Saturday, March 10, 2012


Post-sunset at Boutique Raft Resort up-county on the River Kwai Noi.

Last visited February-March 2012

Kanchanaburi is the Bridge on the River Kwai town. Actually this page is about the Kanchanaburi district which contains some of the most interesting tourist attractions close to Bangkok.
Okay, it aint exactly a beach or island - but a good proportion of travellers who land in Bangkok visit this area so a page is not wasted. Plus it's one of my favourite locations.

Modified Google Earth image showing the lower half of the Kanchanaburi province within 80km of Kanchanaburi town contains the bulk of the tourist attractions. The province extends out of pic about an equal distance further north-north west to the Burmese border. This border turns abrubtly southwards and follows the Kwai Noi River to its west - that is the border line cutting the 40km scale line at about the 18km mark.
The Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai rivers meet at Kanchanuburi town from where the combined waters flow ssw into the Gulf near its north-west corner.
The white line represents the Death Railway. It starts at Bangkok's Thonburi, runs up thru Kanchanaburi town and now terminates at Nam Tok station near Sai Yok Noi falls.

This is a typical Thai provincial capital about 2 hours by bus out of Bangkok. It is also a major tourist destination on account of:
- The Bridge on the River Kwai and associated wartime stuff like the war cemeteries and museums
- Some neat accommodation on rafthouses and stilts right over the river which initially attracted backpackers and weekending Thais. Now accommodation of all standards can be found all over town.
- A lively expat community which sees many bars and the inevitable bar-girl trade which in turn attracts a fair amount of sex-tourists. BTW this is no reason to avoid the town - the bar girl activity is not in your face like some other locations.
- A fabulous hinterland making Kanchanaburi the perfect base for daytrips and overnighters up-country.

Kanchanaburi town at the meeting of the Kwai Yai (top) and Kwai Noi (bottom-left) rivers. There are dozens of places to stay - I've only marked the two I've used. The main business district is centered around the bus station and the tourist accommodation and services in the area of backstreets I've marked in below the railway station. There is another station at The Bridge.

This is the heart of the tourist area, River Kwai Road, which runs from the west boundary of the central war cemetery down to the bridge (although the second half is much quieter than this more eastern section which is a jumble of restaurants, bars, travel agents, convenience stores, bike hire joints etc). There is plenty of accommodation along here but a lot more in side sois leading down to the river. I thought accommodation costs, meals and booze were considerably less expensive than the typical island prices I'm used to paying.

The Bridge on the River Kwai sure packs them in. There are fewer than half a dozen trains a day so tourists are free to walk across. When a train arrives it crosses at walking pace which gives track trekkers time to get to the other side or jump into one of the many waiting sections at the side.

In late November/early December the Bridge on the River Kwai Festival is held. The highlight is a nightly laser and fireworks show which enacts the bombing of the bride by the Americans in WW2. Explosions, searchlights, fires beside the bridge depicting collateral damage to POW encampments. The finale is the arrival of a genuine steam loco, whistle hooting like crazy, followed by a huge explosion and a couple of rails lashed under the bridge falling into the water. Sounds corny but my viewing in 1998 was very enjoyable. The fact I and a bunch of fellow backpackers were moored front-row 50m downriver from the bridge on River Guesthouse's navigable pontoon with copious amounts of beer Chang may have had something to do with it - the best seats in the house at a cost of about $2 compared to the big baht paid for the grandstand seating on the river banks. Post show was hilarious as 20 or so similar pontoon barges, some of them enormous, manoeuvred to turn around and then raced each other back down river.
Note the Festival is very popular with Thais so if you are planning to visit at this time book well ahead.

The banks both sides of the bridge are packed with restaurants, a pretty nice place for a meal or a late arvo drink. Plenty of places where you can hop into a longtail for a fang on the river.
Note that around the Bridge Railway Station is a day market with very competitive prices.

The central war cemetery at Kanchanaburi. There are thousands of Brit, Aussie, New Zealand, Canadian and South African graves here. Even a fair few American despite the US repatriating as many bodies as possible after the war. There is an adjacent war museum, one of several arround town.

What I found most tragic was the youth of so many of the interred. This bloke maybe didn't even have a girlfriend.

Some didn't even have identities. Most bodies were transferred at war's end from the makeshift graves up-valley near the Death Railway construction sites. Easy to lose identification there or in transit.


The hinterland offers an array of attractions - hot springs, waterfalls, rafting, temples, the Death Railway, war cemeteries, elephants, tigers, caves, ethnic villages etc. One of the best ways to see some is to take one of the packages which combines 4 or 5 activities into a full day with transport by van and often for part of the trip by train - often throwing in a trip on the river by raft, longtail or even a fast 2km drift downstream in a life-jacket detailed to me by one enthusiastic middle-aged Aussie lady.
To see a typical selection google Noble Night Guesthouse - its trips and prices I found were very competitive to other offerings around town.

You can do these daytrips out of Bangkok but frankly even in a big comfy aircon bus the nearest up-country attraction is at least 3 hours one-way from the city. I'd be looking at an overnight or 3 day trip if I wanted to make Bangkok my base.

You can also do these places when staying in one of the dozens of upcountry accommodation places. If this involves walking down to the nearest rafting platform or hiring a moto for a few km trip to the local waterfall, fine - but driven multi-location full day trips will usually cost more because smaller economies of scale usually mean you hire the whole van or car.


Nam Tok bound train crosses the River Kwai bridge at KanchanaburiOriginally constructed by the Japanese in WW2 using prisoners of war and press-ganged SE Asian labour at the cost of thousands of lives, the line originally ran all the way to Burma. Trains now run from Thonburi in Bangkok to Kanchanaburi in a bit under two hours and onwards to Nam Tok near the Yai Sok Noi (small) waterfall in a bit over another two hours.
Like all Thai trains punctuality is not good - I read a recent report from a guy went all the way Bangkok to Namtok where the train was nearly an hour late, had 5 minutes to buy a return ticket instead of a half hour for a quick look around, and arrived back in Bangkok after 10 nearly continuous hours of clickety-clack. Fortunately there are plenty of local food and drink sellers working the carriages.
I've done 3 trips on the train including the journey Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok in Feb 2012 when I was changing accommodation from town to up-valley and have to say that the nearly 3 hours spent on the train (it was late and ran slow) was enough - much of the trip is thru similar sugar cane country which is pretty dry and very hot that time of the year.
The best way to do the trip is put on by the many daytrip operators - they drop you by van at one of the intermediate stations and you run the best part of the line which includes the very scenic Thamakase viaduct - you are then picked up at a station a half hour or so further along thus avoiding the more boring sections and allowing you to reach Nam Tok or the River Kwai Bridge to photograph the train's arrival.

