Where Koh Kut isn’t white sand beach, it is thick lush jungle. There is only one ATM, and only one main road running north to south. When you’re riding down that wide stretch on the back of a motorbike, the serenity and bliss makes the twenty four hours of travel to get there more than worth it.
It doesn’t have to take twenty four hours. Koh Kut is a five hour bus from Bangkok, with a two hour ferry from Trat. Gluttons for punishment, we started in Luang Prabang, Laos. We flew to Krabi, with a stop in Kuala Lumpur. We were heading for the Andaman Coast beaches, but nature was not on our side and we didn’t want to risk joining the casualties of the floods. Krabi’s skies were dry but moody, and the town itself didn’t speak to me a lot.
We had a recommendation for Koh Kut – or Koh Kood as it is also known – and Travelfish declared it their favourite Thai island. We were sold. On the 19th we boarded our very first twelve hour sleeper bus to Bangkok.
It dropped us in the inexplicable Khao San Road. This is Bangkok’s infamous, maybe even notorious, backpacker and hedonist paradise. It was six in the morning, and I still managed to see a middle aged drunk European staggering back to his house with three African girls. Old ladies mingled with drunk dreadlocked hippies, monks collecting alms, stoned men bartering with sex workers who were heading home, and taxi touts with no teeth refused to use their meter. In the few hours I was there, I saw more rats than I had ever seen in my life. We bagged the last seats on a transfer bus to Koh Kut, and waited in the travel agency which, we discovered, doubled as a guesthouse and a brothel.
The bus was an easy ride, with the Boomsiri Ferry and guesthouse transfer included for 900 baht (I think usually it is 850 but we hadn’t the strength to argue over less than £2). We were weary of travel however, and anxious to get settled in our hostel. It further agitated things when the guesthouse couldn’t find our booking, could only offer one bed in a dorm for £6, or a tent. Since we had private rooms for less, we opted for a tent. It took a day for me to stop making the “sex whilst camping” joke. It’s fucking intents.
Agitated as I was, I wanted to walk to the nearby beach. What I didn’t realise was this island is jungle and beach. There are no lit paths to the beaches. The sun was setting fast and we were heading into jungle. The fireflies came out and we had seconds before there was no light at all. The bushes were rattling with animals, my phone battery was draining quickly and my “near death experience” sensors were screeching. We arrived at the beach in darkness.
On the way back we took a main road. There still were no lights, and the rain came, bringing distant lightning. That’s it, I thought. This is how I die. I should have chosen the Gold travel insurance package. My niece would be set for life.
I didn’t die.
In the morning, we hired a motorbike for two days, opened Maps.Me and headed out onto the road. My mind was geared towards the pristine beaches, but Alessio wanted to scour the three waterfalls.
His favourite was Khlong Chao, where he spent an hour “improving” the rope swing.
He also loved Huang Num Keaw waterfall, where we climbed under the cascades and showered in the waterfall together.
In the far north-west, we parked the bike and walked ten or fifteen minutes along a path through thick, littered palm tree forest. The sound of the sea became closer, until we found ourselves alone, here.
Alone. Not even a barking dog.
A lady lovingly made me a crushed ice lemon juice by pointing at the limes, smashing some ice and blending it all with sugar and water.
For our second day, we headed out on the bike to Ban Ao Yai, a small and friendly fishing village. The fish is so freshly caught it swims alive in small bathtubs in front of the restaurants.
It’s like we travelled so far only to return to Italy!
We only rented the bike for two days, so our final day was spent on foot. We walked through the jungle path that so frightened me on the first night, beautiful and full of butterflies in the light of day. It took us to Bang Bao beach, which is well-recommended but I didn’t love it like the others. Especially after a shit time at the nearby resort restaurant.
Our aim was to snorkel, and you can rent a mask and snorkel from a number of places along the beach. We hired a snorkel from the resort, 100 baht plus a passport or 400 baht deposit if you aren’t a guest, and took it in turns to dive into the waters. It was so amazing to see who much life was swimming around us!
The only thing that began to bother us is that a lot of the beaches were sectioned off into private spaces for resorts, some beaches entirely private but understood the wish to protect the island from the mass tourism that has transformed some other islands. Another problem some people had was the rarity of taxis meant that the only way to get around was by motorbike. If you don’t ride, the walks are long. If you do, or like me, you have a driver then the roads are such fun to ride! It is hilly, so ensure you’re experienced enough.
It feels like a honeymooner island, which as a couple is great. There are also a small amount families, and a handful of young solo travellers or backpackers. The island has a great chilled feel, but it’s not the place for a loud crazy party, heavy drinking or a nightlife scene.
I hope it stays like that. The calmness, cleanness and peace really makes the island so magical. There are no hawkers or hassling, and the pace of life is slowed right down. For a peaceful, beautiful and friendly small beach island, Koh Kut is the prime option.