Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ko Adang

Post-sunset shot from the southern part of the National Park HQ beach - nice place and time with a bottle of Maekong for company.

Ko Adang is another large, mountainous, rainforest-covered island in the Tarutao National Park. It is less than 2km north of Ko Lipe and about 30km west of Ko Taruatao itself.
I visited immediately after Tarutao and preferred Adang (and I did like Tarutao). Adang has no roads and fewer bungalows, so is even more laid-back. The beach at HQ is arguably better. Snorkelling off the HQ beach is better. The viewpoint is way more spectacular and little harder to access. The waterfall is much closer to the bungalow area and better signposted (until the last 300m) - although like Tarutao’s Lu Du falls, it aint breathtaking once reached. And most of the bungalows and other facilities at HQ are either brand-new or at the most 2 seasons old.
For people wanting to break their desert-island quiet with some shopping or other touristy action, Ko Lipe is a very short and cheap longtail ride away.
.
AREA MAP - image from Andaman Island Hopping.
.
ISLAND AND NEIGHBOURS MAP
Adang's National Park HQ beach starts on the bottom right-hand corner of the island where the three + symbols are and wraps around the corner to the lower east coast. Image - http://www.guidetothailand.com/
.
The beach at NP Headquarters is a reversed L shape - the shorter southern section faces Ko Lipe and is backed by a 100m deep tree-shaded sand flat.
The HQ buildings, restaurant and long-house accommodation block are located here. The bungalows are located on the lower hillside behind the flat.
People can camp anywhere under the trees behind the corner of the beach at the junction of the L or the lower part of the northern extension of the beach. The beach is about 2 km from end to end. This shot is towards the far northern end.
The beaches attract people from Lipe although they were never crowded when I was there - when I took this shot there were 2 other people on the north-south section of the L. There is some okay coral off this beach, particularly near a buoy closer the junction of the L - look for the snorkelling-trip longtails.
Longtails from and to Lipe were charging 50baht per person - 100baht for one person in Nov08. National Park officials were not hassling casual day-visitors from Lipe for the 200baht entry fee. ..
Ko Lipe from the Gado Cliff, immediately above Park HQ - Mountain Resort's beach in the middle, the sweep of Andaman beach to the left.You can see the roofs of Adang’s lower-slope bungalows at bottom.
The path to the lookout is well-signposted from HQ reception and also from where it starts climbing near the new camping area bathroom blocks - 45 minutes and 35 minutes walk from each. 30% of the climb is easy, the rest steep - but no heart-breakers, although circumferentially-enhanced trekkers will stop for a few blows. And bolt to the restaurant on return to celebrate the 50grams lost in the climb with a plate of fries and a coke.

Trip reporter MV sent me this great shot from the top of the peak behind the lookout - it must be about 3x higher again - shot with a 1oomg lens. There is no track so he had to bush bash - said it was hot and dry going.


