Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise

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First published 21st July, 2005

As Friday beckons, the minds of many a desk-chained Bangkokian wanders to where one might escape for some relaxation and rejuvenation... Ko Si Chang -- too close; Ko Samet -- been there, done that; Ko Chang -- just that bit too far away; Ko Kut -- way too farflung. So what's one to do with a free weekend and a desire for a bit of sand, sea and socialising? What about Ko Mun Nork?

This privately-owned island is home to a single operation, the not-so-imaginatively named Mun Nork Island Resort, perched on the very best part of the island. Set to the east of Ko Samet and reached by a 45-minute slow boat from Laem Tarn (near Kleang), it's within easy weekender distance of Bangkok. Check it out once, and you're bound to pencil it in as a regular getaway.

Unless you're visiting Ko Mun Nork as part of a group, you'll be well away from the hordes who trek to Ko Samet and Ko Chang. This is a private, peaceful spot where you can retreat from the maddening crowds, turn off your mobile phone and truly relax.

Our first trip was for a wedding, which are becoming increasingly popular here. Our friends the bride and groom (or rather their parents) hired out the entire island for a weekend of fun and romance and it went off without a hitch. Also a popular destination for private all-night parties, Ko Mun Nork does a fair bit of business through organised functions and festivals. Weddings and parties aside, individuals are more than welcome.

Once you're ashore and wander out onto the gleaming white spit of sand that distinguishes the island, you'll be half-way to forgetting the outside world. The sprawling resort runs around about a third of the island's beachfront, with a spacious, wooden-decked restaurant looking over azure, fish-filled waters. Behind the restaurant is a second terraced area suitable for a wedding, dance floor or perhaps just a few candle lit tables, and further around from that is most of the accommodation.

If you have kids and the budget, Ko Mun Nork is a great option

The true magic touch of Ko Mun Nork however are its free-standing salas decorated with linen-covered mattresses and axe-pillows -- many with their own 10-metre long pier jutting towards the horizon -- and its comfy lollipop-striped cloth recliners, dotted along the beach. These are likely to be where you'll spend the vast majority of your time: chatting, reading, snoozing, eating or drinking.

Of course, that's when you can actually drag yourself off the gorgeous main beach, which consists of a spit of brilliant white sand running into water that is absolutely crystal clear. As the tide goes out a small lagoon forms behind it, forming the perfect spot for children to play in or adults to recline in the shade, cold drink in hand, browse yesterday's Bangkok Post. Wherever you choose to chill, keep an eye out for the island's plentiful population of flamboyant peacocks -- they'll be roaming the gardens, sitting on the roofs, scrabbling on balconies and even occasionally foraying into bedrooms.

Watching the sunset from one of the many sala piers on Ko Mun Nork

For the more energetic, snorkelling and kayaking are on offer -- we heard a rumour of two guests who kayaked all the way around the island. But overall, when compared to the more activity-orientated Ko Samet and Ko Chang, Ko Mun Nork is tailored more to our interests -- watching sunrises, dangling feet in the ocean, watching sunsets, in rotation until required back in Bangkok. We did at least busy ourselves jumping off the sala piers, if that counts.

Nowhere is perfect, and where Ko Mun Nork does fall down a little is with its accommodation. While their premium rooms are very stylishly decked out and super clean, their cheaper rooms are quite average and some are quite a hike from the restaurant -- although that does add somewhat to the general atmosphere of seclusion. Our room had a rustic outdoor bathroom at the end of a wobbly elevated walkway, and while the water was cold enough to snap you out of that sunburnt stupor, the gigantic gecko living under the sink carried far more shock value.

Unfortunately mobile phones work on Ko Mun Nork

But this is a beach holiday, and that's where you'll find yourself much of the time. Bring a few good books, perhaps a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of good friends -- if you climb up the hill you could probably see Ko Samet, and you could bid it adieu from there.

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Read 1 comment(s)

  • No matter where you travel in Thailand there is a slice of paradise on every corner. Even busy,busy Bangkok is a site for sore eyes. Ok it is the people that make Bangkok unique as the city could be seen as dirty and over run with people, but I assure you, the markets, the hospitals, the transport system, even crossing a busy road by foot is done with a smile. It is enchanting really.

    Posted by Simon Coleman on 3rd December, 2010

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