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Big Blue Diving - Koh Tao - Thailand - Where not to miss on your trip to Thailand: Part Two - Koh Libong and dugongs!

Where not to miss on your trip to Thailand: Part Two - Koh Libong and dugongs!

 

 

 

LibongMAP

 

Trang’s largest island is just 30 minutes by long-tail from mainland Hat Yao, and is one of those islands that most Thailand backpackers miss out on completely, for reasons unknown to myself. It’s a captivating, mountainous place wrapped in rubber trees, thick with mangroves and known for its flora and fauna (especially the resident dugongs and migrating birds) more than its thin golden brown beaches. Beach lovers may actually be a little disappointed on first inspection, as the neighbouring islands of Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai do offer nicer beaches with more turquoise waters, but for me the real charm of the Libong beaches is the fact that they’re usually completely empty!

 

LibongBEACH

 

The majority of the island is actually completely untouched, leaving an incredible area to trek completely alone (I’ve never encountered a single tourist on my treks through the mangroves and jungles of Libong) and a lot of the island’s more remote areas can be (almost) reached on a scooter, cutting out large swathes of your exploration and saving your energy for dugong and birdspotting, which Libong is also well-known for. Migratory birds stop off here on their way south from Siberia, drawn by the island’s mud flats in the eastern part of the island. For those serious about their birding the best time to come is during March and April, when you can expect to see brown-winged kingfishers, masked finfoots and even the rare black-necked stork, not seen elsewhere on the peninsula.

 

A1111

 

The island is home to a small Muslim fishing community and has a few west-coast resorts, and that’s pretty much it – tourism is only a secondary resource for the Koh Libong residents, who have no experience of the mass tourism that so many of the other Thai islands have been ruined with. There are no ATMs or any other way of getting any money so remember to bring plenty with you, and there’s just the one small convenience store by one of the resorts. You should expect to pay at least 1000 baht per night at the resorts here, and it’s a good idea to check they’re open before heading over there! I usually stay at Libong Beach Resort, where the service is friendly, the food delicious and the rooms around 800 baht per night with fan.

 

 

libongVILLAGE

 

When you get out of the resorts it’s easy to find lovely small beaches with not a soul on them (expect the ubiquitous dog, of course), hiking trails piercing the slopes of the rolling hills, limestone caves and a few small fishing villages hidden from plain sight – there’s an interesting one on the south-east coast called Batu Bute, where the locals are living on stilted houses over the bay and there’s a long walkway and observation tower for some great sunset photos and a bit of dugong spotting.  Any locals you may encounter have a wonderful charm about them, and a smile/candy bar will often be enough to get an impromptu tour of the villages from the local kids, but remember with the island being mainly Muslim you shouldn’t wear anything too revealing when exploring the villages.

The real draw of Koh Libong is of course the 130 or so dugongs, an endangered marine mammal which looks a lot like a dolphin with an eating problem, and feeds on sea grass in the south-east of the island. Also known as a sea cow, it is actually not so easy to encounter if you go by yourself (but still possible from a viewpoint or observation tower), so a boat or kayak will give you a greater chance to bump into one in their feeding areas – be careful of the strong currents if you try to get in the water with them!

 

 

With just a bunch of resorts on the western beaches and no bars or clubs, the nightlife is completely non-existent on Koh Libong. Ideal for families, couples and people who like early nights (most places try to close around 9pm), the island can also be an attractive destination for backpackers searching for a tranquil spot to get away from the mass tourism, while party people will most probably remain disappointed and should consider one of the many other nearby options like Koh Phi Phi - not on my recommended list, due to its high amount of dickheads.

 

How to get to Koh Libong

 

There’s a regular ferry service that connects Koh Libong with Hat Yao pier in Trang province, they run multiple times a day all year round with the last departure of the day at 4pm. It costs around 400 baht, and the trip takes about 30 minutes. During the low season expect the ferries travel less frequently and with occasional cancellations due to the sea conditions or the lack of passengers.

From Trang there are minibuses leaving every hour from the bus station to Hat Yao and the ticket costs about 100 baht, depending on your haggling skills.

 

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Read 423 times Last modified on Monday, 19 March 2018 06:25