Koh Tarutao

Tarutao is a marine national park is on the border between Thailand and Malaysia. In fact, Langkawi (a huge island in Malaysia ) is just five miles from Tarutao. Tarutao is an island for nature lovers and is not by any stretch of the imagination a party island. It is very undeveloped and unspoilt - the locals and the national Government aim to keep it that way.

UNESCO has designated Tarutao as an ASEAN Heritage site. The park consists of 51 islands - seven big ones. The main island, Koh Tarutao, features tidal rivers, old-growth mangrove forests, old-growth hardwood forests, primary nipa palm forests (this palm's fronds are customarily used for roof thatching), limestone karst islands and lots of wildlife.

Crab-eating Macaques (monkeys) are common on Tarutao. They are often seen walking the mudflats at low tide searching for crabs or whatever else they can eat. Dusky langurs, cute black monkeys with white rings around their eyes, are common too. Monitor lizards which roam the island can get as big as 60 pounds and as long as six or seven feet! 

There is a park headquarters with bungalows and the long beach in front of the park adds much beauty to an already stunning scene. A tidal river next to the park is great for exploring. There is a mangrove forest beside steep limestone cliffs. There are lots of birds in the mangrove.  Brown-winged Kingfishers, bright orange birds with brown wings and a blue back, are often seen. Oriental Pied hornbills and Southern Pied hornbills regularly cross over the mangrove channels or soar along the side of the massive limestone mountains. Greater Ratchet-tailed Drongos, medium-sized black birds with two very long tail feathers, flutter between trees at the park headquarters in their constant search for insects.

To get to Koh Tarutao by air from Bangkok simply fly to Hat Yai – a 75 minute journey and then take a minibus through to the ferry terminal at Pak Bara which takes just a further 2 hours. Alternatively head for Trang or Satun and then take a bus from there.