I Found Paradise on Hong Island

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Thailand is known for its beaches, but until 2014, I hadn’t been to any of them.  I’ve never been a beach lover…until I found Hong Island.

Normally, I wouldn’t fly halfway around the world just to sit by the ocean, but I had a few days between the end of my trip in Laos and my flight home from Bangkok.  Somewhat arbitrarily, I flew to Krabi (transit hub for Ao Nang beach) for a few days of rest and relaxation.  After all, nearby Railay Beach is touted as one of the world’s best.

railay beach ao nang beach thai beaches
Railay Beach (Thailand)

But to fall in love with a Thai beach, it would have to be spectacular.  Unfortunately, after two days in the area, I was still unimpressed by both Ao Nang and Railay beach.  On day 3, it was time to seek out other things to do in Krabi.

Following a lead from another traveler who had been on my Four Islands sunset tour the day before, my companion and I chartered a private longtail boat to Hong Island.  At 3200 baht (about $100), this was a splurge worth every penny.

railay beach ao nang beach things to do in krabi hong island
On the water

The Koh Hong archipelago is about 45 minutes away from Ao Nang beach: perfect for a day trip.  The rocky outcroppings rise up out of the water, creating a scenic ride. They all looked the same to me, but our first stop at Koh Daeng was particularly special.

snorkeling hong island things to do krabi ao nang beach
Snorkeling at Koh Daeng

With coral reefs at its base, Koh Daeng was one of the best snorkeling spots I’ve ever been to.  When conditions are right, the water around the island is crystal clear.  Visibility is great and swimming is easy, with fish everywhere around you.

It’s easy to lose track of time snorkeling there, especially when there isn’t a tour guide anxiously looking at his watch for the next stop.  On our own timeline, I enjoyed watching the trumpet fish and small colorful fish the most.

Still, we had more to see.  Next on the agenda was the main event: Hong Island.

Koh Hong is part of a marine park and is uninhabited, except for some birds and lizards that call the island home.  There are two powdery white sand beaches lining twin bays.  Each has calm, warm water, nearly transparent enough to snorkel without putting your face underwater.  A few fish dart in and out of the bay area, but mostly, this is just an ideal place for swimming and bathing.

hong island things to do krabi ao nang beach
Hong Island Beach

Hong Island is a gem because of its tranquility.  Even though day trippers include the beach in their island hopping plans, it’s quiet.  Come to swim.  Come to float.  Come to relax.

There are no services on the island, which is both a blessing and a curse.  There aren’t hawkers selling things, restaurants playing music, or drunken escapades.  Although that’s peaceful, that means you have to pack everything in yourself.  Bring a picnic lunch, a towel to sunbathe on, and anything else you need for the day.



Still only halfway through our day, the next stop was at the island’s hidden lagoon.  You won’t get there by walking on Hong Island’s trails, but you can enter by boat.  The word Hong means “room” in Thai, and as we approached the narrow entrance to the lagoon, I realized we were actually entering a room-like area.

The scenery at the lagoon is mesmerizing for its turquoise waters and tall cliffs, but it is little more than a photo stop.  There weren’t any fish there nor was it deep enough for much swimming.  Still, Hong Lagoon is a beautiful and pristine detour.

hong island things to do krabi ao nang beach
Entering the Lagoon at Hong Island

The day trip to Hong Island is one of the best things to do in the Krabi region.  If time is short, skip the island hopping closer to Ao Nang beach and move this to the top of your list.  Hong Island is paradise and one I’d gladly return to.

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Have you been to the Ao Nang / Railay Beach / Krabi area?  Did you like it?

15 thoughts on “I Found Paradise on Hong Island”

  1. I loved Railay (as you know) but Hong Island looks wonderful. We found many hidden lagoons and truly untouched beaches further down the coast in Trang that looked like Hong. The rest of the region is definitely a lot prettier than Ao Nang!

    1. @Andrea, I didn’t like Ao Nang either. I’m semi-curious as to what the other beaches have that make them so great, but I think that living on the east coast, I’m more likely to head to the Caribbean next time. It’s so much closer!

      1. Becky, If your next destination is the Caribbean be sure and include St. John, US Virgin Islands. There are Hawknest Bay, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay beaches that are exquisitely beautiful. Trunk Bay has a underwater trail for snorkelers. 3/4 or 4/5ths of the island is a national forest preventing developement and construction. I teach in Thailand and loved Hong Island. Will be going back soon.

      2. @Dan, So funny you should recommend St. John – I’ve been there and loved it, for a lot of the very reasons you mentioned. Great place!

  2. Courtney Mulligan

    Hi Becky,
    Great post and SUPER informative! Thank you so much! I’ll be visiting Krabi area and have a few questions about your Hong Island trip.
    1. Did your private longboat driver provide you snorkeling gear? If so, should we just check with the longboat driver before hiring him to make sure he has gear for us?
    2. Did he know the spots to take you to and have a suggested itinerary, (ex. snorkeling Koh Daeng). Or did you come prepared knowing the exact things you wanted to see?
    3. Was $100 for the private longboat the total cost for you and your friend or was it per person?
    4. Does $100 get you the whole day with the longboat as your private chauffeur?
    FINALLY, should you tip longboat drivers?

    I know that was ALOT of questions but any insight would be amazing. Thanks so much!

    1. @Courtney,
      1. Our guide had snorkel gear and I got the impression it was common, but check ahead of time. Local stores rent (higher quality) equipment if needed.
      2. They know the routes like the back of their hand! If you have special requests, let them know but otherwise they’ll take care of you easily.
      3. $100 for the boat and a quick drive to/from the “dock”. Large groups might need to pay a little more and prices may have changed in the past year but that’s a reference point.
      4. We were gone 6-7 hours…
      5. We tipped, but that is personal preference.

      Have a great trip!

  3. Hi Becky, may I know where do you find the longtai boat provide this tour? Im impressed by both koh daeng and koh hong!

    1. @Terence, There are dozens of agencies in town that will help you set it up or head down to the boats to speak with a captain directly.

  4. Hi,
    Is it possible to do both Railay/phranag cave and Hong island in a single day by long tail boat?


    1. @Deb, If you only want to spend an hour or so at Railay, it is theoretically possible, but I’d recommend spending a minimum of 3 hours there (1 for the beach, 1 for walking the island, 1 for lunch at one of the local restaurants). That’s not a standard combination, so expect to pay for a private longtail boat.

  5. Hi Becky,

    What time did you leave Ao Nang? Was it crowded when you arrived at Hong Island? Also, any recommendations for good budget accommodation in Ao Nang?


    1. @Chernyse, It’s been awhile since my trip so I don’t remember exactly, but we left Ao Nang roughly around 8:30am and after the snorkel stops, etc. I think we got to Hong Island around 1pm and it was moderately crowded (but not terribly so).

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