You may have heard about a small, idyllic island in the Gulf of Thailand called Koh Mak. This tiny island is nestled between Koh Kood and Koh Chang in the Trang Island archipelago and is known for being a tranquil beach getaway destination that takes visitors off the beaten path.
At just 12.4 square kilometers, it’s so small, you don’t need a lot of time to explore it. It’s best known for its beaches, untamed nature, and top-class resorts.
We heard a lot of chatter about how nice it is when we visited Koh Kood, so we decided to make a stop over to see what it’s all about.
If you’re wondering what is Koh Mak really like, what is there to do there, and what’s a good place to stay, then this guide is for you.
We’ve also shared our opinion on whether we think it’s worth visiting, if you’re on the fence about it, which you will find towards the end of this guide.
Who Owns Koh Mak Island?
You may have heard that Koh Mak is privately owned, and it’s true, well 80% of the land is privately owned. Most of Koh Mak Island is owned by Khun Tarin, one of the descendants of Luang Prompakdee, a coconut plantation owner who bought the land in the early 20th century.
Khun Tarin welcomes visitors to his island and is happy to share it, and allows local villagers to continue to live and work there.
As a privately owned island, development on Koh Mak is carefully controlled to ensure it remains unspoiled and not overrun by large resorts. This preservation effort contributes to its charm and appeal as an off-the-beaten-path destination away from mass tourism.
You can learn more about the history of the Luang Prompakdee family at the Koh Mak Museum, located next to Koh Mak Seafood Restaurant. It’s not always open though, so check in the restaurant to see what it’s opening times are.
How to Get to Koh Mak Thailand?
Although remote, Koh Mak is not difficult to get to. You can travel directly from Bangkok, or from nearby Koh Kood and Koh Chang, with Boonsiri Ferries. This is the only speedboat company that connect the Trang Islands, and you can book transfers directly with them via 12Go.Asia.
If you’re traveling from Bangkok to Koh Mak, it’s better to take a bus and ferry combination. You can catch a bus from Boonsiri Offices near Khao San Road in Bangkok, and then change onto their ferry. The journey takes around 6-7 hours, depending on traffic and ferry schedules.
Another option is to fly from Bangkok to Trat, the nearest airport to Koh Mak. Bangkok Airways operates flights between the two cities, with a flight time of approximately 60 minutes.
From there you can catch a transfer to the pier and a speedboat ferry, again with Boonsiri.
However we don’t recommend this as it’s almost the same price as the bus and ferry from Bangkok, and with getting to the airport in Bangkok, won’t save you any time either.
If you’re planning to visit Koh Kood or Koh Chang as well, there are ferry services connecting all three islands. The ferry leaves Koh Kood every day at 2.00pm, and leaves Koh Chang at 9.00am.
If you purchase your ticket online using 12Go.Asia, it also includes a transfer from your hotel to the pier, and you can catch a taxi to your hotel on Koh Mak (50 baht per person).
From Koh Mak, you can take a ferry to either Koh Kood, Koh Chang, or to the main island in Trat.
The ferry journey from Koh Mak to Koh Kood lasts around 45 minutes, while the ferry ride to Koh Chang takes about 1 hour.
It’s worth noting that ferry schedules may vary depending on the season and weather conditions.
It’s always a good idea to check the latest schedules and book your tickets in advance to ensure a smooth journey.
Things To Do In Koh Mak
You’ll find the top thing to do in Koh Mak is to do nothing, but if you want to get out of your resort, here are some suggestions for things to do…
1. Explore The Koh Mak Beaches
Perhaps the main reason why people visit Koh Mak is to enjoy the beaches. Most beaches are lined with resorts and bars, so even though the island is remote, the beaches are far from quiet.
The most popular beach is Ao Soun Yai Beach, on the northwest of the island. It’s a long stretch of sandy beach backed by palm trees and grassy areas where you can escape the sun and enjoy much-needed shade.
The water is shallow and slopes gradually, making it ideal for families with kids who want to paddle.
Another popular beach is Ao Kao Beach, on the southwest of the island. This beach has beautiful views overlooking Koh Rayang Nok, Koh Rayand Yai, and Koh Kood in the distance.
