Updated August 2021
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Thailand is famous for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and white sand. It’s true that Thailand’s southern islands are beautiful, but they have also become extremely crowded and overdeveloped.
There are only a few Thai islands left where you can really relax on a remote beach without dozens of beach bars and hordes of tourists surrounding you. In this complete guide to Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, and Koh Ngai you’ll learn everything you need to know to visit the quiet islands of Thailand!
Why Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, and Koh Ngai? (The Best Quiet Islands in Thailand)!
These three islands were the only Thai islands we visited that actually offered quiet beaches in Thailand. Most of the Thai islands, especially the most popular ones, have had every inch of beachfront developed with restaurants, bars, and resorts. It is nearly impossible to find an uncrowded, quiet stretch of sand on most of the Thai islands.
Not so on Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, and Koh Ngai! These three tiny islands see very light tourist traffic, and have long stretches of undeveloped beachfront that will allow you some privacy while you sunbathe.
These three islands proved to us that Thailand island hopping is still amazing, you just have to get off the beaten tourist trail. In fact, these islands feature much of the same scenery you’d find on the heavily touristed Koh Phi Phi but without the crowds.
Huge limestone cliffs jutting dramatically out of the sea, emerald lagoons, and pristine beaches await you on Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, and Koh Ngai, the best quiet islands in Thailand.
This was our favorite of the three islands thanks to its complete lack of roads and motorized vehicles, and the absolute quiet of the remote beaches here. In our experience Koh Kradan offers the best quiet beaches in Thailand.
We were dropped off on Koh Kradan in a longtail boat that simply anchored in shallow water since there was no pier or dock to pull up to. We removed our shoes and waded to the shore (this was one of many times we were grateful to only travel with carry on bags) where our beachfront bungalow awaited us!
We spent 5 days on Koh Kradan, and it was not enough! Our days were spent reading on our bungalow porch, sunbathing on the soft white sand, and snorkeling in the coral reef just in front of our bungalow!
At night we fell asleep listening to the water lapping the shoreline because Koh Kradan is truly a peaceful, quiet island.
Koh Kradan Accommodation
There are very few hotels on Koh Kradan, and we chose Ao Nang Resort on Ao Nang Beach for our stay. The rooms here are very affordable for Koh Kradan (about 1000 THB per night), and Ao Nang Beach has the best snorkeling on the island.
We were SO pleased with Ao Nang Resort! Our bungalow was right on the most tranquil beach we’ve ever seen. The bungalows were naturally shaded by the giant palm trees lining the shoreline, and the breeze off the water kept the bungalows cool with no need for air conditioning.
The downside to Ao Nang Resort is that you must book your room locally through one of the Trang travel agencies. This is not a huge inconvenience since you will likely be booking your transport through one of these companies as well, but it does prohibit you from booking a room far ahead.
NOTE: Our bungalow’s bathroom at Ao Nang Resort was open air, and there was a big sign on the bathroom door that said to keep the door closed at night so rats don’t come in. Tom and I don’t mind roughing it a little so this wasn’t a big deal to us. If it would be for you then definitely consider a higher end accommodation.
If you would like to have a room reserved well in advance then there are three good choices on Koh Kradan:
Budget Accommodation: Paradise Lost Resort
Unfortunately, budget accommodation is sparse on Koh Kradan, and it is impossible to find a room for less than 1000 THB per night (33 USD). Of the few lower cost accommodations Paradise Lost is the best choice if you want to book in advance.
The bungalows at Paradise Lost are not beach front, but the grounds are lovely, and it is a short 5 minute walk to Kradan Beach. The restaurant also offered plenty of options, and there is a bar serving cocktails onsite.
Moderate Accommodation: Kalume Garden Beach Bungalows
The bungalows at Kalume Garden are clean, updated, and comfortable. The bungalows offer a sea view and comfortable sun loungers to relax on during the day. There is also a restaurant and bar, making this a lovely, quiet beach getaway.
Luxury Accommodation: Coral Garden Resort
Modern, air conditioned, beachfront bungalows at Coral Garden feature floor to ceiling windows that allow you to view the gorgeous waterfront from the comfort of your bed. Each bungalow also features a porch with a table and chairs.
Free Wifi, an onsite bar and restaurant, and tons of daily activities are also available.
How to get to Koh Kradan
You can get a boat straight from Trang province on the mainland to Koh Kradan, or you can schedule a transfer from either Koh Mook or Koh Ngai. Longtail boats shuttle between these three islands daily.
