Ang Thong Marine Park Guide

2 May 2024

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Ang Thong National Marine Park, established as Thailand's 21st national park in November 1980, spans over 100 square kilometers of the Gulf of Thailand. This archipelago of 42 islands, with its name translating to "Bowl of Gold," has a rich history that intertwines natural beauty with cultural lore. The islands remained largely uninhabited and untouched due to their rugged terrain and the difficulty of accessing fresh water, preserving their pristine conditions. Historically, these islands were known to be a refuge for fishermen during storms and a haven for pirates who found the secluded bays ideal for hiding. Over centuries, tales of treasure buried within the archipelago have lingered, adding a layer of mystique to its natural allure. The establishment of the marine park was a significant step by the Thai government to protect and preserve the area's diverse ecosystems, which include dense jungles, white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and hidden coves, along with a rich array of flora and fauna. Conservation efforts have focused on protecting the delicate coral reefs, marine life, and the endangered species that call the park home, such as the langurs, sea turtles, and various bird species. Today, Ang Thong National Marine Park stands as a testament to Thailand's commitment to environmental conservation, offering a unique blend of historical intrigue and natural beauty.

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Ang Thong

Getting to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Common starting points for a trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park include:

  • Koh Samui: The most popular and developed island near the marine park. It has a large airport with flights from Bangkok and other major cities, making it an accessible starting point. From Koh Samui, you can find numerous tour operators offering day trips and overnight stays in the marine park.
  • Koh Phangan: Known for its full moon parties, Koh Phangan is closer to Ang Thong than Koh Samui and offers a more laid-back vibe. It's accessible by ferry from the mainland and Koh Samui. From here, you can also find tours to the marine park, which are often less crowded than those departing from Koh Samui.
  • Koh Tao: Famous for its diving spots, Koh Tao is the farthest of the three islands from Ang Thong but still serves as a starting point for trips to the park. It's ideal for those who are looking to combine a visit to the marine park with some of the best diving Thailand has to offer.
  • Surat Thani: For those coming from the mainland, Surat Thani offers access to Ang Thong via ferry services to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, or directly to the park. It's well-connected by bus and train from Bangkok and other parts of Thailand.

Each of these starting points offers something unique, whether it's the convenience and amenities of Koh Samui, the party scene of Koh Phangan, the diving of Koh Tao, or the mainland access of Surat Thani. Tours can range from day trips to multiple-day adventures that include kayaking, snorkeling, and camping within the marine park.

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Islands and Hotspots in Ang Thong National Marine Park

Some of the most popular places within the marine park are distinguished by their relative geography, offering visitors a diverse range of experiences.

Koh Mae Ko (Mother Island)

Famous for its stunning inland saltwater lagoon known as the Emerald Lake (Thale Nai), Koh Mae Ko is one of the park's central attractions. The lagoon is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, providing a secluded and serene setting. Accessible via a steep staircase and a viewing platform, the lake's vivid green-blue waters are a result of its depth and the sunlight filtering through the opening in the cliffs. Koh Mae Ko lies towards the southern part of the marine park, a short boat ride from most starting points.

Koh Wua Talap (Sleeping Cow Island)

This island serves as the park's headquarters and offers some of the best panoramic views. The viewpoint, reached by a challenging hike up steep and rugged terrain, overlooks the archipelago, revealing the breathtaking scope of the park. In addition to the viewpoint, Koh Wua Talap offers beautiful beaches, caves, and snorkeling spots. It's located centrally within the park, making it an accessible stop for tours coming from any direction.

Koh Sam Sao (Tripod Island)

Renowned for its extensive coral reefs and an impressive stone arch, Koh Sam Sao is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. The underwater landscape here is vibrant with marine life, including a variety of fish and corals. The island's unique geographical features make it a favorite spot for photography enthusiasts. It's situated towards the northeastern part of the marine park.

Koh Tai Plao

Not far from Koh Sam Sao, this set of islands features caves, underwater tunnels, and rock formations that are ideal for kayaking and snorkeling adventures. The secluded beaches and clear waters provide a peaceful retreat from the more visited spots in the park.

Samsao Island

Offering secluded coves and beaches, Samsao Island is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds. Its snorkeling spots are less frequented, allowing for a more intimate interaction with the marine environment.

