Photo: The beaches on Ko Libong can get very busy.

Introduction

Our rating:

The largest but certainly not busiest island in Trang province, Ko Libong lulls travellers into a simpler state of mind with its unusual landscapes, deep starry nights and Muslim fishing villages uninfluenced by mass tourism.



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Why should you go to Ko Libong?

Lucky visitors might catch a glimpse of an endangered dugong. Close cousins of the manatee and more distantly related to elephants, around 130 chubby and amiable dugongs, also known as “sea cows”, feed on sea grass amid eastern mangroves that are protected as part of the Libong Archipelago Wildlife Reserve around Ju Hoi Cape, and sometimes closer to the resorts in the south. If you take one of the dugong-spotting boat trips, expect about a one in three chance of actually seeing one.

Destination in sight. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Destination in sight. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Don’t fret if you’re not able to spot a dugong—a poke around Libong’s varied 40 square kilometres of terrain reveals plenty of other surprises. The eastern reaches reveal a savannah-like landscape with cashew trees and long grasses growing out of fine white sand. Dense jungle covers inland hills, tapering into rubber groves and fruit orchards. Much of the west coast is graced with broad gold-sand beaches peppered with some interesting rock formations.

Do stop by the southeast-coast village of Batu Bute (and have fun pronouncing the name), home to a group of Muslim islanders who subsist off fishing and dwell in stilted houses over a picturesque bay. From here, a long cement walkway takes you a couple of hundred metres out over the sea, ending at a tall observation tower that was built for dugong spotting but makes for a rewarding climb in any case—especially around sunset. Be respectful of the local customs by covering up when you’re away from the beach.

Peak hour Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by David Luekens.

Peak hour Photo: David Luekens

Known as Haad Lang Kao, the main west-coast beach hosts Libong’s main resorts. The sand is a mix of fine tan and grainy yellow, with more than enough space to go around. A sheet of offshore rocks get in the way of low-tide swimming, but you’ll have plenty of depth to do the backstroke at high tide. The usual tidal garbage gets cleaned up in front of the resorts, where hammocks strung to the trunks of umbrella and coconut trees afford a view out to Ko Muk, Ko Kradan and (on a clear day) Ko Rok. At high tide, Libong’s beach scenery is just about equal to these islands.

Where is Ko Libong

Ko Libong is the largest island in Trang province, southwest Thailand. The island sits roughly 12 km to the south of Ko Muk, but just 3.5km off the coast of the mainland. The closest airport to Ko Libong is in Trang, though there are boat connections to many islands and mainland spots in Thailand’s southwest. This makes it easy to combine a visit to Ko Libong with other surrounding islands.

The beaches are not all that busy. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The beaches are not all that busy. Photo: Stuart McDonald

What are alternatives to Ko Libong

Ko Libong will appeal to those looking for a more unadulterated island break, with a serving of semi-eco activities. There are only a small number of resorts on the island, mostly squished into the southwest part of the island (all are within walking distance of one another). This is a “living island” meaning there are local villages and local Thai people just getting on with their lives, so it has a less contrived, more authentic feel, than the “made for tourists” islands to the north like Ko Kradan and Ko Ngai.

The beach is decent, but it isn’t the regions’s best, and is largely unswimmable at low tide, so if all day swimming is important to you, but you still want a local vibe, consider Ko Muk. If you’re not so fussed about local culture, both Ko Kradan and Ko Ngai have far better beaches. On the other hand, if you want something even quieter, consider Ko Sukorn, the next main island heading south.

Just another sunset. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by David Luekens.

Just another sunset. Photo: David Luekens

Looking for something in between? Similar to say Ko Muk, but elsewhere? Ko Bulon Lae, set one to two hours further south by boat, should be at the top of your list.

Low tide is not so hot for backstroke. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Low tide is not so hot for backstroke. Photo: Stuart McDonald

When to go to Ko Libong

Ko Libong is subject to the same monsoon as the rest of Thailand’s southwest coast. The rainy season runs roughly from May to October, during which time many places on the island are closed. Across the dry (and high) season however, expect calm seas and brilliant sunshine. High season runs roughly November to April, with January and February in particular being very busy (and expensive). Bookings in advance in February are recommended. Dugongs are not migratory, so they’re here year round.

