Although Koh Muk is a medium sized island in Trang Province, and within easy reach of the mainland, it still has a real local feel where traditional Muslim culture is followed, fishing is the main industry and tourism comes second. This is what makes it one of our favourite Thai islands.
The island has a few resorts with most situated on one of the two beaches, Sivalai Beach on the east coast near the pier or Haad Farang Beach (Charlie’s Beach) on the west coast.
The speedboat between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe stops at Koh Muk, and tuk tuk’s are 50 Baht per journey with Charlies beach located about 20 minutes from the pier.
One of the major attractions of Koh Muk is the Tham Morakot or Emerald Cave, it can only be reached by swimming through a cave for approx. 100 metres (you can no longer Kayak into the cave). There are ropes on the walls to help guide you if required and all of the guides have head torches. An emerald shade grabs the water, brightening as you approach, with a strip of sand rimmed by vertical cliffs. The beauty is dramatic and unforgettable, so it’s no surprise that boatloads of travellers venture here from Koh Lanta and the mainland in high season. Staying on Muk makes it possible to hit the cave when it’s not crammed full of people. Either first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon you may find you actually have it all to yourself.
You can snorkel around Muk but the nearby island of Koh Kradan is easily reached by long tail boat and is a far better option. However, one thing to be aware of if visiting Kradan, is it is a day visitors island with boats coming and going from Lanta, so can be very busy at times. This also reflects on the food and service, we had lunch at the Kradan Beach Resort and I think I can safely say it’s the worst food and service we have ever had in Thailand. On the way to Emerald cave, if you leave from the pier, you will be able to stop for a snorkel and discover giant star fish on route.
We had a look at different accommodation options, The Sivalai Beach Resort looked the best option but when we took a look around it felt soulless but we wanted to stay on that side of the island. In the end we came across the De Tara beach, a small resort where you can get one of the sea view rooms for great value, it is a lovely, friendly family-run hotel. The restaurant seemed to only open for breakfast, but they own the De Local restaurant, a great BBQ restaurant on the strip that you can book via the hotel. The beach bar is also great for a drink. We found that there was more restaurants on the little strip at night but Charlie’s beach was the better beach during the day.
There is a surprising amount of good restaurants on Muk for its size…De Local BBQ restaurant, Team Restaurant, The Hilltop (beware as they have giant portions for Thailand), all are reasonably priced with good local food and great service.
As for bars – Mong Bar on Charlies beach is our favourite; great curry, cold beer, cheap cocktails and great service. If you are lucky enough to be on the island when Job2Do is (Thailand’s answer to Bob Marley), you will hear his hit Doo Doo Doo played regularly at all the Rasta bars, he is friendly with the owners so stops by and plays Muk when he is touring Thailand. It is worth checking him out as he is very professional and puts on a great gig. Ting Tongs bar is always busy, The High bar also seems to draw a crowd but we have not had the chance to visit as yet.
So our overall assessment of Koh Muk is that if you are looking for peace, tranquillity and just want to relax then it is certainly worth a visit. It is becoming one of our favourite islands as it has got the balance right between being a working and tourist island. Also, it has the emerald cave as well as decent snorkelling but is also great if you just want to beach bum. We recommend you spend 3 or 4 days and then continue on your island hopping tour.