Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ko Muk (Muuk/Mook) - updated April 213

Last stayed March 2013 - visited Nov 2014


Chill Out Bar on Farang (Charlie) Beach Ko Muk - not a bad place to spend time around sunset.

The tip of the lovely white sandspit, eastern most point of Ko Muk (image Sivalai Beach Resort)

Ko Muk is the most visited of the Trang islands. Perhaps this is its problem, because my second (March 07) visit showed the place has gone downhill considerably since the late 90s. At least the most popular Farang Beach area had. The less visited east coast seemed as serene as normal and the lovely white-sand spit on the SE corner of the island where the new luxury SIVALAI BEACH RESORT has located, is indeed ..... lovely.
My latest June 2010 visit saw little change to Farang Beach which is now being referred to by many as Charlie Beach on account the main resort is Ko Muk Charlie - a few places had upgraded slightly. Ditto on the east coast. The biggest change was in the vicinity of the Sivalai spit - Sivalai was expanding and a couple of new places were locating on the land side of the southern edge of the spit. March 2013 saw a few changes - the back of the beach at Ko Muk Charlie seemed neater, long time favourite bar Mookie's was not operating, and quite a few places had expanded operations.

Area Map

Modified Google Earth Area Map
Muk and neighbours - image Google Earth. This image is tilted a little west of north in the vertical plane.

Modified Google Earth Island Map
Once again Google Earth's placemarker would not allow me to add full detail without disturbing other pointers and labels. The PIER is where the G of VILLAGE is. ANDA and COCO LODGE resorts are around the V of VILLAGE. The new NATURE RESORT and PAWAPI are in the area of the SI in SIVALAI.
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FARANG BEACH

Google Earth Farang Beach (Charlie Beach) Map
I couldn't fit all places in here - MAYOW'S KITCHEN with a few bungalows is opposite RUBBER TREE. TING TONG restaurant and bungalows is on the roadside in front of MOOKIES. If you are coming to SAWASDEE from the pier (down past MOOKIES), best take the track directly thru CHARLIE to the beach and turn right - the upper track starting at MAYOW'S is less distinct.

Farang Beach from Koyoo Restaurant and Bar on the southern headland 2013. Note way more sand than in wet season shot below - some is due to tide differences (you can see the high tide mark above) but most due to storm wave erosion in the lower shot.

Seasonal contrast - Farang (Charlie) Beach June 2010 - wet season sees good ocean swell ( I caught some okay body waves despite onshore conditions - a few tricky rips around so the inexperienced should be careful in conditions like this), no boats, a total of 5 visitors in the whole greater Farang Beach area. Koyoo Restaurant closed - had to push thru protective hession "fence" to gain access to headland for this shot.

I found this great shot on booking site AGODA'S page for Had Farang Bungalows. Too good to ignore so I knicked it. Blowed if I'd be climbing up there - there is  no trekking track so it's bush-bashing baby. I HATE bush-bashing.

I wrote this after the 2007 visit:
FARANG BEACH is still a pretty nice place, but not outstanding as it was when I first visited about 10 years ago. The sand is fairly white, but not blinding white as before. The water is deep for swimming at all tides, fairly clear but not the pristine of old, largely because in 2007 there were always at least 3 cruising yachts, a couple of motor cruisers and a dozen+ longtails parked off the beach. It is rare for the former to have holding tanks for sewage and longtails tend leak fuel and lubricant. The whole area back of beach is crammed with bungalows plus KO MUK CHARLIE'S pool. It is getting a bit crowded back there.

There is a bunch of critics blaming people who write and post photos about the various islands for the subsequent over-popularity of the places. I see it as inevitable that as time passes more people will visit. Fares get cheaper, more people travel. It is not as though Thai bungalow/hotel people, ferry operators, daytrip companies, booking sites etc don’t know how to push their stuff in the media.
The idea that we should jealously guard our favourite spots is extremely selfish and soooo like those mega-immature wankers in that book by Alex Garland. My reports may in fact convince people that certain places are feeling the strain and should perhaps be avoided if this worries you.

Of course, increased popularity does not mean the place necessarily goes downhill. Chalok Ban Kao on Ko Tao for instance is much more presentable these days than in the mid-90s.
A lot of it is up to the Thais. For instance there is so much Charlie could do to make its place more attractive. It desperately needs more paths and landscaping. The former chalk white sand between the bungalows is becoming pretty dirty from dust carried/blown in from the cross-island track, which continues thru Charlie as a right-of-way. There is a nice bunch of trees at the back of the beach at the southern end, in front of Charlies’ expensive fan bungalows. Great for some shade and a swing in a hammock. Pity about the piles of building debris and equipment which has a weathered been there since last wet season’s refurbishing program look about them. Hell, that was only 6 month’s ago!

