Dec 29 2011
At first glance, the southwest Thai island of Ko Libong may not seem like the greatest vacation spot. The coast is on the rocky side, and the golden sand beaches are grainier than some of the more popular nearby islands. Yet, for those willing to tread off the usual tourist track Libong offers a charming local village atmosphere, secluded beaches and viewpoints, and some majestic and pristine jungle to explore.
On a recent visit I started the day with a lounge chair on Libong’s largest stretch of beach on the southwest coast, which despite being home to the island’s four modest resorts is often virtually deserted. Although it doesn’t possess the squeaky white sands and crystal clear water of other nearby islands, Libong’s southwest beach is a perfectly good spot to relax and enjoy the views of Ko Lao Liang in the distance. Adventure summoned me before long, however, to rent a motorbike and see what other treasures Libong was hiding.
I took off driving south past hillsides covered with rubber trees before turning sharply north up the island’s main paved road. All along this road I found colourful homes adorned with flower-filled gardens, one of which was playing host to a local competition to see whose red whiskered bulbul had the best singing voice. These and other caged birds are very popular on Ko Libong — at that particular home some 25 men were competing, most with more than one bird on hand.
After a brief swing through the island’s main stilted village near the pier I drove along rice fields and some of the inland mangrove canals where an endangered dugong may still be spotted in the wild. I enjoyed the inland scenery for a while and then took a road marked “HLAM-TO-CHAI” off the main road, which sent me towards Libong’s northern jungle. The road soon turned from concrete to rugged dirt before opening up to the ocean at a small, quiet beach with views of the mainland to the east.
Convinced something more impressive must not be far, I hopped back on the bike and rode north, uphill. Here the road turned into a narrow dirt path with thick jungle on either side, and several monitor lizards scurried away as I approached. Okay, so I may not have been leading an Amazon rainforest expedition, but exploring this far into Libong’s jungle was exhilarating.
The path levelled out a little ways further, and the bright turquoise water of the Andaman Sea began to glisten through the trees. Walking into the jungle a short distance beyond I found a place of inspiring tranquility — a lookout where giant trees and vines of many varieties were silhouetted by the water beyond.
Back on the bike, some local boys riding towards Libong’s northwest end shot me a smile. I followed along as rubber plantations began to dominate the landscape once again, with a few remote homes scattered among them.
By this point the bike was running low on gas, so I parked and went for a stroll under the rubber trees that eventually ended at a tiny deserted beach surrounded by large rocks, perfect for sitting and enjoying the breeze. Sorry, no photo of this spot provided — you’ll have to use your imagination — but rest assured Libong offers plenty of secluded places that could be your own little slice of paradise. All it takes is a motorbike and willingness to explore.
Ko Libong is reached by longtail boats that depart regularly throughout the day from Hat Yao pier, and it’s an easy 15-minute ride in calm seas. Simple but comfortable accommodation is available — I recommend the new Libong Sunset Resort, or the tried and true Libong Beach Resort, both of which are on the southwest beach. Motorbikes may be rented at any resort for 300 baht per day, and petrol is found in the main village near the pier. So what are you waiting for? Hop on and enjoy the adventure.
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