The Thamakase viaduct. Our 2012 daytrip dropped us at the station on the northern approach a good 40 minutes before the train arrived. This gave time to walk the viaduct - there is a station at the other end (way up near the top of shot - if you click to expand you may be able to see it) and if the train arrives early (as if!) it crosses at walking pace so you won't be caught short. I had plenty of time to walk up and back, check the Krasae Cave left of camera and buy a beer at the small market adjacent northern station with a good range of eats and drinks and usual touristy trinkets.

Shot from near the opposite southern end. Country each side of the viaduct is very scenic.

Only 5 minutes late!

Slow progress across the viaduct is probably as much for photographic opportunities as safety.

The view sure gets them in. A seat on the western side of the carriage (left up-valley, right down-valley) is an advantage.

The Krasae Cave. Nothing to get excited about unless it is of religious significance to you. Only goes another 20m behind camera. Interestingly a local pooch was taking it easy in a cul-de-sac to right of frame. Smart canine - it was about 35 degrees celsius outside.


So named for the flinty sparks as workers' picks struck the rock during night excavation, this was one of the most difficult sections of the railway to construct. About 30 km further north of the present end of the line at Nam Tok, the Australian Returned Services and Army have built a circular walkway and a very nice airconditioned museum with lots of photographs, models and other information about work in the area. If you don't enjoy crowds and ceremony, one time of year to avoid may be around April 25, Australia's Anzac day, when lots of Aussies are making this location a must-visit.

A section of the old line has been relaid in the main cutting.

You can walk the old railway bed for some distance north of the cutting. I turned back after abt 500m at a sign advising daytrippers that their van may not wait for ever.

I consider these a must not miss. A series of 6 small waterfalls in a nicely rainforested National Park about 40km up the Kwai Yai river from Kanchanaburi town. I visited by hire-motorcycle in 1998 and as part of a multi-destination daytrip in 2012. You can also catch a bus up from Kanchanaburi bus station hourly (note the last return bus is around 1430). I also noticed quite a few big coaches arriving from Bangkok around 11oo-1200. This would have required a 0800-0900 take-off. Note that as a National Park area there is an entrance fee for westerners of 200baht (40 for Thais) although ours was included in the 890 baht trip fee which also included a nice lunch in the restaurants in the HQ area, visits to Hellfire Pass, Krasae Cave, a train ride across the viaduct and down line a ways and a call in at the River Kwai bridge for a walk, photography and some shopping in the daymarket.

Fall #1, about 10 minutes walk from the National Park HQ. This and Fall 3 probably have the best swimming - both have change facilities.

If you leave your feet still in the pools, fish will come up and nibble any loose skin etc. May not be a good location for skinny-dippers.

The highest pool at #6 took me about an hour to reach including several stops for photography. Easy going to Fall 4, then a bit more difficult but not too bad. It is easier to back-track from Pool 5 to the Falls 5 by-pass rather than take the much more difficult direct track from #5 to pool 6.
The pool at 6 is nice and had quite a few swimmers - most people are pretty hot by the time they reach here. The actual water drop is left of shot - there is a hollowed-out section behind the falling water which is a neat refuge. Several lower pools have similar.

If you are really keen you can scramble to the very top above pool 6. The flow descends a steep slope and then drops vertically maybe 15 meters into the pool. Pretty tricky getting up here and I wouldn't like to try it when the rocks were wet from rain or heavy creek flow. Hint - head up to the left from the small cave to left of the vertical falls. Modest flow reflects the fact that this is dry season on a small tributary to the Kwai Yai River.
Erawan is very popular with Thais, particularly on weekends. The place was relatively uncrowded when my van arrived around 0900 on a Sunday but as I returned from Fall #6 after 1100 there was a constant flow of locals plus westerners (a very large proportion Russian tour groups) heading up the track and at the pools.
This is shot back at National Park HQ - as said there are restaurants in this area, plus National Park bungalows and a camp site. I found sign-posting (both in Thai and English) and general condition of facilities way better than my first visit in 1998.


THE TIGER TEMPLE is one of the best known and polarising for many people. It does not appeal to me but everyone I have talked to who has visited were super enthusiastic.

RAFTING is another I've missed, but having seen dozens drift by from the veranda of my Boutique Raft Resort's floating bungalow at Sai Yok, it is definitely on my to do list next visit. You can also kayak, canoe or ride the river on longtail boat.

Bamboo rafts float under suspension bridge immediately upstream from Boutique Raft Resort. River was flowing late dry season at a fast jogging pace so it does not take too long to cover a good distance.

SAI YOK YAI WATERFALL - although a single drop into a big pool, this area is otherwise similar to Erawan in that it is a National Park area with entrance fee, camping, bungalows, restaurants etc. It is another 20km or so up-valley from Hellfire Pass. I meant to check it out this latest trip but ran out of time.
SAI YOK NOI WATERFALL is much simpler with free entry and very close to Boutique Raft Resort. I have some pix down-page.

ELEPHANTS - riding elephants doesn't float my boat, but I did enjoy photographing a few in the small elephant camp near Boutique Raft Resort.

CAVES - the area has dozens. Apart from the Krasae Cave shown up-page I also rode a bicycle up to Lawa Cave from Boutique Raft Resort. That turned out to be a bit of a disaster - details down-page.

HOT SPRINGS - are found at Hin Dat 40+km north of Hellfire Pass, a fair distance up valley. I went there as part of my package daytrip in 1998. Pretty enjoyable and very popular with Thais. From memory, fans of ultra hot natural spas may be disappointed. I don't have pix - 1998 was during my ultra-lite travel phase without camera.

This is way up valley, at the border to Burma - maybe 200km from Kanchanaburi. When I first visited in 1998 there were promotions all around town re daytrips. On the latest 2012 visit such promotions were scarce. Noble Night Guesthouse's travel agency was showing a 2 night or more trip which makes more sense to me - 200km and then return is way too far for a daytrip plus there are quite a few other attractions in the upper part of the valley worth visiting.
Note that the border fluctuates between open and closed depending on the political situation. At the time of writing the Burmese authorities are having one of their appeasement periods so it should be open. When open you can apparently visit a local market in the Thai border town and do some nearby cultural stuff.


There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of places to stay covering all price levels both in town and up-country. Below is some info on the 3 places I've stayed at:

This was our first stop in the area during our 2012 visit. We were looking for a lower midrange joint with air, hot water, a pool and hopefully a frig and after looking thru the many offerings, reading user descriptions etc though Noble Night would do the job. Which it did. Good position in a small soi off the busier part of tourist central River Kwai Road - not far from the railway station, the central war cemetery - about 2km from the bus station (see second Google Earth image).

Pool at Noble Night Guesthouse. Very welcome on typical 35C February afternoons. Shady pool cafe is behind left - our room behind right. Efficient aircon soon overcame the heat sink from the afternoon sun on the wall. We were worried about pool and cafe noise at night but the cafe seemed to close around 1800 and the pool at 2000 so no problems.
Spacious room (this is the Superior Room and at 1000bhat incl breakfast was way superior value compared to what 1000 will get at many Andaman locations high season these days). See website and hotel booking sites for other rooms, prices.
Good restaurant up at street level with prices lower than the budget beach bungalows restaurants I'm used to. Travel desk run thru associated Kanchanaburi Travel Center seemed to have the same sort of trips and competitive prices to outside places.

Noble Night has a rafthouse out back (this is shot from the pool sundeck) on a small branch of the river - rooms here are described as backpacker but with hot water, tv are maybe a step up.

For the second part of our 2012 visit we decided to stay up-country. I'm a sucker for raft houses (see my Khao Sok page) and after much research thought lower-midrange Boutique Raft Resort fitted our wants best. So we jumped on the train to Nam Tok where a free shuttle was waiting from Boutique to take us the 2km or so down to the Pak Meng Pier area on the Kwai Noi.

Boutique Raf Resort. 9 raft rooms plus the bigger honeymoon raft closest camera. Extra hotel style rooms are under the big open sided restaurant high background left.
Small pool at left had mesh ends and cane bottom - the mesh cut current so I found it easy to swim against - no chance in the river.
If you click to expand shot you will better see a rafting outfit's pontoon and restaurant down near the bridge. Pack Meng pier is just this side of the rafting outfit - consisting of a smallish landing stage for longtail passengers and a rather good boat ramp thingy.
Bridge in background goes to the western side of the valley - there is a small elephant camp immediately to the left once across and a baan or village about 500m further up the road. The mountains near the Burma border plus Lawa Cave, more elephants, resorts etc are further on.
This is shot from the original crossing - a suspension bridge in pretty poor repair but excellent for 9 year olds to jump into the river ......

.... and having a mental age of 9 years I just couldn't resist. Several times a day. Because of current's speed there is a need to head directly for the rafthouses from mid-stream landing. It would be difficult at speed to haul onto the rafthouses - I floated past these and immediately headed for the bank which got me near the concrete boat ramp 50m onwards - note current not strong close to ramp. Ramp not slippery, unlike similar salt water ramps. 200m walk back to rafthouses.

Swimming backwards. Quickly. I can swim at a good walking pace. But the river is flowing the opposite direction at a fast jogging pace.

The longtails ferrying bamboo rafts back upstream to the starting platforms could do a little better against the current- they tended to move at a slow walking pace. I figured it was to reduce hydraulic damage to the rafts - the longtail motors didn't sound under full load.
By the way, some people warned that longtail noise was one of the few negatives of the raft houses. Now I HATE long tail noise - but it did not worry me here. Traffic during the day was not over-heavy and none at night.

On our last day some guys came and made makeshift repairs at right to the suspension bridge. Amazingly I saw a local ride a motorcycle across the day before. That biggest gap has to be well over a meter wide and he must have ridden across one of the longitudinal joists which would be no more than 75mm (3 inches) in diameter.

View from rafthouse pretty nice - a good spot for an afternoon relax on veranda with elcheapo Thai rum watching bamboo rafts and tourists in longtails cruise past. Room itself rather nice - bamboo thatch walls and polished timber. Most comfy of trip queen and single beds. Plenty of storage. Aircon, refrigerator. Insects didn't seem a problem. Serviced daily. Nice bathroom with hot water. The other negative trip reviews mentioned, thin walls, did not affect us. We didn't have honeymooners next door.

Restaurant (top floor) reception (lower). Food nice, views great. Service excellent. Prices maybe 20% dearer than budget restaurants which is pretty good given the setting. American breakfast included in tariff not bad.

This is the small business area around Pak Meng Pier, a 3 minute stroll from Boutique Raft Resort.
Real quiet in this shot but after abt 1230 there are often 3 or more big coaches unloading trip groups into restaurants or to the landing stage at the pier behind camera for a longtail trip up/down river. Or maybe to the rafting place for a quick drift.
Apart from restaurants, there is a general store which also has meals, accommodation, internet, motorbike and bicycle hire plus trip-booking and transport services all around the area.
Note that Boutique Raft Resort also offered the latter, but in both cases trips to Erawan etc tend to be more expensive unless you have a fair sized group because you hire the whole vehicle.

Calm before the storm - biggest restaurant in the Pakmeng Pier precinct just before the tourist coaches and longtails arrive for the set lunch. We found a la carte prices, food good and service surprisingly slick even when the place was crowded.

Around Boutique Raft Resort

Sai Yok Noi (small) Waterfall is only 2km up the road from Boutique Raft Resort - and a little more than one km from the end of the Death Railway line at Nam Tok station (plenty of transport waiting if you don't want to walk). This is an easy-access waterfall - walk up the short set of stairs from main road level and 30 m on you will get this view - very popular with both western and Thai visitors but note most people up under the top falls were western.

This is the view at street level. At one stage I counted 9 coaches waiting. Lotsa restaurants and other touristy stores to right - a good place to grab a beer or two if you have cycled up from Pak Meng Pier in 35C temps.
Business district starts behind far tree and runs another 800m or so south - has a bank and 7Eleven among other services. The business district also continues from this area up towards the station which is about 500m left from the main road.
I was struck by the dozen+ accommodation signs both in town but more down roads towards the river along this small section of the main road.

Take the first dirt track left across river on the big bridge near BRR and you reach a small elephant camp. I'm not a fan or riding pachyderms but fellow guests were very enthusiastic about the river-bathing session which starts around 1500.

The Lawa Cave. Small disaster. The girl in the bicycle-hire place tells me I'm crazy riding the 18km one-way up to the caves in the 36 degrees C the thermometer on her desk is showing. I'm all bullshit and bluster - Nah, gets to 40+ where I live. Well it does, but not too often.
Slightly uphill for the first 14km on a good road west of the river - then the turnoff has signs showing STEEP SLOPES. Hell! But I figure if it's hard going up it will be easy coming down - and fortunately each upgrade is relatively short and rideable.
So after about an hour from base I reach the caves down near the river, climb the 130 stairs to the entrance. The sign says there are light switches inside - but nope, I can't see any despite the assistance of my camera's flash. There is no-one about to ask.
So all I get is this pic of an outer section. I later find some inside pix on the net - this is not a small-time cave like the Krasae but a 500m long tunnel with some pretty impressive limestone formations, colours etc.
Hey, for some reason the ride back, despite downhill, takes about the same time. Maybe it was the darn seat post, no way near long enough. Experienced riders will know how hard this makes things after a while.

The River Kwai Resotel Resort just off the cave access road. This is a more upmarket joint - most accommodation is in nice pavillions behind camera. Those are the restaurant and rafting-boating pontoons in shot. This area is pretty close to Hellfire Pass about 6km futher north on the other side of the river. Mainly Russian guests when I called in. The number of Russians in Thailand these days, all seemingly travelling upmarket from your humble observer belies the crap condition of the Russian economy apart from oil and gas. But I've said crap for years about most European Community economies - recent history is maybe proving I'm not completely nuts.