UPDATE MARCH 2013 - PROGRESS
Things much improved. Junk had been cleared below the trees save for this rather fetching antique. The paths around Charlie seemed neater. Farang beach may be not be as striking as at neighbouring Kradan or Ngai but it matches or beats beaches on say Lanta, Lipe or Bulon Lae. And in 2013 I found bungalow prices way cheaper than all those others except Lanta.

March 07 - I jumped off the longtail from Ko Kradan at Farang and went looking for a bungalow.
KO MUK CHARLIE was hopelessly overpriced - 1050 for a beachfront fan bungalow including breakfast and 950 for a second rower. 2007! Must be some breakfast. Hey, you also get free use of Charlies new beachfront pool. Jeez, somehow that wasn’t a clincher for me.
Cool pool - in high season 2007 there was a brace of Scando bikini babes draped across the far rim with highball glasses, and the sunlounges were packed - here in low season June 2010 I was the only user. Hell, the first night at Charlie I was the only guest at the resort! Okay, I didn't mind the lack of a crowd at the pool - ripped off 50 laps without some little kid with a ball getting in the way. btw - there is a kiddie's pool out of shot far right.
Interesting story from 2 local sources - Charlie got an offer from a Swedish holiday wholesaler that if he put in a pool they could guarrantee a huge number of guest nights. Charlie aint no mug.
Hession "fence" is mainly to keep wet season winds from blowing leaves etc into pool - is removed high season. Beach is maybe 30m away.
I sneaked back for a shot in March 2013 - at 400baht for non-Charlie guests I didn't linger.

March07 - Charlie dominates the beach, but SAWASDEE has about 10 bungalows over in the northern corner. Some are beachfront and looked pretty nice. 700 baht and all taken.
Sawasdee in June 2010 - completely closed for wet season, which disappointed me because I intended to stay in one of the 4 or 5 closest the ocean which have nice views across the beach.
Intriguingly these bungalows have been upgraded since my 07 visit despite big developer The Central Group buying the joint several years ago. Looks like Central hasn't any short term plans for a big Farang Beach Resort.
So in March 2013 I managed to grab a 800 baht Sawadee bungalow. That's chez tezza above left. Nothing flash about this place - traditional fan bungalow with bathroom - comfy but showing a bit of wear and tear. But value pretty good - I haven't seen another ocean-front bungalow in the south or central Andaman under 1000 in high season  for several years.


Sawadee takes the northern 30% of Faramg beach - Charlie the rest. That's the Sawadee associated Chill Out Divers/Chill Out Bar closest - Sawadee resraurant is back a little to the left and the bungalows are behind those trees further left.


Sawadee's bungalows - only the first few on the restaurant side have beach views....


....no beach view but my shack had a nice outlook towards Ko Kradan.

Sawadee's beachfront restaurant had nice food at prices I considered a bit below average for Thailand budget bungalow joints and way cheaper than at adjacent Kos Kradan and Ngai. Okay service and a good travel desk.


Sawadee put on a beachfront bbq each night which attracted quite a crowd, many from other resorts....

....although Charlie's tables on the sand had no shortage of takers.

2007: So I moved in thru Charlie on the right-of-way and less than 100m along the cross-island track I found HAD FARANG BUNGALOWS on the left. This place had a fair few traditional style bungalows with attached bathroom, spread around an old coconut plantation - most of them on a hillside which gave a pleasant outlook over the area. The bungalows were slightly dilapidated and a bit squeezy for two people+gear, but relatively good value for 400baht.
Some of the huts at HAD FARANG BUNGALOWS in June 2010. This place appeared to be open in low season but had no guests. I would have stayed again except I like to try new joints when I can.

2007 HAD FARANG also had a great restaurant with really tasty food, at absolutely sensational value.
Note that several local expats told me that Had Farang Bungalows has been purchased by the big CENTRAL property group, so there could be a flash resort there soon UPDATE 2010 - NOPE, SEE BELOW RESTARAUNT PIC. However Central will want beachfront too, meaning either Charlie or Sawasdee should get the big offer soon.
This is a June 2010 shot of Hat Farang Bungalow's NEW RESTAURANT - this classy looking joint represents a sizable investment - the management has not changed so The Central Group must have given them a pretty long-tem lease. UPDATE - still going strong in March 2013. Wally across at Ko Kradan told me 3 months previously that all this Central Group thing is maybe a bit exaggerated. Wally is a friend of Charlie who developed Ko Mook Charlie. btw Had Farang Bungalow seemed to be refurbishing bungalows around the time of my visit. And I just noticed th place is now listed on booking site AGODA - the aircon superior rooms do look several steps up from the standard garden bungalow I stayed in - the present ones look a step up too.