Orientation

Ko Libong is the largest island in Trang province, but also one of the least developed. Save a gaggle of homestays in the village of Batu Bute, most of the accommodation is on the southwest coast of the island. If you are planning on doing some exploring, consider hiring a bicycle or scooter as the sidecar motorbikes get a little expensive fast—the island is too big to walk around.

Damn. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Damn. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Visitors coming from the mainland arrive at the local pier in Baan Maphao, a small village on the east coast. From here, a narrow brick-and-cement road cuts south to Batu Bute before crossing the island to access the resorts. Reaching into the wildlife reserve on a wide eastern peninsula, and up into the hilly northern terrain with its isolated beaches, many of the other roads end at dead ends. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth exploring.

There is a single ATM in Batu Bute, where you’ll also find a small health clinic, but anything serious will require a trip back to Trang town, some 50 kilometres northeast of the mainland pier in Hat Yao. All of the resorts now run electricity 24 hours a day.


Where to stay on Ko Libong

The consistently excellent Libong Beach Resort remains our go-to spot overlooking the golden-sand of Haad Lang Khao, though there are a clutch of other options along the same beach. If you want to be immersed in the Muslim fishing culture, skip the beach and opt for a homestay in Batu Bute, though bear in mind you’re a long way from good beach. Both are a sidecar motorbike ride from Baan Maphao.

Haad Lang Khao wraps around a soft spur on the southwest coast of Ko Libong and it is lined along this very pretty golden beach you’ll find the bulk of Ko Libong’s accommodation options. Running north to south, they are Libong Relax Beach Resort, Libong Beach Resort, Andalay Beach Resort, Mythra Mahasamuthra, and, around on the south coast of the same beach, Libong Anda View and Libong Sunset Beach Resort.

Simple digs, big decks. At Libong Beach Resort. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Simple digs, big decks. At Libong Beach Resort. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Our pick of the crop remains Ko Libong’s original resort, Libong Beach Resort (T: (089) 647 7030 Official site Agoda Booking ) which continues to provide comfort, consistency and value for everyone from budget backpackers to large families. Unassuming and welcoming, a lawn adorned with coconut trees gives way to the beach, where swings, loungers and hammocks are set under broad umbrella trees. Wood-and-bamboo stilted air-con cabins (1,500 baht) are fairly far spread out over the property, allowing for plenty of breathing room. Just about all options here enjoy direct sea views and are ideal for couples—the family rooms (1,500 baht, 2,000 baht for beachfront) are also a solid deal. Spacious interiors are rustic and not at all stylish but are clean and comfy, with high ceilings, firm beds with light blankets raised off hardwood floors, wall-mounted fans (or air-con), soft lighting and a few tables. Bathrooms (in some cases semi open air) are large, but not the best designed nor cleanest we’ve seen. At the rear of the resort are a string of tall and thin A-frame bungalows (1,000 baht) with white siding and smaller porches. While cheaper, we reckon opting for closer to the beach delivers considerably better value.

The real selling point here though are the staff. The family owners have been welcoming travellers for over 20 years and it shows—in a good way! The large open-sided restaurant serves notably good Thai food to go with direct sea views from your table, making up for moderate to high prices with large portions. Before a meal, you might pop over to the beachfront pavilion for a Thai massage.

Sunset from the bar at Relax. Not too shabby. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Sunset from the bar at Relax. Not too shabby. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Just to the north of here lies Libong Relax Beach Resort (T: (091) 825 4886; (094) 582 5113 Official site Agoda Booking ), so close (and so similar in many ways) that you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s all one big resort. Bungalows (1,900 baht for fan, 2,400 baht for air-con) front a lawn within sight of the sand and are outfitted with hardwood floors, good firm beds, several prop-open windows and cold-water bathrooms. Despite the lack of extras like fridge and TV, these are good options for couples seeking a bit more style. Relax also offers family bungalows (2,500 baht for fan, 3,200 baht for air-con) that sleep four, though we felt the family value was a little better at Libong Beach Resort. A large open-sided restaurant includes a well designed central bar that’s worth stopping by even if you’re not staying here—order a few drinks as the food can take forever. The resort is affiliated with Phi Phi Relax Beach, so if you liked it there, you’ll probably enjoy here too.

