Complete Koh Mak Island Guide – Top 10 Best Things To Do

Koh Kham Beach: Serene Sandbank

Koh Mak ranks as our second favorite island in Thailand, just after Koh Kood, situated nearby in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a laid-back and small paradise offering all the essentials: amazing beaches, delicious local food spots, and 10 fantastic things to do, all this without the crowds.

A day excursion to Koh Kham left us speechless, confirming that we had found some of Thailand’s best-kept secrets.

This Koh Mak Travel Guide has literally everything you need to visit and have the best time in Thailand ever.

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Is Koh Mak Worth Visiting?

This island is perfect for people looking for a relaxing time and beautiful nature. There is no party nightlife, only a laid-back and chill vibe.

It’s hard to find a beautiful island in Thailand that is off the beaten path and not overrun by mass tourism, but here is the reason why this is exactly what you will find on Koh Mak. This little island is undeveloped, because unlike other islands, this paradise is privately owned. That’s why development here is strictly controlled, and it stays charming even over the years.

Even though this island is undeveloped and growing slowly, there are still so many amazing things to do. Keep reading to find out about the 10 best ones.

Koh Mak, different from Koh Kood, has no mountains, jungle, rivers, or waterfalls. This island is just a beach paradise, with 90% of the island covered in green plantations and palm trees.

Let our YouTube video convince you that Koh Mak is a must-visit destination.

Where is Koh Mak Located?

Koh Mak is located in the Gulf of Thailand, near the Cambodian border. It’s part of the Trat Province, which is in the eastern region of Thailand. It is located between the popular Koh Chang island and the beautiful Koh Kood (best island in Thailand).

Koh Mak on Map

Best Time to Visit Koh Mak?

The best time to visit Koh Mak is during the dry season, from November to April, when you can enjoy sunny weather and calm seas. During this time, you’ll have perfect conditions for beach fun and exploring the island. 

However, it’s worth noting that Koh Mak can be visited year-round, but the wet season, from May to October, may bring rainfall and rougher seas.

How Long to Stay in Koh Mak?

Koh Kham stones

How long you stay in Koh Mak depends on how much time you have and how many of the 10 best things you want to experience. We would recommend at least 4 full days to fully enjoy the island’s beauty, relax, and explore its attractions. However, if you’re looking for a slower pace, plan to spend a week on this island.

How to Get to Koh Mak?

boonsiri ferry

This question caused us a lot of effort because we were looking for the smartest and budget-friendliest option. Plus, it is confusing as there are different piers to Koh Mak, various transport vehicles like slow ferries, faster catamarans, and speedboats, and different companies. Find our personal recommendation below.

If you’re coming from abroad, chances are high that you’ll start your trip from Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. From Bangkok, you have different options:

  • Fly to Trat: You can take a short 1-hour flight from Bangkok to Trat and then organize a taxi to the pier and a speedboat to Koh Mak. This is the fastest option, but also the most expensive, and you will have to organize everything by yourself.
  • Organized Transfer (1200 THB): A combined bus and ferry ticket is the smartest option, where you’re sure your transfer will be smooth, you will arrive on the same day on the island, and it is still a budget-friendly option. It departs from Khao San Road at 6:00 and 7:30 and brings you to Koh Mak in 6 hours, including lunch, snacks, and water. Check availability and exact price here.
  • Public Transport (self-organized): You can take a local bus from Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal called Ekamai (MRT linked) to Trat (300 THB), a songthaew taxi to the pier (80 THB), and then the ferry to Koh Mak (600 THB). There are buses from Bangkok that go directly to the pier, saving you the songthaew taxi from Trat town to the pier. Sounds like you can save some money (200 THB) on transport, right? The problem is that it’s confusing to determine which pier to go to, as boats leave for Koh Mak every hour from different piers, with the last one departing at 4 PM. Check this page for updated schedules. The piers are located far away from each other, and you will have to hope for available tickets without a reservation. But on the other hand, if you make a reservation, what if you don’t make it on time with the bus coming from Bangkok? This is why we chose this combined and organized transfer.
  • If you’re traveling with friends or family, consider booking a private transfer on GetTransfer, which we used once for this journey and found very convenient.

