Ko Klang in Krabi is the closest island to Krabi town and can be reached by longtail boat from Chao Fah Park Pier in less than 10 minutes.
This peaceful island offers a low-key and authentic visitor experience for travellers seeking more than a resort with a pool and cold beer in Krabi in Thailand.
If you are seeking genuine interaction with Thai culture and traditions, Ko Klang Island in Krabi, Thailand could be just what you’re looking for. Ko Klang covers an area of 26 square kilometres and has four different towns, each of which has one village and one mosque.
Around 70% of the population are indigenous people who have always made a living from the sea, and around 99% of the population are devout Muslims. When you arrive, it is not hard to imagine little has changed here for hundreds of years.
What I loved most about Ko Klang was there was nothing remotely touristy about it. Aside from a workshop selling tiny replica longtail boats and an artist cooperative where you can try batik painting and buy beautiful batik cloth direct from local artists, there are no ‘tourist attractions’.
The seafood restaurants on the pier as just as popular with locals as there are with tourists and you won’t find any organised tours (or touts trying to sell them to you).
Transport consists of bikes with a sidecar (similar to a tuk but with seats on the side) and bicycles. Ask when you arrive at the pier about transport options as someone will be around who can help you.
The island is quite large so unless you are content to stick to the area around the pier or really enjoy walking, you will need some form of transport to get around.
There is no tourist office or information centre but ask for help and you will almost certainly receive whatever it is you are seeking, provided it isn’t alcohol.
When you arrive at Ko Klang you will see signs asking you to respect the local culture and refrain from consuming alcohol, pork and drugs, and wearing immodest dress. The peace and serenity of this place make it hard to believe you are so close to the bustling tourist hub of Krabi town.
Buffalo graze as locals tend their fields, fishermen mend their nets, and the sound of birdsong is the loudest noise you’ll hear aside from the call to prayer which rings out periodically around the island, calling locals to worship at the island’s mosques.
It is the simple pleasures of Ko Klang which bring joy to most visitors. One of my favourite experiences, aside from losing myself in the peaceful beauty of the island’s countryside, was learning how to make roti at the one of the food stalls which line the road.
This isn’t an organised ‘cooking school’ or something you can pre-arrange. If you would like to do the same, stop along the way during your travels and drop into a stall that isn’t too busy. Buy some roti and then asking politely if you can try to make one yourself after you’ve finished eating.
If you don’t speak basic Thai, you might need a translator app as English isn’t as commonly spoken on Ko Klang as it is in nearby Krabi. However, smiles and sign language will usually suffice.
I can tell you from first hand experience that making roti is much harder than it looks. It’s all in the flick of the wrist which looks easy but is virtually impossible to master (or perhaps that’s just me). There is a reason the lovely ladies in this photo are laughing.
I was pretty terrible at it. My roti looked like it had been in a car accident by the time it was cooked but it still tasted good.
We also dropped into an artist cooperative where batik fabric is painted for sale. The artist co-op is run out of the back of someone’s house with a separate workshop for the professional artists to work in and a small store where you can buy direct from the co-op.
Visitors can also try painting their own batik. What I loved about this was the fact we worked on our paintings at a table set up in the yard surrounded by chickens, roosters and a grazing buffalo who thankfully wasn’t remotely interested in what we were doing.
Painting batik at the co-op brought back memories of my Year 8 art assignment when I learned the hard way that choosing a complicated and intricate design for your first-ever batik painting is not a good idea.
My teacher warned me against what I had chosen but did I listen? No, of course not. Because teenagers think they know everything! If you decide to create your own work of art at the Ko Klang batik studio, consider choosing the most basic stencil design on offer. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
Ko Klang is famous for its floating fish restaurants so you can probably already guess where we had lunch. While the surroundings might look rustic, this was one of my best meals in Thailand.
The seafood was plucked from the nearby river in front of us and the balance of flavours was superb. If you aren’t a fan of seafood there are plenty of other dishes to choose from (but,of course, none with pork). Dining alongside the river and watching the fishing boats come and go was lovely too.
Ko Klang is the perfect spot for a day trip from Krabi but you can also stay overnight, either at a local homestay which can be organised when you reach the island or at the island’s only resort.
Fishing and farming isn’t as financially viable as it used to be so locals are interested in developing eco-tourism on the island with the help of the local government.
Tourists can help them in their quest by visiting Ko Klang and embracing the opportunity to travel responsibly and engage with Thai culture in an authentic and highly enjoyable way.
Disclosure: The writer visited Ko Klang with assistance from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. She would love to return to this beautiful and peaceful destination as an independent traveller on her next visit to Thailand.