South of Libong Beach Resort is Andalay Resort (T: (095) 085 8899 Official site Agoda Booking ) which is as upmarket as Libong gets and (to our knowledge) has the only swimming pool on the island. It may appeal to more mid range travellers looking for more creature comforts (and a pool), but we really preferred the digs at neighbouring Mythra Mahasamuthra—especially for lovers looking for something more intimate. Both Libong Relax Beach Resort and Libong Beach Resort have better beachfront and a more laidback vibe. Rates start at 6,000 baht for a deluxe room through to almost 16,000 baht for a family villa—rates plummet in off season. If you do opt for here, be sure to shop around for a discounted rate online.

An unusual find on an island like Libong. Mythra Mahasamuthra. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

An unusual find on an island like Libong. Mythra Mahasamuthra. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Next off the cuff is Mythra Mahasamuthra—try and say that three times fast. ( T: (081) 449 0665 Facebook Agoda Booking ) When we first saw it we assumed it was a private residence, but it is actually a small hotel with quite smart rooms (2,300 baht at rear, 2,800 baht for a beach-facing room), and it is our pick for the more romantically inclined. Rooms are large and the pick of the crop are the two elevated beach-facing rooms which are designed for flinging the curtains open and just laying in bed all day—they are absolutely worth the extra money. Rooms are simple and the beds are firm, but natural light floods in. Bathrooms are easily the most charming we saw on the island—and they’re immaculate. There is a small and simple beachfront restaurant on site and while we just had a coffee there, the outlook is fine and the menu not outrageously priced. Perhaps the sole warning here is the rooms are fan-cooled only, and the staffer who showed us around was at pains to explain that during the day the rooms do warm up—and there is no pool—luckily there is an ocean right out front. With just four rooms, reservations in advance are essential. If you want something more resort style, especially if you want a pool, aim for Andalay next door. Friendly staff.

Walking around to the south, you’ll pass by Libong Anda View (T: (081) 895 4565 Facebook Agoda ) which has a clutch of peach-coloured air-con chalets (1,300 baht). We couldn’t find anyone onsite to show us around but the place was clearly open for business.

Simple but comfortable fare at Libong Sunset. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Simple but comfortable fare at Libong Sunset. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Moving further along the beach you’ll hit Libong Sunset Resort (T:(064) 284 3050;(082) 411 2102 Facebook Agoda Booking ) which offers some of the cheapest beds—and friendliest staff—on this beach. The air-con bungalows (1,700 baht) are in decent shape and offer reasonable value for the standard. They’re are all separated from the beach by a lawn dotted with deckchairs, but still offer an ocean view and a hammock strung on each deck. Some of the bathrooms (from the outside) looked to be having a bit of a rising damp problem, so if the first room isn’t up to scratch, ask to see another. There is also a larger wooden building with cheaper fan-cooled rooms with shared facilities (800 baht) which may appeal to budget travellers. The resort is backed by a hill crested by rubber trees and while the beach directly out front is a bit rocky, a decent stretch of sand is just a short walk away. Libong Sunset Resort also has a cute and sociable beachside restaurant and bar—this is a very popular spot with Europeans. Overall, Sunset arguably offers the best value on the beach, but Relax and Libong Beach Resort both offer larger rooms. Low tide reveals loads of offshore rocks in front of the resort, and at high tide you will get a bit wet if you try to walk along the beach to the other resorts.

If you’re not fussed about the beach and would prefer to stay in one of the villages on the island, there are a few homestays in and around the east-coast village of Batu Bute (pronounced ba-too-boo-tay) and its stilted houses overlooking a calm bay. The more modest homestay style of accommodation offer travellers a chance to be immersed in Ko Libong’s traditional Muslim fishing lifestyle and the prices can be appealing—just remember you’re a sidecar taxi ride from the best beach on the island. You are super-close to the dugong spotting area though. If you don’t require a beachfront location and are happy with simple accommodation, consider settling into the village.

