Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park

There are many national parks in Thailand and the natural beauty of the country and its islands are very much a reason for visiting. On the shores of the Surat Thani Province, 42 Islands make up just over 100 square kilometres to create the Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park. The park is an important Wetlands Preservation area and the islands primarily consist of rugged limestone hills and many sinkholes and inland pools. With dry evergreen forests, the islands look lush and green all year round.

There are some rare and unique plants and animals found in the park, including the Ang Thong Lady’s Slipper Orchid, which grows nowhere else in the world. Among the more unusual animals one can expect to spot the long tailed macaque, dusky leaf monkey and the smooth coated otter. The Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is also a haven for birdwatchers who come to watch the collared kingfisher, white-bellied sea eagle and pacific reef heron among many others.

The islands have a handful of diving sites, better for snorkelling rather than scuba diving due to low visibility in the water caused my heavy sediment from the Tapi River. Where diving is possible, the water is warm and the coral gardens make excellent places to see a variety of turtles.

The park and the islands have long been a favourite place to visit for backpackers. The Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park was the real inspiration for author Alex Garland behind the book and movie “The Beach” and although the beach scenes were filmed in Maya Bay on the island Ko Phi Phi Le, Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is where the story is set. There is an entry fee of around 300 Thai Baht with children paying half price.

There are a few attractions worth visiting in the park, one being the main island of Ko Wua Ta Lap. Here one will not only find the tourism and park headquarters but two, pristine white beaches. There are also bungalows and camping facilities as well as a small restaurant and shop.

For some of the most amazing views anywhere on earth the Wua Ta Lap Viewpoint is a place that must be visited. A 500-metre steep and rather challenging walk takes about half an hour and despite the challenge the view that awaits is worth the effort. From almost 400 metres up a view of the entire park and all 42 islands greets wide-eyed tourists.

For those who wish to head underground the Bua Bok Cave has some of the most fascinating stalagmite and stalactite formations in Thailand and is only a short 1km walk from the headquarters on the main island.

For many tourists the warm clear waters of Thailand are one of the top reasons for travelling to the country. Is this is the case the Ko Mae Ko is a must. Ko Mae Ko is a salt water lake that is filled by a series of underground caves and tunnels connected to the sea. This amazing lake is a perfect a place to swim and will be the highlight for anyone who loves warm, clear and perfectly turquoise water.

Note: Only licensed tour operators have access to the park and the best way to visit and to see the island is by hiring a boat as a group or privately. The national park is not open during November and December.

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