The restaurant looked brand new - actually having finishing touches made to the steps in this shot.
Nice views thru the trees of Lipe behind. Food and service good - prices a bit cheaper than the average budget bungalow restaurant - maybe a legacy of so many Thai visitors who aint gonna pay Farang prices. Unseen in this shot is a real nice outdoor balcony on the other (sea) side of the restaurant + picnic tables to the right suitable for big groups.
UPDATE - from 2011 all Thai National Parks have been alcohol free so you can no longer buy a beer.
.
Near new National Park bungalows on the lower slopes behind the beach-flat.
Most had tree-interrupted views of Lipe, although the 2 western-most at far left were much better. When booking on the NP website, there is a schematic where you can select your bungalow.
.
My 600 baht bungalow - best room all trip.
Tiled floor, concrete walls (hardiplank clad ext for some reason), sliding aluminium doors and windows, cathedral ceiling, dormer windows, skylight (but over enclosed-roof bathrooom section ????? - I don’t think that was the architects’ plan).
.
Heaps of room inside, near spotless, 4 good lights, quiet fan, thick but very firm mattresses and pillows.
Good mozzie screens on windows but never as good as mozzie nets. Big bathroom 100% tiled, western toilet and bidet gun, separate screened shower recess, wash basin + plug with vanity and huge mirror, towels, toilet paper supplied - even a toilet paper holder. Good water pressure - cold water only. Drying rack, broom and pan, tap for sandy feet at foot of stairs.
.
The longhouse and its bathroom blocks plus some staff quarters were the only facilities not new or near new in Nov 08.
Each room has 4 mattresses on floor. At 500 good value for 4 sharing. Could be noisy with wooden partitions between rooms. This block only 25m from the beach with fairly unimpeded views of Lipe.
.
You can pitch your tent pretty much anywhere under the trees although the very nice and brand new bathroom blocks were in back of the corner of the beach.
Some Thais had pitched bigger tents up against the cliff in this area. Tents in shot are NP ones - being taken down after departure of Thai student group shipped in to clear the beaches of wet season rubbish - the park had been open only a week or so of the 08/09 season. Beaches were spotless. You need your own bedding when staying in tents.
.
The Pirate Falls are 3km and 1 hour up a nice rainforest track which leaves towards the western side of the area near the longhouses. Look for the signs.
Slopes were mainly moderate with only a few short steeper areas. The track was well defined and sign-posted UNTIL the last 300m where it becomes just as difficult as Lu Du falls on Tarutao. Basically you just follow the thick black water-pipes. At one place these dive thru a tangle of tree trunks and thick climbing vines and you think NO WAY - but yep, you’ll find there is a kind-of-way taken by others. The falls themselves are 8m - 25’ tops. Nice pools below and above for cooling off, but not swimming. A small dam for the water pipes is slightly higher.
About 75% back down the track you can branch off and walk down to a small beach abt 500m west of the National Park HQ area where some private outfit is building a midrange hotel. Apparently this section was privately owned by a local. NP is unhappy but I got the impression that this small private holding is a one-off. I didn’t think to ask the ranger if the sea-gypsy fishermen in the two small villages at the north end of Adang had title to their land. This new place hasn’t got much space and is kinda squashed in on itself. It looked 70% finished in late Nov 08. It sticks out from the north coast of Lipe - the National Park HQ buildings are largely hidden by the casuarinas. You can walk back from the new place to the NP beach along the shore at lower tide levels. Don't let any security goons stop you visiting this place's beach - there are no private beaches on Lipe, all are owned by the king and open to anyone.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
Adang has some pretty good snorkelling by Thai standards off the western coast - longtails are always around on the beach near HQ to hire. You can also visit reefs at Rawi and some other locations. I didn’t bother - I have done these out of Lipe last century.
Apparently a more distant Ratana Waterfall can be visited but you need to hire a longtail for the first part of the trip.

NATIONAL PARK SEASON
- is dry season for Adang and Tarutao - usually opens mid Nov, closes mid May.
Note that these island NPs can be very popular with Thais on Thai public holidays and weekends - maybe not such a good idea to show up unbooked at those times unless you have your own tent.

GETTING THERE
FROM THE MAINLAND
Pak Bara is the main departure point at present. I have info on how to reach it from Trang and Hat Yai on my Lipe page.
There is a NP booking and information office (Tel:(074) 783 485) inside the pier compound at Pak Bara where you can also pay the 200b NP entry fee. The entry ticket is good for both Adang and Tarutao. You can also do these things on entry to the island itself. Booking accommodation over the internet is difficult from overseas because you have to get to a NP office or one of the Thai banks within about 4 days to pay. Online booking - http://www.dnp.go.th/

Andaman Island Hopping’s website http://www.andaman-island-hopping.com/traffic/ferrysouth.htm shows 2 slow ferries leaving at 1030 and 1500 taking around 4 hours, but KK Travel in Trang said their combined minibus/ferry ticket picks up a ferry departing 1230.

At least 2 speedboat operators also do the PB - Tarutao - Adang/Lipe run - Tigerline's timetable - http://www.tigerlinetravel.com/index.php?cat=lineboat - shows a speedboat leaving PB at 1100 arriving Lipe/Adang 1230 and the 1130 speedboat I took (can't remember the company) went onto Lipe/Adang after dropping me at Taurtao.
If you want to stay on Tarutao also, tell the ticket seller who will endorse the ticket. Buying a ticket for Tarutao and then another there for Adang is MUCH more expensive.

