Located 40 kilometres or so from Koh Samui in Thailand is an archipelago of 42 islands covering 102 square kilometres. Together, the islands and surrounding waters form Ang Thong Marine National Park, which was designated a national park in 1980. The landscape is somewhat reminiscent of Vietnam’s Halong Bay with towering limestone karsts, a number of scenic viewpoints and pristine snorkeling spots.
A day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park (AKA Angthong National Marine Park) from Koh Samui is a must-do in my books – spend the day cruising, snorkeling, kayaking and taking in the unfettered nature and marine life. Make sure you add it to your Thailand itinerary! The best way to travel to Ang Thong Marine National Park is by booking yourself onto a day cruise – but the question is, which one?
There are dozens and dozens of boat operators in Koh Samui, all at varying price points and with slightly different Ang Thong Marine National Park day trip itineraries. After reading through hundreds of reviews, we decided to book the semi-private Ang Thong National Marine Park tour on the Blue Dragon boat with Tours Koh Samui.
Though the price was slightly higher than some other companies, the boat looked much newer, the company limits the number of people on-board, and the trip was consistently rated highly for safety and service. Here’s what to expect from a perfect day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park!
Planning a trip to Thailand and need some ideas on where to go and what to see? Check out my 10 day Thailand itinerary here.
Where to stay in Koh Samui
I usually stay at Villa Waimarie in Lipa Noi – it is my family’s timeshare property and is on one of the most pristine and uncrowded beaches in Koh Samui. The beachfront villa has 6 bedrooms, a tennis court, an indoor and outdoor lounge area, pool and amazing kitchen. You can even see the Ang Thong National Park beckoning in the distance!
It’s a fantastic luxury villa in Koh Samui to book if you have a large group of people, and serves up the most incredible Thai food. Click here to check availability and rates for Villa Waimarie, or click here to see other highly rated hotels in Koh Samui!
What to bring to Ang Thong Marine National Park
- Sun screen (reef-safe if you have it)
- Camera and waterproof cover/bag for your phone if you have one (for kayaking)
- Comfortable clothing
- Shoes that you don’t mind getting wet like flip flops or sandals
- Anti-sea sickness tablets (the boat company has some if you forget)
- Cash for the tour balance payment and 300 Baht per person for the national park entrance fee
Heading to Koh Samui? Make sure you check out the Koh Samui Elephant Sanctuary – a park that rescues elephants from riding camps, circuses and street begging!
Ang Thong National Marine Park tour itinerary
1. 8:30 – 9:20 AM – Transfer from your hotel to the pier
The pick up time will depend on where your hotel is located. The tour company sends a luxury van to pick up its guests and can coordinate with your hotel on timing. Unlike many other companies, the pick up time is slightly later in the morning which is great for sleeping in.
2. Sail toward Ang Thong Marine National Park
Lie back and enjoy a leisurely cruise towards Ang Thong Marine National Park. It will take approximately an hour to get there from Koh Samui.
3. Go snorkeling at Koh Wao
The Dragon yachts are the only non-speedboat vessels to reach this destination as part of a tour to the park. Koh Wao is located in the most northern part of the park and because we departed later than the others, it means that we arrived once everyone else had already left, so we got to snorkel in this beautiful aquamarine bay all by ourselves!
Get fitted for snorkels and flippers and check out the underwater life – we saw plenty of fish, sea urchins and even some small (non-deadly) jellyfish.
You’re required to either wear a life jacket or tie one to you so that you’re visible to other arriving boats (though no other boats came while we were there) for your own safety.
You might also like: 5 Top Phuket Tours That Aren’t a Day Trip to the Phi Phi Islands
4. Lunch time
Feast on delicious Thai food as you sail towards the heart of the marine national park. There are vegetarian options as well as meat dishes. The green curry and chicken satay were to die for, and it’s amazing what the chef was able to conjure up in the small kitchen on board.
While you’re sailing, sit back, relax and take in this outrageous view of Ang Thong Marine National Park.
I’m not a massive fan of kayaking (nor am I any good at it), but this is hands down one of the coolest experiences ever. Together with our guide, we kayaked our way along the coastline of several islands and limestone karsts, into small cave areas and even a hidden lake surrounded by limestone.
Unfortunately I didn’t bring my phone with me so didn’t capture any photos, but our guide snapped a few shots of the group.
