Thailand has many islands and lots of tourists come to Thailand to spend time on at least one of the islands. In our search for the best place to go, we got some advice from locals to head to Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood.
These three islands are situated in the southeast part of Thailand and are quite easy to reach. We fell in love with Koh Mak, the smallest island of the three. But it has so many amazing places to go snorkeling and there isn’t a whole lot to do. Just the kind of vibe we like.
If you’re looking for a couple of islands to go island hopping in Thailand, Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood should be on your radar! All three islands have something unique to offer which makes this a fun and easy adventure.
How to get there
The best place to start for this itinerary is Trat. We took a bus from Bangkok, which is about a 5 1/2-hour drive. It’s the least expensive option. We had comfortable seats and there was a quick stop about halfway through. Not a bad deal for the amount of money we had to pay. Just check Rome2Rio to figure out what your best option is.
You’ll find the red songtaews at the bus station that takes people to the pier. If you pay more they leave immediately but you could rideshare with other people as well. The songtaew will stop at the ticket desk for the ferry so you’re able to buy tickets before it drops you off where you need to be.
In between the islands, there are different size ferries. The one from Trat to Koh Chang is big with cars on it, the other ferries are smaller and drop you off near your accommodation (if that is possible). At the islands, you’ll find taxis that will take you to the accommodation if needed.
Koh Chang is the biggest island of the three with the most restaurants, accommodations, scooters, and tourists. We stayed for 4 days to explore the island. If you have a driver’s license, rent a scooter because the distances are quite long and the roads go up and down quite a lot. Most accommodations will be able to help you with this.
Start your adventure on Koh Chang with a drive to the fishing village Bang Bao. You’ll cross a big part of the island and you’ll get a feeling of what Koh Chang has to offer. Bang Bao has a pier with a lighthouse and there are a couple of restaurants along the water. Don’t forget to stop at Kai Bae View Point.
There are a couple of beaches on the island, perfect for a day of swimming, tanning, reading, and picnicking. At night it’s the perfect spot to watch a sunset. This was our favorite part of our stay on all the islands, laying on the beach, and watching the colorful sky. The perfect end to a perfect day.
Of course, you could take some time to visit some of the waterfalls on the island as well. Just remember they might run dry after a period without any rain. We’re always unlucky and show up at the wrong time. Your waterfall turns into a pile of rocks.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Grand Tree Resort, which has little wooden bungalows with basic facilities. It was close to everything but quiet at night. They have a small swimming pool as well. We rented a scooter via them as well.
Koh Mak is the smallest of these three and our favorite! Because of its size, there are only a couple of accommodations and restaurants and it made us feel privileged. We had our own private beach a lot of the time!
If you love to explore the underwater world, Koh Mak is a perfect choice. We spent 5 days on Koh Mak and most of them we were snorkeling. The water is super clear and you’ll see fish, coral, sea urchins, and much more. Just dive off the pier and start swimming around or head in from one of the many beaches. Our day trip with BB Divers was one of the highlights of our trip.
On this smaller island, not all accommodations have power all day. We picked a cheap bungalow without air-conditioning and that was a huge mistake! It gets pretty hot because there isn’t a lot of shade. Almost everything on this island is just 2 stories high.
Around Koh Mak, you’ll find a couple of smaller islands. Rent a kayak and paddle your way over to one of these islands. Or book a half-day trip to Koh Wai where the water is so clear you’ll forget there is something like a mainland.
Where to stay:
We stayed at Ta-Lay Time in a small bungalow without air conditioning. If we would go back we would upgrade to a bungalow with ac because it gets quite hot. You can walk into the ocean out of your bungalow.
Koh Kood is the last island in this itinerary but sizewise it fits right in between the other two. We stayed for 4 days to explore the island. If you have a driver’s license, rent a scooter because the distances are quite long and the roads go up and down quite a lot. Most accommodations will be able to help you with this.
One of the things that is unique about Koh Kood are the Old Trees, 300-500-year-old Makka Trees. There are a couple of waterfalls as well. Just remember they might run dry after a period without any rain. We’re always unlucky and show up at the wrong time. Your waterfall turns into a pile of rocks.
There is a fishing village where you walk on wooden jetties along houses and restaurants. If you want to eat a seafood meal, this is the place to go. They have basins with all kinds of seafood and you’re able to choose which one you’d like.
Don’t forget to visit any of the beaches on Koh Kood either. Whether you’re looking for a day of fun or a place to enjoy a beautiful sunset, Koh Kood won’t disappoint you.
Where to stay:
We stayed at Big Dreams Resort which is permanently closed now.
Our 2-Week Itinerary for Island Hopping in Thailand
If you’re looking for an island-hopping adventure and you don’t have a lot of time, Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood are just perfect. They’re close together and the transfers between the islands are comfortable and well-arranged.
The perfect time to enjoy yourself and not feel rushed is two weeks. You need a day to travel from Bangkok to Trat. Spend 4 days at Koh Chang, 5 days at Koh Mak, and 4 days at Koh Kood. On the last day you’ll travel back to Bangkok for the rest of your trip or to return home. We booked an overnight stay in Trat at the beginning and end of our trip to help us unwind after the almost 6-hour bus ride.
Things to keep in mind
Plan ahead and make sure accommodation is available, especially if you’re heading to Koh Mak. It would be a shame to get there and having to get back on a boat to another island because nothing is available. The transfers are easy to arrange on the day off.
Bring plenty of cash with you because there aren’t ATMs at all of the islands. We found one on Koh Kood and had to take out money with our credit card which is expensive and unnecessary. A lot of places don’t accept foreign cards.
Wear sunscreen! Maybe it sounds silly but if you’re around or in the water all day it’s easy to turn into a lobster. Which isn’t any fun and is quite painful (yes, this is based on personal experience). Maybe even wear a t-shirt while snorkeling to protect your skin.
Is Island Hopping in Thailand on your bucket list?
Well, there you have it, a 2-week itinerary to go island hopping in Thailand in an area that most people forget about. We loved these islands and all that they had to offer. Each one had a different vibe and created different kinds of memories. The ease of transfers makes this our favorite area for island hopping in Thailand so far.
Let us know in the comments if island hopping in Thailand is on your bucket list. Or let us know what other islands are perfect for an island-hopping adventure. We love to explore new areas and are always looking for input from other travelers.
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