Established as a marine national park in 1980, Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is an archipelago of 42 islands covering 102 km² at the shore of the Surat Thai Province in the Gulf of Thailand. The park is registered as a Ramsar site by Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for recognition of important wetlands. Many sources refers to the islands as “Angthong” which is wrong, “Ang Thong” is the correct spelling and means “golden bassin”.
About Mu Ko Ang Thong
The islands covers 18km² of the park, major ones Ko Phaluai, Ko Wua Ta Lap, Ko Mae Ko, Ko Sam Sao, Ko Hin Dap, Ko Nai Phut and Ko Phai Luak. Highest peak is located on Ko Phaluai at 396m above the sea level. Islands concists mainly of rugged and steep limestone hills, sinkholes, caves and inland marine lakes. There is one nomadic village at Ko Wua Ta Lap and one other at Ko Phaluai, other islands are uninhabited.
The forests consist mainly of dry evergreen forest on bigger islands, also limestone forest and minor planted mangrove forest around the beaches and bays. Among the plants, Ang Thong Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum Ang Thong) is an endemic species found only in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park.
The amount of animal species are limited, 16 mammal, around 50 bird, 14 reptile and 5 amphibian species. Some of mammal species on the islands are dusky leaf monkey, long-tailed macaque, leopard cat, fishing cat, wild boar and smooth-coated otter. Few of bird species are collared kingfisher, white-bellied sea eagle, brahminy kite, black baza, oriental pied hornbill, eurasian woodcock, pacific reef heron and common hill myna.
There are few diving sites on the northern islands, more ideal for snorkelling. The average depth of the sea is around 10m with low visibility due to heavy sediment from the Tapi River on mainland. Diving on one of coral gardens may give opportunity to see marine species like green sea turtle, hawkbill sea turtle and yellow-spotted trevallies. Best time for diving is February to October with best visibility around March/April.
Inspired by the novel “The Beach” by Alex Garland, Ang Thong was one of the prime destinations for backpackers in Thailand for many years until the subsequent movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio came out. While the beach scenes from the movie was filmed on Ko Phi Phi at Krabi Province, the jump scene from the waterfall was filmed on Haew Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park.
The headquarters and some basic facilities are located at Ko Wua Ta Lap. Admission fee is 300 THB for foreigners (children 150 THB) and 40 THB (children 20 THB) for local tourists (July 2016 price). Only licensed tour operators are allowed entry to the park. The recommended way of visiting the park is to hire a boat in group and decide both schedule and destinations. Ang Thong is 28 km from Ko Samui and 32 km from Ko Pha Ngan.
The national park is closed November and first three weeks of December.
Attractions of Mu Ko Ang Thong
Ko Wua Ta Lap
Ko Wua Talap is the main island where the headquarters and basic facilities are located. The HQ is situated in Kha Bay at the northeast end of the island. There are two white beaches on the island, one at headquarters, the other at the opposite side of the island on west accessible by a 700m long walk through the forest.
The HQ area has bungalows, camping ground, visitor center, restaurant/shop and a ranger station. While two person tensts costs 250B and can be arranged from the visitor center, the bungalows must be arranged in advance from Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation website. There are only 5 bungalows, 500B for 2 bedroom.
The white beach offers activities like swimming, snorkelliing and canoeing/kayaking.
Wua Ta Lap Viewpoint
The spectacular panoramic viewpoint which is the main attraction of the park, accessible by a 500m long steep trail from the headquarters. The trail is not for faint-hearted, takes 25-30 minutes to walk, has rope for support and showing the way up. The viewpoint offers a great vista over all islands.
Bua Bok Cave
A cave consisting of stalagmite and stalactite formations, accessible by a 1km hiking from the headquarters.
Ko Mae Ko
Meaning mother island, Ko Mae Ko is the island with emerald saltwater lake called Thale Nai, connected with sea though underwater caves. A trail that takes 20 minutes to walk leads from a nearby beach to a great viewpoint over the lake. The lake is surrounded with limestone cliffs. The island also has few white beaches.
Ko Sam Sao
Siteated on the east side of Ko Mae Ko, this island has several beaches, great coral reef and a camping ground. Tents are available for rent form HQ at Ko Wua Ta Lap only. There are no shops or restaurant on the island. The water to the showers are collected in a water tank filled with rain-water, for most time there won’t be any water.
The white beach at the north end of the island has a smaller natural stone arch curving out to the sea.
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