The sweet stall beside BN Homestay is the business. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The sweet stall beside BN Homestay is the business. Photo: Stuart McDonald

At the end of the pier you’ll find BN Homestay (T: (089) 471 6464 ) which offers a clutch of fan-cooled rooms (300 baht) in a shopfront building. The upstairs deck offers views out over the village and the pier beyond. Not far from here, very close to the mosque, Ko Libong Homestay (T: (099) 309 5757 ) is more appealing for its seafood restaurant set out over the water than the exceedingly basic a-frame bungalows also set on stilts. We’d say eat here but don’t stay.

Further to the east, a ten minute walk from the pier, lies Libong Camp (T: (087) 276 2003 Official site ) which has fan-cooled bungalows and, as the name suggests, camping (from 300 baht for a tent that sleeps two according to their website), all in a leafy setting overlooking the water. The site was deserted when we wandered through, so we couldn’t get the rates for the bungalows, but it appeared to be open.

Further east again comes Saveena Homestay T: (087) 622 3147 Facebook ) which we didn’t have time to seek out, but which came extremely highly recommended by a Travelfish reader on account of its spectacular seafood offerings. If you’re into your food, it sounds like it is well worth seeking out.


Where to eat on Ko Libong

Libong’s limited selection of restaurants serve some notably good Thai food, with just enough options to keep you from getting bored, at least for a while. All of the eateries close by 21:00 or 22:00 so make sure not to nap through dinner lest you go hungry for a night.

Diet starts tomorrow. At Libong Beach Resort. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Diet starts tomorrow. At Libong Beach Resort. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Many travellers never feel the need to stray from Libong Beach Resort’s open-air seaside restaurant, serving a lengthy menu of mostly Thai dishes that, in our experience, exceed expectations. Prices are where they should be for the quality and large portions—starting at 80 baht for basic stir-fries, 150 for curries and 250 for seafood. Family-size portions are also available. The restaurants at Relax and Sunset resorts also both do reasonable Thai food but don’t touch the quality of Libong Beach.

For something cheaper and more homely, walk south down the beach and around the bend to the east to the charming Rimlay Restaurant. Owned by a family who were all born and raised on Libong, just a few tables overlook the beach from a raised terrace and offers a single-page English menu with dishes starting at around the 80 baht mark. Very limited English is spoken, but the food is good and affordable. The friendly owner can also arrange boat trips to see the dugongs and other further afield destinations—rates are a little cheaper than what you will pay in the resorts.

Grazing in the village. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Grazing in the village. Photo: Stuart McDonald

If you’re looking for something more local, head over to Batu Bute where there are a couple of seafood places by the water. To reach them, walk down the pier and turn left—you can’t miss them. Not surprisingly the focus is on seafood and the prices very reasonable for the generous servings. Try the crab. Little English is spoken, though English menus are on hand. You’ll also find locally owned convenience stores to go with streetside stalls selling Thai sweets and grilled chicken, among other munchies, in the village.


What to see and do

Ko Libong is well situated for day trips to the superior beaches and snorkelling sites found at a host of nearby islands, though you could always just stick close by in the hopes of spotting an endangered dugong swimming peacefully offshore.

Dugongs and boat trips

Most of the organised dugong trips offered on the island are undertaken by longtail boat, though kayaking is also possible. We organised a trip via Mr Bangriam at Rimlay Restaurant (see food above) and paid 900 baht (for the boat) for the three hour trip. This took us over to the dugong spotting area and then dropped us at the pier from where we walked into the village, stuffed ourselves on seafood and then made our own way home by sidecar motorbike.