MAYOW KITCHEN is between Hat Farang Bungalow and Charlie. This place was pretty low key in my first 2 visits but by March 2013 it had developed quite a good rep for excellent food - I went across for dinner and yep, tucker great and prices a bargain. Very crowded - some later guest had to sit at the outside tables. Apparently they have some live music later in the evening. 
This place has added bungalows over the years and was one of the first I tried on arrival in 2013 (I didn't think beachfront Sawadee would have vacancies) but the place was booked out. March aint exactly high season - Mayow (and Ko Mook) are pretty popular.

Across the other (southern) side of the cross-island track from Mayow Kitchen is RUBBER TREE BUNGALOWS with good looking bungalows spaciously arranged on a hillside - looked pretty nice.
RUBBER TREE. No guests here in low season June 2010 either. Rachelle has some positive comments on this place in the TRIP REPORT section.
UPDATE - this is another I tried for a vacancy in March 2013. No luck and this place has quiet a few bungalows. Had a good crowd in the restaurant for lunch when I was checking - prices excellent and another with a rep for good food.

RIP MOOKIE'S
Another 150m up the track is a place new to me in 2013, TING TONG. The old Mookie's Bar is actually behind this joint - the Thais operating Ting Tong told me the Euros running Mookie's after Aussie Brian sold out had gone home - they were due back for a visit but it was doubtful if Mookie's would reopen (I would welcome any update on this from later visitors). 
Ting Tong was operating Mookie's tents and bungalows - both 300baht. The bungalows had to to be the dry season bargain of the Andaman away from maybe little Ko Chang and some upstairs from stores places on Phuket and Lanta - and maybe Khao Lak. Admittedly the bungalows have to share the tents' outside bathrooms, but 300 - almost like the good old days.

Mookie's in 2010. Was starting to look a bit shabby by March 2013.

Some of the old Mookie's tents. It was threatening rain when I got off the ferry in June 2010 so I passed these by - but 3 divers who also landed grabbed some and said they were quite comfy. That night in Mookies Bar there were the 3 divers, me, a Brazilian guy staying at Mayow, Mayaw's owner (a sweet local guy) and Mookie's host Brian. The other travellers left next day and that night there were just Brian and me. In high season the place was packed. 

Earlier Updates: 2011 - Sessa who stayed at Mookies in Feb 2011 told me the place was now being run by friendly Brits Nasha and Alex*. Nasha's mobilphone: +66 080-561-1781 or Alex +66 082-498-3228. In high season it's often full booked. Sessa has a multi-destination trip report HERE which has info and pix on Kradan and Mookies.
2012 - Mookie's has got a website http://mookiesbar.blogspot.com/p/contact.html
- looks like the new owners have added some bungalows which is good news.

* the Thais at Ting Tong 2013 told me the Euro owners of Mookie's were Germans or Swedes. So maybe the place changed hands again after Sessa's visit.

A real nice place to grab a drink (or meal) during the day/early evening is KOYOO RESTAURANT AND BAR which stretches along the southern headland of the beach. It aint very high, but the view up there is surprisingly panoramic (see beach shots up page), not only over the beach but across to Ngai and Kradan. Not to mention the sunsets. Listen, nothing flash about this place, rickety tables and plastic chairs, but with the views and 70baht big Changs (2007), who’s complaining?
I noticed quite a lot more people grabbing meals here in 2013 than earlier visits.

Now here's a find. HilltTOP Restaurant at the..um..top of the hill on the cross island track maybe 3 minutes on from Ting Tang. I must have walked past this place a dozen times over the years but made a point to call in March 2013 after mudshark sent us his Muk trip report. He's not wrong - the food is excellent and the prices are amazingly low for the Andaman. The boss-mama had a bunch of her greater family on hand including young ones and doesn't mind swapping some child nursing with western parents. It was decidedly popular with the latter when I called in for a  meal. Note sign: Open All Year.

STAYING AT KO MOOK CHARLIE BEACH RESORT
When I found Sawadee closed for the wet season in June 2010 I walked over to adjacent Charlie Resort and got me a bungalow. The dude at reception wanted 1000 which was outrageouos then for a jumped-up backpacker bungalow in high season, let alone low, notwithstanding the front-row position and the pool. The nice lady at KK Travel in Trang had told me travelers informed her they got one for 500 ("I won't try to book you from here because they will want much more". Bless her.) - so I offered 500 and it was accepted immediately.
Hey first night I was the only guest in the whole resort! Girl came over from the kitchen around 5pm when I was sinking elcheapo rum on the veranda asking if I wanted dinner - I didn't want to keep them waiting so I said I'd go up to Mookies. On the second day a Thai couple moved into a front-rower a few down from mine. Whoa - getting crowded!

