Coming from placid Koh Kradan, we knew that Koh Mook (also written as Koh Muk) was going to feel very different, very modern, let’s say. I mean, they have roads for one thing. Which is a pretty big change right there.
Not impressed? Oh ho, it doesn’t end there. Some of those roads are paved, for starters. Plus there are actual shops, restaurants that aren’t part of a resort, tour agencies, laundry, fishing boats, a pier that doesn’t move with the waves and even an ATM. Ok, maybe those things don’t exactly make it New York. Although, for this part of the Trang Islands, well, they kind of do.
Of course, all these wildly modern conveniences come at a cost – peace and tranquility are a little harder to come by on Koh Mook than Koh Kradan or Koh Ngai, although they are still possible to find if you are willing to find a hotel a little away from the action.
We went the other direction, though, for some reason, staying smack-dab in the middle of a busy fishing neighbourhood very close to the pier. We had phenomenal views of the bay from our deck, which sat right over the water. At high tide, anyway, at low tide we were up close and personal with the mud flats.
So, an interesting stay, even if there were a couple of drawbacks. One of which was our closest neighbour, a troublesome rooster who liked to give hourly updates throughout the night, one of several notable roosters encountered during our stay.
Among the others, there were several other random yodelers, of course, and “feisty”, the one I saw chasing a cat. Then there was the one that suddenly fluttered down out of the top branches of a tree while we were drinking beer on a deck, causing a whole discussion about whether roosters can fly, and if so, are they all that bad at it?
Then there was “the rapist”, the rooster who attacked a duck right on the path in front of us, pinned its head down with his beak and proceeded to hump the shit out of it. A duck. I assume he was mostly unsuccessful, but still, the emotional scars would be real.
However, I digress. Koh Mook is, in fact, known for more than just its “gritty” village and sexually predatory roosters. There is iconic Sivalai Resort, taking up most of an arrowhead-shaped peninsula, outstanding Charlie Beach with its great scenery and phenomenal sunsets, and Emerald Cave, a very unique cave beach that draws day trippers from all over the Thai islands.
Plus, Koh Mook is very cheap, much cheaper than most islands in the area. It also has a greater Muslim population, so some of the restaurants don’t serve alcohol (although most do) and the girls’ school uniforms include head scarves (although very few of the adult women wore them).
Bottom line, though, Koh Mook is a very friendly, very fun place with plenty of ways to keep busy and lots of cheap, delicious restaurants. I think I’d get tired of the bustle on an extended stay but for a few nights it was a great contrast to our other stops.
Koh Mook Map
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Things to Do on Koh Mook
Although it is still a small island, there are more things to do in Koh Mook than on the ultra-quiet islands nearby such as Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai. I mean, there are caves, plural, for goodness sake.
1. Stroll Along Sivalai Beach
One of the more unique beaches you’ll find in Thailand, Sivalai Beach encompasses most of the pointy peninsula sticking straight out the east side of Koh Mook like a handless arm, or maybe a stray arrow sticking out the side of the island that’s being left there for medical reasons.
There are nice beach huts all the way along both sides (mostly Sivalai Resort on the north side and a variety of resorts on the south side) with lovely Pearl Beach adorning the very point. This is where you’ll find Sivalai’s restaurant and pool, with terrific views in both directions.
At low tide you can go directly from the pier along the north side of the beach. Or you can access the beach by cutting through the school (apparently it’s common) or one of the southern resorts.
2. Soak Up the Sun at Charlie Beach (Haad Farang)
The best beach in the Trang Islands, in our opinion, beautiful Charlie Beach is exactly what you imagine when you’re thinking of a classic Thai beach. Also called Haad Farang or Had Farang (Tourist Beach), it is a large, wide stretch of nice, flat sand that stays reasonably spacious even at high tide. With impressive green hills at both ends and a thick line of palm trees backing the beach, it is stereotypically gorgeous.
There are loungers, kayaks and snorkel gear for rent, food and drink stalls and plenty of room for everyone to spreadout. The best views are from Goyaw (Ko Yao) Restaurant on the south end of the beach. We spent much of our time enjoying cold Singhas, pleasant breezes and great views from their big terrace. If you get there by 5 you should be able to get one of the front tables.
Down below, there are a couple more restaurants with loungers and tables on the beach. Local kids come to play football later in the day and, oh, did I mention that the sunsets are truly spectacular? Well, they are.
It takes around 30 minutes to walk from Koh Mook village to Charlie Beach or you can take a moto-taxi (scooter with a sidecar). Taxis to Charlie Beach are 50B/person (just like anywhere on the island) and there is usually a group of them hanging out right behind the beach waiting to take people back to town.
