Samui Wining & Dining
We visit the little village of Thong Krut in the southwest of the island to find out what it’s all about.


There’s not a lot in Thong Krut. But that’s not a bad thing. Anyone who complains that Samui has become too developed and commercialised need only head there for a day to appreciate the quieter side of island life.

        With its brightly coloured fishing boats and backdrop of small islands to the one side, and coconut plantations to the other, Thong Krut is a picturesque little village. Located in the southwest corner of the island, this is where you’ll come if you’re after a long-tail boat to take you to the nearby islands of Koh Tan and Koh Matsum. Lining the shore you’ll find a selection of simple restaurants offering Thai food, and particularly good seafood, as well as tour operators offering trips to the islands. From this peaceful shallow bay, boats make the journey to these two small islands, and although prices are usually fixed, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate a better rate with a smile.

        One well-known operator is T.K Tour, which started taking tourists to Koh Tan for snorkelling back in 1986. They offer long-tail boat charter trips and joining trips for snorkelling, fishing and diving to not only Koh Tan and Koh Matsum, but also to other nearby islands such as Koh Rarb, Koh See and Koh Haa, all off the south coast of Samui. And while you’re waiting to

embark on your island expedition, enjoy a bite or drink at T.K. Restaurant (owned by T.K. Tours), situated near the private pier right in the middle of Thong Krut Bay. Rather than using speedboats, T.K. Tour prefers using long-tail boats, not only to offer an authentic Thai experience, but also to generate revenue for the local community.

         Koh Tan, a few hundred metres off the coast from Thong Krut fishing village, is a small, mostly unspoilt island, known for its good snorkelling. Here you’ll see giant clams, coral and various tropical fish living in and around the protected reefs. Koh Matsum is just south of Koh Tan and its long white beach makes it a popular spot for day trips and picnics. Trips with T.K. Tour leave at 9:30 and return at 15:00, and include snorkelling around Koh Tan – equipment included – and lunch on the beach at Koh Matsum, where you’ll have time for a bit of relaxing too.

          Koh Tan is known as ‘the island without dogs’. According to local legend, any dog that has been taken to live there has quickly lost its mind, but oddly the local dog population seems unaffected by this fate. But truth be told, it’s the high-pitched calls of the bats on the island, not audible to the human ear, that cause the dogs to behave oddly. There’s just one small village on Koh Tan, with a population of about 30 people who earn their main living from fishing. You’ll find very limited tourist facilities, such as five simple bungalows and an authentic Thai restaurant. The island is roughly triangular in shape, having three distinct hills, with Khao Kiam at the south of the island being the highest at 218m above sea level, and covered with lush, evergreen forest. Unofficially named ‘Coral Island’, Koh Tan offers the best snorkelling you’ll find in such close proximity to Samui.

          If you feel like facing your phobias, the Samui Snake Farm is just on the border of Thong Krut on route 4170, and shows are held twice daily at 11:00 and 14:00. Here you can get up close and personal with some of Thailand’s slithering snakes and other scaly reptiles. And if you’d prefer to satisfy your need for retail therapy rather than face your fears, then don’t miss the Naga Pearl Shop, where a variety of pearls, jewellery and pearl products are on sale.

          If you’re after a wholesome meal in a retro setting, try the Sweet Sisters Café on the corner of the Route 4173 and Route 4170. The menu has a strong vegetarian and vegan influence, but there are plenty of seafood, chicken and meat options too. Khun Noiy, who owns and cooks at Sweet Sisters Café, believes in using fresh, local produce, she doesn’t use farmed fish and shellfish, there’s no MSG in her food, and she grows a lot of her own produce too.

          Thong Krut is historically a village of coconut farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods have become more of a challenge over the last decade. While traditionally village children would have continued with either fishing or coconut farming, as their parents have done for decades, now the tourism industry dominates Samui’s economy. This means that a proficiency in English is vital to providing local children a chance at a better future. These students will ultimately be competing for positions with those privileged enough to attend international schools, or learn from a native speaker. The local community school, Watsantiwatraram, has 60 primary students who are eager and enthusiastic to learn, but tremendously lacking in the resources they need to prosper in this rapidly changing community. Until recently, the students had never studied English with a native speaking teacher, or even a fluent Thai English teacher. The school simply lacks the funds necessary to pay the higher salaries Western teachers require. But recently, Starfish Volunteers have been bringing volunteer teachers to provide basic but essential English lessons to the students. If you’d like to give back to the local community in some way, a donation of materials, resources, or your time to Watsantiwatraram School is a rewarding way to do so, and you’ll know that you are directly helping local children on the island.

          Accommodation in Thong Krut is extremely limited, so chances are you’re staying in one of the neighbouring bays, or even on the other side of the island, making a day trip to this little village of fishing boats and coconuts. Arrive early or stay late, as here you’ll see great sunrises and sunsets with views of the islands. The beach is about one kilometre long with very few beach vendors. Don’t expect endless sun-loungers with martinis on call – but if you’re after a little tranquillity and an insight into village life, it’s worth spending an afternoon in a beachside café with either a good book or good company.


 Rosanne Turner


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