Front rowers at Charlie. I'm sure these are the original backpackers' bungalows there when I first visited in the 90s - tarted up and with flashpacker soap, towels, shampoo, toilet paper etc, but still the mattress-on-the-floor platform, mosquito net, just enough room for 2 people and gear, bigger-newer bathroom. Website says these are aircon - mine was fan only. No hot water. Not absolute seafront - 30m to beach with tree-filtered views of it from the nice verandas. Outrageous asking price in low season - what do they want for these in high season? Website not saying. There are bigger bungalows a bit further from beach - none of which struck me as being high in the wow factor. Charlie has a big restaurant which looks like a small factory cafeteria. Haven't a clue about prices. UPDATE 2013 - not bad at all. Maybe a bit higher than average Andaman budget restaurants but the bunch of very good inexpensive restaurants within a couple of minutes walk seems to keep Charlie honest.

Around 2010 travel forums got messages that cops and National Park rangers had raided Charlie Resort looking for Charlie himself. Dude was holed up at his Phuket condo, so they arrested the manager instead and carted him off to jail. The inference was that the Central Property Group was flexing its political muscles in putting pressure on Charlie to sell out (they already have purchased Sawadee and Had Farang Bungalows).
Not so according to a Muk non-resident good friend of Charlie I talked to. He reckons National Parks had a bone to pick with Charlie. I'll leave you to speculate why they might be upset.


THE EAST COAST.
It only takes about 10 minutes to walk from Farang Beach across the gentle hill to the other side of the island. But to get to the village central and the pier you have to veer left near the coast and walk another 15 minutes or so.

Village central takes up a fairly big area south of the pier. Further south again is a new section of housing built after the tsunami. About 400m west of the pier is a collection of a few dozen fishermens' housing (there are plenty more scattered on the section of shore to the left of the 0 on the distance scale) and for a short distance left of the pier..

As seen above, the village comes in 3 parts. The first section reached from Farang Beach is not far from the left turn mentioned up page - is a newer section of housing put in over a cleared mangrove to the south of the village central - this is post-tsunami resettlement even though Muk was not hit hard by the tsunami. Some dude is offering HOME-STAYS there.

Holiday in the swamp. One fer you seekers of local culture.


Town central isn't heavily built out - still lotsa vacant land. We have here the school, clinic, some small stores, quite a few small restaurants catering for locals and something new on my latest visit - a couple of flasher restaurants such as above obviously aimed at guests from the 3 resorts on the nearby sand spit.

Part of cluster of fishermens' houses cheek by jowl to the west of the town pier. The ones on the seas-side of the path have their footings in water at high tide.

RESORTS NORTH OF THE PIER

4 Places in all, 3 budget and one flashpacker/lower midrange (Muk Resort)

There are a two small bungalow places within 5 minutes walk of the pier just before you come to the fishermens' housing.

Ko Muk Coco Lodge is the first from the pier - pretty attractive bungalows in a fairly ordinary setting. I noticed on my latest 2013 pass-by that the place had a new seaside bar across the other side of the path with views to the rugged mainland coast. The views are nice, but the beach in this area is pretty dire - lots of longtails, lots of dirty sand and rock when the tide drops. I think these places near the pier are popular with domestic visitors.
Sessa stayed at Coco in Jan 2011 - she has some pix on her trip report HERE.

Mook Anda Resort is a little further north. 


When I ambled past Anda latest visit some farang backpacker types were staying in these tents. Good sign for you people looking for accommodation at peak when most places may be full - and for you camping enthusiasts and bottom-budget travellers.

If you push on north of the village for another 5 minutes you reach a section of coast where KO MUK RESORT and KO MOOK GARDEN RESORT are located. This area has real nice views towards the spectacular karst headlands of the mainland coast, but the beach gets very ordinary at low tide with large expanses of dark sand and rock exposed.
This was no problem when I stayed at Ko Muk Resort back in '99 - they put on a free boat around to Farang Beach each day. I saw no sign of the notice advising about this when I revisited for a beer in 2007. If not, you are looking at 40 minutes walk across to Farang beach - 15 minutes to the nicest section of the spit in front of  the Sivalai (btw all beaches in Thailand are owned by the King for the free use of his subjects and guests. Don't let security at flash resorts kid you the beach is private. UPDATE MARCH 2013 - Muk Resort reception told me they didn't have a free shuttle these days. Motorcycles are available for hire, no bicycles.
My old, fairly spacious bungalow with bathroom in the garden out back looked unchanged, and was available for 300baht in 2007 before bargaining. The resort had put in a new dining/drinks terrace to take advantage of those views. Hey , pretty nice place.
My old Ko Muk Resort bungalow was plenty changed in 2010. All bungalows had been extensively refurbished. There was no one around in June low season to give me a price update but Google should find the website.


2013 - Whoa! Ko Muk Resort has headed upmarket. Rather nice pool, new to me in March. Prices have pushed upmarket too.


The front of the resort is similarly flashed up - that's the rather panoramic bar deck at right.

