Tarutao National Park Thailand

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Ko Adang

Tarutao National Park Thailand

After having an amazing time on the quiet island of Ko Chang I was looking for a similar island experience for my last stop in Thailand. I had asked some people on Ko Chang, who have travelled Thailand extensively, for some suggestions and they said I had to go to Tarutao National Park. Not only are most of the islands, besides Ko Lipe, very similar to Ko Chang in the respect that they are very laid back and not packed with tourists, but the water is also extremely clear which was not the case on Ko Chang.

After doing a little research of my own I decided I would stop at two islands: Ko Bulon and Ko Adang, both of which are part of Tarutao National Park. I decided to skip by Ko Tarutao which is where the park gets its name because I had heard the water was not as clear since it is much closer to shore.

Ko Bulon

After spending a night in the transit town of Pak Bara, where I felt like I was the only foreigner(people were actually pointing and staring at me) I got on a speed boat for the 1.5 hour trip out to Bulon. When given the option I always take a slow boat or long tail because they are run by locals who really need the money instead of a big company most likely owned by a foreigner and geared towards tourists. Unfortunately there is no option to get to these islands anymore. The speed boat was a lot of fun though.

speed boat in Tarutao

A lot of the accommodation on Ko Bulon is mid to upper range, but there are no major resorts. I had heard and could tell as soon as I got there that the island is very popular among younger families and French people. Again I’m noticing a trend that Europeans all have their own little islands in Thailand that they like to congregate on with people from their own countries. So far I’ve found the Germans on Ko Chang to be the friendliest. I also thought the Germans were very friendly people when I was there in October.

Anyway I had found a place that was right in the middle of the island called Jungle Huts which as the name would suggest was deep in the jungle. It was a really cool place with all the noises I heard at night from bugs, birds, reptiles, and who knows what else. I saw some huge moniter lizards out there, maybe 5 feet long. They are not poisonous nor would they do you much harm, but you still wouldn’t want to step on one. I’ve heard their bites can be very painful.

Unfortunately I got very sick my first night on Ko Bulon, I’m assuming from something I ate in Pak Bara the night before, but I was feeling better by the next morning. I decided to go to the beach and swim in the perfect crystal clear blue and green water. This is the clearest water I have ever seen. Before coming to Tarutao National Park I would have to say that the clearest water I had seen to that point was in Barbados when I was younger.

clear waters of Ko Bulon

The following day I went for a hike through the jungle and over to the sea gypsy village on Mango Bay. Ko Bulon is a pretty small island so it was not a very long or challenging hike, but very interesting. On my way I saw an orchard of rubber trees that looked like they were healthier than the ones I had seen on Ko Chang.

rubber trees

rubber

Bags that have filled with rubber after the trees bark has been slashed the rubber runs down a ridge into the bags.

Not much further along the trail I came to Mango Bay and the sea gypsy village. It was low tide and there were not many boat in the bay so I’m guessing they were all out fishing since I didn’t see any people around either.

sea gypsy

untitled-8714

A couple days later I bought a ticket to Ko Lipe, which is right next door to Ko Adang and the only way to get there. I had to hire a long tail to bring me off shore to meet the speed boat that was coming from Ko Lanta a couple hours north. It was the first of many boats I would be on that day, with lots of transfers in between.

They put these kids to work at a young age.

They put these kids to work at a young age.

Mid ocean transfer to the speedboat.

Mid ocean transfer to the speedboat.

Camping in Tarutao National Park on Ko Adang

The speed boat delivered me to the southern part of Ko Lipe and I had to walk across the island to get a long tail to take me to Ko Adang which is a short ways off the northern point of Ko Lipe. Ko Lipe is a very busy place with many expensive resorts, so I was happy when I got on the next long tail which took me over the channel to quiet Ko Adang.

Unfortunately my experience on Ko Adang was not good right from the start. I guess you can’t like every place you travel right?

The national park employees are extremely rude and unhelpful. I am pretty sure they just arbitrarily set a price for a tent rental, which was absolutely ridiculous by the way. It cost me almost twice what the nice bungalow on Ko Bulon cost, and bedding was extra. After I got set up, I almost got attacked by a monkey who was hanging out at the trash can which he had emptied and no one had cleaned up. I guess he was just looking for more food.

And then there was the food at the only restaurant on the island, which was run by the National Park. It was absolutely disgusting and arrived to my table cold, with the usual rude service that is standard on Ko Adang. The worst part of it is it was probably the most expensive meal I have had on my entire trip. I guess they have a monopoly here.

It really is unfortunate about the way Tarutao National Park is run because the island of Ko Adang is beautiful and I would have liked to spend some more time there doing some snorkeling and one of the numerous hike on the island. Instead I got up early the next morning to get back to Ko Lipe and on my way to Malaysia. I had planned to spend a few days here but I didn’t want to support such a place any more than I already had.

Tarutao

Tarutao sunrise

Sunrise over Langkawi Malaysia from Ko Adang in Tarutao National Park.

Brooks

Brooks

I am traveling the world focusing on adventure and photography.

4 Comments

  • Cara

    Omg Brooks!!! This is a fantastic post!!! So many interesting and beautiful things you’re seeing and sharing with us!!! I literally feel like I’m there as I read your posts and see the pictures. It’s a cool feeling and experience for us all!!! Thanks😀 Did I say how much I loved the monkey video!!!!! Xoxo cara

    January 25, 2016 at 9:56 am
  • Kaely

    I think I’m going to move to Ko Bulon and become a sea gypsy. Sounds like a good life!

    January 25, 2016 at 10:40 am
  • Lara Hanlon

    Not too many people can say that they almost got attacked by a monkey! Wow, that water does look absolutely incredible!! Love the rubber tree picture! I’ve never seen that before! Sorry to hear you got so sick! Hope you’re enjoying Malaysia!! Looking forward to your next post!!

    January 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm
  • Peg Aikman

    Somehow missed this post Brooks. Glad i keep then so i can go back to review. You’ve had remarkable luck with travel and your food along way so not surprised you’d hit one sour note…although it’s awful that it happened at such a stunning location. I think the kid on the long tail is one of my all time favorite photos, really well done! I am absolutely amazed at the way you are getting around by the seat of your pants! English must be widely spoken for you to figure out these complicated long boat/speedboat etc transfers!!

    Travel safe!

    Love, Ante Peg

    February 3, 2016 at 11:45 am

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