Thailand // Southern Thailand: the Andaman coast //

Ko Jum

Situated halfway between Krabi and Ko Lanta Yai, KO JUM (whose northern half is known as Ko Pu) is the sort of laidback spot that people come to for a couple of days, then can’t bring themselves to leave. Though there’s plenty of accommodation on the island, there’s nothing more than a handful of beach bars for evening entertainment, and little to do during the day except try out the half-dozen west-coast beaches. The beaches may not be pristine, and are in some places unswimmably rocky at low tide, but they’re mostly long and wild, and all but empty of people. Nights are also low-key: it’s paraffin lamps and starlight after about 11pm (or earlier) at those places that are off the main grid, and many don’t even provide fans as island breezes are sufficiently cooling.

The island is home to around three thousand people, the majority of them Muslim, though there are also communities of chao ley sea gypsies on Ko Jum, as well as Buddhists. The main village is Ban Ko Jum, on the island’s southeastern tip, comprising a few local shops and small restaurants, one of the island’s three piers for boats to and from Laem Kruat on the mainland, and a beachfront school. It’s about 1km from the village to the southern end of the island’s most popular beach, the appropriately named Long Beach. Long Beach is connected to Golden Pearl Beach, which sits just south of Ban Ting Rai, the middle-island village that’s about halfway down the west coast. North of Ban Ting Rai, a trio of smaller, increasingly remote beaches at Ao Si, Ao Ting Rai, and Ao Luboa complete the picture. The island’s third village, Ban Ko Pu, occupies the northeastern tip, about 5km beyond Ban Ting Rai, and has another Laem Kruat ferry pier. Many islanders refer to the north of the island, from Ban Ting Rai upwards, as Ko Pu, and define only the south as Ko Jum. Much of the north is made inaccessible by the breastbone of forested hills, whose highest peak (422m) is Khao Ko Pu.

Very high winds and heavy seas mean that Ko Jum becomes an acquired taste from May through October, so nearly all accommodation and restaurants close for that period: the few exceptions are highlighted in the text.

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