Ang Thong Marine Park
Ang Thong Marine Park (or Angthong National Park) is a 42 islands archipelago which covers 102 km2 in the Gulf of Thailand, in the Surat Thani province. The archipelago was establised as a Marine National Park in 1980 and it is also listed as a world heritage site under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty that allows protection of valuable wetlands.
The 42 islands that make up the park are located in the Gulf of Thailand and covers an area of 18 km2. The major islands in the park are Ko Phaluai, Ko Wua Ta Lap, Ko Sam Sao, Ko Hin Dap, Ko Phai Luak and Ko Nai Phut. The highest point in the park is located on Ko Phaluai, at an altitude of 396 meters. The uslands are covered in steep and rugged limestone hills, caves, sinkholes, and inland lakes. There is one island that is home to a nomadic tribe called Mae Ko (Mo Wua Ta Lap).
It is closer to Koh Samui (30 km), Phangan (35 km), Koh Tao (55 km), Krabi (240 km). The Headquarters are located on the island of Ko Wua Ta Lap. Check the vistor maps for clarification. There are oporators that organise boat tours mostly from Koh Samui and more private and convenient options on speed boat.
Ang Thong is the name of a fictional place that was famous for a novel called The Beach which was written by Alex Garland. It became popular among backpackers in Thailand when the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di Caprio was released. Some scenes from the movie The Beach were filmed in Phi Phi Islands in Krabi Province, but Ang Thong is a great spot to film some of the most memorable scenes in the film. It is believed that the jump scene from a waterfall in the movie “The Beach” was filmed at Haew Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park.
Forests consist of mostly evergreen forest on the big islands, and a few islands with small mangroves surrounding the beaches. Lady’s Slipper Orchid is one of the rare plants that are found only in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park.
Some animals that live on the islands are dusky monkeys, long-tailed macaques, leopard cats, fishing cats, wild boars and grey otters. There are about 50 bird species in the park including red-bellied kingfishers, sea eagles, brahminy kites, pacific reef herons and common hill myna.
The Islands and seas around them are popular tourist destinations for day trips from nearby islands to go snorkelling, canoeing/kayaking, enjoying the beaches and hiking. Many tour companies offer group and private tours to the islands, and these can be arranged when you arrive at the island.
There are no rented canoes/kayaks in the islands, they must be rented through a tour company.
There are a few diving sites in the northern islands, which are ideal for snorkelling. It is difficult to dive deeper than 10 meters and you will have very limited visibility due to sediment from the Tapi River on the mainland. Visiting one of the many coral gardens will enable you to see marine species like green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles and yellow-spotted trevallies. It is recommended to do dives from February to October, with best visibility from March to April.
Visiting Park entrance fees are about 5th of the park entrance fee for a one-way ticket to the park. Only licensed tour operators are allowed to enter the park. It is recommended that groups of people visit the park together and decide on a tour boat to visit the islands.
There are lodges and camping facilities on the main island of Kowua Ta.
There is only one restaurant on the islands, which is located near the tourist center. Tour operators include meals in the price of their day-long big boat tours.
Ko Wua Ta Lap (Distant island) and the national park main island (Mu Ko Ang Thong). It is the main island that houses the park headquarters, the visitor center and other basic facilities. The visitor center is in Kha Bay which is on the far end of the island. There are two lovely sandy beaches on the island. The first one is near the visitor center and the second one is on the other side of the island, in the middle of a thick forest. The main area of the park has a hotel, a camp site, a visitor center, a restaurant and a ranger station. The beaches are perfect for people who want to swim, snorkel or go on a kayak or canoe.
Wua Ta Lap Viewpoint There is a magnificent viewpoint which is the main attraction of the park, and which is accessed by a 500-meter long steep trail from the park headquarters. This trail is not suitable for all people. It takes approximately 25-30 minutes to walk and there is a rope that supports you on the way up to the peak. The viewpoint offers a great vantage point over the surrounding islands.
Bua Bok Cave. A spectacular stalagmite cave whose roof is protected by a wall. Caves of impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations, accessible by a steep hike of about 1 km from the park headquarters.
The highest peak in the park is Ko Mae Ko. Ko Mae Ko, which means the mother island. Ko Mae Ko is a special island because of its hidden lagoon. A beautiful saltwater lake called Thale Nai or emerald lagoon, connected with the sea through caves. Walking up a steep trail from a nearby beach to a great viewpoint overlooking the emerald lake. The walk takes about 20 minutes from beach to viewpoint. It is surrounded by high limestone cliffs and the lake is very wide. There are a few white beaches on the island.
Koh Sam Sao island has several beaches, coral reef and a camping site.
If you are visiting southern Thailand and the nearby islands in the Gulf for more than 5 days, Angthong Marine Park is a visit you don’t want to miss.
The entrance fees are 200 Baht for foreigners (children 3-14 years pay 100 Baht) and 40 Baht (children 20 Baht) for Thai citizens.
Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is open 8 am to 4 pm every day. The national park is closed from 20th October to 20th December every year.
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