The first time we stayed until after dark we thought we might miss the last one but as it turned out, there was no need to worry. On our way into town we saw at least a half-dozen taxis racing back out to the beach after dropping people off. I’m pretty sure they’ll keep coming back until the last tourist has been safely dispatched to their hotel.
Formerly named for the Charlie Beach Resort (since closed), the new official name is apparently Garnet Beach. But we never heard that name used at all during our stay so it may not be catching on.
3. Swim Into Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot)
Just north of Charlie Beach below some picturesque limestone cliffs is the entrance to Emerald Cave. Entering involves an easy 80-metre swim (tours all provide life jackets and some large groups even tie everyone together) and you eventually emerge in a small, circular clearing with an impressive lagoon, tiny beach and just a hint of jungle. The cliffs all around you reach way up to the top of the hill, only allowing sun in the middle of the day.
It is a very busy place but you are somewhat limited when it comes to missing the crowds because you can’t go at low tide (no water inside) or high tide (the water reaches the roof of the cave) so. And there is only sun on the lagoon in the middle of the day, so if that’s important to you it will shorten your window even farther.
But it is a fantastic experience, even if you end up following a chain of Chinese tourists through the cave (tied together and literally dragged by the guide), then listening to several of them vomit profusely into bushes upon arrival.
You can visit as part of a group tour or reserve a private longtail like we did. We went through PK Team Tour and found Jes to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. He let us customize our trip to see exactly what we wanted (Emerald Cave, Sabay Beach snorkelling, full circuit of the island) which wasn’t too surprising considering the motto on their Koh Mook map encouragingly states that “Everything is Possible!”
Another way to get to Emerald Cave is by rented kayak from Charlie Beach. If the sea is calm it is a relatively easy paddle. The benefits to this are that you aren’t stuck with a group and can go whenever you want. The downside is that it isn’t clear what to do with your kayak when you get there. I assume that tying it to the safety line attached to the cliff is the way to go, although choose your spot wisely so it doesn’t block other people from getting into the cave.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend kayaking right into the cave like one couple did – blocking up the entire route as we were coming out, with the guy in the water struggling to turn the kayak around, then as he tried to climb back in managing to fling himself back off the other side. Comical. For us, I mean. I do not believe he was seeing the humour just yet.
4. Try a Koh Mook Snorkelling Trip
There are a variety of different boat trips you can take around Koh Mook but whichever you choose, chances are it will include some snorkelling stops. There are excellent snorkelling spots near Charlie Beach, Sabay Beach, Big Cave and in front of Lodung Beach.
However many stops you agree on, see if you can get them to take you all the way around the island. Seeing Sivalai Peninsula from the water is pretty unique, then you’ll pass Mermaid Bay on the way to the main areas around Charlie Beach and Emerald Cave.
But the big highlights, in our opinion, are the dramatic limestone cliffs at the north end of the island. When you are arranging your trip make sure you tell them you want to go all the way around. It is worth it even if it costs a little bit more.
5. Visit Sabay Beach
Also called Sabai Beach, this cute little beach enclosed by tall, lush cliffs looks amazing from both the water and the hills above. You can either hike there (see below) or visit it on one of the Koh Mook boat tours.
The area on the south side of the bay in front of Sabay Beach has some exceptional snorkelling, with lots of interesting coral and strange rock formations. Not far away is Tiger Cave, carved into the limestone cliffs.
6. Hike to the Koh Mook Viewpoint
We were surprised at how many tourists we saw who also chose to undertake a hot, sweaty hike (3 km return / 1 hr) while on a beach paradise. Most of the trail is in the shade of the trees, however, and at the top there is a small café/snack shop (wasn’t open when we were there but it looked like it will be eventually).
The view is beautiful – you can’t actually see Sabay Beach from there but you can see the cliffs on either side of it framing Koh Waen in the distance.
If you’re still feeling energetic at that point you can continue down to Sabay Beach – the entire hike from the village, there and back, will be around 5.5 km / 2 hrs (the AllTrails route figure is incorrect as it shows multiple times back and forth for some reason).
7. Wander Around the Koh Mook Stilt Village
I have no idea what they actually call this area since I completely made that name up. Maybe it doesn’t even have a specific name. But the surprisingly large section of Koh Mook village a bit west of the main area (on the way to Charlie Beach) is a fascinating place to wander and explore.
All the houses and shops are built on wooden supports over a variety of ponds, streams and swampland. With the dramatic tides it can look like a floating village one minute and like a mud town a few hours later.
