Guide to the Ang Thong Marine National Park in Thailand

The Ang Thong Marine National Park is a group of 42 islands located in the south of Thailand. Ang Thong, which means golden bowl in the Thai language offers panoramic views and scenery for tourists visiting the area. The whole area of the archipelago is about 250 sq km. The limestone islands of the national park occupy about 50 sq km.

If you visit the park, you will notice a distinct karst topography arising from the sea. Karst is a distinctive topography in which the landscape is largely shaped by the dissolving action of water and surf on carbonate bedrock. Many of the islands are located within a close distance of each other, hence its possible to travel by boat between the islands. The islands in Ang Thong Marine National Park are of different sizes. Most areas of the islands are covered with lush greenery and tropical rainforests. Most of the islands in Ang Thong Marine National Park have not been developed, however Ko Paluay does have some inhabitants. The sea gypsies are natives to the Ko Paluay island and make a living by catching fish and lobsters from the sea.

The tropical forests in the archipelago islands consist of three types of forests including dry evergreen, beach forests and limestone forests. If you are interested in exploring the dry evergreen forests, you can visit the Wuatalab islands and the Samsao islands. Beach forests can be seen near the beaches of the islands. The limestone forests are developed from smaller plants which can be found on the limestone cliffs and mountains. The majority of the animals that dominate the mountain forests are small. Some of the animals that can be found at the Ang Thong Marine National Park include otters, dolphins, langurs, little herons, drongoes, mynas, lizards and hawsbill turtles. Its estimated that there are more than 54 bird species and 14 reptile species inhabiting the islands. You can also find a variety of wild amphibians in the national park including grass frogs, tree frogs and toads.

You can reach the Ang Thong Marine National Park by taking a boat from Samui. For safety reasons you should only rent a boat or kayak from licensed carriers. The license carriers offer boat rentals for visitors who are planning camping trips and tours to the islands. You can also find boat rental services at Koh Phangan. Another way of reaching the marine park is to take the ferry boat. The ferry boat can accommodate up to 50 people. For a standard speed boat, the maximum amount of people it can accommodate is 6 to 8 people however there are bigger ones that carry up to 25 people. The cost of the boat tour from Ko Phangan is about 1,600 baht. In addition, you have to pay a national park entrance fee of 200 baht per adult and the entrance fee for a foreign child is about 100 baht. If you are of Thai Nationality you only have to pay 40 baht for the entrance fee.

Boat tours are also a good way to see the national park and included is a free complementary breakfast consisting of local Thai food or an American style breakfast of bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato and morning snack hamburgers and hotdogs. The boat tour also visits the emerald lake viewpoint which has a very spectacular and memorable view. Emerald lake is on Ko Mae and is surrounded by tall limestone cliffs. An underground tunnel links the lake with the sea. There are also a number of caves on the islands which are frequently explored by spelunkers from the US, potholers from the UK and cavers from Australia and South Africa.

By Tropical Holidays Articles