Like Ao Soun Yain Beach, Ao Kao Beach is lined with resorts and bars, where you can enjoy refreshments and shadey spots to lounge in when the sun gets too hot. Although the beach itself is clean and soft, it’s very narrow and can often disappear in the afternoon during high tide.
There are other beaches on the island, but they are either private beaches owned by resorts, or dirty and not worth visiting (in our opinion). The good thing about Koh Mak beaches is that none of them have strong waves, making them a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.
2. Walk Along Cinnamon Scenic Boardwalk
Perhaps one of the best places to swim on the island is from the Cinnamon Scenic Boardwalk. The boardwalk is connected to a resort, but you don’t have to stay there to visit it.
The boardwalk extends out into the ocean and has several places with benches where you can rest between swims. There is one ladder into the ocean from the boardwalk which serves as the access point to the ocean.
Our favorite spot on the boardwalk is at the entrance where two trees are seen growing out of the ocean floor, sweeping over the boardwalk.
At the end of the boardwalk are a couple of deck chairs and seating area with views overlooking Koh Kradet, Koh Wai and Koh Chang in the far distance.
3. Catch a Sunset from Ao Soun Yai Beach
Since it faces West, Ao Soun Yai Beach is the perfect spot for sunset. Sit back and relax at the I Talay bar, or bring your own drinks and sit on the pier, and watch the sun cast its orange glow over the horizon.
It’s not a direct sunset view, but it’s the best sunset viewpoint on the island.
4. Scoot Around the Island
It only takes 10 minutes to drive from one side of the island to the other, so one of our favorite past-times on the island is to simply drive around and soak in the nature.
Between beaches and villages, you’ll find coconut palms intertwined with rubber tree plantations and wild, rugged jungles.
Our favorite road is on the South island, where the trees have grown to form an arch over the road. You can find the road with the shaded trees as shown in the above picture from this location.
5. Get a Thai Massage
Since Koh Mak offers nothing but relaxation, what better way to rejuvenate your body than with a Thai massage?
You can find Thai massage places at most resorts, but if your resort doesn’t have one, then you can get an affordable one from Nong Thai Massage located in the center of the island.
6. Visit the Koh Mak Museum (If It’s Open)
The Koh Mak Museum, which is located in a white wooden house next to Koh Mak Seafood, is a small museum that was founded by Tanin Suttitanakull in 2008. It was built inside a 2-storey home that belonged to his father, and contains photos and various treasures that showcase the island’s history.
The artifacts and items in the museum belonged to the local people. It’s open every day from 10.30am – 9.00pm and is free to visit, though sometimes it’s closed without reason.
It’s best to pop into the Koh Mak Seafood restaurant and see if they can tell you when it’s open.
7. Take a Boat Over to Koh Kham
The beaches on Koh Mak are ok, but not the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. If you want to find pure white sand beaches with bright, turquoise waters, then you’ll want to catch the boat over to Koh Kham.
Koh Kham is a small, remote island with a private resort, and is known for its black volcanic rocks and pure white beach. This quiet and unspoiled hidden gem also has a few coral reefs which are the perfect snorkeling spot.
You can get the boat from the pier on Ao Soun Yai Beach, or you can hire a kayak and paddle yourself over to the island.
The island is actually a resort, and those visiting will need to pay an entrance fee of 200 baht, but it includes a free drink.
8. Visit The Kingdom of Somchai’s Affection
The Kingdom of Somchai’s Affection is a small art display located near Ao Soun Yai Beach, created by Khun Somchai, a local artist from the Mon community.
He is most famous for his sculptures of Thai women, which are said to represent affection and freedom – though anyone looking at them can guess what they really represent!
He passed away many years ago but the site in which The Kingdom of Somchai’s Affection is built is where his old wooden house and workshop is located.
There are also a couple of his sculptures located on a patch of grass outside Sweet Cake Cafe, near Ao Nid Pier.
The Best Koh Mak Hotels & Resorts
Since most people visiting Koh Mak simply want to kick back and relax in a resort, here are some recommended hotels in Koh Mak where you can do just that.
Koh Mak Resort
Koh Mak Resort is one of the best located resorts on Koh Mak, since it backs onto Ao Suan Yai Beach on the west side the island, which is known for its incredible sunsets.
The resort offers self-contained bungalows, some of which connect to a private section of the beach.
