New Year in Koh Mak

Koh Mak is one of the smaller islands off the south coast of Thailand near the Cambodian border. From what I can tell, Koh Mak’s economy is largely based on rubber plantations but like many of the islands around this area, expanding tourism is also starting to play an important role. A speed boat from the mainland leaves daily and makes Koh Mak an easy destination to get to. There are a number of resorts offering reasonably-priced accommodation and you can find everything from youth hostels to luxury bungalows. There are many beach bars and restaurants which serve fabulous food and tasty beverages whilst offering a chilled-out atmosphere in the tropical sunshine.

Motor boats offer fast transport to Koh Mak from the mainland

One of the many rubber plantations on the island

The first travel blog I read about Koh Mak was, unfairly I think, very uncomplimentary about the entire island. It described the beaches as ‘decent enough’ but nowhere near ‘good enough’ in comparison to other Thai islands when you’re looking for a true Thai tropical paradise. To be fair, I have never been to the neighbouring islands of Koh Kood or Koh Chang to compare, but I have been to enough stunning tropical islands that my level of beach snobbery is up there with the best, and I certainly wouldn’t discount Koh Mak as a place to visit based solely on its beaches. Even in the high season, the island is not overpopulated with tourists and it’s very easy to find your own deserted patch of white sandy beach with turquoise warm waters to swim in. I must admit that the snorkelling could have been a little better, but it’s possible to rent a kayak from one of the various resorts and paddle to small neighbouring islands which offer clearer waters and healthier coral reef for snorkelers to enjoy.

This beach is good enough for me

We rented a kayak for the day to explore some of the smaller peripheral islands

The ambience of the whole island was wonderful. For me it offered a characterful mix of peaceful, quiet relaxation with the vibrancy of night bars, markets and clubs for the times when I felt more energetic. Also, the best Thai massage I’ve ever had was in Koh Mak for the bank-breaking sum of 250baht an hour (about £5.50)!

Koh Mak is quite a small island and it’s easy to explore the whole thing in just a few days if you rent and bike or scooter. We visited the main view point overlooking the bay, a local Buddhist temple, various market stalls, piers and beaches and enjoyed the interesting art sculptures scattered around the place.

We rented a scooter for a few days

A lovely view of the bay from the highest point of the island

This is the evening view from the pier at Cococape beach bar

A sacred tree at the Buddhist temple

One of the four Buddhas

One of the interesting sculptures

New Year’s Eve was one of those wonderful evenings that ended up being unexpectedly fabulous. We’re all familiar with those New Years Eve events which are planned for months in advance, the expectations are wild and when it comes to crunch time – the result is a big fat disappointment. This year was not so! Despite some initial difficulties finding somewhere to have dinner, we ended up eating at our favourite pizza joint, followed by a visit to a fun beach bar where we danced to some great music and enjoyed the midnight fireworks. We took the party back to our Airbnb which just so happened to be one of the nicest places to stay on the entire island – Garden Villa. This house is beautiful, large and very luxurious, not at all what Alex and I are used to and it was a real treat for us. It was great fun to spend New Year with my wonderful family in such a stunning location. We were all very merrily drunk and danced in our living room until the not-so-small hours of the morning. Alex even demonstrated his super-cool skanking abilities, by the end of the night, we were all ‘skanking’ – he’s such a trendsetter.

Psychadelic camper van at our beach bar

New Years Eve fireworks at the beach

Garden Villa – our luxurious mansion getaway

This is what skanking looks like

The whole gang

People on the island are very friendly and there’s a general laid back attitude that really soothes the soul after the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Even though Koh Mak was more ‘built-up’ in comparison to many of the Pacific islands we’ve visited,  it was nice to be back in a somewhat familiar environment.

7 Responses to New Year in Koh Mak

  1. Looks and sounds like perfection to me! Nice beach, but sorry, Bermuda’s still beat them all! Glad all continues to be such fun. XO Vicky

  2. Excellent post. I went to Koh Chang a couple of years ago for Daniel’s ‘wedding’, so I know how you feel about those islands – they are wonderful

  3. Hart to top this – generating wonderful memories and lasting relationships. Great blog, especially with right balance of photos to text. Well done both.

  4. Lovely, lovely – Toby and I went to neighbouring Koh Chang – sea sick on the way to this island if I remember rightly! It was alright as far as I remember, just had to avoid the real party areas (which constantly played Justin Beiber 🙂 ). If you’re old like Toby and I, then you’re after a bit of bloody peace and quite! 😀 Pleased you’re having fun, looking forward to the next instalment.

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