Until 1980 the collection of islands known as Ang Thong was off limits because the area was used by the Thai navy. Now it is possible to do day trips from either Koh Samui or Koh Phangan to the fascinating archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand.
Ang Thong National Marine Park consists of over 40 islets that stretch over 250 square kilometers of ocean. Taking a trip around the islands is fascinating. The islands are made of limestone and dramatic granite cliffs. The terrain holds many weird and wonderful shapes that has resulted in some of the islands being called such things as ‘Sleeping Cow Island’ and ‘3 Pillars Island’. Dotted throughout the archipelago are hidden coves, sea caves and perfect deserted beaches. If you have your own yacht, Angthong is one of the places where your boat comes into its own – you can moor off a different beach every night.
The interiors of the islands are covered in lush tropical forest. Except for Koh Wua Talab where the park headquarters are located and Koh Paluay where sea gypsies live the area is free of humans. As a consequence the wildlife has flourished on the islands. If you go on a tour of some of the interiors it is possible to see macaques, langurs and sea otters. There are also over 40 different types of bird to spot.
The main island has a couple of great trails to follow that lead to viewpoints. There is also a camp site where tents can be rented.
The name ‘angthong’ means ‘golden basin’ and the reason for the moniker is because on the island of Koh Mae Ko there is a large inland lake surrounded by a golden basin. A visit to the lake is one of the highlights of a trip to the area.
Another highlight is to go diving or snorkeling in the area. There are several great dive spots around the islands with corals and a profusion of marine life to enjoy. Another memorable activity is to kayak around some of the islands.
The cost of entry to Ang Thong National Marine Park is 200 Thai Baht. A tour to the islands from Koh Phangan or Koh Samui should cost between 1,000 and 2,000 Thai Baht. If you are in the area it is money well spent.