island.
Kayak to Koh Kham or Koh Rayang
For those that just need to keep active, kayaking to the tiny nearby islands off the coast of Koh Mak might be your best activity.
There are a few beaches resorts that offer kayak rental such as Cocape Resort, and Koh Mak Resort. You can hire a kayak from about 500 THB (USD 20) for the day. Some islands that you can kayak to off Koh Mak are:
- Koh Kham is about 1.3km from Suan Yai Beach
- Koh Rayang Nai is about 0.4km from Ao Kao Beach
- Koh Rayang Nok is about 1.5km from Ao Kao Beach
Scuba Diving Near Koh Mak
Did you know that Koh Mak is part of the Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park? This national park encompasses 52 islands off the coast of Trat Province with loads of amazing scuba diving spots to explore.
There are two reputable scuba diving shops on Koh Mak including; Koh Mak Divers, and BB Divers. Both scuba diving shops are located just back off Ao Kao Beach on the south coast of Koh Mak.
Day trips start at about 3,000 THB for two dives around Koh Mak and Koh Rayang. They also offer trips to dive sites further away around Koh Chang.
For those that are not certified divers yet, they also offer PADI Open Water courses from about 14,000 THB. It’s a decent expense to pay, but something you hold for life and totally worth it!
Facilities on Koh Mak
Money – there is only one ATM on Koh Mak, however, it is commonly either out of service or out of cash (an out of service sign is the first thing you see when you Google “Koh Mak ATM”). We highly recommend bringing cash for food and drinks as most of the hotels only accept credit/debit cards for room payments. Larger resorts on the island will also give cash in return for card payments bu place a 3 to 5% surcharge.
Minimart – there is no 7/11 on Koh Mak, however, you will find a few small minimarts along the road behind Ao Kao Beach.
Medical Centre – there is one local medical center in the middle of the island, though typically these local medical centers are slow and offer poor service. There is also a more expensive medical center by Bangkok Hospital on Ao Kao Beach.
How to Get to Koh Mak
There is no airport on Koh Mak, therefore getting here requires two stages. First, you need to travel to Laem Ngop Pier in Trang, then take a boat transfer to the island. Simple right? There are a few options for getting to the island depending on where you are starting your journey.
Direct from Bangkok (check ticket availability here) – Boonsiri Ferries offers a combined bus + high-seed ferry ticket direct. The bus departs from near Khao Sarn Road, drops you at the ferry pier and the boat transfers you directly to Koh Mak. This is by far the easiest way to get to Koh Mak. The bus departs Bangkok at 5am and reaches Koh Mak at just before 1pm. We suggest booking in advance in case one leg of the journey fills up.
If you want to travel quicker, there is also an option to fly from Bangkok to Trat, followed by a taxi to Laem Ngop Pier, then a speedboat to Koh Mak. It might be a couple of hours quicker, but you need to organize everything independently.
Boat from Koh Chang (check ticket availability here) – a daily high-speed ferry runs between Bang Pao Pier on the south of Koh Chang to Koh Mak in the dry season. The total trip time is about 1hr.
Hotels on Koh Mak
Mid-Range | Koh Mak Cococape – this resort is located at the western end of Ao Suan Yai Beach. It offers visitors a pool overlooking the ocean, hammocks, beautifully decorated rooms, and free WiFi in rooms. This is by far the most popular and highly rated resort on Koh Mak. See more photos latest discounts on Agoda.
Mid Range | Plub Pla Koh Mak Retreat – if you don’t mind being a little further away from the action then you should definitely consider Plub Pla Koh Mak Retreat. This secluded resort is located on the eastern end of the island. For under USD 150 per night you will get a luxury sea view bungalow without the price tag. See more photos latest discounts on Agoda.
Budget | Pano Resort – here you will find a handful of basic bungalows at the far southern end of the island. You will have to travel along the small roads to the main areas on Koh Mak (Ao Suan Yai, and Ao Kao) however the slight remoteness allows you to respect the travel budget. See more photos latest discounts on Agoda.
Budget | Koh Mak Homestay – staying a bit closer to the action, Koh Mak homestay is located a short distance from Ao Kao Beach on the island’s south coast. The concrete rooms are rater basic, but they allow budget travelers to stay longer on this beautiful island. See more photos latest discounts on Agoda.
Islands Nearby Koh Mak
As I mentioned earlier, Koh Mak is just 1 of 51 islands in the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, so there are plenty of islands to explore in the region. Here are two of our favourite islands near Koh Mak where we have spent over one month on each.
Koh Chang is the third largest Thai island covered with tall mountains, dense jungle, and a huge range of beautiful beaches. Unlike Koh Mak, there is quite a lot more development here, with plenty of options for hotels, restaurants, and bars. If you want to find a bit of a livelier scene after a few quiet days on Koh Mak, we highly recommend continuing on to Koh Chang. Learn more with my guide to Koh Chang here…
Koh Kood is where we have spent most of our time in the islands of Trang. We love the pristine beaches, dense jungle, and hidden waterfalls here. There is no party scene on the island, so it is really a place for chilling out by the ocean. Oh, and did I mention the awesome rope swings where you can sway back and forth while watching the sunset? Learn more with my guide to Koh Kood here…