27 September 2023

Koh Kood is a gem: an embryonic tropical paradise

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By Rama Gaind.

First glimpse of Baan Nam Chiew that’s located approximately eight kilometres to the south-west of Trat town. This fishing village is an award-winning eco-tourism community where the families of Buddhist and Muslim fishermen live in harmony.
Photo: Rama Gaind

As the ferry approached the shoreline of Koh Kood, Thailand’s fourth largest island, it was easy to see the unspoiled coastline around Ao Salad Bay. There was also promise of extraordinary beaches encircling deep wilderness and mangrove-draped rivers.

It had taken a bit of an effort to get here, but it was time now to carve out our own special adventure. J.R.R. Tolkien was right in saying: “not all who wonder are lost”. First impressions were promising!

After an hour’s flight from Bangkok to the small airport at Trat, it was astonishing to see how close the airplane had parked to the terminal. Next, attention turned to the manicured lawns and the line of topiary elephants along the runway. A lot of effort had gone into making these decorative shapes by trimming shrubs or trees. Thai culture celebrates the elephant as a symbol of fortune. Here’s hoping some of it will rub off.

Trat, capital of Trat Province and the Mueang Trat district, is a town in the east of Thailand at the mouth of the Trat River, near the border with Cambodia. The drive to the ferry port was through lush green countryside, past temples, villages and fruit and vegetable stalls. Then watching the land disappear and the waves ride up behind us in the ferry, it was a refreshing way to sail the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Featuring a private beachfront, Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort boasts an outdoor pool and day spa. On one of Thailand’s last untouched islands, it won’t take you long to be captivated by the undulating tropical landscapes, beachside dining and the remarkable scenic views.

Koh Kood (also called Ko Kut) is 25 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide. One of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, this gem is an emergent tropical paradise. Located 322 kilometres off the mainland, it is home to just over 2,000 people, sleepy fishing villages, lush rainforest, coconut and rubber plantations. With crystal-clear waters and clean beaches, Koh Kood surprisingly still remains an ‘off the radar’ destination.

Magic of harmony

Located approximately eight kilometres to the south-west of Trat town is Baan Nam Chiew, an award-winning eco-tourism community that’s not a contrived tourist attraction. It’s a living and working group of people complete with schools, places of worship and markets.

Magic of colours in the calm waterways is apparent. This is a fishing village where families of Buddhist and Muslim fishermen have co-existed peacefully for centuries.

Amid the contemporaneity are obvious signs of a community that’s productively maintained a traditional way of rituals. The familiar modern-day trappings of life are obvious with motorbikes weaving their way along narrow lanes, mobile phones and satellite dishes on rooftops.

Pat, left, Prawit, Suraltane Phumimanoch (community leader) and Prapahh happily join the residents of Baan Nam Chiew, gracefully welcoming everyone with warmth, eager to share the accolades of this award-winning eco-tourism community. Photo: Rama Gaind

The a navigable body of water, mangrove forests and nature trails around Baan Nam Chiew are rich in wildlife and provide a treat for bird-watchers with more than 30 species found in the area including sea eagles and kites. Fishing for a living anywhere in the world is a demanding and often dangerous occupation. For spiritual protection, Thai fishermen and boatmen attach flower garlands or coloured ribbons to the prow of the boat in honour of the spirits of the water and Mae Yanang the spiritual goddess of journeys.

The community is well-known for producing a multi-purpose hat called ‘ngop nam chiao’ which is made from atap palm leafs which grow in nearby mangrove forests. The weatherproof qualities of the palm leaves mean they provide excellent protection against the sun and rain. The hat-making technique has been passed down from generation-to-generation.

Watch an expert make ngop hats with palm fronds – Sangwon Sranakowon has been tailoring them for more than 15 years – before you test your own millinery skills. The narrow-brimmed ngop is specially designed for fishermen, whilst the ones with wider brims are made for farmers.

If seafood is to your liking, then learn more about the types of fish in the waters, taste coconut and shrimp on rice shells or nam tan chack, a sticky sweet made from sugar cane and coconut.

For eco and wellness living, Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort is a 10-minute drive from the Klong Chao Waterfall, a 45-minute transfer from Laem Sok Pier by resort speedboat and 90 minutes by public ferry. Photo: Rama Gaind

Why not experience Thai hospitality through a home-stay service and get to know the local residents who are friendly and quick to greet you. Accommodation is basic, but comfortable and provides a wonderful opportunity to sample the generosity of the locals.

