Koh Mak is a small tropical island in the eastern Gulf of Thailand, close to Cambodia. The island is a well-kept secret for most travelers, it’s (still) a quiet place with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s located south of ‘big brother’ Koh Chang, and north of Koh Kood – they all are completely different! Koh Mak is a relatively undeveloped island, it feels like Thailand from 20 years ago. That’s slowly changing though, the island is developing. Nowadays, you might be able to get cash at a resort or at the only ATM on the island – but no guarantees – and there are still no 7-elevens anywhere on the island. It’s a great island to visit if you don’t want to follow the big crowds. Koh Mak is a great island for couples and families, there aren’t many parties going on, though there are a few bars. The best part of Koh Mak though: gorgeous, empty beaches! We’ve visited many more Thai island and Koh Mak still is one of our favorites to visit. Continue reading for all our best Koh Mak tips!
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Map of Koh Mak
Koh Mak Weather & When to Visit
It’s possible to visit Koh Mak all year round but the best time to visit Koh Mak is between December to March.
- Best season: from December to March. It’s dry and sunny in Koh Mak. It’s peak season, yet it’s the best moment to enjoy a relaxing sunny holiday.
- OK season: April and November. These are ‘in-between’ months.
- Meh season: from May to October. The rainy season starts in May and heavy rains continue all through October. So it rains a lot, it’s less sunny, and some shops/restaurants/resorts close during these months. Fewer boats drive to Koh Mak, so it can also be more difficult to get to and leave the island. Usually, we’re fans of traveling in the low season, but we don’t recommend it for Koh Mak!
How to Get to Koh Mak
Koh Mak is located about 40 kilometers from mainland Thailand (Trat-Laem Ngop) and 300 kilometers from Bangkok. From mainland Thailand, speedboats travel between the Krom Luang Pier in Laem Ngop (close to Trat), to Koh Mak and back. One way tickets are 450 baht and the ride takes about 45 minutes.
Boats usually leave from 10.30 AM till 4 PM every day in high season, depending on the weather. There are different boat companies that travel between mainland Thailand and Koh Mak. They use different piers on Koh Mak. For more information about the boats and to which pier they go to, click here.
It’s also possible to travel between Koh Chang, Koh Wai, Koh Kood, and Koh Mak. Wooden boats, speed boats, and catamarans travel between Koh Chang, Koh Kood and Koh Mak. They often stop in Koh Wai too. It’s easy to book boat tickets with your accommodation or at a travel agency on the islands.
Bangkok to Koh Mak
There are 4 ways to get from Bangkok to Koh Mak: by plane, public transport, shared minivan, or private car/van. With every option, you need to go by boat from Laem Ngop. The fastest way to get to Koh Mak is to fly to Trat. Bangkok Airways has daily flights from Bangkok to Trat. From Trat Airport you need to take a taxi to the pier in Laem Ngop and from there you can take the boat to Koh Mak.
The cheapest, yet the slowest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Mak is by public transport. From Ekamai Bus Station in Bangkok, there’s a bus that goes to the pier in Laem Ngop. For shared minivans or private cars/minivans, we recommend going to a travel agency, your hotel in Bangkok or to the website 12go.asia. The drive from Bangkok to the pier takes at least 4.5 hours.
Looking for the most magical festival ever?! Head to Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng Lantern Festival.
How to Get Around the Island
Koh Mak is a small island, so it’s easy to get around. If you want to explore the whole island, we recommend renting a bicycle or motorbike. The island is pretty flat, so it’s easy to drive around. Most of the time you can rent a bicycle or motorbike at your accommodation. A motorbike costs around 250 baht per day. There’s not much traffic, there are many empty roads on Koh Mak. A taxi is 50 baht per person, but they don’t drive around everywhere. There are taxis at the piers and you can always ask your accommodation to arrange one for you. There’s no public transport on the island.
