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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Ang Thong National Marine Park - Be Mesmerised by the Emerald Waters and the Limestone Cliffs
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Ang Thong National Marine Park - Be Mesmerised by the Emerald Waters and the Limestone Cliffs

Explore the emerald waters and limestone cliffs in the Ang Thong National Marine Park and find yourself in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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Introducing the Ang Thong National Marine Park

An area of sea which is protected in order to preserve a habitat or ecosystem is known as a marine park. The largest marine park in the world at present is the Chagos Marine Park, declared as such by the United Kingdom. Prior to 2010, the largest marine park in the world was the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Such marine parks are found across the world and because certain areas of lake or sea are named marine parks for the purpose of preservation, the marine life in these parks are quite diverse and stunning and are well worth the visit. Featuring limestone mountains, pristine white beaches, stunning waterfalls and a dense jungle, the Ang Thong National Marine Park is made up of 42 islands. The Park is located within the Gulf of Thailand and covers over one hundred square kilometres.

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History of the Marine Park

The Ang Thong National Marine Park gained worldwide prominence due to it being featured in a novel by Alex Garland titled 'The Beach'. The National Marine Park was established in 1980 and its designation as a national park assist in ensuring that there is no unnecessary development of the area. This helps in ensuring the preservation and conservation of the marine ecosystem. Though the park is home to 42 islands, only one of them is inhabited. Its inhabitants are a small gipsy community whose primary income is derived from fishing.

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Getting There and Access to the Ang Thong National Marine Park

The Ang Thong National Marine Park is located to the north of Surat Thani and close to the Chumphon Archipelago. Those who are residing in Koh Samui resorts can visit the Ang Thong National Marine Park with ease because the park is located to the south-west of Ko Phangan. Whether you reside on the western coast of the island or at a resort such as Avani+ Samui Resort on the eastern coast, visiting the Marine Park is quite convenient because the island itself is quite small. However, many tourists opt to arrange for diving and snorkelling expeditions within the marine park from Ko Samui because it is a larger island with greater resources. Further, because Ko Samui is a well-known island and is popular amongst tourists, the island hosts a number of tour operators who offer great deals. Tourists should keep in mind that tour operators who arrange such tours can also be found on the Koh Tao and Ko Phangan islands. The golden rule to keep in mind when arranging a tour of the marine park is to ensure that your tour operator has a valid Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Travel Agents License As of 2015, there is an entrance fee that must be paid by tourists hoping to gain access to the marine park. At present, entrance costs 300 baht per person and it is usually not included in the tour fee. Make sure to clarify this with the tour operator. Alternatively, tourists can either opt for a ferry to the Ang Thong National Marine Park from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan or a speedboat from these islands. The latter, however, is likely to cost quite a bit – therefore, expect to pay around 2000 baht for a day tour.

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Things to See

One of the most stunning things to see in the Ang Thong National Marine Park is the emerald saltwater lake known as Thale Nai. This inland lake is set amidst tall limestone mountains and make for stunning photographs. It is thus also known as the 'Emerald Lake'. The Marine Park is also home to four types of forests as well as herons, egrets, sea turtles, pythons, herons and langurs. One can also visit the Mother Island i.e. Koh Mae. In fact, the Mother Island is usually the highlight of the Park and is often one of the most visited attractions in the area. Tourists can also opt to visit the Tripod Island, known locally as Koh Sam Sao. Wherever you visit, however, the stunning natural beauty of the marine park is quite obvious with its emerald and aquamarine waters and limestone cliffs. It is a place that promotes solitude and serenity.