This is a 2012 shot of the backpacker stilt-house joint I stayed at in 1998. Hadn't seemed to have changed much. It's on an open section of the river a bit closer the central war cemetery, railway and bus stations than Noble Night. A good value place with a neat bar pontoon barge we would drink beer on and watch movies at night - this is the pontoon we took up to the Bridge light show later in the week. My first night a flotilla of barges came down river returning from the River Kwai show. I think they had an unofficial race on -sounded like a thousand bomber raid. Our pontoon rocked like crazy as they passed.
Quite a few similar joints plus some good restaurant/bars with river views in this area.

Many accommodation websites etc have the latest up-to-date info on transport times and costs -'s Kanchanaburi section is very good in this respect and also has a killer interactive map and a lot of other good info.
So I'll stick to an outline here:

To Kanchanaburi from Bangkok:
- cheapest is by train or bus and you are looking at between 2 and 3 hours for the trip. Most days there are only 2 trains but buses every 20 minutes leave from the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai), less frequently from the Northern Bus Terminal at Mo Chit.
- faster, slightly more expensive minivans leave from the Khao San Road area and Victory Monument.

From Kanchanaburi up-country
- the train runs as far as Nam Tok up the Kwai Noi river valley. From the bus station roughly hourly buses also run up this valley on route 323 but much further north to Sangklaburi near the Burmese border. That would be a looooong trip.
Buses also run up the Kwai Yai valley 0n route 3199 - every 50 minutes or so to Erawan Falls and to the big dam further north.

Transport away from Kanchanaburi to more distant parts is well facilitated. If you expand the above pic which is typical of accommodation places and small travel agents (in this case Noble Night Guesthouse) you will see there is a minibus to Hua Hin on the Gulf coast from where you can get trains and buses to the southern Gulf and Andaman for the islands. The minibuses to Ayuthaya and direct to the airport would be useful for a lot of travellers.
From up country you need to get back to Kanchanaburi to take advantage of these but accommodation places can arrange direct transport eg faced with the cheapest airport option from Boutique Raft Resort to Bangkok International Airport which would have taken 6 hours minimum given good connections, we took the resort's car which cut the travel time to 3 hours in aircon comfort. It wasn't cheap at 3000baht but worthwhile given we were looking at a 10 hour flight home.

I like to end a page with a sunset shot but okay, this is sunrise - back at Boutique Raft Resort.

But wait, there's more! I found this great shot on Wikepedia. They say it shows riverside housing but locals can't afford to put their houses on pontoons. Looks like the joint was a backpacker standard rafthouse some time in the past. Note nearest raft looks to have a restaurant deck. Note too the low level of the river (mud at bank-side) - maybe shot in time of drought. I noticed river would fluctuate a small 150mm or so during the day, highest mid-morning. A fellow guest told me the big dam upriver lets extra water out each morning.
I wonder how high the river gets and how fast it flows at the peak of wet season?
This shot expands hugely if you click image on the Wikepedia page linked above - expands less on this page.

If you see mistakes or have extra information, please post below. If you have a question, please ask it on THE FORUM accessed thru the index link top right of page. I seldom check individual pages this far down but I try to monitor the Index daily when not travelling.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Ko Kood (Kud, Kut) updated

Last visited February 2012

Dad and junior look on as mum contemplates leap into refreshingly cool pool at Klong Yai Kee falls, northern Ko Kood.

Ko Kut (Kud, Kood) is a fairly big, hilly island in the far eastern Gulf to the south of Ko Chang and Ko Mak. Trat is the nearest mainland regional city.
Like Chang, it has a string of beaches along its west coast, most with one or a few tourist operations. In general these beaches are much better than Chang and the water way clearer.
Unlike Chang, Kut is largely undeveloped away from these beaches - we are talking mostly deserted roads through hilly rainforests with the very occasional small village or gathering of a few huts - and very laid back, both on and off the beaches. In fact, from the western point of view it has been kind of a new frontier - western tourism has not been a big deal until the past few years, most of the resorts relying on Thai middle and upper class package groups.
However things seem to have picked up with farang tourism and there are several places suited to both budget, midrange and higher-end western travellers.

I first visited in 2008. The notable changes I saw on my latest visit were:
*the improvement in the roads - there were only a few km of sealed road before whereas by 2012 all of the main road system had been paved (except for a one km section just south of Baan Klong Chao which seems subject to wash-aways in the wet season) plus the access roads to the two main waterfalls and many of the resorts.
*more resorts and tourists (particularly western mid-rangers) although Kood is still well underdone in this respect.
*an extensive new Russian daytrip and overnight-stay trade which certainly adds some colour to the people-watching.

Roads, beaches with accommodation, waterfalls and towns.
... 1-Ao Maphut/Ao Bon - resort Laguna
... 2-Ta Tin Bay - Coral Beach Resort
... 3-Ao Soneva - Soneva Six Senses
... 4-Ao Yai Kee (Ki) - Captain Hook & Baan Makok resorts
... 5 - Ao Ban Mad - Ko Kood Beach Resort & Suanya
... 6-Ao Taphoa (Tapow) - Shantaa & Cabana
... 7-Ao Noi - Ao Noi Resort
... 8-Ao Klong Chao (Jao) - Peter Pan & Tinkerbell resorts; up the Klong (river) - Cozy House, Klongchao Res, & several walk-in budget places
... 9-Ao Ngam Kho - Hindard Resort, Analay, Dusita & S Beach Resort
... 10-Ao Bang Bao - Siam Beach, The Beach Natural/aka Ko Kod Resort & Holiday Cottage.
... 11-Ao Klong Hin - Klong Hin Beach & In Love resorts
... 12-Ao Jark - Neverland
... 13- Ao Phrao - Phrao Beach Resort, Ao Phrao Sunshine & For Rest Boutique House
... 14-Ao Yai Koet (Kroad) - Koh Kood Island Resort

More details of each beach are below.

THE BEACHES (from the south)

SOUTHERN BEACHES - many Kood regulars say the southen beaches are the most attractive on the island. Certainly inter-access is easy with good paved headland paths linking the 3 beaches - 10 minutes walk for the shorter, 20 the other, both easily traversed by motorcycle.

Southern-most Ao Prao (Phrao) looking north from in front of Phrao Beach Resort. Similar length of fine beach behind camera extends to Ao Phrao Sunshine at the far southern end. Very quiet in this shot - just before 5 speedboats arrived with Russian daytrippers. Anna Kournikova-clone bikini babes/g-string girrrls and beefy beer-bellied blokes in budgie-smugglers (Speedos) sure added some life.
Ao Phrao Resort looks a nice midrange place but had beer prices lower than most budget bungalow joints. A later lunch at Sunshine was pretty reasonable too.

Signs of the times outside Ao Phrao Sunshine. That aint Thai script, baby.

