Lots of good choices
After our latest round of on-the-ground research we concluded that Ko Mak does not have a single bad place to stay.
Though you won’t find five-star digs, anyone from extra-frugal backpackers to families travelling on a midrange budget will find a bunch of stellar options to choose from.
Ko Mak left us with a lot of tough decisions on which resorts to include in our guide, and this was magnified by the fact that so many offer similar types of rooms. Many of our selections came down to the slimmest of margins—don’t assume that a resort is garbage just because you don’t see it listed here. With that said, we’ll now share which spots seemed grandest out of an overall good bunch of properties. (Rates mentioned here are for high season.)
Travellers on tight budgets should not believe the hype that Ko Mak is strictly a flashpacker paradise. We had a great time staying at Baan Ing Kao, one of two old-style joints with bare-bones bungalows by the sea starting at 350 baht on secluded Laem Tukkata. If you don’t like the isolation, Island Hut has similarly rustic shacks near some restaurants on eastern Ao Kao, and its beachfront huts are an especially good value.
Those who are up for crashing in a fan-cooled tent for 200 baht should check out Banana Sunset, another secluded spot whose bar draws backpackers for live tunes and billiards in addition to the namesake sunsets. The funky staffers also offer solid air-con bungalows overlooking a rocky coast, but those go for 1,200 baht and lead us into flashpacker territory.
Indecisive flashpackers beware: the lion’s share of Ko Mak’s accommodation falls into the 800 to 2,000 baht range.
If you don’t mind being off the beach in exchange for breathtaking views, personable owners and a high measure of environmental responsibility, Thaidaho Vista’s four comfy rooms start at around 1,000 baht atop the hill between Ao Suan Yai and Ao Kao Sadly Thaidaho Vista closed in February 2020.
Those preferring to stay on the beach should check out Holiday Beach Resort on Ao Kao. Its bungalows starting at 1,300 baht are similar to those at other places, but the owner was so kind and welcoming that we didn’t want to leave. We also dug Ao Pong Resort for its handful of simply furnished bungalows set above a beautiful yet easily overlooked beach. They fetch 800 to 1,500 baht and provide a sense of seclusion despite being an easy walk from Ao Nid village.
Proclaiming Ao Kao White Sand Beach Resort our favourite of Ko Mak’s midrange options was one decision that came easy. Fronting the quiet eastern corner of Ao Kao within walking distance of some good eateries, this fairly large spot serves up contemporary styled villas with lots of space inside, and up on the rooftop terraces. The service is terrific and you’ll find a wide range of activities for kids and adults.
Rooms at Ao Kao White Sand start at around 4,000 baht and if this is too pricey, or you prefer a smaller spot, head to the opposite end of Ao Kao to check out the Big Easy. We’re not talking about the city of New Orleans but rather an intimate resort with helpful owners who go to pains to maintain seven wood villas offering lots of space for 2,700 baht. They all face the sea within paddling distance of Ko Rayang.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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Our top 10 places to stay in and around Ko Mak