Dugong! Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Dugong! Photo: Stuart McDonald

We motored from his restaurant to the duguong reserve (about a 30 minute trip) and then mostly drifted around waiting to see one. Spotting dugongs is pretty much like fishing with your eyes—you’ll need to be very patient and have sharp eyes to see them—and don’t expect to get too close. We went for about two hours without seeing any, then in the last hour, spotted four (or perhaps one four times) and then decamped to the village for lunch. The setting, below the Point Dugongs bluff (see below) is lovely for a bit of a float around even if you don’t see dugongs.

If you’d prefer to explore by kayak instead, Ko Libong Tours (Facebook ) came recommended, but bear in mind the dugongs won’t always surface right beside you and you may be in for a good deal more kayaking than you first expected. They can also arrange a range of other eco-activities in the area—see their Facebook page for details.

Dadddd, wake me up when you find a dugong... Pack some patience. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Dadddd, wake me up when you find a dugong... Pack some patience. Photo: Stuart McDonald

A third option, if you don’t want to get out on the water, head to Point Dugongs or the watchtower in Batu Bute—and bring binoculars as you’ll need them!

To ensure that you see something interesting even if no dugongs are about, for a bit more money longtail trips can be expanded to included stops around Libong that also includes Saphan Hin (a small rock bridge), the observation tower in Batu Bute and bird watching on the east-coast wildlife reserve near Ju Hoi Cape. Expect to pay around 1,500 baht for the boat.

The view from the tower delivers. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The view from the tower delivers. Photo: Stuart McDonald

If you prefer to stay independent, you could always rent a kayak at one of the west coast resorts and paddle around on your own, but keep in mind that Libong is not a small island. If you do go for this option, there are a couple of small and totally undeveloped beaches between the resort beach and the dugong area. With a bit of planning (ie., packed lunch and plenty of water) you could make an entire day of it. Just be sure to book a massage afterwards for those weary arms.

Those looking to head further afield can book a trip to swim in Ko Muk’s spectacular Emerald Cave and snorkel amid the south reef of Ko Kradan (1,800 baht). Another option is south to the gorgeous twin islands of Ko Lao Liang and more reefs around Ko Takieng (2,400 baht). Just keep in mind that these longer trips often depend on the tide, as it’s impossible to drive a boat up to the west-coast beach at low tide due to the abundant rocks. Prices can appear high, but are for the boat, so if you can rustle up five or six people, the costs become far more reasonable. Tide allowing, leave early in the morning for the best chance of having destinations to yourself. The above prices are via Mr Bangriam—expect to pay more if booked through a resort.

Point Dugongs

Point Dugongs is one of the finest viewpoints found on any Thai island. We didn’t actually climb it on our 2019 visit (the kids would have none of it) so the following is an edited version of David Lueken’s visit in 2016.

After a challenging climb, a wooden ladder carried us to a platform with views to a host of islands dotting the teal water. Located at the far southern end of Ko Libong, Point Dugongs—or Jud Chom Phayoon to use the Thai name—is a natural limestone tower with impressive caves leading to equally impressive views.

Just climb that. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Just climb that. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The rugged trail took us up through a stunning cavern with a broad sloping roof. Ice-blue limestone blended into turquoise, sea-green and amber on the walls to create a fresco of nature’s design. Passing through an opening in the rock wall, we emerged outside on a notch affording sea views through the treetops. Just wide enough for a single person, a cliffside ledge had been outfitted with a rope to keep people from tumbling down the treacherous drop.

In a secondary room, a wide circular window with views out to sea provided an ideal place to soak in the tranquility. On the inland side of the hill, a sturdy wooden ladder brought us to a stairway that culminated at a large wooden deck. Though we didn’t spot any dugongs bobbing in the water down below, the views were marvellous.

To the east, Batu Bute’s purple dugong-spotting tower looked like a plaything far down below. Looking west, the karst cliffs of Ko Lao Liang, Ko Takiang and Ko Phetra appeared close enough to jump to. Ko Adang and Ko Tarutao loomed on the southern horizon. We felt certain that Malaysia’s northernmost mountains were just within our sights.

