Photo: Another busy day on Ko Sukorn.

Cycling Ko Sukorn

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Looped by a fairly smooth network of sealed roads with no traffic save a few motorbiking locals and wandering cows, Ko Sukorn is best explored by bicycle.

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Setting out from Haad Lo Yai, the main west coast beach, we turned down a side lane that cuts north to Cabana Resort. We didn’t feel like turning around after hitting a dead end at a rubber tree grove that blankets the rolling hills, instead taking a sharp right onto a dirt path that rambled under the lanky trees.

Time for a spin.

Time for a spin.

The path soon became a wider red-clay lane, turning at 90 degrees every 50 or so metres. Passing only a few cows and the white herons that like to hang around them, we came across no other people until an Australian traveller whizzed by when our side path caught up with the main cement lane.

Only sound was the leaves swaying in the breeze.

Only sound was the leaves swaying in the breeze.

Now pedaling along the far west coast, we passed the old Paradise Resort’s defunct bungalows overlooking an empty beach. From here the road cuts sharply uphill, steep enough that we had to walk the bike, before reaching the top of cliffs that mark the island’s far northwestern point. Since our last visit, a modern Thai-style pavilion had been constructed for enjoying the view in comfort.

Stopping to catch our breath.

Stopping to catch our breath.

But if we wanted comfort, we would have booked a private sidecar motorbike taxi to take us here. Adventure was what we sought. And so we climbed up a sort of sloped ramp to the top of a cliff that hangs over the inland side of the road. The loose, slippery slate and extreme heat made the climb somewhat difficult, but, oh yes, the view was worth it.

Photos don't do it justice.

Photos don’t do it justice.

From here, a downhill stretch of road shot us back southeast, leaving us refreshed after the sweat-inducing climb. We passed bushy mangroves as sea eagles hovered high above the bay. Locals stomped out into ankle-deep silt to tend their shallow-water fish traps. At some places, the view stretched all the way to the pier.

No speedboats in sight.

No speedboats in sight.

Before long we arrived in Baan Saimai, the island’s largest village. Some houses stand on stilts over a white-sand beach, longtail boats parked out front like Volkswagens. Others are clustered along the inland lanes. Usually made of wood and punctuated by bushy flowers and birdcages, most are attractive in their way.

Some look like they're made of candy.

Some look like they’re made of candy.

We passed shophouses filled with sheets of freshly tempered rubber awaiting transport to the mainland. Back in the early 1900s, the residents of Trang province were the first in Thailand to understand the potential value of the rubber tree, and today rubber remains a key part of the Southern Thai economy.

Ready for the tyre factories.

Ready for the tire factories.

Rather than cover the entire island in rubber trees and buy necessities from the mainland, Ko Sukorn’s residents have taken a self-sustainable approach. Most of the island’s eastern reaches consist of rice fields, interspersed with grassy patches for the water buffalo and goats to graze on.

See why we call Sukorn

See why we call Sukorn “pastoral”?

Many residents in the far eastern village of Baan Laem focus mainly on fishing, and nearly all houses have gardens filled with herbs, vegetables and fruits. We passed some of Sukorn’s famously delicious watermelons set out on an unmanned roadside stand, for sale on a good-faith honesty system — something you hardly ever see in Thailand.

Always catching something.

Always catching something.

Turning back west from Baan Laem’s own pier, the road runs straight alongside vast dark-sand beaches. The water is too shallow for swimming right offshore, but nevertheless there’s something special about finding almost total solitude on a beach in Thailand’s Andaman Sea. Without a resort in sight, fields of windswept coconut trees stretched right up to the coast.

Taking a breather on the west coast.

Taking a breather on the west coast.

We feel that a bicycle is the optimal means of covering the ground while also soaking up the atmosphere, but you could also do this trip by motorbike. Either can be rented at Andaman, Yataa and Cabana resorts. It’s about a 17-kilometre trip around the island.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Ko Sukorn.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Ko Sukorn.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Ko Sukorn.
 Read up on how to get to Ko Sukorn, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Ko Sukorn? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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