Once in Koh Mak, you can arrange a pickup from your hotel or hop on a songthaew taxi for a small fee.

Some facts about the journey to Koh Mak to keep in mind:

  • The journey from Bangkok to Trat/Piers can take between 4 to 6 hours, depending on the traffic.
  • The boat transfer to Koh Mak takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • The piers that leave for Koh Mak are Laem Ngop Pier and the Laem Sok Pier. They are located 40 minutes apart from each other and both 30 minutes from Trat city.
  • There is no vehicle ferry to Koh Mak island.
  • There is limited boat service during the rainy season between June and September.
  • From Koh Kood, a daily budget-friendly boat runs between the two islands, costing 400 THB.
  • Ao Nid Bay is where the cargo boat and Boonsiri Catamaran stops. There are also some companies going to Ao Ao Soun Yai Beach Pier.

Our recommendation and experience for traveling from Bangkok to Koh Mak and Koh Kood

After extensive research and our own experience, this is the smartest and budget-friendliest way to travel to Mak and Koh Kood from Bangkok.

We recommend first going to Koh Mak with this organized transfer (a combined bus + ferry ticket) for two reasons: to ensure you make it to the island on the same day and because the self-organized trip will cost around 1000 THB, making a 1200 THB transfer from Bangkok seem like a good deal.

After visiting Koh Mak, opt for the 400 THB Boonsiri option to travel to Koh Kood, which offers the best value for the cheapest price.

Later, travel from Koh Kood to Bangkok on your own, as you can save money as boat prices from Koh Kood to the mainland start at 350 THB (a lot cheaper than on Koh Mak where they cost 600 THB) and because you don’t need to worry about making it to an island. You can arrive in Bangkok anytime you want.

The breakdown of costs of the entire itinerary is as follows: Bangkok to Koh Mak 1200 THB, Koh Mak to Koh Kood 400 THB, Koh Kood to the Pier 350 THB, Songthaew Taxi from Mainland Pier to Trat Bus Station 80 THB, Trat Bus Station to Bangkok 280 THB. You will arrive at the Ekamai bus Terminal in Bangkok which has an MRT Station perfect to move around Bangkok. Or just book a Grab.

After visiting Koh Mak, opt for the 400 THB Boonsiri option to travel to Koh Kood, which offers the best value for the cheapest price.

How to Get Around in Koh Mak?

Koh Mak Street: Island's Lively Hub
Koh Mak jungle path

The roads on Koh Mak are in good condition and very beautiful. As most of the island is still green, you will drive a lot between plantations and forests. Also, the island is very flat with just a few small hills. As mentioned before, the island is very small, with driving distances from one coast to another between 5-15 minutes.

Walking

Depending on where you stay, you may be able to reach some attractions and beaches within walking distance. We recommend staying on Ao Soun Yai Beach. There are no sandflies, it’s a beautiful beach, and Kho Kahm is right in front of it.

Bicycle Rental

Koh Mak is too big to walk around but easy to discover by bicycle if you want to do some physical activity while exploring the island.

Motorbike Rental

As is usual in Thailand, a motorbike is the way to go. You can rent one from your accommodation for 200-300 THB for 1 day. A motorbike gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom. Remember to wear a helmet even if you don’t see many people wearing one on this island. Better safe than sorry.

Taxi Songthaew

There are Songthaews that can give you a lift for 50 THB per ride. This is very convenient, especially if you don’t want to drive yourself.

Golf Buggy

We also saw many tourists renting golf buggies, which is perfect when you are more than two people and you can’t fit on a motorbike.

Where to stay in Koh Mak?

Koh Kham Island beach
Koh Kham

The island is very small, so you can stay wherever you want and move around easily due to short distances. But if you’re wondering where the best place to stay is, here’s a short explanation.

There are two popular areas to stay where most of the accommodations and restaurants are located: Ao Kao and Ao Soun Yai Beach.