The views are far better than from the purple tower. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The views are far better than from the purple tower. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Many visitors will be satisfied with the viewing platform, but we couldn’t resist another rope-supported “trail” leading all the way to the summit. The rock up here becomes extremely sharp, adding to the sense of danger. Reaching the highest slab of limestone with our feet planted on the base of a small tree, we resisted the butterflies circling in our stomach to take in the view.

Standing on rubbery legs after getting briefly lost on the way back down, we were surprised that the potentially dangerous “summit pass” and cliffside ledge had been outfitted with ropes. A tumble would be tragic and even a minor slip could cause significant damage due to the sharp rocks. Wear decent shoes, bring water and, if possible, don’t attempt the climb alone (at worst, let someone know you are going if you do).

Motorbiking Ko Libong

Every time we motorbike around Ko Libong, we stumble on secluded beaches, viewpoints and even whole landscapes that we’d previously missed. Don’t let the resort beach turn you into a useless puddle of relaxation until you’ve explored the island’s 40 square kilometres concealing loads of surprises. This also from David Lueken’s visit in 2016.

Start here. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Start here. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Beginning at Haad Lang Kao, we took the cross-island road east before turning north onto the main east-coast road, which is little more than a narrow stripe of red bricks and cement. We passed simple homes adorned with flower gardens, one hosting a competition to see whose red whiskered bulbul would sing for the longest. Such bird-singing contests are popular throughout Southern Thailand—at least 25 men were competing on that day, some entering several birds each.

Around the centre of Libong’s eastern side, we noticed a road on our map that cut east, ending near the sea. Well, why not give it a shot? After winding past the pleasant smells of a garbage incinerator, the lane turned to dirt and then powdery white sand that was a challenge to ride through. With shaggy trees, tall grasses and patches of incredibly fine sand, the landscape reminded us of the savannah that blankets Ko Phra Thong.

OK, so it isn’t quite Easy Rider material. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

OK, so it isn’t quite Easy Rider material. Photo: Stuart McDonald

An old man shot us a curious smile as we parked the bike and set out on foot. Several different paths ran past solitary trees that we tried to remember, so as not to get lost on the way back. Finally we emerged at a mangrove beach where a few local kids played in the surf. From here we could get a sense of the vastness of the wildlife reserve that covers Libong’s eastern peninsula.

Back on the main road, we detoured towards the pier in Baan Ao Maphao to gas up and grab a few grilled chicken skewers. We then turned up a side road marked “HLAM-TO-CHAI”, heading for Libong’s remote north. The road soon turned to rugged dirt, running alongside rubber trees before sidetracking to the sea. We rode steeply uphill, a monitor lizard scurrying out of the way.

When the road levelled out, we stopped to gaze at the sea far down below, only partially visible through the towering dipterocarp trees. Then the road gradually lumbered downhill, turning sharply to skirt the island’s far northwest coast. We saw no trace of civilisation until a hand-painted wood sign caught our eye: “Saphan Hin”.

Don’t want to ride yourself? Charter a sidecar scooter. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

Don’t want to ride yourself? Charter a sidecar scooter. Photo: Stuart McDonald

That means rock bridge in Thai, and we had heard of such a thing somewhere on Libong that’s often included on boat tours. Moseying down a forest path, we came to a beach where a local man sat reading in a hammock and a few women scraped around for shellfish amid clusters of brownish-red rocks.

At the far southern corner of this beach, which we think is called Ao Tokhae, the rock bridge is more like a narrow tunnel that shoots for several metres between the sand and surf. A few small birds put on an impressive routine of avian acrobatics, flying high above the beach before dive-bombing under the bridge and darting back up over the sea.

We pushed south over the rocky road, lush jungle rising from nearby hills that tapered into farms cultivating coconut, rubber, eucalyptus and fruit. Modest wooden homes stood nearby, presumably housing the farmers. Coming from chaotic Bangkok, we envied their quiet lives in this far-flung corner of the kingdom.

Meet one stone bridge. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by David Luekens.

Meet one stone bridge. Photo: David Luekens

When we reached the house at the road’s end and asked the residents if we could keep going into their backyard, they laughed while shouting, “No! You! Beach!” In the direction they pointed, we saw a patch of sea glistening in the late-day sun, and a minute later we stepped onto Haad Thung Ya Ka. The broad expanse of golden sand was empty save a few scurrying hermit crabs.

