Tripping Down South: Mu Ko Ang Thong Islands

After spending a glorious two-day break in Koh Samui, we had to get up off the beach, dust the sand off,
and make our way to what would become the gem of our travels - Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. This marine park covers 42 islands, in about 100 km², and has a population in total of about 20 people. This sounded like a perfect place for us to escape to, and try out our camping skills once again.

The only way for us to get to the park from Samui was to take a day-tour boat for 1200 Baht each. It seemed expensive, especially since we weren't interested in being a tourist, or doing any of the touristy-things the tour provided, but it was the only choice we had. We opted for the cheaper programme, which was just snorkelling and sightseeing, minus the kayaking. And we found ourselves feeling lucky when we saw that the kayaking was just from the big boat to the island shore and not much more than that - a little disappointing for someone wanting to experience the real deal.

Samui Island Tour.
My idea of a nightmare.
A peek of the islands in the distance.

After eating some pre-packaged croissants and drinking some sugary drinks, as well as listening to a lot of rules being repeated on the microphone ("Rule number one: don't wander off on your own and lose the group. Rule number two: don't go and swim on your own and lose the group. Rule number three: no having fun on your own away from the group." and so on), we arrived at the first island, Koh Mae Koh (Mother Island) around 10am. This was where we walked up a very steep and uneven staircase to see the Talay Nai (Sea in Island) - a massive emerald lagoon surrounded by steep cliffs. I later learnt this was actually a saltwater lake that had formed when the ocean eroded away the caves under the island, until eventually the main peak just fell inwards on top of itself, and this amazing lagoon was left in its place.

Almost there.
Talay Nai lagoon from the highest viewpoint.
Talay Nai from the lowest viewpoint.

On the way back down we got a shot of another island nearby.

Once we were done gawking at the views on Koh Mae Koh, we got back on our ferry for lunch, and made our way to the second island, Koh Wua Talap (Sleeping Cow island). And here's where I'll present a side note about the pain of being a vegetarian in Thailand, whether you're on a boat, in a restaurant, or even at your friend's place (then again, my friends are all cavemen). In times like these, which are often, I usually end up gorging on a heap of pineapple, which is the usual fruit on offer when they say "lunch buffet with fresh fruit". I also don't like white rice, so there really is no alternative when the common food is hauled out for carnivorous guests. So thanks, me, for shooting myself in the foot with the rice thing. And thanks, Thailand, for being so hopelessly backwards when it comes to dietary choices.

About to arrive at Koh Wua Talap.

Once we'd arrived on the island, we broke the rules and left the group, to go and make arrangements to camp there for a few nights. There we met an exceptionally pleasant young Thai man, who led us around possible camp sites and told us whatever we wanted to know about the island (we actually ended up watching him and his friends play Sepak Takraw, a common sport in Thailand, and he also showed us the first 3-beaked bird we'd ever seen).

Our faithful little purple tent. 
Sepak Takraw - a combination of volleyball and football (kick volleyball).
An Oriental Pied Hornbill, which strangely looks like it has three beaks. Click the photo for a larger view.

While the tourists from the ferry scuttled around the island trying to get to more viewpoints, my boyfriend and I slowly set up tent, and then lazily floated around the warm shallow beach while the last of the tourists receded back onto the boats. When the island was empty again, and the sun started setting, we felt completely at ease, and excited for our relaxing stay on our own private island. There were cold beers on hand from the little restaurant, the sound of monkeys chattering in the palm trees, and a breathtakingly pristine beach laid out right in front of us. We also had a few days to explore the place, and we ended up climbing to the very top of the island (a steep 500m journey upwards holding onto a rope, and sometimes nothing) and playing around in the lotus caves (which involved more climbing). Then, we got back on a ferry and were on to our next adventure.

My weird toes in the beautiful sand.
Our own little beach.
Some Spectacled Langurs paying us a visit. 
Quirky, funny creatures that like to romp with one another.
Spying on them in the trees.
A group of them looking like statues.
My boyfriend got this lucky shot of one of them jumping towards us.
A picture-perfect view of the sunset from our tent.
And now, the sunrise, which is just as beautiful.
Sunrise capture number two.
The necessary landmark photo.
Slanting palm trees.
The climb up to the highest viewpoint.
A shot along the way of some islands. 
Beautiful turquoise ocean.
Almost at the top - yikes!
But there's no signal up here.
The view from the top.
Waking up on the beach to another beautiful sunrise.

Our next climb - not as gruelling as the first.
Inside the cave.
Going back down.
Almost at the bottom.
Next, we leave our little island paradise, and go explore our last two islands: Ko Phangan and Ko Tao.


  1. There is so much in this about your trip to the Mu Ko Ang Thong Islands I really enjoyed reading it and I especially liked the photos of the lagoon, the climbing using that rope and of course those silly looking Langurs.

  2. Visually breathtaking place

  3. Thank you for your comments. It was a magical place!

  4. Looks like a worthwhile trip: on the bucket list

  5. After reading this great post I've decided to do the same thing with my wife. A question: you got back to Samui by ferry. Is it possible to use the same ferry to get to Koh Wua Talap avoiding the tour boat alltogether?

    1. Hi Cristiano. We left Samui by ferry. And no, there is no other way. Believe me, we tried to find one! There is just not enough demand to warrant another vehicle besides the tour ferries. So that's how you'll have to go =)