Koh Mak is a small island in Thailand's Trat province near the Cambodian border. There are 90 odd islands in the archipelago, with Koh Chang being the largest and most popular.
Few people visit this archipelago compared to those around Ko Samui and the Andaman Sea, so it's an excellent destination to escape the crowds and enjoy some of Thailand's most beautiful islands.
Getting to Koh Mak
✈️ Bangkok to Trat (via Bankok Airways): $40-$50
🚕 Trat airport to Laem Ngop Pier: $8-$13.50
⛴️ Laem Ngop Pier to Koh Mak: $15
🚕 Taxi to your resort: free-$2.70
Trat is the closest airport to Koh Mak. You can fly from Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi one way for $40-$50, depending on when you book.
Trat is a tiny provincial airport that doesn't even have a baggage carousel—they place your luggage on the floor near the exit.
Several taxi operators outside the airport offer trips to the various islands for between ฿300-฿500 ($8-$13.50). I paid ฿400 for the taxi to Laem Ngop Pier, where Koh Mak speedboat ferries operate. The speedboat is another ฿550 ($15) and takes 45-60 minutes.
You can also book with Boonsiri which offer trips from Bangkok to Koh Mak for ฿1,100 ($30). While this is a significant saving, the trip (including ferry) is 7h30. It's roughly 5 hours from Bangkok to Laem Ngop Pier, Trat.
When you arrive at Ao Nid Pier, taxis take you to your final destination for ฿100 ($2.70). Some resorts offer a shuttle service. I managed to get a free trip with Good Time Sports Resort because I stayed for a month.
Best Time to Visit Koh Mak
Like most of Thailand and Southeast Asia, Koh Mak has two distinct seasons:
⛈️Rainy season (summer)—May to October: expect some rain, but the island is much quieter with almost no tourists. You can get good deals for accommodation during these months.
☀️Dry season (winter)—October to May: Peak tourist season and excellent weather with few rainy days—usually the odd afternoon shower.
Most resorts in the entire archipelago close during the rainy season, and many locals leave. The rain and thunderstorms are relentless, with some severe downpours. While this is bad for tourism, it's excellent for digital nomads who can enjoy cheaper prices and fewer people!
I recommend traveling to Koh Mak during the rainy season, especially if you want an escape and peaceful focus time. If you want to leverage the geo arbitrage benefits, the rainy season is the secret strategy few people consider 😉.
I arrived at the end of September. Most resorts and businesses were closed, and it was pretty wet, but I loved it. Most days, it rains briefly in the early morning or at night, with the sunshine breaking through during the day. I still got out and explored as I would during the dry season; only a couple of days during the week were completely wet. When you're on a workation, a couple of rainy days are not an issue—just put your head down and work.
The island was peaceful, and I enjoyed the heavy downpours. The rain subsides by early October, and it's mostly sunny skies from the end of October to April/May.
Where to Stay in Koh Mak
Most accommodation is on the western and southern side of Koh Mak. There are only three places that accommodate remote workers:
These three properties encourage and accommodate long-stay guests. Each room has a comfortable workspace, and Koh Mak Campus and White Sand Beach have excellent coworking spaces.
Good Time Sports Resort is cheaper at ฿2,000 ($54) per night, while you can expect to ฿3,000-฿4,000 ($80-$110) at White Sand Beach. You can get much cheaper rates if you stay for a month by contacting the resort directly via the White Sand Beach website.
Remote Work From Koh Mak
White Sand Beach Resort and Koh Mak Campus offer the only coworking space on the island. There are no coffee shops suitable for work in Koh Mak, so you must find accommodation with a decent workspace. Ensure your room has aircon because a fan doesn't cut it in the Thai humidity.
I use Good Time Sports Resort's WiFi in my room for most work but switch to my phone's hotspot for calls because it's more stable. I purchased an AIS one-month unlimited tourist data plan at the airport for ฿999 ($27).
The WiFi at White Sand Beach Resort and Koh Mak Campus is significantly better than Good Time Sports Resort offering 100+mps internet speed.
