KOH KOOD: Luxury in a Jungle Island

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The Finnair Airbus A350 lands frustratingly slowly at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. We count minutes until the departure of our next plane.

We have about 20 minutes when we finally get out of the plane. We shout “Trat, Trat”, and people show us where to go. We start running. There’s an endless corridor ahead of us.

The gate for the Bangkok Airways flight to Trat is closed already, but we’re speedily taken to the plane that’s ready to take off. The passengers dressed in flip flops and shorts stare at us when we enter the plane in our jumpers puffing. Our journey to Koh Kood can start.

Port of Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Port of Koh Kood.

Koh Kood is unknown even to many experienced Thailand travellers.  Most people head from Bangkok to familiar destinations in the south like Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui. Koh Kood is in the other direction, close to the Cambodian border. It’s well worth a detour. Koh Kood is one of the top three destinations in Thailand on our list.

First, a one-hour flight from Bangkok to Trat, then an hour in the taxi, and 1.5 hours on the ferry. When we finally arrive at the harbour in Koh Kood, we can smell the thick stench of sundried prawns. We quickly explain to the taxi drivers where we’re going. “Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell!”

Sitting on the platform of the taxi, we can see we’ve arrived on a peaceful jungle island. The drive to the other side of the island takes about 20 minutes.

Klong Chao Beach, Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Klong Chao Beach, Koh Kood.

Tinkerbell Resort, Klong Chao Beach. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Tinkerbell Resort, Klong Chao Beach.

It’s late afternoon when we arrive at our hotel. The suitcases are carried to a stylish and spacious beach bungalow. On the seaside, there’s a small garden. One good reason for coming to Koh Kood is the clearest waters in Thailand.

In our opinion, Tinkerbell, a small bungalow hotel, is one of the most charming places we’ve stayed in in Thailand. The reception creates a homely and paradise-like feeling already. Sitting in the rocking chairs, we can gaze at the white sand of the beach and the turquoise sea.

After our long hard journey, we relax on the large round loungers by the pool. It’s lovely to see how well the parasols match the colours of the sea and the palm trees. The gentle sea breeze and the whispering palm trees make us pleasantly drowsy.

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood.

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood. Photo: Mila Hyytinen

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood.

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood.

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Tinkerbell Resort, Koh Kood.

The dusk is coming when we start to feel hungry and get up. We pick up a flashlight from the bungalow and start our search for a nice place to eat in the small village. A part of the enchantment of Koh Kood comes from not having any street lights. In the dark, frogs croak and crickets chirp. The air is smooth and sweet.

We choose our Thai favourites, papaya salad and Tom Yum soup. While eating our dinner, we ponder on what brings us here.

Papaya Salad. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Papaya Salad.

Tom Yam Soup. Photo: Mila Hyytinen

Tom Yam soup.

Thailand is a fast way to get rid of everyday life and enter another reality. Right from the start, when exiting the plane, the striking heat comes as a bit of a shock. The spicy Tom Yum soup makes your forehead sweat and speeds up the metabolism in a pleasant way.

We’re no sun worshippers, so beaches with fine sand and palm trees are not enough for us. What attracts us is the lush greenery in Thailand, the colourful flowers, villages, sounds, and scents. And moped rides!

After breakfast, we rent a moped. Koh Kood is made for moped rides. The hilly jungle island is full of concrete roads in good condition. There are hardly any cars.

Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Koh Kood.

Travel articles praise Koh Kood as one of the last unknown islands in Thailand. It’s true. Koh Kood is not a package holiday destination, yet. The hordes of tourists haven’t ruined the island, yet.

When riding our moped through the jungle, we can imagine we’re on a desert island. Here, we’re very close to nature. It looks like there’s a green plant on the road. Just before running it over, I realise it’s not a plant. A green snake lifts its head. I speed up, and we stop after a while to catch our breath.

There’s also a lot to see on this tranquil, even sleepy island. For moped rides, Ao Yao is the best destination. We take the 10-kilometre ride there across the island for lunch.

Fishing village Ao Yai, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Fishing village Ao Yai, Koh Kood.

Fishing village Ai Yao, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Fishing village Ai Yao, Koh Kood.

Deep Fried Fish. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Deep Fried Fish, Seafood restaurant.

The fishing village was built on top of the sea. Here and there, it looks like the planks of the footbridge are about to collapse. The village kids jump from the bridge into the sea to have a swim.

We start looking for the most attractive restaurant. The one in the back of the village has a sign on the roof that says “Seafood”. People are lying in hammocks; it’s midday siesta time but we can still get lunch. We have fried fish in sweet and sour sauce with pineapple. So tasty!

On our way back, we ride around to check out the beaches of the island and swim on the lovely Bang Bao Beach surrounded by palm trees. It’s also possible to stay there for the night. Right on the beach, we can see the Siam Beach bungalows that look nice. In the southern tip of the island, you have the Ao Phrao Beach offering desert beach atmosphere and affordable accommodation.

Bang Bao Beach, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Bang Bao Beach, Koh Kood.

Ao Phrao Beach, Koh Kood. Photo: Mila Hyytinen

Ao Phrao Beach, Koh Kood.

By the roads, there are cosy places to have a break in, here and there. We stop for a banana smoothie in the Goodview viewpoint cafe. From there, we can see the Klong Chao Beach and our hotel Tinkerbell.

We can’t really recommend Koh Kood for those who enjoy shopping and nightlife. The small village of Klong Chao has a few shops, restaurants and cafes. The small open-air cafe called Flying Fish is our favourite.

Cafe Flying Fish, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Cafe Flying Fish, Koh Kood.

Klong Chao, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Klong Chao, Koh Kood.

Klong Chao is in a river delta. Most cheapest places to stay are located by the river that is also good for canoeing.

The accommodation on Klong Chao Beach is among the more expensive ones on the island. A night in the Tinkerbell beach bungalow cost about 250 euros in November 2017. In our opinion, we didn’t pay for nothing. Tinkerbell is a beautiful, cosy place close to nature.

Beach Front Bungalow, Tinkerbell Resort.

Beach Front Bungalow, Tinkerbell Resort. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

Beach Front Bungalow, Tinkerbell Resort.

After comparing the accommodation in the location, we would say Tinkerbell is the cosiest place to stay on Klong Chao Beach and the whole island.

The hotel next to Tinkerbell, the High Season Hotel, is classified as a luxury hotel. The large beach bungalows cost three times as much as the Tinkerbell ones.  Extreme luxury is also available on the island. The Soneva Kiri beach bungalows that enjoy their own privacy set you back for more than 3,000 euros a night. They say even American film stars have stayed there. We couldn’t find out if it was true since the gate of the luxury hotel remained closed.

View Point Cafe, Koh Kood. Photo: Tuomas Hyytinen

View Point Cafe, Koh Kood.

We rode our moped to see the sunset in the View Point cafe. It’s built above water in the river delta. We spray some insect repellent on and order Vietnamese coffee. Soon, the cosy lights of the bungalows are lit.

Translated into English by Katja Juutistenaho. Original Finnish text by Tuomas Hyytinen and Mila Hyytinen.

 

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