In our opinion, Ao Ao Soun Yai Beach is the best place to stay, as the beach is beautiful, calm, and there is a long deserted beach stretch, just walk past by Happy Days Resort, which is just perfect to relax. Plus, it’s the beach from where you can head to stunning Koh Kham.

Ao Kao Beach is the most popular place, with a pier, a lot of accommodations, and food options; however, we didn’t like this beach a lot. It’s less beautiful compared to other beaches on the island, and most importantly many boats leave and arrive at the pier all day long. This also explains why it’s the most touristy and busiest place on the island. But remember, you can still stay here in beautiful accommodation and go to beaches somewhere else by a short ride (5-10min).

Whatever accommodation you prefer, we highly recommend booking in advance, especially if you’re on a budget, as there are not many accommodation options on this island. The best deals are the first gone.

Best Accommodations in Koh Mak

Check out top-rated and handpicked accommodations in Koh Mak at different price ranges:

Best Local Food in Koh Mak

Koh Mak Cuisine
Dum Noodle Restaurant
Koh Mak local foods
Om Restaurant

Our three favorite local places to eat were:

If you’re looking for a more touristy place with Thai and Western food options, we can highly recommend the Food Art Hut, especially for breakfast with amazing smoothies and avocado toasts.

The best coffee on the island? Mak Phrao Coffee & Tea had amazing coffee. And another one was Mr. Non Specialty Coffee.

If you’re craving some homemade ice cream and fresh pain au chocolat, don’t look further than Kohmak Homemade Bakes, best for breakfast or snacks.

10 Best Things to do on Koh Mak

Koh Mak is the perfect island to relax and do nothing if that’s what you want. However, here are the 10 best things to do if you need a list to tick off the amazing experiences this island has to offer.

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1. Koh Kham

Koh Kham Aerial View

Visit Paradise at Koh Kham Island. Enjoy the most perfect day trip from Koh Mak, just a 10-minute boat ride away from Ao Soun Yai Beach. Choose between the boat service for 350 THB per person, including return and entrance fee of 200 THB, or rent a kayak for 150 THB per hour and pay the entrance fee of 200 THB upon arrival at Koh Mak.

Koh Kham Sandbar Walking
Relaxing at Koh Kham

After reaching the island, we had to show our paid entrance ticket at a small beach shop and were offered a free cold drink. What a nice welcome!

Koh Kham stones drone view

There is plenty to do on Koh Kham. Stay for half a day or a full day. Enjoy the beaches, which boast the whitest sand and the clearest turquoise water you will see during your stay in Koh Mak. Explore the sandbank extensions, the black rocks, and the abandoned place – a resort that was never finished.

Koh Kham Lost Resort
Koh Kham Lost Place Resort

2. Ao Soun Yai Beach

Ao Soun Yai Beach

Ao Soun Yai Beach is one of the two main beaches on this island. Usually, we don’t like the main beaches of islands. However, Ao Soun Yai Beach was our favorite. Even being the second most popular beach, after the Happy Days Resort, there is a long stretch of wild beach, perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape in nature. We had an entire beach section to ourselves, making it an amazing experience. Plus, you’ll have amazing views of Koh Kham.

3. Laem Son Beach (Secluded Beach) & Koh Kradat

Secluded Beach: Koh Mak's Hidden Gem
Secluded Beach: Koh Mak's Hidden Retreat

Laem Son Beach (Secluded Beach) was our second favorite beach on Koh Mak, remote, not touristy at all, and located only 10 minutes away from the two popular tourist areas. It is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature.

The beach was extremely clean with crystal-clear waters and plenty of shade from the forest. Additionally, there were a couple of sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent. There is only one small shop/restaurant for food, drinks, and to arrange a boat to Kradat.

Koh Kradat is another beautiful island around Koh Mak, reachable by boat from Laem Son Beach. The boat trip costs 400 THB, including the return journey.

The best way to reach Laem Son Beach is to drive on the paved road until reaching this point where the road turns into a private one. Here, you can take a small dirt track on the left and continue for a few minutes driving through palm trees until arriving at the beach. Another possible route involves a much longer ride on a dirt road; this is why we recommend this one.

