The Second-Best Kind of Thong: A Trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
If you’re a fan of Thailand’s clear warm waters and vibrant sea life (and who isn’t?) then a trip to the Ang Thong National Marine Park is for you. A short boat ride from Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, the park offers visitors the chance to swim with tropical fish, trek to hidden lagoons and kayak through impressive limestone caves. Here’s how to make the most of a trip to this beautiful area. Anyone doing a tour of Thailand’s most Instagram-worthy islands, add Ang Thong to your photoshoot trek.
The full Thai name for this beautiful national park is “Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park”. “Mu Ko” in Thai means “group of islands” and “Ang Thong” translates to “bowl of gold”. You will sometimes see “Mu Ko” written as “Mu Koh”, like the suffix to many islands in Thailand like Koh Samui or Koh Tao.
Why should you give a shit about Ang Thong National Marine Park?
Nestled in the heart of the Gulf of Thailand, Ang Thong Marine Park is actually made up of 42 individual islands. A trip here isn’t your normal day trip to a beach with a bar and lunch thrown in; instead this is an exploration of the 100 square kilometer area of the park, most of which is uninhabited. The islands have enigmatic names like Sleeping Cow Island and Three Pillars Island and tourists often entertain themselves by matching the names to the islands. Some of them are quite obscure!
Planning the Day Trip from Koh Phangan or Koh Samui
You’re likely to be setting out from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan so your trip will start early to make sure you make the most of the day. Don’t worry too much about the distance, however, as the speedboat transfer is only about an hour and you’ll soon be within the boundaries of the park. Pay your 300 baht entry fee and away you go!
First up on your day trip agenda will be a snorkeling stop on one of the marine park’s many reefs. The tropical fish life here is spectacular and you’re likely to spot angelfish, parrot fish and grouper as well as black-tipped reef sharks if you’re lucky. Soak up the sights but don’t forget to soak up the suncream too as the sun can be super hot while you’re in the water.
The next activity will be a kayak adventure. The marine park is home to numerous caves set into the limestone cliffs and this is your chance to go all Indiana Jones and go exploring. Look out for ‘paddle-throughs’ which are essentially tunnels through the rock. Splash your way through a couple of those and you really feel like you’re up close and person with the marine park!
Hiking and Lagoons
After a picnic lunch, it’s on to Koh Mae Koh (‘Mother Island’) for a hike up to the viewpoint and a panorama of the locally-famous blue lagoon. It’s a steep climb but stick with it. Imagine the sight of the turquoise lake spread out below you, with the islands of Ang Thong spreading out into the distance. It’s a unique place and well worth the effort to get up there.
How to Get to Ang Thong National Marine Park
There are numerous day trips heading out to the marine park so shop around and look for the best price. You should be paying between 1500 and 2000 baht for a full day, with the final amount depending on the size of the boat, the number of people on the tour and the number of stops. Remember to check that all snorkeling and kayaking equipment is included in the cost.
Relax and Enjoy!
Ang Thong is a real highlight of Thailand which is well worth a visit. Choose a calm, sunny day, charge up the camera batteries and look forward to a day in paradise.