Your hotel in Trang, Koh Mook, or Koh Ngai should be able to set this up for you. Alternatively, in Trang, there are several travel agencies right by the train station where you can set up a transfer to Koh Kradan.
Things to know Before Visiting Koh Kradan
Koh Kradan has no roads or motorized vehicles! While this is fantastic for a quiet beach vacation, it means that when you want to explore the island you will have to do so on foot.
I recommend bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes so you can easily use the hiking trails in the center of the island to reach the various beaches.
Also, Koh Kradan is so tiny that all their supplies and groceries are shipped over from the neighboring island of Koh Mook. Because of this, prices on food, snacks, and toiletries are MUCH more expensive than elsewhere in Thailand.
You likely won’t be able to avoid paying for meals in restaurants, but you CAN avoid the exorbitant prices of snacks and toiletries by stocking up on these items before you visit.
Bring your own mask and snorkel if at all possible. While most of the resorts have masks and snorkels available to rent, the quality of their equipment was very poor, and it would have been much more pleasant to have our own!
The largest of the three islands, Koh Mook has small roads (more like trails) where there is motorized traffic, but you will mostly see scooters and tuk tuks. The roads aren’t big enough for cars to get around easily.
Just because Koh Mook is larger and more populated than Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. Koh Mook is still far more peaceful than the vast majority of Thai islands.
Koh Mook is also small enough that as long as you’re in decent shape you can walk anywhere you want to go. I mention being in decent shape because the southern end of the island has plenty of steep hills, and with the nearly constant high heat and humidity you will work up a sweat walking between beaches.
Koh Mook Beaches
There are two main beaches on Koh Mook, and both are absolutely stunning. You should certainly spend time at both of these beaches while visiting Koh Mook!
Charlie Beach (Haad Farang Beach)
This beach was our favorite thanks to the beautiful cliffs surrounding it, the turquoise blue water, and the lack of crowds- while there are a few vendors on the beach, they are few and far between, and there are rarely many people using the beach.
Thai beaches and lagoons are often so shallow that you can’t actually swim, just wade around. Not so at Charlie Beach! Here the water is plenty deep to swim, and if you can arrive at the beach in the morning the water is calm and crystal clear.
In the afternoon the breeze picks up, and though you can still swim, you’ll need to do so with far more caution because you’ll be navigating some surf. This is a great time to head to one of the beach vendors and grab yourself a beer!
Our days at Charlie Beach usually consisted of a morning swim, sunbathing, more swimming, more sunbathing, and then afternoon beers while reading. If you purchase a drink from one of the beach vendors you can use their chairs for the day, and you can also rent a sun lounger all day for just a few dollars.
Charlie Beach felt like a true vacation, which is why we would recommend spending the cash to stay in a nearby bungalow for at least a few nights of your stay on Koh Mook.
Sivalai Beach is gorgeous with shallow, crystal clear water and blinding white sand. While this is a lovely spot to stop for a couple hours, it doesn’t lend itself to all-day lounging like Charlie Beach does.
One reason for that is Sivalai Beach is completely surrounded by Sivalai Beach Resort, a high end luxury resort. This means that there is no budget food or drinks available on or around this beach, and there also are no beach loungers.
It’s not cheap, but Sivalai Beach Resort has beautiful beachfront bungalows, and is one of the best resorts in Thailand for couples seeking a romantic escape.
Koh Mook Accommodation
Koh Mook, much like Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai, does not offer much in the way of budget accommodation. We stayed at Cashew Nut Bungalows, which we enjoyed, but I would recommend dividing your stay between this hotel and one of the hotels near Charlie Beach.
Cashew Nut Bungalows has three big things going for it- the owner is an incredibly nice guy who will help you arrange affordable snorkeling trips and tours, the bungalows are set in a cashew orchard and fire-roasted cashews are always available, and it’s one of the few budget accommodations on the island.
I would recommend staying 2 nights at Cashew Nut Bungalows so you can take advantage of the affordable outings the owner arranges. We took a tiny long tail boat to Emerald Cave, and it was the most memorable experience of our time in Thailand!
Koh Mook Day Trip- Emerald Cave
Emerald Cave was the single most amazing thing Tom and I did in Thailand, and one of the top experiences of our Southeast Asia travels. You absolutely MUST visit Emerald Cave when you visit Koh Mook.
To reach Emerald Cave you’ll take a boat trip to the uninhabited side of Koh Mook where your boat will anchor, you’ll don life vests, and then you’ll swim into a tiny cliffside cave that is beautiful and a bit unnerving.