4. Hidden Beach Resort, Palm Trees Beach & Ko Rayang

Koh Mak hidden beach
Koh Mak's Idyllic Shoreline

The Hidden Beach Resort is located on Ao Kao Beach, the beach we said we didn’t like because of the sandflies and the boat traffic to the pier. However, there is a small stretch of the beach accessible from the Hidden Beach Resort, which surprised us with some beautiful palm trees located directly at the beach, some were even touching the sea. It was a cool spot to take drone pictures.

The Hidden Beach Resort is also the perfect place to rent a kayak if you want to go to Ko Rayang Nok, which has a beautiful beach and only one beach resort, the Rayang Island Resort.

5. Viewpoints and Sunsets

Cape Tukata viewpoint, Koh Mak
Cape Tukata Viewpoint
Blue Pearl Bar Koh Mak
Blue Pearl Bar

There are some places where we recommend checking out the views, especially at sunset time: the Laem Chan Sunset Viewpoint, the Cape Tukata Viewpoint, and the Blue Pearl Bar for some drinks.

The Blue Pearl Bar is a small wooden bar built at the end of a pier and is a nice place to go snorkeling and swimming.

6. Rent a Kayak

Koh Phi: Scenic Gem in Koh Mak
Koh Phi
Koh Mak: Tranquil Tropical Escape
Koh Rayang Nok

If you’re looking for some action and want to visit some tiny islands around Koh Mak on your own, know that this island offers many opportunities for amazing kayak excursions to different places:

  • Koh Kham, approximately 1.3 km from Ao Soun Yai Beach
  • Turtle Beach, 1 km from Ao Soun Yai Beach
  • Koh Rayang Nai, about 0.4 km from Ao Kao Beach
  • Koh Rayang Nok, around 1.5 km from Ao Kao Beach
  • Koh Kradat, 1 km from Laem Son Beach
  • Koh Phi, 1 km from Ao Pra Beach
Turtle Beach: Koh Mak's Marine Sanctuary
Turtle Beach

You can rent a kayak from most beach resorts for 150 THB per hour or 500 THB for the entire day. Of course, you can also take boat trips to all neighboring islands if you prefer.

There is a jungle trail you can take to reach Turtle Beach, but it’s not marked on Google Maps, it’s hard to find it, and takes more than 20 minutes to arrive because of its condition. Instead, you can rent a kayak from Hidden Beach Resort and make it easier for you. It’s the most remote beach of this island; probably you won’t have to share this beach with anyone.

7. Diving & Snorkeling in Koh Mak

Maldives Sea Turtle

Koh Mak is part of the Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park and offers amazing diving sites and snorkeling reefs to discover.

We highly recommend you check out Koh Mak Divers to book fun dives or get PADI certified. They also offer snorkeling excursions to the Marine National Park.

8. Picturesque Palm Tree Road to Lazy Day The Resort

Koh Mak palm-lined street

The road leading to Lazy Day The Resort is lined with extremely tall palm trees. This is the perfect place for a photoshoot in the tropical surroundings.

9. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage

Local Islands Maldives Spa

There are two top-rated places we can recommend: Jan Jao Massage and Nhong Thai Massage. Both offer amazing experiences.

10. Stay active: Running, Cycling, Muay Thai & Yoga

If you enjoy staying active, Koh Mak offers numerous options. As mentioned earlier, you can go kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. However, there are also plenty of activities available on the island itself.

With its tranquil, shaded roads winding through plantations and forests, Koh Mak is an ideal destination for running and cycling.

For those interested in Muay Thai, a visit to the highly-rated Muay Thai Koh Mak Elite Fight Club (Phoenix Gym) is a must. This gym provides lessons for all skill levels, with a 90-minute class costing 500 THB, or less if you opt for weekly or monthly packages that include accommodation.

Additionally, various places on the island, such as the Ao Kao White Sand Resort and Koh Mak Village, offer sunset yoga classes.

More Beaches on Koh Mak

Ao Pra Beach, another very undeveloped beautiful beach, is easy to reach with only one accommodation located here: the luxury Mira Montra Beachfront Resort.

