Ao Kwang Peeb AKA Monkey Beach

Arguably Phayam's prettiest beach

Photo of , , Ko Phayam

What we say: 4 stars

If you continue north along the dirt track behind Ao Kwai you'll get to what is arguably the prettiest beach on Ko Phayam.

This gorgeous small curving bay backed by jungle with a reef just offshore used to be accessible only by boat or on foot on a narrow track through the jungle but there's now a fairly large dirt road allowing motorbike access to the resort there.

Ao Kwang Peeb Resort somehow got permission to build in what was a (supposedly) strictly protected national park area. Large swathes of formerly pristine jungle were destroyed to build the road and to clear land for bungalows and in the last year even more jungle has been cut down to build yet more bungalows and paths.

The wild monkeys here, together with other jungle dwelling creatures, have had a lot of their habitat destroyed by this so called "eco" resort. Just offshore there used to be some quite rare and colourful corals but these are now covered in silt, possibly in part due to runoff and soil erosion from the deforested areas though bleaching was also a problem all over Thailand in 2011.

The now almost completely dead reef is very close to shore making access into the water difficult at low tide, though there is a sandy channel at the far end of the beach where you can always get in. Even though there's no pretty coral to look at and it's too murky to see many fish, it's best to wear a mask and snorkel when swimming here so you can see enough to avoid cuts and sea urchins, especially at low tide.

There are many leopard moray eels there too and they can deliver a nasty bite if you accidentally get too close to one.


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