Not so good. Beach litter towards the northern end of Ao Phrao. Resorts do a good job of cleaning their section of beach, but away from there things can be less pristine. Besides unsightly, beach litter tends to be a haven for sand flies in these eastern Gulf islands - I forgot to coat my legs with coconut oil on this walk and had the itches for the following week.
At the far end of shot is a small fishing village at the entrance to a klong - it is possible to rent kayaks from the resorts and paddle a km or so up the river, visit a temple etc.
The village is the location of For Rest Boutique House, a nifty looking joint on stilts beside the klong with very reasonable prices on booking sites like Agoda. They had a small section of cleaned beach nearby with sun lounges etc. The village has a locals' restaurant

Ao Jark is next north - a 20 minutes leisurely stoll around the motorcycle-capable headland path.
This is the section in front of Neverland Resort's beach bar (Neverland is the only place running on this beach with a backpacker type place further south closed down). I stayed at Neverland latest trip - more details down page.
Like all the beaches I visited the water here was very clear. And probably a bit better than the two beaches each side which have klongs emptying into them. Jark's klong was blocked off by sand at the time of my visit.

Falling tide exposes more beach - water offshore looks shallow although an easy wade to swimmable depth. Neverland's beach guy was really conscientious - kept busy cleaning beach of debris as the tide dropped throughout the day at the time of our visit. Beach both north and south of this section very littered.
Far headland (click to expand) has a bit of hard coral and some okay fish towards its seaward end, but not as good as northern headland behind camera which although lacking hard corals had more soft flowery stuff, swaying weed and fish. Easy snorkelling access by wading out to start of rocks both ends even at higher tide levels. Note snorkelling here not great by even Thailand standards but interesting enough to please the less fussy.

Ao Klong Hin is less than 10 minutes walk north around a very good paved headland path from Ao Jark. This is shot from the far end - the section of beach here is widest. In the middle, in front of Klong Hin Beach Resort it has been eroded and pretty skinny even at lowest tide. Widens a bit at far end of shot.
Buildings far right background are part of the other resort on this beach, In Love Resort which is on the other side of a small klong at beach end. Just out of shot to right is a small headland budget restaurant.

Behind camera is a bigger klong with a small fishing village and tie-up berths for the daytripping/overnight speedboats.
We heard slight thumpa-thumpa of amplified music bass one night from our Ao Jark resort - a fellow guest told us that Klong Hin Beach Resort runs a disco 3 nights a week for overnighting Russians. She also told us the Reggae Bar on Ao Phrao has a some music late afternoons and at night. So much for user websites saying there is no nightlife in this area. At the same time the disco might be a turn-off for quiet lovers considering a stay on Klong Hin.

Lady Tezza hams it up in area in front of Beach Resort's rather nice bungalows. Snorkellers will find the fairly interesting rocks area around to Ao Jark starts approx where the wavefront is touching the headland.-----

Central Beaches - apart from Ao Noi, these are the busiest beaches on the island. But once again not overdone - and not unattractive.

Ao Bang Bao - the section of beach in front of Siam Beach Resort. The rickety pier in this 2008 shot (I stayed here that visit - more info down page) has since been lengthened and rebuilt. Kids were having a ball latest vist hurling themselves off the end into the crystal clear water. Beach here is very nice - one of the few which doesn't disappear at highest tide. Seems to be kept clean full length - I've had no sandfly problems here.

A little further north on Bang Bao Bay is The Beach Natural Resort aka Koh Kood Resort. When I visited in Feb 2012 there was virtually no beach - a small section would be exposed as the tides gets low. However it is only a short rock-hop right of frame to the nice beach in front of Siam Beach Resort. Holiday Cottage a short distance to the left had a small section of beach at higher tide levels. Kids were also enjoying the crystal clear water off the pier above. Note this place gets really good reviews in the user forums.

Deja vu all over again. Similar pier of Holiday Cottage only 150m or so further north.

There is no shortage of Bang Bao eating options with 3 resorts to pick from. In 2006 there was also a small restaurant across the creek behind Siam Resort - I forgot to check latest visit. Up on the main road (about a km), just south of Siam's access road is a restaurant, general store and post office. There was a dive outfit sign on a bungalow on the southern headland of Bang Bao not far from the beach.

Ao Ngam Kho is next beach north, except in 2012 there isn't too much beach in this mid-tide shot. Looks like wave erosion was pretty heavy in the past couple of wet seasons; 2008 saw much more sand here. The other big change is in the number of resorts - only one budget joint back then compared to Hindard Resort, Analay, Dusita & S Beach Resort now.

Ao Baan Chao (Ja0) is tourist central on Kood. This is shot from the Viewpoint Cafe on the southern headland which has good coffee and snacks at reasonable prices. The fine beach runs up to a major klong entrance at the far end - the klong bends around the back of the beach so that half the beach is on a spit between ocean and river - Peter Pan Resort is built on this section of spit with both beachfront and riverfront rooms. I also stayed at Peter Pan this latest trip - more details down page. The associated Tinkerbell Resort is behind the near end of the beach. Along the far headland on the other side of the klong entrance is Away Resort - this place has sand dumped above the rocks but guests need to kayak or swim the klong for a real beach experience.

Beach level shot from the exit of the rainforest track to Viewpoint Cafe. The main coast road passes immediately behind the beach here. If you are down closer to the klong bridge best access is thru Peter Pan's driveway. There are no security guys or hassles. If you click to expand you may be able to see Tinkerbell's beachfront bungalows nestling behind the palms not far past kayaks. This beach seems to be kept clean its full length - no sandfly problems experienced.

I shot this from Peter Pan's landing platform as one of the mainland-island speedboats moves towards the mouth of the klong. About 200m behind camera is a bridge where the main road crosses - clustered both sides of this bridge is a bunch of restaurants, small stores, tourist operations, internet, bike and bicycle hire, dive/trip booking joints etc.

The klong runs for another km or so inland of the bridge - the first 500m stretch on the southern side has a string of budget/flashpacker resorts with appealing restaurants on stilts over the water. Klong Jao Resort, Crazy House and Mark House are some. Look on fro details of these and others.
Kayaking seems to be the most popular mode of accessing the beach. In the opposite direction it is possible to kayak to within about 1km of Klong Chao waterfall from where a rainforest path continues.

* * *
Ao Noi is next north - the rather long access road (dirt for the first few hundred meters, then sealed) leaves the main island road about 2 km from Klong Chao. A very attractive beach - a shorter section lies on the other side of the pier. Equally attractive Ao Noi Resort runs the behind the full length of the beach and onwards behind the rocks to right of frame.

The Northern Beaches. In general we seem to be stepping up a class into the upper midrange here - but Thai upper midrange which is still a bargain by western standards. Although Soneva Kiri by Six Senses (anyone for pretentious handles?) is very top range in western money terms.
The island provincial centre is in this area at Baan Hin Dam - has a hospital, police station etc, even a service station instead of roadside joints with petrol in litre bottles.
Way over on the north-east coast is the fishing/pier village of Baan Ao Salad - you can catch the slowboat back to Laem Sok on the mainland coast abt 40km south of Trat from here.
The east coast has not a lot of beaches and most are tidal flats - the only resort is at Ao Yai Koet (Koed etc) south of Baan Ao Salad.

