Aerial view of Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand.


Ang Thong Marine National Park

Top choice in Gulf Islands

Known officially as Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park, this series of jungle-covered islands – the inspiration for Alex Garland’s cult classic novel, The Beach – resemble a shattered emerald necklace decorating the azure waters of the Gulf. February to April are ideal months to visit, and the best way is on a guided tour (ask at your accommodation), which usually includes lunch, snorkelling equipment, hotel transfers and (fingers crossed) a knowledgeable guide.

The park’s head office is on Ko Wua Talap, the largest island, where there is a visitor centre, basic bungalow accommodation, camping areas and access to first aid. It is the only island you can stay overnight. Bungalows house two to eight guests and start at 600B (booked online via the national park website). Campers are allowed to pitch a tent in designated zones, bring your own or rent a two-berth tent for 250B. Facilities are basic with no hot water and the electric generator is turned off at 11pm every night.

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