Other Popular Spots

  • Koh Paluay (Sea Gypsy Island): The only inhabited island in the marine park, Koh Paluay is home to a small community of sea gypsies who have maintained their traditional way of life, largely based on fishing. The island offers a glimpse into the local culture and way of life, distinct from the tourist-centric activities elsewhere in the park. Its western side boasts beautiful, secluded beaches and the opportunity for cultural interactions, providing a different kind of experience within the marine park's boundary.
  • Koh Hin Dap: Renowned for its snorkeling and diving spots, Koh Hin Dap is a smaller island that boasts rich marine biodiversity. Its underwater landscape is a kaleidoscope of coral reefs and colorful fish species, making it an excellent spot for those looking to explore the aquatic life of the Gulf of Thailand. The clear waters and relative calm make it an ideal location for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike.
  • Koh Ka (Bat Island): This island gets its name from the large number of bats that inhabit it, particularly visible at dusk when they leave their roosts to feed. During the day, it's a tranquil spot with stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and relaxation. The unique ecological aspect of Koh Ka offers visitors a chance to observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat, adding an educational element to the adventure.
  • Blue Lagoon (Ao Talay Nai): Not to be confused with the Emerald Lake on Koh Mae Ko, the Blue Lagoon is another stunning natural feature located on a different island within the park. It's a hidden pool of clear, blue water surrounded by steep cliffs, accessible only by a challenging hike or by kayak at certain times of the year. The lagoon's secluded location and the effort required to reach it make it a rewarding spot for those looking for adventure off the beaten path.
  • Koh Antong: This island features a series of caves that can be explored by kayak, offering a unique way to experience the geological diversity of the marine park. The interior of these caves often opens up to hidden lagoons and private beaches, providing a sense of discovery and isolation that is hard to find elsewhere.


Taking a Guided Tour to Ang Thong

Choosing a guided tour to explore Ang Thong National Marine Park from starting points such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, or Koh Tao, instead of venturing out individually, offers numerous benefits that cater to a variety of travelers' needs, enhancing the overall experience in several key ways:

  • Expert Guidance and Insight: Guided tours are led by knowledgeable guides who are familiar with the park's ecosystem, history, and hidden gems. They provide valuable insights into the flora, fauna, and geological features of the islands, enriching your understanding and appreciation of the area. Guides can also share stories and legends that add a cultural dimension to the natural beauty.
  • Safety and Navigation: The park's 42 islands and surrounding waters can be challenging to navigate, especially for those unfamiliar with marine environments. Guides ensure safety, manage risks, and are prepared to handle emergencies, including sudden weather changes. Their expertise in navigating the seas and understanding local weather patterns minimizes potential hazards.
  • Access to Restricted Areas and Best Spots: Some parts of Ang Thong Marine Park are protected or have restricted access to preserve their natural state. Guided tours can provide access to these areas where individual travelers might not be allowed. Additionally, guides know the best times to visit popular spots to avoid crowds, ensuring a more serene experience.
  • Convenience and Logistics: Organizing a trip to a remote location like Ang Thong requires planning around boat hire, entry permits, food, and safety equipment. Guided tours simplify these logistics, offering a hassle-free experience that includes transportation, meals, and necessary gear. This convenience allows travelers to focus on enjoying the park's beauty without the stress of planning.
  • Environmental Conservation: Guided tours often emphasize environmental conservation, educating visitors on how to enjoy the park responsibly. Tour operators typically follow guidelines to minimize impact on the ecosystems, such as limiting waste and avoiding disturbances to wildlife. By choosing a guided tour, visitors indirectly contribute to the park's conservation efforts.
  • Social Experience: Joining a guided tour provides the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow travelers. This social aspect can enhance the experience, allowing for the sharing of impressions and making new friends with similar interests.

In summary, while exploring Ang Thong National Marine Park individually offers a sense of adventure and independence, choosing a guided tour from nearby starting points like Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, or Koh Tao provides a comprehensive, safe, and insightful experience. Guided tours cater to those looking to deepen their understanding of the area's natural and cultural heritage, all while ensuring a smooth and environmentally responsible journey. Below, we've selected a couple great tours from each location:


Recommended Tours from Koh Samui

Ang Thong by Big Boat

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Leave the island of Koh Samui and set off on an adventure to explore the vast Ang Thong National Marine Park. During the trip, gain access to natural wonders that you wouldn’t be able to get to without a boat transfer—such as the Emerald Lake. The trip also gives you the opportunity to explore the underwater world as snorkeling gear is provided.

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Ang Thong by Speedboat

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Discover the rich biodiversity of Ang Thong National Marine Park on a group boat tour from Koh Samui. With so many activities to try, including snorkeling and sea kayaking in crystal clear water, hiking to the top of Wua Talap Hill, and sunbathing on white sand beaches, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, making this an ideal tour for groups who can’t agree on what to do.

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Private Charter Boat to Ang Thong

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Just west of Koh Samui, the Angthong Marine Park is a prime destination for snorkeling and scuba diving, dotted with lush islands and gorgeous sandy beaches. On this tour, travel aboard a private charter boat and enjoy a completely customized tour itinerary. Perhaps, dive in to swim or snorkel in the coral-lined bays, head ashore to hike through the forest, or organize a thrilling scuba diving excursion, before tucking into a delicious buffet lunch aboard the boat.

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Recommended Tours from Koh Phangan

Ang Thong by Speedboat with Kayaking

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Snorkel and kayak in Mu Koh Angthong National Park on a full-day trip by speedboat from Koh Phangan, and explore some of the park’s 42 islands with a local guide. Paddle along the coast of Mae Koh Island, swim and snorkel from a white sand beach, then hike to a viewpoint over the Emerald Lagoon. This tour includes all equipment, hotel pickup and drop-off, and a buffet-style Thai lunch on the beach.

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Speedboat Tour to Ang Thong

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Enjoy touring the Ang Thong National Marine Park in a small speed boat from Koh Phangan. As well as traveling quickly, there are other benefits to traveling by small boat. You’ll be able to access swimming and snorkeling spots that are inaccessible by larger boat, and you can disembark right onto the sand. Have free use of snorkeling and kayaking equipment, or simply choose to relax on the beach.

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Overnight Stay at Ang Thong

A promotional image for a tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Experience an overnight excursion to Ang Thong Marine Park from Koh Phangan. Get on a boat to the marine park, and then explore. The headquarters is on Ko Wua Talap where you can find bungalow accommodation, kayaks for rent, and a visitor center. Explore hidden lagoons and snorkel in the coral gardens in and around limestone islands and amazing cliffs and rock formations.

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Important Considerations for a Trip to Ang Thong

The Weather

When planning a visit to Ang Thong National Marine Park in the Gulf of Thailand, understanding the region's seasonal weather patterns is crucial for a pleasant experience. The Gulf of Thailand experiences a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by three main seasons: the dry season, the hot season, and the rainy season. The dry season, running from December to February, offers the most favorable conditions for visiting Ang Thong, with lower humidity, cooler temperatures averaging between 24°C to 30°C (75°F to 86°F), and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. The hot season, from March to May, sees temperatures rising up to 35°C (95°F) or higher, accompanied by higher humidity levels. While still a good time to visit, visitors should prepare for the heat and sun exposure. The rainy season, from June to October, brings frequent and heavy rainfall, especially in September and October. Although the rain can disrupt outdoor activities, this season also highlights the park's lush landscapes and waterfalls at their most vibrant. Regardless of the season, the marine park's natural beauty remains a captivating sight, but choosing the dry season for a visit can significantly enhance your experience by providing more comfortable weather conditions and better access to all the attractions Ang Thong has to offer.


Planning accommodations for a trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park requires considering your starting island, as each offers a distinct range of options catering to different preferences and budgets. If starting from Koh Samui, you'll find a wide array of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses, ideally situated near major departure points for tours to the marine park. Booking a stay on the northeastern coast of Koh Samui ensures proximity to tour operators and beautiful beachfront views. For those embarking from Koh Phangan, the island's accommodation tends to lean towards a more laid-back, bohemian vibe, with eco-resorts, bungalows, and hostels that are perfect for budget-conscious travelers and those seeking a closer connection to nature. Staying near the western or northern shores offers the best access to Ang Thong tours. Koh Tao, though farther, caters primarily to divers and adventurers, with a range of dive resorts and beachside cottages that offer easy access to boat tours heading to the marine park. When planning your stay, consider the proximity to tour operators, the type of experiences you're seeking, and the amenities offered by the accommodation to enhance your visit to Ang Thong National Marine Park. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during the peak season, to secure the best spots that offer both comfort and convenience for your island adventure.

Conservation Efforts

Visiting Ang Thong National Marine Park presents a unique opportunity to witness the splendor of Thailand's natural heritage, making it imperative for visitors to actively participate in conservation efforts to preserve its beauty for future generations. Being mindful of the park's fragile ecosystems involves adhering to eco-friendly practices: avoid touching or stepping on coral reefs, which are vital to marine biodiversity but extremely sensitive to disturbances; use biodegradable sunscreen to prevent harmful chemicals from contaminating the water; minimize plastic use to reduce waste, especially single-use plastics that can end up harming marine life; follow designated paths and respect wildlife habitats to minimize human impact; and take all trash back to the mainland for proper disposal. Additionally, choosing tour operators who emphasize sustainable tourism practices can contribute significantly to the conservation of the park. By embracing these responsible behaviors, visitors can ensure that their presence supports the preservation of Ang Thong's pristine environments, ensuring that this magnificent marine park remains a source of natural wonder and ecological diversity.

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Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park offers visitors a glimpse into a world of natural beauty and marine diversity. Accessible primarily from the nearby islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, the journey to this ecological haven involves a mix of ferry rides and organized tours, each providing a unique perspective of the Thai archipelago. Whether departing from the bustling Koh Samui, the tranquil Koh Phangan, or the diving paradise of Koh Tao, travelers can expect an adventure filled with stunning landscapes, rich underwater ecosystems, and opportunities for exploration and relaxation. With considerations for travel logistics, weather conditions, and environmental conservation, a trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park promises a memorable experience that encapsulates the beauty and fragility of Thailand's marine environments.



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