6. Head to Koh Mae Ko to see the Emerald Lake and viewpoint
Ready for a little bit of uphill climbing? Transfer to a smaller boat to get to Koh Mae Ko, a small island in the Ang Thong National Marine Park with an emerald lake that is connected to the sea though caves. You’re not allowed to dive or snorkel in this lake, which means it’s remained absolutely untouched – you won’t believe the colour until you see it in person!
Make your way up several flights of steep metal stairs to take you to the view point over the lake, and you have the option of circling back to the pier or heading down another few flights of stairs to get closer to the lake itself.
7. Cruise back to Koh Samui and enjoy the sunset
Alas, all good things must come to an end! As you sail back to Koh Samui, grab a beer (costs extra) and chill out on a bean bag or in the jacuzzi. Yes – the boat has a jacuzzi that fills up with salt water from the ocean, how cool is that?!
Once you arrive back in Koh Samui at around 6 PM the van will take you back to your hotel.
The Blue Dragon yacht in Koh Samui
If you’re researching tour companies for a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park, you might notice that there are tons of budget options. Here’s the thing – the cheaper Angthong National Marine Park tours from Koh Samui tend to travel via speedboat which isn’t exactly the most comfortable mode of transport, and these tours tend to pack people into the boat.
This is not a crazy party boat, and most of the passengers were couples or families who were after a semi-private and more luxurious sailing experience. Some lounge/chill out music is played on board, but the music isn’t blasted loudly. There is also wifi if you want to stay connected, as well as a clean toilet and shower hose.
If you want a laid back day cruise, your best bet is to go with the Blue Dragon boat which limits the number of passengers on board (8-14 people maximum). Because the schedule is slightly different to the other tour companies, this means that you avoid the crowds at each stop. In fact, we were one of the only two groups at Koh Mae Ko when we visited the emerald lake; other groups often have to queue in order to see it! The boat is also available for private charter if you prefer an even more intimate sailing experience.
Just a minor note: the semi-private Ang Thong National Marine Park tour does not stop at Wua Ta Lap, which is home to the view point that you see in most photos of Ang Thong Marine National Park. Even so, the view point at Koh Mae Ko is pretty spectacular and Wua Ta Lap was worth skipping as we still had a fabulous day away from the hordes of other boats and people visiting Ang Thong Marine National Park.
The service on board is exceptional, and our guide, York, and the rest of the team took care of us from beginning to end while ensuring our safety. Tips are appreciated but not compulsory at the end of your trip, and we never felt pressured to leave one (though we did because it was an amazing day).
After the trip, Tours Koh Samui will e-mail you and you can opt to leave a review on Facebook or TripAdvisor – in return, you get access to a photo album online with photos taken by the guide while you were snorkeling and kayaking! Pretty genius, IMHO.
Ready to book your epic Koh Samui trip? Click here to check availability and rates for Villa Waimarie, or click here to see other highly rated hotels in Koh Samui!
How to book a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park from Koh Samui
The semi-private boat trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park costs 3,300 Baht per person (US$100) and can be booked online here. You pay a small deposit online to guarantee your spot, and the remainder is paid in cash on the day.
On first glance this can seem expensive, but when you think about it you are paying for a full day (8+ hours) aboard a pretty slick yacht, and this fee also includes the hotel transfer, towels, lunch, snorkeling equipment, wifi, insurance, guide and soft drinks. You can purchase beer and cocktails on board at an extra cost.
Kayaking is an extra 250 Baht per person (100% worth it) and entrance to the park is 300 Baht per person. If for some reason you don’t want to pay the deposit online or the online payment system doesn’t work, just give them a call and they can process your credit card deposit payment over the phone.
You should aim to book a week or two in advance, or even earlier if you’re visiting during the peak season (December to March).
You may also enjoy these reads:
- Heading to Koh Samui? Make sure you check out the Koh Samui Elephant Sanctuary
- Planning a trip to Thailand and need some ideas on where to go and what to see? Check out my 10 day Thailand itinerary here
- Read these essential Southeast Asia travel tips before your trip
- and click here for even more Thailand travel tips and destination guides
Have you been to Ang Thong Marine National Park or are you planning a trip to Koh Samui? Tell me all about it in the comments section!
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Just so you know, we were paying customers with Tours Koh Samui. My focus is on providing the best hotel and travel recommendations to you based on my personal experiences, and as per usual, all opinions are my own. You can always expect candid and honest feedback from me (regardless of whether a trip was sponsored or not).
This post does contain affiliate links. If you choose to book using these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website by using these links, I only recommend products or services that I have had positive personal experiences with and think you would love too.
Video music credit: Anno Domini Beats – Intentions / Youtube Free Music