Koh Mook Excursions
There are a number of day trips you can take from Koh Mook:
Koh Kradan is essentially just one beach with 5 resorts spread out along it (then 2 more farther inland). The beach is gorgeous, although it does get a bit small at high tide, and there is fantastic snorkelling along the reef about 200 metres offshore.
Most day trips also stop in at Hat Chao Mai National Marine Park, which is a large park that actually incorporates some mainland sites and 7 different islands but, I have to say, the Koh Kradan section is a bit underwhelming. It is a decent place for a picnic, though, and the snorkelling is even better over there (and closer to shore).
Koh Mook Fishing Tours
There is outstanding fishing all around these islands and every hotel can arrange a private or group fishing excursion tailored to your goals and timeline.
Koh Mook Scuba Diving
There aren’t any popular dive sites right around Koh Mook but Trang Pro Dive has a shop in town and a rep working at Sivalai Resort. The best dives in the area are Hin Daeng (Red Rock) and Hin Muang (Purple Rock), a couple hours by boat from Koh Mook. Koh Haa (Five Islands) is also a good diving area much closer to Koh Lanta.
Where to Stay: Koh Mook Hotels
There is a wide variety of places to stay on Koh Mook, from extreme budget guesthouses to luxurious resorts.
For a full list and descriptions, check out The Best Koh Mook Hotels: Accommodation for Every Price Range
The signature Koh Mook resort is the wildly photogenic Sivalai Resort, built along both sides of a long, narrow peninsula of sand jutting out the east side of the island. It is a beautiful place with a good range of rooms, terrific views and a gorgeous pool located right on the point.
Pawapi Beach Resort is located on the south side of the same peninsula right next to Sivalai. Some of their bungalows have exceptional views and you can enjoy more or less the same beaches as Sivalai guests for a slightly lower price.
After living the resort lifestyle on Koh Kradan, we chose something a little more basic for our Koh Mook hotel. Seaside Home was a big step down from Mali Resort in terms of comfort but it had a very unique location right in the middle of the local fishing village with great views from a deck over the water of Hua Non Bay (at high tide, anyway). Overall, it is a very unique place with all sorts of local charm. Cheap, too.
About 5 minutes farther north from Seaside Home, Inhale @ Hill is a fairly new place with a set of pretty bungalows on lush grounds and a popular café on-site. It has immediate access to the same bay as Seaside and is in the same fishing village but is a bit more removed and has more privacy.
Where to Eat: Koh Mook Restaurants
One of the best things about Koh Mook compared to the smaller islands around it is the variety of restaurants. Rather than being limited to resort restaurants like on Koh Kradan or Koh Ngai, there is a wide range of restaurants in Koh Mook to fit most tastes (although it will certainly be easier if you’re looking for Thai food).
Boon Chu is one of the first places you’ll see coming up from the pier and also one of the best for traditional Thai meals.
On the south side of the peninsula, PP Restaurant has a tiny deck with great views and local ambience that we enjoyed a lot for a few beer (though our meal, not as much).
Miss Island Bakery is a bit pricey by Koh Mook standards but they have a big, tasty American breakfast (as well as all the usual breakfast options) with the best bread we’ve had in Thailand so far.
Koh Muk Seaview Guesthouse is located right on the bay north of the pier and their friendly restaurant is a good pick for a budget breakfast.
Our favourite restaurant on Koh Mook was the aptly named Good Luck Restaurant. Exceedingly friendly, with the best flat noodles with chicken we’ve had outside Bangkok. And they were just as good the second time around – not always the case!
Another good choice (and great name) is Yummy, where the food lived up to the name. For some reason, they also have a huge antique film projector with a rather complex backstory.
The best restaurant views are from the high terrace at Goyaw (Ko Yao) Restaurant on Charlie Beach. We spent two late afternoons there soaking up the scenery and Singha but didn’t try the food. I can tell you that basically everything on the menu was 100B, so it won’t be expensive.
We did eat at Mong Bar, one of two bars on the beach just below Goyaw. The beach loungers were comfortable, the bar has a fun vibe and the food was… fine.
More Thai Islands Near Koh Mook
Tiny Koh Kradan has just 7 places to stay on the whole island (only 6 of which are official) and somehow manages to make little Koh Mook seem like a bustling city. This is the place for serious relaxation and outstanding snorkelling (although you’ll pay a premium compared to Koh Mook).
Koh Ngai (usually pronounced Koh Hai), just to the northwest, has a lot in common with Koh Kradan – quiet vibe, no roads, only a couple beaches, relatively high prices. Another place to relax, unwind, take a deep breath and, you know, just lie around.
