Koh Mak is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand, close to Trat town and not far from Cambodia.
How to get to Koh Mak
To get to Koh Mak you take a speedboat from Laem Ngop pier, which is close to Trat town. There are 8 boats departing from Laem Ngop pier each day, and it costs 450 baht per person each way.
Every boat I’ve taken to and from the island over the years has been in good condition and have had enough life vests for everyone on board.
You can buy your boat ticket at the pier or call ahead and book your seats.
How to get to Laem Ngop pier
To get to Laem Ngop pier you have a couple of options depending on your budget – it’s easier to start your trip from Bangkok but we have also arrived in Koh Mak from Cambodia.
The most expensive option is to fly to Trat airport and take a taxi to the pier, approx a 30 minute drive. Flights from Bangkok to Trat vary depending on the time of year, and how far in advance you’re looking, but the cheapest we have found is £110 one way which has always been out of our budget.
The next option is to take a private taxi or Uber. We’ve made the journey by taxi from Bangkok (approx 5 hour drive) and Siem Reap (approx 6 hour drive). Uber is very active in Thailand and very cheap, you don’t have to worry about haggling or if the driver is using the meter. Plus the cars tend to be in good condition and have aircon and seatbelts – which a lot of Thai taxis won’t have!
A private taxi will cost approx 4,500 baht and an Uber will cost between 3,000 and 3,500 baht, although it will take a small bit of time to find a driver willing to do such a long trip. It’s worth the wait to save the money and travel more comfortably!
The final, and cheapest option is to travel by bus. There are numerous companies that depart from Bangkok each day to Laem Ngop pier for as little as 350 baht per person. Buses leave from the airport and from Victoria monument near the Khao San Road. Some companies offer a boat & bus ticket too which will save you a few baht!
What to do in Koh Mak
If you’re not staying on Ao Kao beach then definitely go there and watch the sunset from Island hut.
Go to the Koh Mak Viewpoint to see beautiful views of the neighbouring islands and Ao Suan Yai beach.
Snorkle, swim, have an afternoon beer and take in the views from Blue Pearl Bar. This small wooden bar is built at the end of a pier beside Coco Cape resort and is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon. Snorkel equipment is available from the bar, and they have a swimming deck so you can take a dip.
Take a boat trip to neighbouring islands. You can take a trip to nearby Koh Phee, Koh Kham and Koh Kradat and visit various snorkelling spots.Kayak from Ao Kao beach to Koh Rayang, a tiny private island that has the most idyllic white sand beach (and two adorable dogs!)
Eat the delicious Massaman curry at Riverside Restaurant. Visit Bamboo Hideaway for some tasty Mexican food, a dip in the swimming pool and a chat with Jake the really friendly American owner. Go there for his ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ Bloody Mary pool party to meet other ex pats and backpackers.
Take a sunset yoga class at Ao Kao white sand resort and follow it up with a relaxing massage by the ocean. Find a hammock, pick up a good book and just do nothing!
Koh Mak Price
Unlike some other Thai islands there is no cost to enter the island.
You can rent a motorbike for 300 baht per day, or a bicycle for 200 baht. The island is roughly 8km wide and 5km from North to South so it’s small, but not small enough to walk around the whole thing. Having a bike is a great way to explore the many hidden beaches on the island.
Laundry is approx 50 baht per kilo, and usually takes around 24 hours to come back.
Accommodation varies depending on your budget, you can stay in simple wooden huts on the beach for as little as 350 baht per night, or in a private house for 10,000.
There are around 30 options for accommodation on the island and if you’re coming before the end of January you can usually turn up and find something, otherwise I would book ahead.
How much time do you need in Koh Mak
Considering that the journey to get here can take a while I would recommend staying for at least a week, but preferably longer.
Many people come to Koh Mak for a few months at a time to escape the real world and live in paradise for a little while.
When to visit Koh Mak
High season starts in November and can last up until March, but most resorts tend to increase their rates after Christmas as that’s when the tourist numbers really go up.
We have been here in November, December and January and although it does get a little busier in the New Year, the island was still pretty quiet.
Koh Mak Tips
If you are getting a taxi or bus to Laem Ngop Pier then the driver may drop you off at a little shop just at the top of the pier to buy your bus tickets – don’t buy them here as you will be overcharged. You can walk down to the end of the pier where the boats leave from and buy your ticket directly for 450 baht. We got caught for this once and paid double the price of the boat.
There is also accommodation on Ao Suan Yai beach, but bear in mind that boats leave and arrive at the pier here all day long so it can be busier and touristy than Ao Kao beach. I personally wouldn’t recommend staying here.
Where to stay in Koh Mak
When you’re on an island this beautiful you should definitely stay on the beach! Ao Kao beach is, in my opinion, the most beautiful on the island and it’s where we always stay when we visit. There are a number of different options for staying here – we have stayed in two.
We stayed here on our first trip to Koh Mak when we were on a 3 week holiday before we gave up our jobs to travel – so our budget was a little higher than it is now!
It costs approx 1500 baht per night for an air conditioned beach front villa in the low season and 3000 in the high season. Big Easy is a small affair, with just 7 Thai-style wooden villas.
This has become our go-to accommodation when we’re on Koh Mak. Island hut is cheap, basic and as rustic as it gets. There are 33 wooden cabins nestled in between the coconut trees and just metres away from the beach.
The huts are basic, they have bucket-flush toilets and are mostly fan only, so you’re getting back to basics when you stay here, but that’s the charm of Island hut!
You pay as little as 350 baht per night for a hut with a shared bathroom, 550 baht for a hut on the beach and 1000 baht per night for an air conditioned hut on the beach. There are only four of these so if you do want to opt for air con you will have to book ahead!
Just steps away from the sea is the shared restaurant that serves up the best Thai food you will eat for as little as 60 baht for a main course! This is a great place to meet people and chat with the Thai owners, Island is a family run business and some of the guests have been coming here for over 20 years so there is a great vibe here.
Why should Koh Mak be on my bucket list?
If you want to get back to basics and experience authentic Thailand then put Koh Mak on your bucket list. There’s no backpacker area, you won’t find any party bars or clubs, there are no lady boy clubs or ping pong shows.
Instead you get crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, rustic beach bars, friendly locals and rock bottom prices.
Koh Mak is a peaceful, idyllic paradise that it shows no signs of changing. 95% of the island is owned by just 5 families and development is strictly controlled so the island has remained just as beautiful and charming as it was when we first came here 6 years ago.
It’s the perfect escape if you need some time to chill out, and the perfect place to fall in love with Thailand all over again.