Ao Taphoa (Tapow) at its north end has this small section adjacent the high speed ferry pier. Behind is another attractive resort - Shantaa. Those rocks near beach look a likely snorkelling area to me and the pier is so long that the couple of boats moored at the end offer little threat to the rather good water clarity. If Shantaa guests want a longer stretch of beach they simply walk under the pier to .......
.... the rest of Ao Taphoa. Cabana Resort is maybe 400m down this beach - if you click to expand you may just be able to make out its pier.

Ao Klong Mad is a few kim further north. This beach has Suanya Resort immediately behind and Koh Kood Beach Resort built on the slopes of the far headland. The latter has no beachfront but access to this beach is a short rock-hop. Plus it has a pretty nice pool. Pretty nice looking resort really. Suanya is not bad either.

Klong Mad is immediately adjacent beach - speedboats unload incoming guests onto this pier. The Klong may have some impact on water clarity at the beach but it seemed reasonable. There is a small fishing village in background of shot. Klong Yai Kee waterfall is relatively close to this area - maybe a 2km walk.

Ao Klong Yai Kee (Ki) bottom of shot and Ao Soneva just above it both need transport to reach - guests at Captain Hook Resort and Baan Makok kayak the klong to Ao Klong Yai Kee. Soneva's guests are transported by electric buggy from the exclusive cliffside/bayside chalets to the north down to the southern stretch of beach. I didn't have a kayak for Ao Klong Kee and exclusive Soneva's front gate security goons were not keen on me checking out Ao Soneva, hence this Google Earth oblique shot.

This is a great shot of Klong Yai Kee showing Baan Makok mid-klong left bank and Captain Hook at the mouth right bank. Baan Makok has an access track although my speedboat brought incoming guests up to a landing stage at the resort (it was raining so hard I didn't manage any pix). Captain Hook also lands guests at its landing stage but has no access road - I noticed a small boat land some people into a waiting pickup truck at that small pier in the foreground when I later motorcycled up here, which is probably one way Hook guests access the rest of the island. There was also a Captain Hook speedboat tied up down south at associated Peter Pan on Klong Chao for a good part of one day - maybe an alternative way of accessing other beaches for gu
ests. (image from captainkit - panoramio who I figure must have been flying into Soneva's small airfield on the offshore island a little further north.

Ao Soneva (my name) also shot by captainkit.

Ao Klong Yai Kee ((Ki) shot from Captain Hook Resort's headland dining area. Shown is midbeach - seems to have a lot of log debris, no doubt washed out of the klong after wet season downpours. The sand spit opposite the mouth of the Klong was much wider, startling white and clear of debris when my speedboat passed by. (image RDM - panoramio)

Ao Yai Koet is the only resort beach on the mostly undeveloped east coast. I couldn't find any decent beach pix so I modified this Google map section. Typical of the east coast - tidal sand flats with small sections of above-tide beach. Those steep hillsides sure give a spectacular backdrop. No road access - need speedboat from mainland or longtail from Baan Ao Salad to get to the only resort, Kood Island Resort. All the user comments on Agoda were in Thai script which gives the impression that this is mainly used by weekending and holiday-package locals.

The Far North Beaches are very isolated - there are no roads into them, access is by boat. Once again I got the impression that these resorts are mainly the destination of Thai weekenders/package deal groups.
Part of Soneeva is at the bottom left of pix - notice its airfield on the small island far left.

Ta Tin Bay. Once again I couldn't find any beach pix. When passing in the Express Ferry to the mainland I couldn't work out whether Coral Beach Resort shares this bay with a fishing village - we were some distance offshore and the thick salt encrusted windows were not conducive to photography.

Ao Maphut aka Ao Bon. First a correction - I think my location map 2 up has the wrong beach - it should be the one to the north, just under the 4km scale line. But it takes me so long to modify a map so it stays as is.
As can be seen from that Google map and this pic, the beach looks largely tidal, although some of the other beach shots and Koh Kood Laguna resort itself here look pretty nice. (image

That's way too difficult. I could honestly say I would be perfectly happy staying at any of the beaches I visited with maybe the exception of Ngam Kho because of the lack of sand (but as I say elsewhere on this site, beaches can recover really quickly given fine weather - and Ngam Kho has some good value resorts which get positive reviews).

But if pushed I have to say Bang Bao seemed nicest to me. I don't think any beach I visited was cleaner, the water more pristine and the 3 resorts at Bang Bao are very nice.

Ao Baan Chao comes close and would certainly suit people wanting a good variety of services nearby - and is the standout for budget acccommodation.

Having said that, I've stayed at both the above so next visit I'm aiming for Ban Makok up on Klong Yai Kee. That place and the general area looked so sweet when our speedboat dropped guests on arrival at Kood. If only I can convince Lady Tezza about my kayaking skills.
When I travel without The Bride I go budget - hell those backpacker places up the alongside the river at Klong Chao look the down-price equivalent of Baan Makok. That's where I was heading my first visit to Kood in '06 - still haven't stayed there.

Furiously paddling tezza is shut down by twin-inboard powered kayak as backpackers put the pedal to the metal in dash to distant klongside restaurant for a few cool Changs after exhausting day on Baan Klong Chao beach.

Ko Kood is an excellent island to explore if you have basic motorcycling skills. An auto moped will cost you 300 to 400 baht a day (2012) and the now paved road system, good signage and general lack of traffic make touring around pretty easy. Bicycles are also available but there are some decent hills to climb so you need to be fit if you aim to cover any great distance. Songthaew taxis are scarce although most resorts can organise a pickup or SUV to take you sight-seeing.

This is the main road very close to the access roads to Bang Bao's Holiday Cottages and The Beach Natural. Surface typical of well paved island roads but different in that much of these are backed by dense rainforest and steep hills.
These businesses are partly to serve guests from the resorts, but there are also some pretty nice garden bungalows out of shot.

Some of the tertiary routes are not bad. If you click to expand you will better notice Ao Klong Hin in the background. You can motorcycle in on its access road from the main road not too far south of Bang Bao, then continue around the headland background right behind the yacht to Ao Jark and then around the headland from which this is shot to Ao Phrao (both headland tracks paved apart from the last 200m into Ao Phrao) and then exit to the main road on Ao Phroa's access road.