Daily Life on Koh Mak
I'm an early riser, so I get up between 05:30 and 06:00 to run and workout at the open-air gym. At 06:00, it's already 28°C (82.4°F) with 80% humidity.
By the time I've run a couple hundred meters, I'm already sweating profusely. The air is so thick and humid it's hard to breathe, but I love it! The open-air gym is also super hot and muggy. I drink nearly 2 liters (a half gallon) of water during a one-hour workout—constantly sweating.
The Phoenix Gym—the only one on the island—is ฿100 ($2.70) per day or free for Good Time Sports Resort and White Sand Beach Resort guests.
Breakfast at Food Art Hut
After a cold shower, I head to Food Art Hut for breakfast. They make incredible smoothie bowls for ฿180 ($4.85).
I have that with an omelet with tomatoes and fresh avocado, another ฿180 ($4.85). I wash it down with a fresh ginger tea, which comes with the breakfast.
Work or explore
I usually return to my room after breakfast to complete any work. If it's a day off, I'll hit the Ao Pra Pier at Koh Mak Cococape Resort, a short walk from my apartment.
They charge ฿200 ($5.40) for non-guests per day, but you can get away with only paying once if you're a long-stay guest—speak to Chai at the bar 😉.
I also like to walk around my small neighborhood or jump on a scooter and explore all the corners of Koh Mak, looking for beautiful beaches or jungle walks.
Lunch along the main road
There are many restaurants along the main road running parallel to Ao Kao Beach (White Sand Beach), which stretches most of Koh Mak's southwest coastline.
It's mostly Thai cuisine and always excellent. I haven't found a bad meal yet. Expect to pay between ฿150-฿300 ($4.05-$8.10) per person depending on your appetite and drinks.
The Food Art Hut is your best bet for vegans and vegetarians.
Muay Thai in the afternoon
Phoenix Gym offers morning and afternoon Muay Thai classes for all levels. The morning class is 09:00-10:30, and the afternoon is 15:30-17:00.
It's ฿500 ($13.50) per class or ฿400 ($10.80) for Good Time Sports Resort and White Sand Beach Resort guests.
Muay Thai classes follow a similar format throughout Thailand:
- 5-10 minutes of jump rope
- Running/cardio exercise
- Boxing combinations and sparring with the coach
- Hard cardio/core
It's an intense workout, made even more extreme by the Thai heat and humidity. It's an absolute sweat fest where you can easily consume a liter of water during the session.
Everyone sucks in the beginning. It's a humbling experience. But, if you stick with it, you'll build excellent stamina, solid core muscles, and strong legs.
Dinner on the main road
You can return to the main road in the evening for dinner. There are several restaurants to try, mostly with the same menus. You can also hit the beach bars or restaurants to catch the sunset, sipping a fresh coconut with your feet in the sand—an absolute essential in Thailand!
Things to do in Koh Mak
There is plenty to do on the island, primarily watersports and island hopping tours. Here are some Koh Mak activities:
- Kayaking/SUPing at most resorts
- Daily excursions to surrounding islands
- Snorkeling tours
- Diving tours and PADI-certified courses
- Coral conservation with Koh Mak Coral Conservation Group
- Massage (Jan Jao massage is the best)
- Many beaches—some hidden by a short jungle walk
- Tennis (White Sand Beach Resort)
- Disc golf
- Thai cooking classes (Smile Koh Mak cooking school)
- Koh Mak Museum
- Yoga, pilates, and meditation (White Sand Beach Resort)
- Bicycle hire
- Weekly Trash Hero trash collection
- Volunteer at Koh Mak Animal Clinic
Health and safety essentials
The Koh Mak International Clinic is the closest place for medical treatment. It's a small clinic, so you'll need to be transferred to Trat for anything serious. Make sure you have good travel insurance.
Thailand offers a 30-day visa on arrival for most passports. You can do a visa run to neighboring countries every 30 days but cannot use more than six 30-day visas in 12 months.
The 30-day visa is the easiest and least complicated. If you want to stay longer, other Thai visas are available, but I recommend using a visa agent as the process can be complicated.
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