Koh Mak Things to Do
What to do in Koh Mak? Koh Mak is the perfect island to relax, but besides laying in a hammock or swinging on a swing there are more things to do! Something we really like to do is kayaking. At the Steakhouse & German Bakery, you can rent glass bottom kayaks. That is awesome, but there’s a catch: you can only kayak on the east side of the island. We wanted to kayak on the west side – to the island Koh Kham. So we rented a kayak at the Koh Mak resort, on the west side of the island.
Koh Kham is a pretty, small island. To enter the island you need to pay an entrance fee. Nobody had told us before, so we didn’t bring any money. But upon asking nicely and explaining, we were allowed to enter.
If you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, do the same as we did, or enter the island from the west side.
The water at Koh Kham is amazing! People say you can walk to Koh Kham from Koh Mak during low tide, but we didn’t see people doing that. It’s also possible to kayak to other small islands in the area, like Koh Phi.
Our other favorite activity on Koh Mak is beach hopping. It’s amazing to drive around the island on a motorbike or bicycle and finding the best beaches. Later on, we’ll tell you about the best Koh Mak beaches!
Eating is also a great activity in Thailand. But how about learning to cook Thai? We have had a great experience with our Smile Cooking class in Chiang Mai, so we’d recommend trying the one on Koh Mak!
Koh Mak Diving
Thailand is a great country for exploring the underwater world. And it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive! If you like to dive, there are two dive schools on Koh Mak- BB divers & Koh Mak divers. Both are great dive schools that organize dive and snorkel trips. At both dive schools, it’s possible to take lessons and get certified.
Koh Mak Snorkeling
You can also go on a snorkel trip, we didn’t do a tour but we snorkeled ourselves. If you go to the Koh Mak Cocoscape pier you find a great snorkel spot. Also, there’s a bar on the pier, which is pretty cool! The pier at the Cinnamon Art resort is even cooler, it’s super long & has a great spot for drinks. Koh Phi is a great little island for exploring the underwater world. So if you hop in a kayak, don’t forget to bring a snorkel set.
You can’t go to Thailand without exploring Bangkok! Read all about our best tips.
Koh Mak Beaches
Koh Mak has many beautiful beaches. Most of them are very quiet, or completely empty! But what’s Koh Mak’s best beach? It depends on what you want! Ao Kao is the most popular beach on the island. So if you are looking for restaurants, cafes and a lively atmosphere, this is the beach to go to. There are also some very cool hammocks and swings on Ao Kao and at the resorts. We really like the Lazy Days resort side of the beach. Ao Suan Yai is also a popular beach with a beautiful view of Koh Kham. Laem Son is a wonderful beach to go to but our absolute favorite beach on Koh Mak is Ao Phra! Beach hopping on Koh Mak is amazing, you can find the most amazing beaches.
Best Sunset Spots
The Banana Sunset Bar is a great place to see the sunset and to have a drink and some food. Be on time to claim the best spot! It’s a laid back place with views over the sea. The atmosphere here is the best. There are tables with Thai-style mattresses to fully relax while the sun goes down. The best beach to see the sunset from is Ao Suan Yai.
Koh Mak Hotels
Koh Mak has around 40 accommodation options, varying from basic bungalows to luxurious resorts. It’s possible to find accommodation when you arrive on the island, though during high season it’s recommended to book in advance. Especially if you want to stay in one of the popular places. If you are looking for more bustle, then it’s best to stay in the Ao Kao area. Below we will tell you all about the best places to stay on Koh Mak, for every budget!
- Bamboo Hideaway: Bamboo Hideaway has great authentic bamboo bungalows, perfect for backpackers. Its location is not at the beach and not in the busy area of the island. So it’s best to rent a motorbike or bicycle to get around. Bamboo Hideaway is the perfect spot to see stars at night and there’s a swimming pool to relax. The staff is very friendly and can help you with everything you need.
- Ao Pong: Ao Pong Resort is a very quiet place to stay at. The resort has a private beach and is located in the South East, far away from the busy area of the island. There are multiple bungalows, from basic to more luxurious.
- Islanda Resort Hotel: Islanda offers stunning views over the beaches Ao Suan Yai and Ao Kai, and the island Koh Kham. Its location is on top of a hill, so it’s a bit secluded. A motorbike or bicycle is handy to get around and to go to the beach. The infinity pool of Islanda Resort Hotel is the best!