Adjacent Garden Resort looks similar to the non-upgraded Ko Muk Resort of 2007. When I walked by then, there was a big group of Thai tourists just arriving. It was a weekend. The place appeared closed for low season 2010.


THE EASTERN SAND SPIT AREA
The sand spit area now has 3 resorts - 2 flashpacker/lower midrange and the decidedly upmarket Sivalai.

Starting a few minutes south-east of the pier on the eastern-most tip of the island is a gorgeous white sand spit. We used to walk across here from Ko Muk Resort in 99 for a swim and some sun too. It is now dominated by the very upmarket SIVALAI RESRORT, which looks just as inviting. This is one place I’m definitely gonna stay at when I unload that bag of dud sparklers on the Bangkok gem traders.

For some reason I've never got a decent pic of the Sivalai end of the spit so I stole this one off booking site Agoda's page for the resort. On my first visit to Muk last century there was nothing but blinding white sand here. We would walk over from nearby Ko Muk Resort (second bay past the pier) to swim - the resort owner asked the girls to keep their tops on because of the proximity of the village. I don't think this would be an issue with Sivalai.

I shot this in June 2010 - wet season. If you click-expand you may be able to see storm wave erosion on this southern side. The northern side was okay. When I  walked this section in March 2010 the beach had rebuilt itself nicely, which is usual for fine weather. A lot of the spit area is known for the low tide blues - very shallow water. But this does not seem much of a problem towards the end on this northern side. No user-reviews on Agoda complained of it. 

NEW SINCE 2007 are two joints closer to the inland end of the spit on the southern side, Koh Mook Nature Beach Resort and Pawapi.

The white buildings on the left are part of Nature Resort - those on the right, Pawapi. In 2010 both were mainly flashpacker standard although they had cheaper accommodation away from the beach, Pawapi the better value. Pawapi seemed the more traditionally Thai in design. Koh Mook Nature Beach Resort was part of the same outfit which runs Ko Libong and Hat Yao Nature Resorts. Both places in shot were closed for low season 2010 but the English guy running Pawapi was hard at work getting things ready for high season. Sivalai's bungalows start maybe 50m out of pic to the right. The beach is fairly nice in the area of the shot (REAL nice across further east in front of Sivalai - which is open to everyone).


Furthest west is Nature Resort - looks pretty nice in this 2013 shot. Beach here not kept as pristine as at Sivalai. Water is okay but suffers the low tide blues markedly.


Ditto at Pawapi which is a little closer to Sivalai


THE SOUTH COAST.
It is possible when the tide is not too high to walk from Farang Beach right around the southern and south-eastern part of the island. A large proportion is rock-platform but there are a couple of beaches which have exposed rock at lower tides. There are a few fisherman huts alond here. After about 40 minutes you come out to the eastward extension of the cross island-track just past the electriciy plant for the island. It is about 10 minutes walk back over the mild hill to Farang Beach. Theoretically you could instead push on along the coast to the Sivalai spit, but there are some mangrove sections in the way which looked a bit tricky to me.


THE EMERALD CAVE.
The north and north-west of the island have sheer cliffs dropping to the water making the coast impossible to walk. You need a boat or kayak to reach the entrance to the fabulous Emerald Cave in this area. Longtails run around from Farang Beach and the resorts on the east coast (I think the cost was 300 in March 07) and from neighbouring islands as far as Ko Libong. The daytrip boats from Lanta make this a must do. There is also a constant stream of ferries from Pak Bara packed with domestic visitors. So unless you arrive early or late in the day you will find the tiny bay at the entrance to the cave crowded with boats of all shapes and sizes. But even when crowded, it is fun. Perhaps more so - Thai holiday makers really know how to enjoy themselves.
The setup here is that you swim about 200m through a tunnel (pitch black in mid-sections because there are some kinks in the tunnel) and emerge into a beautiful lagoon set in a towering cliff ringed amphitheater complete with small beach and some rainforest. This is a former cave where the roof has collapsed. The water in here is indeed emerald - something to do with the limestone. Or the light. Or something.
I have visited 3 times - twice in 99 via long tail and again a week before my Muk stay in 2012, via one the Trang Island daytrip boats out of Ko Lanta which was taking me to nearby Ko Kradan.
On the first visit in 99, two Canadians and I had no torch and had to swim the darkest section of the cave in pitch black. Interesting. By the way, the long tail and other boat people always have torches - our boat guy’s torch was broken. Hell, the longtail‘s engine broke on the way back to the resort and we had to sail the thing using the canvas canopy rigged up as a sail.
On the other 99 visit, on a weekend, there were hundreds of Thai tourists. They even had a cooking-boat set up outside the cave for quick eats. The Thais typically donned the yellow lifejackets, tied themselves to a rope and moved into the cave conga-style. Lots of laughing and shrieking. One really old lady, looked about 90, was floated in on a surfing-mattress, to the cheers of all when she arrived at the lagoon.
Great place, the Emerald Cave. Don’t miss it.