The Waterfalls
Waterfall-freaks looking for Niagara on any Thai island are gonna be real disappointed but Namtok Khlong Chao is nice enough, involving parallel 15m drops into a big 50m pool and accessed by a real nice rainforest track. And access is free - not the rip-off 200baht to similar falls on nearby big Chang.
I was a bit lucky on both my 2008 and 2012 visits. It looks like from this shot (image Panoramio-apaecezalt).....
…that the falls don’t run too well in dry season. But unusually it rained EVERY night (and briefly on two days) in my dry season February 2008 fortnight in the eastern Gulf and so a good flow was going over, as can be seen here…
This shot from above is of the smaller of 2 parallel drops into the big pool at the base of Khlong Chao falls

I didn’t get a 2008 shot from the immediate lower falls area on account the approach required a fair bit of rock hopping. After surfing point-breaks most of my life I’m sick of going arse over turkey on wet rocks so I gave it the big miss. However about 100m up the main track from the lower access side-track are other short side-tracks which get you to the top of the falls. There are some nice pools up here to cool down in, although they are not particularly deep for good swimming like the lower one.
In 2012 it was fairly wet again and so the falls were running in normally dry February. I was amazed on how the approach to the lower pool had changed - the slippery jumble of big and small rocks had vanished. Wet season flows must have been pretty fierce to wash them downstream. However when I lined up my camera the BATTERY EMPTY! sign gave me the big message so I still don't have a pic of these falls in flow. (I thought I did on my old Kood page from one I poached off Thorn Tree regular tools for fools but I now realise it was of the amazingly similar Klong Kee falls - see below).
I accessed the falls by turning my hire Honda up the well sign-posted paved side road heading inland on the southern side of the main road bridge crossing the river at Klong Baan Chao. This passes those budget/flash-packer joints mentioned before and abt 2km later ends around 600m from the falls. The walking track is thru nice rainforest.
I saw some people walking up from the beach/bridge - it would take maybe 40minutes. You can also kayak or hire long tails to go most of the way - the navigable part ends at the start of a slightly longer creekside walking track.

These falls are towards the north of the island - only a few km from Ko Kood Beach & Suanya resorts at Ao Baan Mad and not too far from Ban Matok and Captain Kook on the lower Klong Kee estuary.
Access is very easy - a short signposted paved 200m access road off the main road north of Baan Mad followed by a 100m rainforest track, steep steps down to the stream at the end. I had a real nice cooling swim in the pool and several visitors were jumping from higher rocks (see opening shot).

UPDATE JAN 213 - there is a 3rd waterfall that can be accessed. Check the messages from Brano Gege and fotogratasmantaspro at the foot of the page for info.

Baan Ao Yai is the only place you can access by road on the southern half of the east coast. A small fishing village, you will mainly come here for a seafood feed.

Baan Ao Salad in the north-east is the only other east coast place accessible by road. Another fishing village with some good seafood restaurants, you may also come here to catch the slow boat to Laem Sok on the mainland south of Trat. This rather impressive Buddha image is on the sea-ward side of the soccer field above the road to the pier. There is an associated small temple.

This was the first place we stayed at in 2012. The speedboat from Ko Maak dropped us at the landing stage on Klong Chao (as mentioned before, the resort is on a sandspit between klong and beach) and we were shown to our least expensive fan hut.

Our Moken (Andaman Sea Gypsy) style fan/cold water hut at Peter Pan, one of about half a dozen over on the far southern side. Very good value in what is a pretty ritzy resort (has pool villas etc). Spacious, clean, king sized bed with firm mattress and ok net, neat bricked indoor outdoor bathroom. Very quiet. Main deficits lack of storage areas, dim lights (go to the reception area to read) plus no seating inside or on porch.

Peter Pan beachfront on Ao Baan Chao from one of the hire kayaks.

View in the opposite direction
Peter Pan was good value with free internet, free tea and coffee all day, beach towels, a big multi-channel tv with bulk dvds in reception for guests from cheaper rooms without it, free ice cream from a self-serve cannister in the afternoons and free transfers to other resorts and any of the piers for the non-speedboats. The inclusive buffet breakfast was pretty impressive but pastry freaks (only toast) and egg nerds (only fried) will be disappointed. Staff were friendly and efficient and English at reception very good. Credit cards accepted with a 3% surcharge.
Food prices in the restaurant were maybe 20-40% dearer than budget restaurants but there is a good selection of cheap restaurants 200m away around the main road bridge over the klong, at the backpacker joint restaurants further up the klong and at the Viewpoint Cafe high above the south end of the beach.

Our favourite outside restaurant was the closest - Mark House immediately across the road from Peter Pan's driveway and alongside the southern bridge approach. Thai food and beer prices were very reasonable although western stuff no bargain. This place has a good general store and some budget/flashpacker accommodation, the latter unfortunately not klongside (image Panoramio-Bonazera)

I didn't notice any Russian tour groups at Peter Pan, but this was one of several Thai outfits. These people seemed part of some corporate thing, arrived on a Monday with copious amounts of boxed beer, stayed in the ultra expensive poolside villas and spent much of their time in hilarity playing various bonding games. Thai groups on holiday are always good value - they know how to enjoy themselves.

The second place we stayed at in 2012 was Neverland Resort down south on Klong Jark beach. We got a free transfer down in Peter Pan's SUV - taking about 20 minutes. Note that Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook resorts all seem corporately linked but despite the name, Neverland appears a mom and pop operation. Nice people. Credit card facilities not available Feb 2012.
Our Riverside Bungalow at Neverland - aircon, TV, fan, hot water but no frigerator despite spec on Agoda. In a pretty garden setting about 25m from the klongside. Comfy queen size bed plus single with enough room for 3 plus gear. Screens instead of net which was not as efficient given a few gaps in the boards. Aircon not real efficient, particularly during the day despite manager's servicing. TV has 3 Thai language channels only. Quiet except for one of our 3 nights when some inebriated Russian overnighters returned from the disco on the next beach.
Cheaper Garden Bungalows seem identical but are second rowers. Most expensive Beachfront Bungalows look far more spiffy, include a refrigerator. Joint also has tents for busy periods - camping bathroom block doubled for restaurant, was spotless.

Klong adjacent our bungalow. Nice grassed area a great spot for a late arvo beer or three.

Klongside table at Neverland restaurant. Food good, prices at normal budget restaurant levels (and eating options at adjacent beaches - nearest about a 10 minute walk north to Ao Klong Hin's southern headland), service good, self serve tea and coffee all day.

Beachfront at Neverland. That's the beach bar in centre - although most people strolled the 150m to the restaurant on account the beach guy was kept pretty busy cleaning the debris as the tide dropped. That tide line of leaf litter, weed etc didn't last long with this guy around. But beach pretty sad within 100m north and south.

Cool merry-go-round behind the beach bar.That's the Beachfront Bungalows in background - actually about 100m thru the manicured coconut plantation from the beach. Bungalows looked pretty nice and seemed worth the extra ask over our Riversider. Signs exhort guests to stick to main path under net to avoid being concertinaed by a falling coconut although non-netted paths like one in pic worn by staff were pretty safe too.

The graduate of an underprivileged childhood, Lady Tezza is undisputed World Champion at Finding Money and Valuables in the Surf/On the Ground on account she is always intensely checking the likelihood. Even better, she found this little live sea horse at Ao Klong Jark.