There is no pier on Adang or Lipe. Ferries and speedboats terminate in the channel between Lipe and Adang or off Pattaya Beach. A fleet of longtails then delivers people all over the place for 50baht per head including the NP HQ at Adang . My longtail first dropped people at Lipe's Sunshine Beach, next Mountain Resort, shuffled me across to Adang and then left with some people for Lipe's Pattaya. Pretty good tour for 50baht.

FROM SATUN
Thammalang pier near Satun where the frequent fast ferries from Langkawi in Malaysia arrive used to have a morning boat to the eastern pier on Tarutao and then to Lipe/Adang but this is not running so far in 08/09 season - looks like the new direct Langkawi-Lipe boats have starved it of passengers.

FROM LANGKAWI
Several boats make this trip to Lipe - you need to land first on Lipe for customs/immigration. See my Lipe page for details and sublinks.

FROM THE NORTHERN ISLANDS
Tigerline runs its fast ferry down to Lipe from Phi Phi picking up at several other islands and the Hat Yao mainland pier near Trang.
Satun Pak Bara Speedboat Club http://www.tarutaolipeisland.com/index.php?lay=show&ac=article&Ntype=1&Id=398027 runs from Lanta to Lipe.

FROM BULON LAE
Satun Pakbara Speedboat Club's fanger will pick you up at Bulon Lae on its way down from Lanta.

A reliable Trang travel agent for booking and transport into all Trang and Satun area islands - good on transfers/accommodation to/for Lanta and further north too - KK Travel in the parallel street directly opposite the railway station tel 075-211198, 223664, 081-8945955
--------------------------------------------------------

If you visit Adang you may also be interested in nearby:

KO LIPE

KO BULON LAE

KO TARUTAO

-------------------------------------------------------
If you have any extra information or corrections post them below. If you have questions, please ask them on the Forum, which can be accessed about 80% down the Index. I don't get to check each island page often, but I'll try to check the forum each day when not travelling.


9 comments:

Katherine said...

Extreemly detailed and useful information Tezza, I love your work!

Daisy said...

Thank you very much for your detailed description. I plan to visit Ko Adang in late January next year. Do you happen to recall the number of two bungalows with better view you mentioned? I looked at the national park authority website and confirmed that it's possible to book a specific bungalow, however I could not find a map of the island. Do you know if the two bungalows are the one with higher numbers or lower numbers?

tezza said...

Daisy, I didn't see your question earlier - if you are still checking, sorry, I can't remember the numbering sequence. I thought the website had a bungalow layout map - maybe that was for Tarutao or one of the others, or maybe it has been removed.

B said...

Hello - do you suggest booking in advance for accommodations for Ko Adang? Also I can't seem to find the link to book online for the National Park Accommodations, can you let me know what it is? Thanks so much!

tezza said...

I only just saw B's question - please folks, post your questions on the FORUM which I check regularly.

Anyway, it's probably too late for B but for other people with similar thoughts - booking ahead is a good idea on weekends and Thai public holidays. I've always found vacancies walk in at other times, but that does not mean this will always work.
But booking ahead is a real hassle if you are out of Thailand because (the last I saw) the National Park website booking section asks you to pay a deposit in a specified bank's branches or your local NP office within a few days of booking.
You can book at the pier at Pak Bara so at least you will know if they are full without going out to the island. Head for Lipe or Bulon instead. Or maybe Langkawi.

Brian said...

thank you so much for all the info! It will be very helpful for my future visit to these beautiful islands. Thanks again.

Brian said...

thank you so much for all the info! It will be very helpful for my future visit to these beautiful islands. Thanks again.

teobesta said...

this might sound like an odd question
but what was the number of the last bungalow/furthest from the restaurant?

Wildhaven said...

Hi Tezza, can`t pm you on the thorntree..? Hey, we`re off to Phuket-Lanta-Lipe in dec 2012. Want to escape the crowds at Xmas. How to book Adang bungalows upon arrival without bypassing Pak Bara.. any chance? Thank you, Nic66