You head into the Emerald Cave here (image Panoramio-Gnito)
- and emerge here (image THAILANDSOUTHERN.COM)

In Nov 2014 I went back into the cave on a 4 Islands day trip out of Lanta. The boat guy carried guests' cameras through the tunnel in a wet bag. These panorama shots click-expand nicely.

NOTE LOW SEASON PROBLEMS - the 3 divers from Pattaya who came over with me on the ferry in June 2010 wanted to do the cave, but because there was a fairly big swell running locals advised that swimming up the tunnel even at lower tide levels could be dangerous.


SNORKELLING
Muk is not known as a snorkelling island. Nevertheless keen people may find enough to make them happy. Check out wonderingstar's excellent snorkelling page on Muk which contains useful maps, info and dozens of underwater and other pix at http://whatsthesnorkellinglike.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/thailand_mook/


GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND
The settled parts of Muk are close enough to walk around - a leisurely stroll from Farang Beach to the most distant point (Ko Muk Resort) takes about 40 minutes.
Motorcycles and bicycles can be hired in town and at some resorts. There have always been a few motorcyle-sidecar taxis for hire but in March 2013 there seemed to be more than a few. Sivalai has free bicycles - I talked to some guests who had cycled across to Farang beach in around 10 minutes - the intervening hill has only moderate slopes which should not worry novices. That great HillTOP Restaurant and Bar is strategically placed along the route.
Ideally you need a longtail to visit the Emerald Cave. You could do it by kayak from Farang beach (Sawadee and Koyoo bar have them for hire and the distance is not great) but finding somewhere to tie them up outside the cave might be tricky - perhaps to the floating kitchen if it is in place. I think paddling into the cave would be possible at low tide, but would present a danger to swimmers in the tunnel. Maybe real early or late would work if the tide is co-operating (low tide gets roughly an hour later each day).
Scrum of daytrip craft moored outside the Emerald Cave. These tend to move on after a visit - so it might not be a good idea to tie your kayak to them. I can't see the floating restaurant boat in this December 2012 shot, taken from Petpailin's daytrip boat out of Lanta.


GETTING TO MUK
From Bangkok - Trang has the nearest airport (google Air Asia - last I heard they had a van going down to Hat Yao pier to connect with Tigerline fast ferry which can get you to Muk.  Otherwise I've been told that flights into Trang are met by reps from Trang station-area travel agents who will transport you into town and arrange bookings/transport. I have never come thru Trang airport but I bet there is a travel desk there which can short-cut all this stuff.
There are two sleeper trains from Bangkok daily. Walk across the road from the station - any of the many travel agents there can get you to Muk. KK Travel is a good one. Actually I've used a lot of these agents to get various places - they all seem efficient.
There are buses Bangkok to Trang - an overnight one will save bottom-budget travellers a night's accommodation cost. There are also buses from a bunch of other southern locations  into Trang. I dunno how many times I have done Krabi - Trang or vice versa.
Details of trains/plains and buses to Trang can be found here.

From Trang - A lot of the bungalows have their own longtails and if you book ahead will send one across to the mainland to pick you up. If you haven't booked this can be arranged by one of the travel agents in the street opposite the railway station or in the main street leading away from the station up the hill. Cost is pretty reasonable - last I heard was 350 but this naturally increases over time. These outfits can book you into a bungalow too. I find KK Travel opposite the railway station very reliable. CHARLIE has its own office on the corner of the main street.
See the Ko Kradan page for more info on Trang city - a good place to spend time.

There is also a small public ferry which heads to the village pier on the eastern side of Muk. This leaves from the mainland Kuan Thung Khu pier, which is south of Pak Meng and north of Hat Yao/Ban Chao Mai. The Hat Yao minibus from the minibus station north of Trang central will detour to Kuan Thung for a small extra payment. Note the old guy who runs the ferry also runs a minibus down from Trang starting around 1030am. KK Travel arranged for his minibus to pick me up and the ferry ticket for 225baht June 2010. A motorcycle lift over to Farang beach (I payed 50baht) takes maybe 10 minutes although the 3 divers walked across in around 30.
Locals and a few farangs on the public ferry to Muk. Boat carries a hell of a load of freight too - that's a tweety bird in the covered cage in foreground. Boat owner runs 2 pickups around Trang province picking up goods. The whole operation is a bit of a scream. It takes him about 2 hours+ to get from Trang to the pier (I've done it direct in 35 minutes) because he is picking up passengers from all around Trang city and the hinterland, plus stopping to pay off suppliers from a huge wad of cash (for a while I thought he was the local bookie) all the time cracking jokes with passengers at the top of his voice or yelling into his cell phone. We got to hang at the pier for around an hour for the pick-ups to arrive and load their goods - no real problem, okay restaurant with cheap coffee, eats and beer at pier. The ferry leaves around 1430 and takes maybe 30-40 minutes to reach the island.

