I recently traveled with a group of friends to Koh Mook (also transliterated as Ko Muk). One thing Koh Mook is most well-known for is the Emerald Cave, which I didn’t make it to this time, but have heard that it’s well worth it.
Tips on Koh Mook:
This travel guide from Travelfish is helpful.
When to go: You can go any time of year, and you will find discounted rates on accommodation during low season (monsoon season). However, sometimes boats may not go if the weather is bad, and of course there isn’t as much to do when it’s pouring rain. The weather is best between December and May.
How to get there: From Surat you can take a bus or minibus to Trang for about 200 baht. From Trang both minibuses can be arranged through the resort you choose to stay at, or you can just buy a ticket to the pier once you’re there. There are some good minibus/longtail boat combo deals. You can also drive yourself to the pier.
Also there is a passenger boat that leaves from Kuan Thung Ku Pier at 8 AM that is inexpensive, I read somewhere it is only around 40 baht, but we were there early and didn’t see it, so it might only run during high season.
You can also take an express boat from Pakmeng to Koh Mook that leaves once a day in high season.
After work friends and I headed to Trang Province in a rental car, about three hours southwest of Surat Thani. Surat is near the Gulf of Thailand and Trang is the opposite side at the Andaman Sea. It’s monsoon season in Surat right now, but seemed to be even more rainy in Trang. It’s definitely low season for a visit to Koh Mook, so many businesses were closed, but on the plus side nobody was there.
Driving to Trang during the night was interesting, because I saw so many multi-colored Christmas lights along the road. I was not expecting that!
We had the best road trip snacks ever; French baguettes that are actually decent quality for Thailand and Edam cheese, along with some fresh fruit.
Our first night we stayed at a place called U Sabuy in Trang town, it was nice and was only 200 baht a night per person, or about $6 U.S. dollars. From there we found an open-air place to eat and ate Thai-style with share portions. An elderly gentleman in his 70s came and conversed with us for a while, he was the most adorable man. His English was great and he told us he used to be a teacher.
After just 5 hours of sleep we woke up early to get to the Kuan Tung Ku Pier, which is not anywhere near glamorous, but I like traveling this way. It feels more off-the-beaten path. The drive to there from Trang was about an hour and very scenic at the time that we went, with thick fog hovering over jungle mountains in the distance, and monks walking by receiving morning alms. We also saw kids that looked about 10 driving motorbikes with younger passengers, a man walking by his cow in the road, and glimpses of local life.
We negotiated a longtail boat for 400 baht there and 600 baht when we came back, which seems to be the fair going rate; we asked around and found out from a group of locals that they were paying 600 baht.
The boat ride to Koh Mook was scenic. We had overcast skies, but it was still beautiful and it had it a subtle dreamy aura. Arriving to the island it had fog around it, similar to scenes on our drive there. We arrived at a long dock and were greeted by motorcycle taxis, who charge 50 baht per person to go anywhere on the island. We drove on some sketchy roads and through a school to check out Sivilai Beach Resort. Accommodation there is about $100 a night for a bungalow, but since it’s off season and there were five of us they were going to give us a deal, I think 2 bungalows for around $35 per person a night, but we are all on tight budgets this month, so we opted to pay only about $6 US a night, or 200 baht a person to stay in two bungalows at Had Farang Bungalows. It was a great place for the price, but the location wasn’t the best, because you have to arrange a motorcycle taxi to go nearly anywhere, of which the people at Had Farang sometimes charge extra for commission to arrange. However, there is an easily accessible beach that is close to the bungalows.
Being on Koh Mook was refreshing. Cool, rainy weather, and a plethora of flora. It reminded me most of Australia’s Daintree Rainforest and of Costa Rica sans jungle crabs and monkeys. I recognized many plants and flowers, such as white plumerias and birds of paradise. Had Farang had a big elevated deck with views of the jungle. The architectural styles are so organic in many of these places in Thailand; open, wood, high ceilings, and unique styles.
We ate at a restaurant I’d highly recommend and spent a great deal of time chatting with the owner Song. She was extremely friendly, and we found out she grows a lot of the food she cooks. She says if you order a papaya salad her daughter goes and picks it then. This restaurant was called Hilltop Restaurant and had the slogan “Cheap cheap and different.” Her food was stellar, especially a dish that I think was stir-fried curry paste. The Banana, rice, and coconut milk dessert I ordered was probably the most amazing thing in the world. Simple, but I loved it. Her kids all helped out at the restaurant and she arranged for her 12-year-old son to drive us a back in a motorcycle taxi!
We spent some time on the beach, relaxed, and in the early morning on Sunday I read a book for a couple hours in the open-air seating near the lobby area and enjoyed some black hot coffee. We then headed back on the boat and watched heavy rainstorms in this distance, then took a scenic (and quite stormy) drive along the coast in Trang before heading back to Surat Thani.
I’m hoping to go back here and visit the Emerald Cave, and see some other islands in the area.
Local life as seen from a longtail boat.
Plumerias at the pier.
The beach near Had Farang Bungalows.
Lobby/restaurant at Had Farang
On the way back from the island.