The tropical paradise that is Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong Marine National Park. Image credit: Wikicommons

Nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, Ang Thong National Marine Park is a stunning archipelago that covers 102 square kilometres and was established as a marine national park in 1980. This heaven is a short boat ride from Koh Samui and is a natural treasure – its name means ‘golden basin’, and it holds the distinction of being a Ramsar site (an accolade for wetland sites that are of international importance under the Ramsar Convention), making it a must-visit destination for travellers seeking a pristine and tranquil escape.


Diversity in its islands, flora and fauna

A juvenile dusky langur in Koh Wua Ta Lap, the main island at Ang Thong Marina National Park. Image credit: Wikivoyage

The 42 islands of Ang Thong make up 18 square kilometres of the park, including notable ones such as Koh Phaluai, Koh Wua Ta Lap, Koh Mae Ko, Koh Sam Sao, Koh Hin Dap, Koh Nai Phut, and Koh Phai Luak, with the highest peak found on Koh Phaluai at 396 metres above sea level. These islands are characterised by their rugged limestone hills, sinkholes, caves, and inland marine lakes. 

The park’s forests primarily consist of dry evergreen forests on larger islands, alongside limestone forests and planted mangrove forests near the beaches and bays. Among the flora, you’ll find the endemic Ang Thong Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum Ang Thong), usually found on limestone hills. The park also plays home to a variety of wildlife including dusky leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, fishing cats and more.


Exploring the various islands of Ang Thong

Thale Nai, the emerald lake at Koh Mae Koh. Image credit: Wikicommons

Out of the two inhabited islands of the park, Ko Wua Ta Lap (translated to ‘the sleeping cow’s eye’) is the main and largest island with park headquarters, where there is also a visitor centre and other basic facilities. Here, visitors can swim, snorkel and canoe in its azure waters, while those yearning for picturesque views can hike up to the Wua Ta Lap Viewpoint via a 500-metre trail – the hike is brutal with its 800-feet elevation gain, but those who make the climb are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the archipelago at the top. For the ones who are keen to venture further than the top, Bua Bok Cave is filled with stalactites and large limestone formations.

Koh Mae Koh is another island to check out – translating to ‘mother island’, the landmark here is Thale Nai, an emerald green saltwater lagoon that’s connected to the sea by underwater caves – visitors climb a snaking staircase to enjoy its pristine colours.

Koh Sam Sao boasts serene turquoise waters and lush greenery cloaking the island, with the island’s distinctive “Tripod Island” rock formation inviting exploration. Kayaking unveils this enigmatic world, offering a glimpse through a natural gateway – although only within the first few metres of the island’s shores to safeguard the ecosystem. Alternatively, visitors can opt for a leisurely beachfront experience. 


Getting to Ang Thong Marine National Park

Private boat Koh Samui to Ang Thong Marine Park. Image Credit: Islander

Entering the park requires travellers to go through licensed tour operators, and as of June 2022, entrance fees are 200 Baht for foreigners while children aged 3-14 pay half of that. The park operates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with a yearly closure from October 20th to December 20th.

Where to Stay

For those looking to stay in Koh Samui as a base for their exploration around Ang Thong Marine National Park, there is no lack of grand accommodations around Koh Samui’s Lipa Noi area. Baan Chang, a part of the prestigious Dhevatara Cove Estate, epitomises opulent beachfront living – this exclusive residence offers unparalleled luxury, surrounded by lush tropical gardens and a serene sandy beach, through its seamless blend of indoor and outdoor spaces that allow for breathtaking island views through tall French windows. Imagine cooling off in the private pool or lounging on the sun terrace on the outside, or indulging in the comfort of the king beds and en-suite bathrooms on the inside.

On the other hand, Baan Chao Lay is a contemporary classic villa with a Thai-style design that comes with a central courtyard, a 5-suite layout, and a 12-metre swimming pool with a jacuzzi and shallow area for kids. Private beach access sets the stage for a tropical escape, while the villa is just 10 minutes from Nathon ferry port and 30 minutes from the airport. This retreat also offers a highly efficient Villa Manager to arrange activities, spa treatments, and exquisite Thai cuisine, ensuring an unforgettable getaway.


Ang Thong National Marine Park stands as an untouched paradise – whether you’re exploring the crystal-clear waters, admiring the lush greenery, or encountering the diverse wildlife, this heaven on earth promises an extraordinary journey into nature’s splendour.

The Luxe Nomad

Like you, we love to travel but we think that staying at beautiful places shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. That’s why we’ve gone out there and snagged the best design and luxury hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region at rates you won’t believe. WanderLuxe is our little corner of the world where we share our inspirations and thoughts about travel!

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