Cool Ko Muk local ferry at Kuan Thung Khu pier on the mainland - aint she a beauty!

Tigerline fast ferry has a minibus pick up at various points in Trang including the station and airport which then runs down to Hat Yao pier for their afternoon boat which runs up to Phuket via Kradan, Muk, Ngai, Lanta and Phi Phi. Google their website for latest info.

From Ko Lanta - In high season the Petpailin Trang Island daytrip boat out of Ban Saladan on Lanta seems to do half its business shuttling passengers to and from Muk, Ngai and Kradan. Cost last time I did it in March '07 was 400. (I think it had only gone to 500 in 2013 but there is a lot more competition these days) The '07 boat I came down on actually picked me up from a longtail sitting off Khlong Nin beach halfway down Lanta (longtail included in price), dropped people off at Ngai, snorkelled the pretty good coral which fringes the karst stacks between Ngai and Muk, did the Emerald Cave, dropped people off at Farang Beach, went to Kradan. But this order varies according to the tide - the beach at Kradan can be tricky to reach at low tide and the entrance to the cave restricted at very high tides.

I used this boat to island hop between Ngai and Kradan in December 2012 - it now unloads Muk guests at the Emerald Cave into a waiting longtail which has come around from Farang Beach.

UPDATE MARCH 2013 - I notice Petpailin is now running an afternoon boat to Muk (and I assume the neighbouring islands). This ties up off Farang beach overnight and then leaves for the trip back to Lanta 0900 next morning

Useful travel info on poster at Sawadee Resort travel desk

There is also a big high season speedboat which these days starts at Phuket and goes Phi Phi and then Lanta-Ko Lipe and calls in at Ngai, Muk and Bulon Lae. This can be a fast but rough ride if the seas are up, particularly if you are in the seats up front. Google for SPD speedboat.
 Lanta Garden Hill and Opal Tour run Trang island-hopping speedboats out of Lanta.

People from the southern beaches of Lanta use longtail daytrip boats to access Muk and neighbours. I used one of these to Ngai from Kantiang Bay in December 2012. All these boats call in at Muk because of the Emerald Cave. Of course you might spend some beach time on Ngai and/or Kradan first, but this would be a bonus unless you intend to do a Trang island tour out of Muk.


Tigerline is running high seaon fast ferries from Phuket/Phi Phi/Lanta to Muk and then on to Lipe, via the pier at Hat Yao south of Trang. This ferry (not a speedboat) goes on to Langkawi. Details can be seen on their website
It also calls into places along the way like Kradan* and Ngai.
At Muk it parks off Farang beach and passengers transfer to the sand on local longtails at 50baht (2013) - I think the charge is higher for people wanting to go around to Sivalai or the other eastern resorts.


From the other Trang islands - people usually come across on a longtail. In 2007 I transferred from Kradan on Paradise Resort’s long tail (on its morning run to the mainland) for 200baht. A lot of people hang around beach areas and get a lift on one of the daytrip long tails heading to the Emerald Cave, or one of the longtails from Muk daytripping their island.
Note too my comments above on hopping from Ngai to Muk on Petpailin's daytrip boat.

In 2010 I wanted to go the other way - Muk to Kradan. Being low season there was no-one to share so I had to charter a boat. Brian from Mookies rang his longtail mate who picked me up at Charlie on his motorcycle, took me to the pier and zapped me across to Kradan for 750. A pretty good deal.

You can also hop between the Trang islands on Tigerline fast ferry - but this can be an expensive way to do it. See the link up-page.

From Phuket and Phi Phi
See the above info for Tigerline and SPB speedboat

From Krabi - plenty of times I've caught a bus down to Trang bus station, a motorcycle taxi to the travel agents opposite the station and then onward travel to one of the Trang islands.
You can make this easier by booking Tigerline's van out of Ao Nang or Krabi town which connects with their afternoon boat from Hat Yao pier south of Trang to Muk.

From the Lipe Area - Tigerline and SPB speedboat via Bulon Lae are godsends. A fairly drirect route in under 3 hours.
You could save a few baht going into the mainland at Pak Bara and catching a van or bus to Trang and using the transport organised by the Trang station area travel agents - but you would not save that much and even if you got the first ferry out you might still be lucky to make that ratteltrap public ferry out of Kuan Thung Khu pier mentioned up page. Then again you may not - then it's either hire an expensive longtail or spend the night in Trang.

Another useful poster at Sawadee Muk's travel desk (March 2013) - details will be clearer if you click to expand.
.
NOTE - the above is the latest info as at April 2013. But all this is very fluid - I'm amazed by how much Andaman transport has improved in just the past 2 years. Thing is, resort websites plus the ferry and other companies I've listed above tend to keep things up to date. As does good old travelfish forum and similar.