This would have been a fine place to take in the sunset, but with one last stop on our agenda, we rode all the way back along the way we’d came. Towards the far southeastern corner of Libong, we took the side lane to the village of Batu Bute, where the sagging sun cast a brass glow over stilted houses and longtail boats.

Just keep going. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by David Luekens.

Just keep going. Photo: David Luekens

Emerging onto the village’s long walkway that ends at a five-storey tower built for spotting dugong, we couldn’t stop looking back at the picturesque village and tall green-and-gold towers of its mosque. Many locals leisurely sat or strolled over the bay, others returning from their boats after another day of fishing.

Far sturdier than the walkway, the tower stands at least 80 feet high and affords sweeping views over the sea and several islands to the south. From here, the village looks like a collection of toy houses. We had the tower all to ourselves as the moon rose rose over Ko Sukorn and a few more longtail boats puttered home.

Ko Libong delivers on the sunset front. Photo taken in or around Ko Libong, Thailand by David Luekens.

Ko Libong delivers on the sunset front. Photo: David Luekens

The sun dipped over the hills, painting the entire bay orange. By the time we made it back to our bike, it was already dark. Once again, Ko Libong had showed us why an island should not be judged by its beaches alone.

While this trip took us only around three hours, you could make a day of it by doing some lounging and picnicking at some of the beaches. Petrol can be purchased from do-it-yourself vending machines or stands in the villages (look for bottles full of stuff that could be mistaken for liquor or soda). There’s very little traffic on Libong, but do take care on the rough northern road. Motorbikes can be rented near the pier in Baan Maphao, and at Relax or Libong Beach resorts. Those with some energy could also do this trip by bicycle. Otherwise, hop in a sidecar motorbike taxi and say, “Saphan Hin!”


How to get to Ko Libong

To/from the mainland
From Trang town, minibuses run direct to the pier in Hat Yao roughly every hour from 07:00 to 16:30 for 100 baht per person. These can be caught at the old bus station (Bor Kor Sao Gao) on Sathanee Road in Trang, but they’re not marked in English and it’s easier to ask a travel agent near the train station to call the driver for a pick up. It’s a 45-minute ride to Hat Yao.

At the pier in Hat Yao, local ferries run to Libong roughly every two hours until 16:00 and cost 50 baht per person. Tickets are purchased from a desk at the pier, and it’s possible to bring a motorbike on board for an extra charge. When you arrive at the pier in Baan Maphao on Libong, sidecar motorbike taxis are available to take you to any resort for 100 baht per person.

A private transfer from Trang to Hat Yao should cost around 1,000 baht. Expect to pay at least 700 baht for a private longtail boat from Hat Yao to any resort on the west coast.

To/from other islands
While Libong is not directly accessed by nost of the high-season island-hopping speedboats, the Tigerline high-speed ferry stops at Baan Maphao pier in high season and can take you north to Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Ngai, Ko Muk and Ko Kradan and south to Ko Sukorn, Ko Bulon Lae and Ko Lipe. See Tigerline’s website for schedules and booking information or book your tickets through 12Go Asia

Private longtail boat transfers are also available direct from Libong to Ko Kradan, Ko Muk, Ko Sukorn and Ko Lao Liang. Expect to pay between 1,800 and 2,500 baht per boat if booking through a resort, depending on the island, and a bit less if hiring Mr Bangriam from Rimlay Restaurant. Note that if you arrive at Haad Lang Kao (Libong’s resort beach) at low tide, you’ll have to walk through several hundred metres of rough rocks and coral—boatmen may refuse to drop you there instead taking you to the village.

Motorbikes can be rented at Libong Beach Resort, Relax Resort for 300 baht a day. They’re also available in Baan Maphao for the same price—ask anyone at the pier to point you in the right direction. Both of these resorts also rent out bicycles for 100 baht a day.



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What next?

 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Ko Libong? Please read this.
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