Ang Thong Marine National Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park is made up of 42 islands featuring limestone massifs, tropical rainforests and deserted beaches. This fascinating group of islands, within sight of Koh Samui, is a very popular day-tour destination for tourists. The area became a national park in 1980.

The typical Ang Thong National Marine Park one-day tour consists of ‘bits and pieces’ of activities and sightseeing. There is snorkelling, kayaking, sunbathing and sightseeing including a trek to a lake, a fisherman’s village and of course the beautiful scenery of the marine national park itself. Tours are operated by many companies, but from what I can tell, all do something very similar. Here are our experiences.

Snorkelling: Generally this was disappointing. The first place we went to was crowded with hordes of tourists. After we complained to the operator he moved to another place but the coral was not very colourful. There was some marine life including many kinds and sizes of fish, and some big sea urchins. The water depth around our boat was 3m to 6m so it was good for viewing. The snorkelling masks they lent us were well kept and not dirty or worn out but the life jackets were mouldy.

Sightseeing: Cruising through the national park itself was wonderful. The islands are fascinating and some of the beaches are spectacular. We also did a bit of climbing to see the view of the marine park from a hill then later climbed to see a beautiful lagoon surrounded by steep rain forested slopes.  This was the most crowded place we went on this tour. The climb to the lookout was steep but stairways had been made for tourists. This is where you need good footwear. Sandals are OK but those with straps are highly recommended.

Beaches: This was the setting for the eponymous ‘perfect’ beach in Alex Garland’s book so it was no surprise to find some really great stretches of sand. Most were clean and some were completely deserted.  Ang Thong was once home to a group of travellers who’d permanently dropped out of society. They’ve now moved on to Koh Pha Ngan, but Ang Thong remains as stunning as ever. Leonardo di Caprio, star of The Beach has probably never seen this place himself, since the movie was filmed in the Andaman Sea at Phi Phi Island rather than here because of technical reasons.

 Guide: The guide on the boat spoke English with a heavy accent and those who were not native English speakers found him hard to understand. Some of the European guests said they have the same problem in most places in Thailand.

Booking: You can book a tour on the internet before you leave home and some people said this was cheaper than booking it in Ko Samui. It is from 1700B for an adult and half this for a child on the net but this does not include the admission fee to the marine park which is 200B for an adult and 100B for a child. You can buy 1900B tours when in Ko Samui and this gives you the flexibility of seeing the weather conditions before you go out.

When: The better times to visit Mu Ko Ang Thong are between February and May inclusive as this is a period with no monsoon so the seas are calm for boating, yachting and diving and the water is clearest. From June to August it can be good one day but rough the next. In the monsoon season it rains regularly and heavy seas are often dangerous. We were there in September and the weather for part of the day was not great but the seas were not bad. I was told the National Park office closes during 1 November — 23 December every year.


Thought to Ponder.

British philosopher Bertrand Russell was never one to mince words. He said, “The degree of one’s emotion varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts — the less you know the hotter you get.”


For more information on Thailand see Experience Thailand an ebook available at then search Len Rutledge.

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