Cham’s House retreat

Escape the harsh over-stimulation of busy modern life and experience a uniquely illuminated environment, a ‘home for the soul’, when you stay at Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort. It’s a 10-minute drive from the Klong Chao Waterfall, a 45-minute transfer from Laem Sok Pier by resort speedboat and 90 minutes by public ferry.

Nestled in a cosy garden setting, Cham’s House is the home of eco and wellness living with physically and mentally soothing ambience. On one of Thailand’s last untouched islands, Koh Kood, it won’t take you long to be captivated by the undulating tropical landscapes, beachside dining and the remarkable scenic views from the rooms and villas at the resort.

Featuring a private beachfront, it boasts an outdoor pool and day spa. The retreat offers stand-alone thatched cottages with private terraces and rain showers. Even the spacious rooms are tastefully outfitted with warm earth tones, floral motifs and cane furnishings. Creative manipulation of light has fashioned a physically and mentally soothing ambience inside and out.

Cruise along the Baan Nam Chiew canal, through the village, into the mangroves and coastal area and learn about the lifestyles of the villagers on both sides of the bank. Learn about their daily routines, including the fact that sea bass, mackeral and grouper are three types of fish caught by the fishermen. Photo: Rama Gaind

Stunning sea views accompany fresh pizzas, sandwiches and salads at Bombyx Beach Bar while The Rice offers all-day dining and international meals. Leisure afternoons can be spent in clear waters with tour and free kayak rental services available.

There’s no shortage of activities for you to enjoy both on-property and around the island as you experience the warm and tranquil lifestyle found on Koh Kood’s many beaches. Kayak to the three-tier Than Sanuk waterfall, experience the local lifestyle while dining on fresh crab at the fishing village or investigate the local marine life while snorkelling or scuba diving.

Klong Chao Waterfall

Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort is a 10-minute drive from the beautiful Klong Chao Waterfall. Beautiful beaches are found in every bay; like the Khlong Chao beach that’s a part of the Tinkerbell Resort. Don’t overlook Koh Kood’s stunning interior with vast swathes of untouched rainforest, waterfalls and ancient trees. A visit to the principal waterfall of Klong Chao Waterfall is a treat. King Rama VI visited the waterfall in 1911 and gave it the royal name Anamkok in commemoration of Ong Chiang Lue, a Vietnamese King who took refuge in the Kingdom of Siam during King Rama I’s reign in the late 18th century.

Subtle in its pace, unhurried, tranquil and unperturbed, you can feel Koh Kood meandering its way into your bones. Cycling, walking and island hopping by speedboat … there’s so much more to do.

From a perfectly calm and spectacular part of Koh Kood, the ferry leaves Ao Salad Pier as the statue of a shimmering golden Buddha seemingly gazes out to sea. Photo: Rama Gaind

Let the speedboat be your main way to travel: visit Koh Kradad – Safari Island – where several hundred hog deers roam freely on the island. Then go to Koh Mak for lunch at a local seafood restaurant, followed by a trip to Mu Koh Rang, and enjoy the snorkelling at Koh Yak Lek and Koh Yak Yai.

Koh Mak, an island to the south of Koh Chang, is a haven for people who want to avoid the bright lights and over-development of larger islands. Here you’ll find more than just a basic beach hut.

Ao Salad Pier is the foremost gate to the island of Koh Kood. Alas, the time had come to leave, but not before a visit to the Buddhist temple, with the huge sitting Buddha, and a viewing platform with panoramic views across Ao Salad Bay.

Around the wooden pier were a few dozen houses and fishermen’s huts on stilts. Poking out from behind this tiny village was an iridescent golden Buddha statue, seemingly gazing out to sea. The tropical waters sparkled brilliantly in the sun.

The residents are welcoming and graceful, the sojourn was memorable … an ideal spot for a lazy tropical holiday.

On this island, you can live in bliss: a place where the ‘contours of the land itself forms a kind of sinewy poetry’.


Travel with:

Tourism Authority of Thailand

T: (02) 9247 7549

W: www.tourismthailand.org

Thai Airways International

T: 1300 651 960

W: www.thaiairways.com

Thai Airways International flies daily from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth to Thailand with onward domestic connections. Thai Airways claimed a Top 10 placing in the 2018 Skytrax Awards together with the World’s Best Economy Class and Best Economy Onboard Catering Awards.

Bangkok Airways

W: http://www.bangkokair.com

Absolutely Fantastic Holidays

E: [email protected]

W: www.absolutelyfantasticholidays.com

Stay at:

Cham’s House Koh Kood Resort

Address: 5 Moo 5 Klong Hin Beach Tambon Koh Kood Amphur Koh Kood, Trat 23000, Thailand

T: +66 81 651 4744

W: www.chamshouse.com

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