Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park

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A Natural Wonderland in Thailand

Ang Thong National Marine Park, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is a breathtaking archipelago of 42 tropical islands. Covering an area of approximately 102 square kilometers, this protected marine park is renowned for its stunning limestone cliffs, lush rainforests, secluded beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Its name, “Ang Thong,” translates to “golden bowl,” reflecting the picturesque landscapes that resemble a golden basin when viewed from above.

Geography and Location

Ang Thong National Marine Park lies off the western coast of Koh Samui, one of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations. The park is part of the Surat Thani Province and can be reached by a scenic boat ride from Koh Samui or the mainland town of Surat Thani.

A Protected Marine Sanctuary

Established in 1980, Ang Thong National Marine Park was designated as a protected area to conserve its diverse marine life, pristine beaches, and unique terrestrial ecosystems. It was also the inspiration for Alex Garland’s novel “The Beach,” further enhancing its allure to travelers seeking an unspoiled tropical paradise.

Island-Hopping Adventure

Ang Thong National Marine Park offers an island-hopping adventure like no other. Each island boasts its distinct charm and natural wonders. Visitors can explore emerald lakes, hidden lagoons, and stunning viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the entire archipelago.

Koh Wua Talap: The Main Island

Koh Wua Talap, the largest island in the marine park, serves as the park’s main headquarters and accommodates tourists in simple bungalows and tents. From here, visitors can embark on guided tours to explore other islands and participate in various activities, making it a perfect base for experiencing the best of the marine park.

Thale Nai: The Emerald Lake

One of the highlights of Ang Thong National Marine Park is Thale Nai, also known as the Emerald Lake. The lake, nestled between limestone cliffs on Koh Mae, captivates visitors with its vivid green hue, caused by the unique combination of sunlight and the lake’s mineral-rich waters. A challenging hike up to the viewpoint rewards travelers with a breathtaking panorama of Thale Nai and the surrounding islands.

Nature Trails and Wildlife

The park’s dense rainforests are a haven for nature enthusiasts and trekkers. Several well-marked hiking trails lead to hidden waterfalls, impressive viewpoints, and vibrant flora and fauna. The lush forests are home to various wildlife, including the rare dusky langur monkeys, barking deer, and a variety of tropical bird species.

Snorkeling and Diving

Ang Thong National Marine Park is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. The marine park’s waters are teeming with vibrant coral reefs and a diverse array of marine life. Snorkeling around the islands allows visitors to encounter colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and, if they are lucky, gentle whale sharks.

Sea Kayaking and Caving

Sea kayaking is another popular activity in the marine park, allowing visitors to explore hidden caves, limestone cliffs, and secluded beaches. The park’s geology has created fascinating caves and grottoes, adding an element of intrigue to the exploration.

Responsible Tourism and Conservation

Ang Thong National Marine Park places a strong emphasis on responsible tourism and conservation. Visitors are encouraged to follow strict guidelines to protect the fragile marine ecosystem and respect the park’s natural beauty. Proper waste disposal and responsible snorkeling and diving practices are actively promoted to ensure the preservation of this ecological gem.

Overnight Stays and Camping

For those seeking a more immersive experience, overnight stays on Koh Wua Talap are available. Camping under the stars on the beach, surrounded by the sounds of nature, offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and connect with the serene beauty of Ang Thong.

Accessibility and Visiting Seasons

Ang Thong National Marine Park is accessible year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season from December to April when the weather is favorable for outdoor activities. Several tour operators offer day trips and overnight excursions from Koh Samui and the mainland, allowing travelers to explore the marine park’s wonders in a range of itineraries.


Ang Thong National Marine Park stands as a natural wonderland, an exquisite blend of limestone cliffs, emerald lakes, and lush jungles in the Gulf of Thailand. As one of the country’s most enchanting destinations, the marine park offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty and tranquility of an unspoiled tropical paradise. Whether exploring hidden caves, snorkeling in vibrant reefs, or kayaking through serene waters, a visit to Ang Thong is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Thailand’s pristine nature and rich marine biodiversity. As travelers return from their adventure, they carry with them cherished memories of a place where the natural world remains preserved and protected, an enduring testament to the value of responsible conservation and sustainable tourism.

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