Koh Adang and Tarutao islands in Thailand: which is best?
As we were at the time based in Koh Lipe, we looked around for options and discovered the less frequented islands of Koh Adang and Koh Tarutao. We ended up visiting both islands to compare and write about which Thai island Koh Adang or Tarutao is better to visit:
Table of Contents
Where are they?
Koh Adang and Tarutao islands are in Southwestern Thailand in the Andaman Sea, just before the Malaysian border. They form part of the “Tarutao National Marine Park”, so are therefore protected and very remote.
Koh Adang: the ideal day trip
Koh Adang is a large island right next to touristy Koh Lipe. It forms part of the Adang Archipelago group of islands. It’s the largest and the most remote. Very few people come here and as a result it’s the ideal day trip to escape the busy crowds on Koh Lipe island.
Transport to Koh Adang
Koh Adang is reachable by tail boat from Koh Lipe, which can be found everywhere. We paid 100 bahts (£2/$$3) per person each way. For the return, there are always a few tail boats hanging around waiting to take you back, but you should check this before leaving as it will depend on how strong the tide is.
Entrance fee to Koh Adang
There is a 200 bahts (£4/$6) National Park fee to pay, valid for 5 days on all the Tarutao National Marine Park islands.
Accommodation on Koh Adang
There are only a handful of commercial hotels Koh Adang, which is part of the beauty of this remote island. Most accommodation is through the National Park and is mainly bungalows or renting a space to camp on.
Bungalows can be rented from 600 bahts (£12/$18) a night or you can rent a tent for 200 bahts (£4/$6) a night. They come with mats and mosquito nets. You can also pitch your own tent for 30 bahts a day. To book accommodation in advance you can do it online or call the National Park on: 074783597 or 074783485.
Facilities on Koh Adang
There is a large communal bathroom and toilet area with showers, as well as a restaurant. Or, you can just take a tail boat over to Koh Lipe to stock up on supplies and come back again.
Hiking on Koh Adang
Due to its vastness, Koh Adang is ideal for hiking. Just remember to wear plenty of sunblock cream! There is a viewpoint in the mainland jungle which is an easy hike and offers some incredible views across the archipelago.
Snorkelling on Koh Adang
We loved snorkelling here and found it to be some of the best in the Thailand, rivalling Thoddoo island in the Maldives because of the large variety of wildlife. We rented masks, snorkels and fins from a dive shop in Koh Lipe for around 250 bahts (around £4/$6.55) each and brought it with us on our day trip.
Koh Tarutao: the ultimate adventure getaway
Koh Tarutao is the largest island in the Tarutao National Marine Park and a former concentration camp for political prisoners. Like Koh Adang, it’s very remote and well protected by the Thai government with limited facilities. It offers more in terms of activities and is more a place you base yourself for a few days rather than visiting as a day trip.
Transport to Tarutao
We went to Tarutao from Koh Lipe by speed boat, which takes around 1 hour. We paid 450 bahts (£9/$14) each. Otherwise you can reach it from the mainland from Pakbara, which is 1 hour away and also costs 450 bahts pp. The entry point is Ao Phante Malacca in the north of the island:
Entrance fee to Ko Adang
Entrance fee costs 200 bahts (£4/$6) and is valid for 5 days across all the Tarutao National Marine Park islands. Tip: if you have a student card, you pay the half price “children’s fee”.
Accommodation on Koh Tarutao
You can either rent a bungalow or tent space. We stayed in one of the bungalows huts for 2 nights, which costs 600 bahts (£12/$18). You can rent a tent for 200 bahts (£4/$6) a night. They come with mats and mosquito nets. You can also pitch your own tent for 30 bahts a day. To book accommodation in advance you can do it online or call the National Park on: 074783597 or 074783485.
Facilities on Koh Tarutao
There is a decent restaurant at Ao Talo Phante Malacca and an even better one at Ao San, around 6km from the headquarters.
The camping areas at Ao Talo Phante, Ao San and Ao Molee each have clean public bathrooms with shower facilities.
Beaches of Koh Tarutao
There are many beautiful and remote beaches on Koh Tarutao. Our favourite was the beach at Ao Son. Although it’s far from the bungalows/camping ground area at Ao Talo Phante Malacca, it’s definitely worth the journey, and you’ll most likely have it all to yourself. The sunsets here are stunning and the water is everything you dream.
Snorkelling on Koh Tarutao
Snorkelling is possible on the Northeast side of the island, but you have to rent a tail boat to take you. However, we were told it is not worthwhile if you’ve been to Koh Adang or Lipe.
Mountain biking on Koh Tarutao
You can rent excellent sturdy mountain bikes for 250 bahts (£5/$8) for 1 day and go from Ao Talo Phante Malacca to the more remote and pretty Ao Son, around 6km away. The trail goes through the Tarutao mainland jungle and took us around 40 minutes each way, which included a few stopovers for photos.
Hiking in Koh Tarutao
There are some excellent trails on Koh Tarutao, which take you through the vast thick jungle inland. The most famous is the trek to the Lu Du Waterfall near Ao Son as well as the hike up to the 400m Tob-Bob cliff at Ao Talo Phante Malacca.
Kayaking on Koh Tarutao
Our favourite activity on Koh Tarutao was renting a kayak and paddling through a mangrove forest to a crocodile cave towards Ao Rusi in the northeast side of the island. This is a really fun day trip, a work out, gorgeous natural environments and a unique cave experience all in one. Just remember to bring head torches for the dark crocodile cave!
We rented paddle boats from the National Park head office, which cost 500 bahts (£10/$15) for the whole day.
Koh Tarutao or Koh Adang?
We loved both islands and definitely recommend each to adventure travellers. If you are looking to base yourself in one place for a full-on adventure holiday, then head to Koh Tarutao. If you prefer a mix of remoteness with civilisation and party, then we recommend Koh Adang, which you can reach from busy Koh Lipe on a day trip.
For more inspiration planning your trip, check out this awesome 3 weeks Thailand itinerary.
Watch more from our island hopping in our Thailand travel video: