How to get the top beach hotel deals in Thailand?
Book direct with the hotel. With no commissions, this saves the hotel money. Some hotels then pass savings back to the guest - but not all. We thus identify all Thai beachfront hotels that GUARANTEE, in writing, discounts for direct bookings. If Koh Mak has no Guarantee hotels, go to the Thailand map page for the full list. We put you in direct contact with the hotel, and take no commission.
We also sell DISCOUNT ROOM VOUCHERS, the cheapest rooms you can find on Thai beaches; but conditions apply. See the Thailand Hotel Deals E-mart here, or follow the link from ‘Guarantee’ hotel pages. Contact Jade for advice anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about Koh Mak and its neighbouring islands in the many guide pages in this site:
Koh Mak, a small, remote island between bigger neighbours Koh Chang and Koh Kood
Koh Mak is the smallest of the three well-known islands in Thailand's far southeast corner with true beachfront accommodations. Its neighbours Koh Chang, the biggest in the area, and Koh Kood, the middle sized one, are both more rugged, more famous and have many more hotels on the beach. Koh Mak is thus one of the remotest and quietest islands in the country offering beach bungalows and resorts.
Koh Mak is also close to the border with Cambodia, and is used as a beach stop-over for many travelling between the two countries. Transport from the mainland, at Laem Ngob, is easy, with a few ferries and speedboats making the approximately one hour trip each day during the high season months. You can also get to Koh Mak by boat from both Koh Chang and Koh Kood, allowing an island-hopping visit to take in any combination of the three islands. About 20 small or tiny islands dot the seas around Koh Mak, with a couple of those having beach accommodations.
a flat island with two major beaches, a few smaller ones
Koh Mak sprawls like a four-footed starfish beached in shallow water. Almost flat, the island has just a few small knobbly hills rising along its 7 ½ kilometre length. The deep bays hold two long beaches, one each on the north and south coasts, while a few smaller stretches of sand are scattered here and there. The majority of the island’s shoreline, however, is quite rocky. Ao Khao Beach West on the south side holds about half of all accommodations, while Ao Suan Yai on the north coast has four establishments, with three of those being quite large and upmarket.
Both of those major beaches are attractive, with dense coconut palm backdrops giving a strong tropical flavour, while their horizons are punctuated scenically by small islands. The density of beach use is always low, and few obstructions like beach umbrellas and buildings can be seen. Both beaches have nice soft, white sand though they are rather narrow, with little sand remaining dry at high tide.
a couple of villages, 20 plus beach resorts and little else on Koh Mak
Development on Koh Mak is limited almost entirely to the beachfront hotels and resorts – there’s no town or urban centre here. Starting with frugal beginnings serving backpackers in the 1980s, today we find more than 20 accommodations on the island, all but a couple being true beachfront. With all three islands in this corner of Thailand gaining global fame in recent years, both the number and quality of resorts is growing. Expect on-going resort development on Koh Mak through the coming years, though it is sure to lag behind the mini-boom on its two bigger neighbours.
three jetties and three ways in and out of Koh Mak
Three arrival and departure jetties service Koh Mak, with one each on the main north and south beaches, Ao Khao Beach West and Ao Suan Yai, that take speedboat arrivals from Laem Ngob on the mainland, and some from Koh Chang and Koh Kood. The Ao Khao jetty, serviced by Leelavadee speedboats is generally the busiest, for most of the island accommodations are on this south side of the island. There are a few services each day, running from about 8:30am to early afternoon. Schedules change year to year, and often adapt short notice to match demand.
A large concrete pier at Ao Nid towards the southeast services the large, fast Boonsiri catamaran. This runs from Koh Kood to Koh Mak to Laem Sok on the mainland each morning, returning on the same route in the early afternoon. Its stop in Koh Mak is as brief as it takes to off- and on-load. Again, times change with the seasons, so do check. Boonsiri sells tickets from Bangkok right to the island, by minibus then boat, and can be contacted through its own website. See more information about - boat transport in the Koh Kood – Koh Mak travel page
chill out and soak up the ambience - not much to do on Koh Mak
Koh Mak does not offer a lot of things to do – this is an island escape for chilling-out, relaxing with books, swimming and kayaking. There are, however, a few activities to get guests out of their beach hotels. Kayaking is by far the most popular, but forget about things like jet-skis and speed boats for parasailing and banana boating. Of the small, rock-and-forest islands surrounding Koh Mak, the closest few make good destinations for kayakers. The stronger you feel, the more islands there are available to you.
On land the small network of concrete roads makes nice cycling territory, and some resorts rent bicycles. Ao Kao White Sands Resort offers them free to anyone, even non- guests. However, it seems more visitors tour the island by motor scooter, which can be rented from virtually every resort without formalities like licences. Many inexperienced riders begin their motor cycling careers right here. There is little traffic, the roads are in good condition and the lack of steep hills (which both Koh Chang and Koh Kood have in abundance) helps make Koh Mak’s little road network quite safe.
beach hotels from budget backpacker to luxury 4-star
Among the beachfront hotels Koh Mak Resort is both one of the largest, with a beachfront running for 350 metres, and one of the first on the island. Most land here still belongs to the family that established Koh Mak's first coconut plantations in the 1800s, with many of the hotels now run by various siblings of that family. Adjacent to, and split off from the above, is a new place run by a sibling, the upmarket Seavana Resort. This offers 4-star luxuries in trendy villas, one of the few swimming pools on the island and a fine-dining beach lounge, suggesting a new kind of future for this one-time backpacker island.
The flat terrain has allowed the plantations to overtake virtually all of the island, leaving only small patches of natural forest. The drive around the island, however, remains a green experience, mostly through dense rubber plantations where trees often arch over and cover the road. Koh Mak's resort websites often get carried away describing the island as 'natural', when in fact the entire landscape has been transformed by man. Still, the coconut and rubber dominated environment remains green, quiet and relaxing. And the introduction of so many coconut palms – not a native species here – to the beaches has indeed made the island much more attractive.
beware; strange tides in the Gulf of Thailand, and box jellyfish
The strange tides of the Gulf of Thailand – there are only two tides each 24 four hours instead of the normal four – also affect this island. Thus, if swimming is important, you should check tides against the months you plan to visit. In general, the high tide runs all through the day in the peak months November-March, while the low tide lasts all day from May to October. On beaches with shallow water, like those here, the tide can make a real difference to the beach experience.
It is important for visitors to Koh Mak to be aware that box jellyfish are a potential problem here, as this island has suffered four stingings of tourists over the past 20 years – among the highest number in Thailand. Happily none were fatal, and several resorts on both sides of the island now place protective nets along their beaches to protect visitors. For more details of the dangers of box jellyfish in Thailand see this dedicated page with statistics and locations of stings and fatalities.
by John Everingham