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Island guide: Experience the ultimate luxury in Koh Kood

Home to untamed jungle, pristine beaches and fishing villages, Koh Kood is Thailand’s fourth largest island but its least populated, with only around 2,000 residents, a smattering of mid-range to six-star resorts dotting along its densely forested coastline, nearly each having its own patch of private beach. Remarkably underdeveloped compared to its popular neighbour Koh Chang, Kod Kood receives far, far fewer visitors as it requires quite a bit of travel, which is what keeps the island an exclusive hidden gem for those willing to make the effort. Here you can forget about any nightlife or noise – active travellers may find plenty of opportunities for diving, snorkelling and hiking, but for most people, Koh Kood is simply the perfect place to stargaze and watch the tides roll by.

From Treepod Dining at Soneva Kiri, excursions to the island’s famous waterfalls to dive trip to Thailand’s biggest shipwreck, check out these once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are worth splurging on.

Featured image credit: Instagram

How to get there

Koh Kood can be reached from Laem Sok pier in Trat Province, which is roughly a six hour drive or an hour flight from Bangkok. From the pier you need to take a two-hour boat transfer. Most boats depart between noon and 1pm so most travellers opt for an early departure from Bangkok or an overnight stay in Trat.

Where to stay

soneva kiri

Soneva Kiri

Imagine an ulta-luxe resort amid acres of untamed rainforests and idyllic beaches, where guests fly in by private plane, and spend their days in a kind of uber-swanky Hollywood luxury; where you have your own personal butlers, and everyone hums about on golf buggies and retro bicycles, shuttling between the resorts’ Six Senses Spa, chocolate and ice cream parlour and Cinema Paradiso, a floating jungle-enshrouded cinema with cascading cushions over the waters.

Most visitors to Koh Kood take domestic flights from Bangkok to Trat, then take a public boat. Not Soneva Kiri guests. The Soneva experience begins as they disembark at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, where they will directly check in at the Soneva Kiri Counter and take the resort’s private plane to Koh Mai Si, then hop on a luxury speed boat to the resort’s jetty.

Of course, no visit to Soneva Kiri is complete without the unmatched, over-the-top Treepod Dining experience, where guests can savour gourmet cuisine while ensconced in a pod, suspended amid the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand with its captivating turquoise blue waters and gentle rippling waves. Each private bird’s nest-like bamboo pod hangs about thirty feet off the ground and holds up to four guests, who enter at ground level and are lifted up by a pulley. Make sure you are camera ready as your personal waiter delivers freshly prepared gourmet delights, from an organic breakfast to candlelit dinner, via zip line. This truly one-in-a-lifetime experience takes fine dining to new heights, not to mention the Instagram-worthy moments for maximum bragging rights on social media.

Stargazing in Koh Kood at night is an activity in itself as you get an unobstructed view of the sky, but with Soneva Kiri’s state of-the-art astronomical observatory, you can spot the light dusting of the Milky Way, count the moons of Jupiter and peer at the graceful halo of Saturn’s translucent ring. You can easily take a picture of the phenomenal night sky using your smartphone and the telescope – as Will Smith did during his visit.

What to do

Image credit: DGHayes/ iStock

Klong Chao Waterfall

Once visited by King Rama VII, this is the most popular waterfall on Koh Kood and the easiest to reach. Situated a few kilometres west of Klong Chao Beach, you can follow the road inland from the beach, or hire a private boat to cruise through the mangroves on the Klong Chao waterway, then walk to the falls from a docking area nearby. The trail will lead you to a wide oval pool with the falls churning over a six-metre cliff, where a rope dangles over for thrill seekers to tumble into the cool water.

Klong Yai Kee Waterfall

Not as accessible as Klong Chao waterfall, this less-visited waterfall is located in the northwest of Koh Kood. To get there, simply follow the signs and road that leads to Soneva Kiri, Bann Makok or Captain Hook Resort. Another (more scenic) route can be taken by following Klong Yai Ki Canal by kayak from Klong Yai Kee Bay, an untouched white sandy beach with clear water throughout the year. From there the waterfall is approximately one kilometres away. While Klong Yai Kee Waterfall may not be impressive in size, it compensates with a large natural pool perfect for cooling off and smooth rock surfaces for those who could use a break from the beach.

Huang Nam Keaw Waterfall

Known as the secret waterfall as it was only accessible by a strenuous walk through the jungle and along the riverbed, Huang Nam Kaew is now relatively easy to get to since a road and parking area were built in 2012. The waterfall is divided into three tiers of water streaming over short cliffs with a deep jungle towering overhead. Most people take the short but steep trail which drops you at the middle tier, and from there it’s an easy hop up to the slightly bigger tier on the top. To get to the lowest tier, you will need to climb down to a steep slope which should be manageable for anyone with rock climbing experience.

koh kood dive
Image credit: BB Divers

Snorkeling and Scuba diving

Those who’d prefer to stay in Koh Kood to explore the underwater around will find very little marine life directly off the shores of the island itself. Fortunately, there are three equally reputable dive operators, namely Koh Kood Divers, Paradise Divers and BB Divers, that run daily excursions to dive sites off the west coast such as Bang Bao Beach, where the waters are clear and shallow with only weak currents, making it the perfect place for snorkeling beginners. For those who don’t mind travelling a little further for some of the most well-preserved corals in the Koh Chang archipelago, an hour-long cruise to Koh Rang is worth the effort as the marine life conditions are much better here. Koh Mak also offers a couple of excellent diving opportunities, especially around HTMS Chang, the largest shipwreck in Thailand which is now an exciting wreck dive site teeming with abundant sea life.