They also have an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the ocean, and an on-site massage parlour. If you want to get out on the water, the resort has kayak rentals and can arrange snorkeling trips.
When it comes to eating, they have an on-site restaurant, I-Talay Restaurant, which specialises in barbecue cuisine and local Thai dishes.
Makathanee Resort Koh Mak
Another lovely beachside resort is Makathanee Resort Koh Mak, which is located on the Southwest of the island, overlooking Ao Kratueng Beach.
The resort has an outdoor pool with a sea view, and a lovely manicured garden to relax in. Each room comes with its own balcony where you can enjoy peaceful views from.
It also has an onsite-restaurant, Maka Thanee Restaurant, serving up Thai and international cuisine, as well as a Beach Bar that has snacks and drinks.
Koh Mak Buri Hut Natural Resort
For budget travelers, the Koh Mak Buri Hut Natural Resort is a winner. This is where we stayed when we visited Koh Mak and we loved it for the incredible views from every hut (even the garden view huts come with a sea view too) and the relaxing pool.
The staff are very nice and friendly and they have three cute cats (one of which is very needy and loves cuddles).
The rooms are basic but kitted out with everything you need. They have soft mattresses and a huge bathroom with separate shower. They also provided scooter rentals, which were dropped off at the resort for you, and a taxi transfer to the pier when it was time to leave.
Map of Koh Mak Attractions
To help you navigate your way around the island and to see all the main attractions, here is a helpful map of Koh Mak Island with the attractions and hotels we mentioned marked:
Tips for Visiting Koh Mak
To make the most out of your visit to Koh Mak, here are some tips for visiting:
- Take cash with you. There is only one ATM on the island and it’s sometimes empty. You can usually pay for your accommodation with credit card, but they charge 5%. Restaurants, bars and markets prefer cash. Some resorts allow you to withdraw cash with them, but again they charge 5%. It’s better to withdraw as much cash from an ATM before you get to the island (we recommend allowing 1000 baht per day as a rough guide to how much you’ll need).
- Hire a bicycle or scooter. This is the quickest and most convenient way to get around the island. There is a taxi but they usually only shuttle between the pier and the resorts. The island is small enough that you can easily get around on a bicycle.
- Be sure to be back in your resort before dark. There are some stray dogs on the island, and on our first day, we almost drove over a snake on the road. Night time is when the animals are active, so we recommend you avoid being on the roads at this time.
- Wear bug spray! The Trang Islands are known for their mosquitoes and sand flies, which will not hesitate to bite you. We found the same when we visited Koh Kood.
- Plan to stay a couple of days, and extend if you want to stay longer. We found that two days was enough for us. We’re not the type of travelers who can sit on the same beach all day and need more adventure. It might be right up your street, or you may find it too remote and tranquil. Give yourself flexibility to move on if it’s not for you.
Is Koh Mak Worth Visiting?
Before you go, we just want to quickly highlight why Koh Mak may, or may not be, worth visiting. Anyone who plans to visit this island in Thailand may want to think about their reasons for going before they book.
It’s a very small island, only 12.4 km², and takes less than 10 minutes to drive from one side to the other. What we liked about Koh Mak is that it gives travelers a chance to explore a more off the beaten path side to Thailand and go somewhere that’s not overly touristy (yet).
The downside to Koh Mak is that it’s so small, you will run out of things to do within a day or two.
Koh Mak is worth visiting if all you want to do is lie on a beach, read a book, and catch up on writing your memoirs. It doesn’t have a lot of attractions, so people visiting Koh Mak are really going to stay in their resort and relax on the beach all day.
If you like adventure and are not interested in lying on beaches all day, then Koh Mak is not for you.
It’s also worth noting that the beaches on Koh Mak are not nearly as nice as Koh Kood. Koh Mak’s beaches are golden, with seaweed, and occasionally trash, washed up on the shore. Koh Kood’s beaches are far cleaner, whiter, and softer.
Unless you want total quiet, we think Koh Kood is worth visiting over Koh Mak, but that’s just our personal preference.
So there you have it, this is everything you need to know about visiting Koh Mak, and we hope this guide gave you some insight into what to see and do and what to expect.
Koh Mak is a unique island and one that promises peacefulness and stillness, if that’s what you’re looking for.