Ao Kao Beach is the most popular and developed beach on Koh Mak, which we didn’t like at all. There was boat traffic the whole day and sandflies, and it’s just not as beautiful as other beaches on Koh Mak.

We personally didn’t enjoy Ao Tan Beach, a beach located on the northeast of Koh Mak. It’s very shallow, and when it’s low tide, the water recedes significantly, making swimming impossible.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1 in Koh Mak

  • Morning: Koh Kham Boat Trip
  • Afternoon: Ao Soun Yai Beach
  • Sunset: Blue Pearl Bar

Day 2 in Koh Mak

  • Morning: Laem Son Beach (Secluded Beach) & Koh Kradat Boat Trip
  • Afternoon: Massage at Nhong Thai Massage & Picturesque Palm Tree Road to Lazy Day The Resort
  • Sunset: Laem Chan Sunset Viewpoint

Day 3 in Koh Mak

  • Morning: Choose an activity such as snorkeling, diving, muay thai, yoga, running, cycling or kayaking to Turtle Beach, Koh Rayang or Koh Phi
  • Afternoon: Hidden Beach Resort, Palm Trees Beach
  • Sunset: Cape Tukata Viewpoint

What to Bring on Koh Mak - Packing for Thailand

We always travel with our Deuter 40+10 liter backpack, which is light, usually accepted as hand luggage, and perfect for trekking or motorbike trips.

We love to travel light. Check out our highly recommended travel essentials you should consider packing for your trip to Thailand.

On Koh Mak, we were reminded of how important it is to be prepared for insects. Bring coconut oil against sandflies and mosquito repellent for the evenings and forests. Don’t worry, we only found sand flies on Ao Kao beach. Our recommendation is to be prepared and to stick to beaches with fewer sandflies.

Tips for Koh Mak

  • If you don’t want to buy plastic bottle water, there are refilling stations where you can refill your bottle for only 1 baht.
  • If you choose to travel to Koh Mak with the highly recommended Boonsiri company from Bangkok (Bus + Ferry), book in advance as seats can sell out fast. Check the availability at 12go
  • Check low and high tides for some activities, like the sandbar extension at Koh Kham.
  • Bring coconut oil or insect repellent for sandflies; their bites are very itchy and annoying.
  • Book your accommodation in advance; good deals go fast, there are not too many budget options, and prices tend to increase a lot weeks and days before. Check the availability at booking
  • As you may know, many beaches in Thailand have lots of trash. On Koh Mak, a community group meets weekly to clean the beaches, with locals and tourists joining to help. It’s a nice chance to give back and meet people on the island.
  • Facilities on the island you can expect: There is an ATM, which is not reliable; bring enough cash from the mainland, as most places don’t accept card payments or charge a 3-5% fee. There are no 7/11s but small local minimarts with everything you need.

Costs for Koh Mak

  • A room with AC and a private bathroom: Starts at 
  • Local meal: 60-90 THB
  • Ice cream: 60 THB
  • Pain au Chocolat: 50 THB
  • Iced Latte: 60 THB
  • Fruit juice: 60 THB
  • Scooter: 200-300 THB per day
  • Bicycle: 150 THB per day
  • 1-liter gas: 50 THB
  • Laundry: 50 THB per kg, 24h to return
  • Koh Kradat Boat Trip (round trip): 400 THB per person
  • Koh Kahm Boat (round trip) + entrance fee: 350 THB per person
  • Entrance fee for Koh Kham: 200 THB per person
  • Kayak Rental: 150 THB per hour

Where to Go After Koh Mak?

After Koh Mak, we cannot recommend enough going to Koh Kood. As our number one island in Thailand, this destination perfectly matched our high expectations of what Thailand should look like before visiting: white sand, blue water, empty beaches, and abundant palm trees. Unlike Koh Mak, Koh Kood boasts dense jungles, rivers, and hidden waterfalls.

Conclusion

Koh Kham Sandbank

On Koh Mak, you can always find a deserted stretch of beach. If you are looking for an island that takes you back to the days before tourism boomed in Thailand, look no further. Koh Mak and Koh Kood are exactly what you were looking for, some really well-kept secrets.

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