After swimming deep into the cave, and through a pitch black tunnel you will arrive at the most beautiful and pristine beach I’ve ever seen. The entire beach is enclosed in a crater, and it is an absolutely otherworldly experience to wade in the crystal clear lagoon, looking up at the sheer cliffs surrounding (and enclosing) you.
You can arrange a day trip to Emerald Cave from any of the three islands, but I would recommend Koh Mook as the jumping off point for this excursion since you want to arrive at Emerald Cave early in the morning to avoid the tour boats that begin arriving by 10am.
How to get to Koh Mook
You can schedule a transfer from Trang at your Trang hotel, or through one of the many local travel agencies in Trang. You can also easily schedule a longtail boat transfer from Koh Kradan or Koh Ngai as boats run between the three islands daily.
Things to Know Before Visiting Koh Mook
The wind tends to pick up in the mid-afternoon on Koh Mook, and it often blows in a brief rainstorm. It’s a good idea to plan to be near or around your hotel at this time so you can wait out the weather in your room.
Koh Mook’s power grid has trouble supporting the power use during tourist season. Because of this there are power outages regularly. In fact, the power went out for a couple hours every day of our visit.
The power outages mean that fans and air conditioners won’t run. It is also difficult to get food in a restaurant during these hours. Power outages usually happened in the late afternoon so plan accordingly!
Much like Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai has no roads or motorized vehicles, making it a blissful, quiet island for a true beach getaway.
The eastern shore of Koh Ngai is one long stretch of pristine beach with a variety of bungalow resorts set back far enough from the water to leave the beach open for use.
Koh Ngai is larger than Koh Kradan with more accommodation options, but it maintains a similar paradise atmosphere. The main activities on Koh Ngai are snorkeling, sunbathing, and hiking through the island’s interior to reach its more remote beaches.
Koh Ngai Accommodation
Much like Koh Kradan, most of Koh Ngai’s accommodations fall in the moderate to luxury price range, though we did manage to find a couple budget accommodation options. Here are our three favorite places to stay on Koh Ngai for any budget!
Budget Accommodation- Koh Ngai Resort
While this is not the absolute cheapest accommodation on the island, it is definitely the best value in the budget range.
Located on the very southern tip of Koh Ngai, Koh Ngai Resort hosts the best snorkeling on the main beach, and it even has a dock that your boat transfer pull right up to (no wading to the shore here).
The overwater restaurant is a great place for a meal, and breakfast is included with the price of your room. At just under $40/night for a room here this is definitely pushing the limits of budget accommodation, but it’s worth the splurge!
Moderate Priced Accommodation- Koh Ngai Seafood
The bungalows at Koh Ngai Seafood are clean and well-kept, and the restaurant is often cited as the best food on the island.
Koh Ngai Seafood also sits along a gorgeous, quiet stretch of beach, making it a lovely place for a couple’s getaway.
Luxury Accommodation- Thanya Beach Resort
This is the highest rated property on the island, and for good reason. The bungalows here are modern, beautiful, and set just off the beach in a pristine garden.
There is a beachfront infinity pool, a bar/restaurant, and the staff here gets rave reviews.
How to get to Koh Ngai
Just like Koh Kradan and Koh Mook, Koh Ngai is accessible by long tail boat from Trang, or you can catch a boat from one of the other islands daily.
Things to Know Before Visiting Koh Ngai
The main beach hosts tour boats every afternoon for a few hours. They generally pull up right in the center of the beach, so finding accommodation on the ends of the beach is one way to avoid the influx of people. Another option is just to spend your afternoons on the north or south ends of the beach.
There are hiking trails that go through the interior of Koh Ngai and will lead you to the two coves at the south end of the island. One of these coves, Ao Muang Bay, features an uninhabited beach with some of the best snorkeling on the island.
Be sure to bring walking shoes so you can walk through the forested interior to these coves!
Koh Ngai seems to be a better option for families than Koh Kradan as the main beach has soft sand in the shallow water (as opposed to the coral off of much of Koh Kradan). Kayaking is also an easy activity off the main beach due to the shallow water.
I hope that you enjoy your island hopping between Thailand’s most quiet islands as much as we did!
Trying to plan a budget for your trip? We traveled Southeast Asia for 6 months, and visited four countries. In this post we documented ALL of our expenses in each of these countries to help you plan a realistic budget for your trip!
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