Monday, April 18, 2016

Thailand’s Angthong Archipelago: Beauty Beyond Proportions

Visualize this! Turquoise waters, silver soft sandy beaches with swaying palms, dense green hills, amazing limestone cliffs, panoramic views, amazing inland lakes and rich marine life that is beyond comparison. Each island in this archipelago seems to be a better beach holiday destination than the other if that were physically possible. A marine national park, this archipelago goes by the name of Angthong Marine National park and it is located in the Gulf of Thailand.

Angthong view from Moe Koh Island

This is the kind of place where kids can play with hermit crabs and build sand castles of silver, the elderly can enjoy that pristine tropical beach environment and read a book under the shade of a palm tree, the water babies can indulge in some snorkelling, kayaking, swimming and scuba diving and the land babies can discover these volcanic islands through steep hikes across the limestone cliffs and even indulge in some caving.

Snorkeling at Angthong Marine National Park, Thailand

From the time you arrive at one of these islands of the archipelago to the time you leave it with a heavy heart, this place will give you a feel of paradise. As the lagoon waters around these islands are teeming with life and with the underwater visibility being close to 30 feet, snorkelling is one of the favorite activities to experience at Angthong. The rich coral life, the colorful fishes, the massive school of barracudas or sometimes that elusive shark can all be seen just by floating on the surface.

Tropical Paradise of Moe Koh Island in Angthong Marine National Park, Thailand

And if you go on a scuba diving trip, you will see much more and so much more that most of the time you will end up talking about it. When I was staying at this archipelago, I tried to experience all of its charms. Early morning was time to experience the cliffs, the inland lakes, the birdlife and the steep hikes. Late morning was for snorkelling. Mid day was a nap under the palm trees or a swim in the lagoon, evenings were kayaking to explore the hidden caves under the cliffs and some beach volleyball with other tourists around sunset.

White sands at Angthong's Beaches

This place is not your typical party circuit as there is no nightlife or pubs, but you definitely up the ante with your guitar, a lovely camp fire and a bottle of beer. As the days are fairly activity intensive and since there is not much to do here during the night with the exception of a midnight swim and some camp fire dances, it is best to get some shut eye. And just so you know, there is no electricity after 11 pm so the only light you can see is the light of the moon and the only sound you can hear is the sound of the tiny lapping waves. According to me, this is one of the best charms of staying on this archipelago.

Steep hike that leads to Emerald Lake

Scuba diving trips take place either early in the mornings or late in the afternoons, in which case, you will be away from the island, but you will get to experience it from a different perspective (the underwater one). As there are a lot of diving spots in this vicinity, a lot of travelers prefer live-aboard trips where they dive during the day at the various spots and camp during the night at permissible camp sites.

Limestone rocks galore at Angthong Marine Park

Easily accessible from both Ko Samui and Ko Phangan, the Angthong archipelago is fantastic for both day trippers and for those who seek a more relaxed holiday in this tropical paradise. While most travelers prefer day trips from Ko Samui and Ko Phangan via speed boats, I prefer to stay here at Angthong as it gives you a better feel of this tropical beach paradise.

The natural wonder of Angthong Archipelago

Accommodation is either through basic bungalows (no hot water and no electricity after 11 pm) or through camping in tents. If you can stay away from luxury for a few days, staying on the island allows you to keep the island to yourself during the early morning hours and the late evening hours when the day trippers are not there and it also allows you to simply experience this archipelago at your own easy pace instead of going with tour groups and following the tour itinerary.

View from a typical Angthong limestone cliff hike

If you are planning a holiday to ‘Amazing Thailand’ or if you are looking for tropical beach holiday destinations, Angthong Marine National Park is very much recommended. It’s beauty beyond proportions can either be experienced through a short or a long holiday. You have to see it on your next visit to Thailand.

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