Ko Kut (or Koh Kood) is one of Thailand's most beautiful islands. With more than a dozen beaches to explore, many of them picture-perfect, white-sand affairs with Maldives-like turquoise water, this is a truly idyllic beach destination. The development is mostly very low key, the beaches are almost uniformly clean and well kept and the island's rugged jungle interior is both largely untouched yet accessible, with impressive waterfalls and viewpoints to keep you busy for a few off-beach days.
Simply put, we just love it.
Ko Kut developed in a slightly different way to most of Thailand's islands, with a focus on all encompassing tours originally being the primary way to visit. While the groups, mostly Bangkokians on weekenders and Russians escaping the ravages of Pattaya, are still hitting the island, plenty of travellers now visit on a DIY basis and there is a comprehensive choice of places to stay. Even backpackers won't have to totally break their budget to experience what is arguably the best island in Thailand.
Ko Kut isn't for everyone though -- if you're hankering after a late night party scene, while Ko Kut does have a couple of great bars, this probably isn't a destination for you. Likewise the diving and snorkelling is mediocre at best. Instead Ko Kut is all about laying around, soaking up some rays, perhaps doing some kayaking or hiking to a waterfall and just slowing down a little.
So where to stay? Here's our pick of what we reckon are the very best places to stay on Ko Kut.
While the cheapest spots are off the beach, backpackers wanting to swing in a hammock and enjoy the ocean views should make a beeline to the very friendly Koh Kood Ngam Kho Resort. They've got a bunch of old-style beach bungalows on a short rise running up from the beach and an excellent restaurant. The food isn't backpacker priced, but it's outstanding and comes in huge portions. The beach here isn't the best either, but Dusita next door has lovely beachfront, so hang out there. The cheapest huts are 500 baht with share bathroom and 750 baht with your own bathroom. If you're happy to go off the beach, Cozy House and Happy Days will house you for a few less baht.
If Ngam Kho is a little too old school, you'll not need to walk far to find our flashpacker pick for Ko Kut, the very friendly and family-run Dusita Resort. They offer a range of bungalows from simple fan-cooled huts through to larger family-orientated lodgings. Standards are high and the grounds are just lovely -- a large lawn setting with hammocks and lazy chairs scattered around under the coconut palms. The spacious setting makes this a good choice for families. Like Ngam Kho next door, the food is excellent, as is the beach.
At first glance we thought Koh Kood Beach Resort was a little bland, but upon closer inspection, we really warmed to it -- probably in part due to the staff, who are an incredibly friendly lot. The grounds are spacious, with most of the lumbung-style rooms in a row towards the rear of a large lawn which separates them from the large well-appointed restaurant and swimming pool. There is a small beach here, and while we were told the snorkelling wasn't bad, we'd expect the pool would get quite a bit of use. Rooms are spacious and enjoy great views out to sea.
Ko Kut is a beautiful island and we'd guess it does more than its fair share of weddings and honeymoons. While the beaches might be the first choice for many looking for a romantic hideaway, we're going to go off the reserve and nominate the exceedingly lovely Bann Makok as our choice for lovers. Set among the mangroves on a river that empties out to sea just a 10-minute kayak paddle away, Baan Makok boasts lovely refurbished wooden rooms clustered around a restaurant, library and massage sala. Each room is different but they're all charming and ridiculously spacious. We showed up just to inspect it and booked a night on the spot. This is a very special spot.
When it comes to high-end accommodation on Ko Kut, you've got the high end and the HIGH. Firmly occupying the latter is the Soneva Kiri. It's an astonishing resort: imagine stupendous views, a dedicated chocolate room, a private cinema and even its own time zone. When we visited they were near capacity due to a Chinese wedding party that had booked nearly the entire resort, so they were only able to show us one of their large villas. The villa was lovely -- as it should be -- and the staffer showing us around advised it goes for a cool US$17,000 per night. More typical fare can be found online at around the $700 per night mark. There's nowhere else quite like it on the island and friends who have stayed here on comped or heavily discounted stays have been universally complimentary of the actual accommodation -- not so much on the food.
Should you book in advance?
Ko Kut is a seasonal island and the best time to visit is between November and March, when you're almost assured of tremendous weather. The island is busiest on weekends, so if you're planning a stay in high season or over a weekend, making a reservation is a good idea. Many places can be booked online at discounted rates via Agoda or via their website -- or just pick up the phone.
How to get to Ko Kut
The closest mainland town to Ko Kut is Trat which has daily flight and regular bus services to Bangkok. The ferry pier is about a 30-minute drive from Trat -- ferry tickets normally include the transfer from Trat. In high season speedboat services run between Ko Kut and nearby Ko Chang.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 25th May, 2015.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.