I stayed here on my 2008 visit. I’d originally intended to stay with the backpackers on Khlong Chao, but when my speedboat from Ko Chang swept into the narrow but deep-set bay at Bang Bao and I spotted the nifty looking traditional style huts of Siam Beach Kohkood Resort behind the rather excellent looking beach I though Whoa -This is the place for me! and bailed out at the rickety pier.
Siam Beach Resort's trad bungalows and nice beach look pretty sweet from the end of the pier.

Had been refurbished by 2012 - neat but not so traditional.

Hur hur hur.... for the second time in 2 islands, all the huts in my chosen place were taken. But the manager put me in one of the big rooms in the family unit in “Siberia“. I call it Siberia because it was waaay over the southern side of the resort about 400m from the restaurant and 100m from the beach. It’s actually a block of 5 rooms built on piers over a small lagoon which looks pretty spiffy at higher tide levels, but they have taken no advantage of this - the balcony out back to take advantage of the lagoon view must have slipped the architect’s mind.
But this area is good news for families and bigger groups of friends. Most of the 5 rooms are about 10m by 4m, with either 4 or 5 beds, plenty of space for all those people’s gear and with big bathrooms. My room was slightly narrower at 3.5m and had only 2 beds - big soft ensemble jobs, ditto pillows. Shiny tiled floors but wooden walls not particularly soundproof. Quiet fan, lights a bit dim. Bedside table but otherwise storage on huge floor area. Huge tiled and concrete bathroom, basin, bidet gun, good water pressure. Towels, toilet paper, soap, comp water. No screens or mozzie net but not too hot at night despite closed windows. It was basically clean but looked to be not occupied for some time so needed a 3 minute sweep to clear dust etc. Pretty good value at 500b.

Siberia in 2012. I'm not sure if these rooms are still used for guests.

Mind you, Siam's fan bungalows at the same price (they also have aircon bungalows at around 800 in 2008) were real nice, had screens + mozzie net and most bungalows are front row close to the beach.

The restaurant at Siam Beach Resort is the usual open-sided beachside job. Food was good to me - but then all Thai food is, prices seemed to be pretty normal and the service was quick, although English was not real strong away from the super busy manager. The Thai-Chinese owner was a bit brusque, but I have to say he’s a pretty good BBQ chef - every night I was there they put on a BBQ. I was a bit bucks-down and couldn’t afford the seafood, but for 130baht I had myself some excellent marinated pork+salad+huge potato-in-foil which goes down as my new best meal ever in Thailand.
Whoa! Somebody's big 2012 day. Part of the beachfront restaurant can be seen in background - seems to have been extended beachwards since 2008. Please excuse the blurry shot - I was shaking with emotion (another one bites the dust).

Note a local guy had set up a small restaurant on the inland side of the lagoon - he also had a couple of rooms. His place is on the other side of the small bridge on Siam's access road.
There were 2 other bungalow resorts to the north of Siam on Bang Bao, The Beach Natural Resort and Ko Kood Resort & Spa as it was called then. There was also a selection of huts along the southern headland just across the small river estaury the other side of Siam, but these looked to have been closed for some time (I noticed a dive outfit seemed to have set up shop there on my 2012 revisit).

Siam Resort claims to have the best beach on Kut and from what I saw when checking the other bays this is true mainly because there is still a strip of sand at highest tide and no other place has clearer water.
Bang Bao beach at Siam looking north in 2008 - the beachfront bungalows now extend closer to camera. The small entrance to the lagoon is just behind the camera.
Newer more southern beachfront bungalows 2012

I found swimming laps at lowest tide on Bang Bao no problem - it’s just a matter of going out a bit further.
By the way, the deep reasonably narrow bay is good shelter and was a popular overnight anchorage for a small number of yachts. One or two Thai fishing boats used it as a daytime anchorage before chugging off for some million-candlepower fishing each night - so don’t go completely naked on the beach Miss Sweden, the fishing guys deserve some sleep.
The long protective headlands make Bang Bao a good spot in the wet season according to Ko Kood Resort's website. (image Ko Kood Resort). Interestingly this shot shows a small patch of good sand at Ko Kood Resort aka The Beach Natural's area (second patch from top). As I have said, beaches wax and wane according to sea conditions.

Dry season is definitely best - all these beaches except all Yai Koet face west and would get big swell in stormier wet season south-west monsoon blows. The trip out may be a bit unpleasant and way fewer boats will run.
Dry season in the eastern Gulf tends to start earlier than other beach areas. You should be safe from early November and some frequent visitors say late October is usually okay. It normally starts to get wet again sometime in mid-late April into May. Note that rain in dry season is not uncommon - usually a short storm or shower.
In wet season these Trat islands are on average the wettest in Thailand as the south-west monsoon lifts over the nearby Cambodian coastal range, but I have still seen plenty of posts from the Trat islands saying people had plenty enough sunshine between showers/storms for a good beach holiday.

Fabulous wet-season shot from Bang Bao beach (image Ko Kood Resort)


The express boat from/to Laem Sok at Kood's Taphao pier. This baby runs almost as fast as a speedboat, is way more comfortable with aircon and aircraft type seats under cover plus video entertainment.

Refer to one of the many Ko Kood websites for latest times and starting places for the various boats. The websites tend to keep up to date with changes. I'll just give an outline:
-Direct boats (at least one speedboat, an express boat and a slow boat) leave from the mainland coast at Leam Sok about 40km south of Trat. This pier is way closer to Kood than the piers used for Ko Chang and the other islands. The boat operators tend to have free songthaew shuttles between Trat and pier and from around Ko Kood to the boats.
-From the neighbouring islands of Maak, Wai and Chang several speedboat outfits run to Kood. They tend to drop you off at your resort as far south as Bang Bao (relax Russian overnighters - you get delivered to your beach south of this by the chartered speedboats).
On speedboat trips try to avoid sitting up near the bow in any sort of choppy conditions - the ride can be brutal and wet.
-Bang Bao Boat also runs a slow boat from Ko Chang as far as Ko Maak where you need to change to one of their speedboats.
-In wet season fewer boats run, but the Laem Sok slow boat which is the locals' favoured mode will always cross unless the weather is dire. Websites will have details of wet season access.

Bang Bao Boat's speedboat heads towards overnight tie-up on Klong Chao. This outfit runs from Ko Chang's Bang Bao pier and calls in at Wai and Maak - has a free pick up service on Chang.

I didn't see any ATM's on Kood although there may be one at the bank up at Baan Hin Dam. Most resorts can change money but the rates may not be great - and most accept credit cards.

Readers of other pages may suspect I'm a sucker for closing with a sunset shot. What the hell, as Smokey Yunik once said: IF A BIT'S GOOD, A LOT'S BETTER (he was talking about engine power but it's my credo for most things) - so here's three:
I scrounged this beauty off tools4fools' Ko Kut pix

And Google Earth's pix povided this fabulous sunset shot by Michael Braun-Panoramio of the Klong Chao river area looking back towards the mouth from the main road bridge.

Well my humble effort at Kong Jark can't compare, but the excuse is my elcheapo 74 bucks point-and-shoot probably has a lens made from recycled Coke bottles.


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