- Banana Sunset: You remember this great spot to go to and watch the sunset? That’s Banana Sunset Bar. They not only have a restaurant and bar, but they also have bungalows. The bungalows are quite basic, though some have great views on the ocean. It’s a fantastic spot to meet people and to enjoy the laidback vibes of the island. There’s often live music in the restaurant. To go to other spots on the island, like beaches and restaurants, you need to organize transportation.
- Monkey Island Resort Koh Mak: Monkey Island Resort is a resort with basic bungalows perfect for backpackers. Its location is perfect, right at the beach and close to restaurants and a mini-market. The resort has a relaxed atmosphere and a nice garden. Every bungalow has a little balcony with a sea view.
- Lazy Day The Resort: The Lazy Day resort is a peaceful resort with great bungalows, some located right at the beach. It’s located at the end of the Ao Khao Beach, and therefore very quiet. The resort offers a free shuttle from and to the pier and the staff is super friendly and helpful. This resort is perfect for families and couples.
Koh Mak Resorts
Koh Mak has the most beautiful luxurious resorts for the ultimate relaxing holiday.
- Seavana Koh Mak Beach resort: one of the most luxurious places on the island to stay is at Seavana Koh Mak Beach resort. It’s the best beachfront resort you can find on Koh Mak. This resort has everything you need, a beach, a beautiful swimming pool, great food at its restaurant, massages, kayaks and so much more. As it’s a peaceful resort, it’s the perfect place to relax.
- Koh Mak Ao Kao White Sand Beach: Ao Koa White Sand Beach Resort is a beautiful resort on the quieter side of Ao Kao beach. The resort is right on the beach and has beautiful luxurious bungalows with great views of the ocean. Also great, they are very environment-friendly and do clean-ups on the island! The resort is great for couples and families.
- Mira Montra Resort Koh Mak: private beach, beautiful villas with views on the sea, fantastic pool, green nature: Mira Montra Resort Koh Mak has it all. The resort is a bit secluded, so we recommend staying here if you want to relax and enjoy the peace. Mira Montra isn’t far from the bustle of the island, but you need to get transportation to go there.
- Koh Mak Cococape Resort: Koh Mak Cococape Resort is a great resort to stay at if you are looking for activities. Snorkeling near their pier is great and they have bicycle and kayak rental. The Ao Soun Yai Beach is a 200-meter walk away, but the resort itself is overlooking the ocean.
- Koh Mak resort: Koh Mak is a big resort right next to the pier on Ao Soun Yai Beach. The resort has a swimming pool, there are some swings and hammocks and the beach bar has great cocktails. It’s located right on the beach, and it’s a great resort if you are looking to relax but also for some bustle.
The Red Lotus Lake in Thailand is one of the most romantic lakes ever!
Good to Know
There’s an ATM on the island, but don’t rely on it! It’s often out of cash or it doesn’t take your card. So make sure to bring enough cash. In case of emergency, you might be able to get money from one of the bigger resorts with your credit card, but that’s also not guaranteed. Some resorts do offer money exchange. Also: there are no 7-elevens or big supermarkets on the island. There are some small shops that sell basic things like sunblock, mosquito repellant, toothpaste, some snacks, etc. But if you really want some specific things – bring it with you!
Sandflies can be a big problem on the beaches, though we haven’t experienced any problems with sand flies. So maybe it depends on the season. We heard there are more sandflies during and just after the rainy season.
Sandflies tips: don’t sunbath directly on the sand. And if you are bitten, tiger balm should help!
Also, there can be jellyfishes in the waters of Koh Mak, also the dangerous box jellyfish, so be careful and just to be sure: bring vinegar with you. Wounds are rare but if you pour vinegar on the sting immediately, it’ll give you a lot more time to seek medical help. Lastly: download Maps.me! It shows all the roads offline – also the narrow ones!
Enjoy this amazing Thai island. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. If you liked this article don’t forget to share! Want to follow our travels? Check out our Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
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