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USER INFO DEC 07 - JimmyK who stays midrange to high end had this to say:
We decided to move on to koh mook. We hired a longtail from koh ngai to koh mook for about 1000B---not so many longtails here so difficult to haggle.
The SIVALAI on Koh Mook was awesome -on near empty spit of sand . Its a new hotel on a penisula so whether you unit looks east or west, there is ocean view. If you can afford it, i highly recommend this place. They have free bicycles so we drove into slightly shabby "town" and arranged a 500 baht longtail to emerald cave---we went later in the day and had the must-see cave to ourselves--which our boat driver said is unusual.
The Sivalai is pretty isolated and has a restaruant with fantastic view, but if you want you can get cheap food in town--which is really just a couple shops serving food also. From here we took a 15 minute speedboat to mailand pier for 45 minute drive to Trang airport for cheap Nok Air flight back to BKK".

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A reliable Trang travel agent for booking and transport into all Trang and Satun area islands - good on transfers/accommodation to/for Lanta and further north too - KK Travel in the parallel street directly opposite the railway station
tel 075-211198, 223664, 081-8945955

There is some general info on Trang on the Ko Kradan page.

Wedding reception Ko Muk style 2010.
Aw, aint that nice.
Or - another one bites the dust.

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If you are visiting Muk you may be interested in nearby:
KO NGAI

KO KRADAN

KO LANTA

KO LIBONG AND HAT YAO

KO LAOLIANG

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If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.

9 comments:

Eddie said...

If Had Farang is the place just beyond Charlie's to the left, I would like to strongly recommend that anyone on Koh Muk head straight there and order a massaman curry. I won't mince words: This is the best thing I have ever eaten. Seriously.

Also, at the same place, ask for Jerry, a local character who can help you arrange transportation, tours and more at much better prices than you'll find at Charlie's.

If you make it up to Mookie's, Brian's wife makes a spectacular larb.

tezza said...

Thanks Eddie. Actually I reckon that place with the good meals may be the unknown-name restaurant I mention. Although Brian's wife Sonbon at Mookies slightly further up the track does a terrific Massaman. And between the two is the new restaurant of Had Farang Bungalows which is known for good tucker.

riankruger said...

Hi Tezza
Thanks for the great blog. It's been very helpful. My wife and I are planning on staying in Koh Muk from the 6th Dec to 10th DEec 2010. We are thinking of staying at Had Farang Bungalows. Do you have any idea how I can make a reservation and what kind of prices I should be paying. Thanks Rian

Dec Hofbauer said...

Hi, can I get contact numbers other than the ones on the blog for mookies? They didnt work :/

Dec Hofbauer said...

Hey, could I get contact details for mookies other than the one on the blog. They dont work :/

Kittyfan said...

Hi Tezza,
Love your blog very much. Always full of great info. It's been my island reference/guide for many years now. Thanks!
PLanning my trip this Jan 2012 and starting from Langkawi to Koh Lipe then thinking to go to Koh Muk or Koh Ngai. I'm a fan of the clear bluish/greenish water. May I ask which island is good for swimming? I mean for swimming /not soaking in the sea. I like clean, clam water and not too rocky when I stand in the water. And the place where I don't have to go very far from the beach in order to swim. Any recommendation or suggestion? On Koh Muk, thinking to stay at Sawadee or Natural beach Resort. Which beach is better for swimming?

Kittyfan said...

Thanks Tezza!
I'm thinking to try both of the Islands now. Koh Muk for 3N and Koh Ngai for 4N. Decided to stay at Natural Beach next to the expensive "S" resort. Really hope this is not a mistake chossing here looking for a right beach so that I can swim and enjoy the clear water. Do u remember around there which part of the beach is not rocky and ok for swimming?
As for Koh Ngai, staying at Coco Cottage. How's the beach there. Any comment? As U said in the last comment that Charlie beach maybe ok to swim most of the time- low/high tide. How long it takes to to walk from Coco Cottage to the other side of the beach -Charlie? Thank you again for answering my questions in advance!

tezza said...

Dang, just noticed these questions above! I don't read individual island pages often - which is why I've got the PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS IN THE FORUM SECTION notice above.
But my fault - I didn't have it highlighted. Just corrected that.

tigershoot said...

We stayed at Rubber Tree in May 2014. Excellent place for the price - paid 900 baht a night for three nights room only for aircon and were the only ones there for the first two nights. Hot shower and good bed. The food was stunning for the price - some of the best Thai food we've ever had. Main meal was 90 baht plus 20 for rice. Booked via their agent just outside the train station. Also booked the minibus and ferry via this agent for 250 baht each. Very reasonable I reckon.