Jan 08 2013
Ko Samui is neighbour to a few small islands in the southwest: the Five Islands, known in Thai as Ko Si Ko Ha, which means Four Islands-Five Islands — one island is hidden behind another — plus Ko Tan and Ko Matsum.
Ko Si Ko Ha are home to swifts, known for their famous nests which are the main ingredient in birds’ nest soup. The birds are protected as their nests sell for thousands of dollars. Sea Gypsies are the only human inhabitants of the Five Islands, their small wooden homes perched on rocky outcrops – much like nests themselves. The gypsies are employed to guard the nests from poachers trying to get their hands on this precious commodity.
The well-known Five Islands restaurant, a popular location for weddings and viewing the sunset, offers longtail boat trips to view the islands. You can also see them by boat, with one of the companies offering trips around Samui.
Ko Tan, a few hundred metres off the coast from Taling Ngam fishing village, is a small, mostly unspoilt island, known for its good snorkelling. Here you’ll see giant clams, coral and various tropical fish living in and around the protected reefs.
Ko Matsum is just south of Ko Tan and its long white beach makes it a popular spot for a daytrip and picnics with the locals. Both islands can be reached by longtail boat, leaving from Thong Krut harbour. PK Tours offers such trips, leaving at 09:30 and returning at 15:00. Trips include snorkelling around Ko Tan – equipment included – and lunch on the beach at Ko Matsum, where you’ll have time for a bit of relaxing too. Trips to the two islands cost 1,300 baht per adult and 700 baht per child.
Ko Tan is known throughout the region as the island without dogs. According to local legend, any dog that has been taken to live there has quickly lost its mind, but oddly the indigenous dog population seems unaffected by this fate.
Haven’t seen enough small islands? There’s always a full-day tour to the Ang Thong National Marine Park, which is well worth a visit.
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