Koh Mak – a peaceful piece of paradise in Thailand
When planning a trip to a Thai island, it is becoming more and more difficult to choose an island that is not overdeveloped. As frequent travelers to Thailand know, Thailand changes fast and money always speaks. Some places we have visited in the past are almost unrecognizable because they have changed so much. Many once tranquil islands in both the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand have been overrun by tourism and development.
We went on a quest to find our perfect Thai island. We were trying to find an island where we could relax on secluded beaches, enjoy great authentic food, swim in beautiful clear water yet still have a little life in the evenings and not have to stay in absolute bare-bones accommodation.
Eventually, we chose Koh Mak and it was a great decision! It also proved to us that islands like this actually still do exist in Thailand, you just have to look a little harder.
Getting to Koh Mak was not exactly a fun experience. Travelers have two different options to get there. Both involve taking a ferry (which is really just a large speedboat) from the mainland pier of Laem Ngop. The boat takes less than an hour to reach the island.
The first option involves flying from Bangkok to Trat and then taking a taxi to the pier. In hindsight, we regret not doing this. The second option is to take a bus from Ekkamai bus station in Bangkok to the pier. This is how we traveled. We got there safely but the bus was hot and stuffy and our 5-hour scheduled bus ride turned into a 7-hour drive instead. We were happy to finally get on the boat and head out to Koh Mak!
When we arrived, the owner of our hotel, The Lazy Day Resort, picked us up. We drove through the little village and down a dirt road lined with beautiful palms. We liked this place already.
Lazy Day was paradise on earth. The bungalows sit in a beautiful tropical garden setting right on a secluded little beach. This place was so incredibly relaxing! The staff were all so welcoming and friendly and our bungalow was spacious, clean, and had everything we needed.
Breakfast was included on a beautiful verandah overlooking the garden and the beach. The breakfast was fresh and delicious and the coffee was amazing!
We enjoyed a great week enjoying all the island had to offer. We rented a motorbike from our resort and were able to explore the island. The interior of the island is covered in jungle and the occasional pineapple farm. The little main village doesn’t have much but there are plenty of great places to eat, both Thai and some western options. There are also some small supermarkets, stores, and a pharmacy. There is no ATM on the island so make sure to bring cash!
We found the Thai food on the island to be really authentic as there are not that many tourists yet. We also really enjoyed Brick Oven Pizza run be a friendly American man named Kevin.
In the evening there were a few casual bars where we could relax and enjoy a drink or two.
One of the highlights of our trip was attending a cooking course on the island at the Smile Koh Mak Thai Cooking School (a separate post on this). We booked a 4-hour course in advance and prepared many enjoyable dishes. Many of the ingredients came directly from their garden. After cooking, we were able to sit down and enjoy our meal in a wonderful setting.
Due to booking our trip relatively late, the last two nights we had to change accommodation because there was no availability at Lazy Day. We chose the Makathanee Resort, which owns the pier where the speedboats depart for the mainland. Our opinion of Makathanee was that it was just average. The beach in front was nice, although a bit busier. Our room didn’t have any character and was really just a place to sleep. The included breakfast was mediocre as well.
Spending time on Koh Mak was really special and the time went by way too fast. The locals on the island are very proud of their home and they have taken steps to ensure that the island is developed sustainably. This really shows and also made us happy that such relatively untouched islands still exist in Thailand.