Although Koh Lanta is still relatively tranquil in the scheme of popular tropical islands, it is huge compared to Koh Mook. However, it is still plenty beautiful and as with most larger Thai islands it is still possible to get away from the crowds, you just have to search a little bit harder.
Koh Jum, just north of Koh Lanta, is bigger than Koh Ngai and has some interesting little villages. There are also a lot of beaches and not a whole lot else going on. A great place to relax, as you might guess.
Check out: 8 Outstanding Koh Jum Hotels
The Koh Phi Phi Islands, meanwhile, are anything but tranquil, as the Koh Phi Phi Don high season party scene rivals Phuket for the wildest on this side of Thailand. However, even if late night raves aren’t your thing, Koh Phi Phi Don is still very beautiful, with its unique geology and incredibly photogenic beaches.
And even though you can’t stay on uninhabited Koh Phi Phi Leh, famous for its starring role in The Beach, it is as beautiful as they come and well worth the trip on its own.
Untouristy Koh Yao Noi has somehow avoided being overrun despite sitting right between Krabi and Phuket. Probably because its beaches aren’t comparable but it still has a lot of fascinating things to see and do, all without the crowds.
How to Get to Koh Mook
Most people start out their Thai journey with at least one day in Bangkok, then to get from Bangkok to Koh Mook they fly to Trang and take a bus to Kuang Tung Ku Pier to catch a longtail boat. You can get combined bus (1 hr) and boat (30 min) transfers to Koh Mook for around 700B per person in a shared transfer or around 2,000B for up to 8 people. You can book these privately through one of the Koh Mook hotels or check 12Go Asia for options.
Between the islands, there are several daily speedboats that stop in Koh Mook along the route between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe. Bundhaya and Satun Pakbara are the cheapest on the short routes (300B to Koh Kradan / 350-400B to Koh Ngai), while Tigerline offers slightly faster service and different times. Interestingly, it is more expensive on the short routes (750B Koh Kradan / Koh Ngai) but about the same to Koh Lanta (950B as opposed to 900B).
In general, these speedboat trips are reasonably comfortable, although some people can find the rough waves to be hell on their stomach. Hence the young boy who suddenly vomited all down my leg about halfway between Koh Kradan and Koh Mook.
How to Get Around Koh Mook
There are four options for getting around on Koh Mook:
It is a pretty small island and you can easily get anywhere in the eastern village area in about 15-20 minutes. Walking to Charlie Beach, however, will be a longer slog, probably 30-45 minutes.
There are loads of little tuk-tuk taxis (scooters with a sidecar) on Koh Mook. The cost is 50B per person anywhere roads will take you on the island (which is basically the village or Charlie Beach).
Maybe you could negotiate a lower price within town but 50B seemed reasonable regardless so we never asked.
Many hotels and shops rent out bikes at very low prices. Koh Mook is relatively flat so this can actually be a very good choice.
At pretty much all the same places you can rent a scooter also, most of the time for around 200-250B per day (plus fuel). However, while this is a very good choice on some Thai islands (Koh Lanta, for example), we don’t think it is worth the trouble on Koh Mook. There are just so few places where you’d actually need it.
Charlie Beach is the main destination but when we were there the last kilometre of that road had basically deteriorated into a rugged dirt path, with lots of mud and some tricky, sandy parts. Even the taxis had a hard time, so I’m not sure I’d have wanted to try my luck coming back in the dark after a couple Singhas.
The most scenic (and expensive) option to get to some of the different beaches around the island is to hire a private longtail for the journey. Prices will vary greatly depending on who you talk to and when you want to go but this is probably more of a one-time thing than your main form of transportation.
When to Go: Koh Mook Weather
As a tropical island, the temperature in Koh Mook doesn’t change much throughout the year, although it does get a bit hotter from Feb-Apr (32C/24C high/low) compared to the rest of the year (29/25).
Rainy season lasts from May to October, with November being a transition month when you can get a bit of anything. There is very little rain from December to April but you may see a bit more wind at that time.
Koh Mook Summary
For some people, Koh Mook will ride the line perfectly between picturesque, tropical Thai island and useful, busy Thai village. It has more facilities, hotel options and restaurant choices than most of the other, quieter Trang Islands.
On the other hand, it can feel a little hectic and crowded, especially if you’ve just come from Koh Kradan or Koh Ngai (not so much if you’ve come straight from Bangkok). But, like even the busiest of Thai islands, the peaceful areas are still there if you know where to look, and the top Koh Mook attractions – Emerald Cave, Charlie Beach, Sivalai Resort – definitely need to be on every Thai island hopping itinerary.
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