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A complete guide to Koh Hong Island Krabi

Koh Hong Island Krabi - Shows Ricky standing on a rock looking at the sea

If you’re a fan of serene beaches and remote islands, then this might be the trip for you… White sands meets turquoise water at the highly popular Hong Island, located in Thailand’s southern province of Krabi. Here, you’ll get to explore a stunning islet with gorgeous tropical scenery and hike up to one of the most impressive viewpoints on the island (if you fancy a challenge!).

Hong Island is one of the most popular day trips and island hopping stops in Krabi, and in this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know ahead of a visit. Read on for our complete guide to Hong Island Krabi. 😊

What is Hong Island in Krabi?

Hong Island, also known as Koh Hong, is a picturesque island known for its impressive limestone rock formations. Located in Thanbok Kharanee National Park, it’s a popular day trip for tourists coming from both Phuket and Krabi – and we can definitely see why! It’s one of the larger islands in the national park and has plenty to see and do. Hiking trails, beautiful beaches, sea kayaking and snorkelling are just some of the things you can do on the island.

Is Hong Island worth visiting?

Hong island is a popular island to visit in Krabi, but not necessarily the MOST popular. It’s less visited than other beach destinations such as Railay Beach or Poda island, but is still a top attraction. This is a good thing; it attracts less crowds than neighbouring island – a great plus in our opinion.

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How to get to Hong Island Krabi

There are a number of ways to reach Hong Island, and depending on your budget and eagerness to arrive before all the crowds, you’ll want to consider all options.

  1. Book a group speed boat tour – If you’re looking for a complete package when visiting the island, with a stop off at other islands along the way, we recommend booking a tour. We went with Sea Eagle Tours Krabi and highly recommend them. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Hong Island from Ao Nang, meaning you’ll get there much quicker than the traditional long tail boats.
  2. For a slightly cheaper group tour option, book a long tail boat tour to Hong Island. With a similar itinerary to the speed boat option mentioned above, you’ll tour Hong and a number of other beautiful destinations. It takes around one hour to get to Hong via long tail boat.
  3. Book a long tail boat straight to Hong Island – If you’re not looking to go on a tour and want to spend more time at Hong Island, hop on one of the long tail boats from Nopparat Thara Pier or Ao Nang. They run to and from the mainland throughout the day. This is a great option for those that want to spend 5+ hours exploring and relaxing on the island.
  4. Splash out and opt for a private tour – Do you have a special occasion coming up? Or maybe you’re a group of friends? One cool way to spend the day is by chartering your own private long tail boat. It’s a costly form of getting to Hong island Krabi, but is worth it for the lack of crowds. With your own long tail, you can choose to arrive at Hong Island early morning before the crowds of other tourists arrive.
image showing a white speed boat 'SEA EAGLE TOUR' in the sea - a complete guide to hong island, krabi

The Koh Hong Island tour

As the most popular way to visit Hong Island, we opted for the Hong Island hopping tour. Here’s the full itinerary:

Overview

You’ll start off the day by getting picked up from your hotel by an open air van, usually between 8am and 9am. You’ll depart from either Nopparat Thara Pier, Ao Nang Beach or Railay beach.

Itinerary  – The top stop-off points on the Hong Island tour

Koh Lao Lading  

Picture a small islet surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs… you’ve now arrived at Koh Lao Lading! This beautiful island will be the first stop on your tour and makes a perfect start to the trip. Koh Lao Lading is nicknamed the ‘paradise island,’ and we can definitely see why.

You’ll have the opportunity walk around this small island to the rocky beach on the far side of the boat dock. There isn’t much in the way of exploring, due to its small size, but you can take a typical tourist photo on the swing, which we thought was a nice touch. There’s also a shallow area where you can snorkel.

It’s a tiny island that has a beach that was voted one of the best in the world. However, it can get very crowded, which takes away from the beauty of it.

Pak Bia Island

The next stop off point on the tour is the Pak Bia island. This uniquely shaped tropical island consists of two small islands that are connected by a sand bar. The area  across from where the boats dock is the best spot on the island for swimming and snorkelling, with its turquoise waters, towering rock stacks and an array of fish that swim in its shallows.

When the tide is low, a number of sand bars and hidden beaches are revealed, so if you’re lucky, you might see areas of Pak Bia that other tourists haven’t seen! The entire are is a beautiful spot to take pictures and admire the view. This is a short stop on the tour – around 30-40 minutes.

image showing two brown long tail boats docked up on the beach, surrounded by trees - a complete guide to hong island, krabi
Hong Island Lagoon

To get to Hong Island beach you’ll first need to pass through the spectacular Hong Island Lagoon. You’ll enter this spectacular lagoon area via a narrow rock opening, where you’re soon greeted by tall and elegant cliffs, jungle-like scenery, and turquoise blue waters. The lagoon has a very secluded appeal to it as you can only reach the area by boat. During low tide, you’ll be able to wade in the shallow waters. High tide creates a completely different setting.

The lagoon is an excellent place to stop off at for a spot of swimming or snorkelling. The tour we opted only toured the lagoon without a swim stop. However, if you opt for a private tour, you can request a longer stop at the lagoon on your itinerary.

Hong Island

The star of the show, and one of the best islands in the national park and Krabi area is Hong Island. The high elevation island is covered in rich tropical forest. It’s a great place to visit for a spot of sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling and even for a hike if you’re feeling up for the challenge. Hong is much larger than the surrounding islands so it never feels too crowded.

Aside from the stunning beach and epic relaxation spots, one activity that’s definitely worth doing is climbing the 400+ stairs to see the most amazing views of the island and surrounding area. The Hong Island viewpoint is a top thing to do, and whilst challenging, it only takes around 15 minutes to walk to the top. There are four resting spots on the ascent where you can catch your breath

In addition to the viewpoint platforms, there’s also a small nature trail that’s located just behind the beach. The path of the trail meanders amongst the native tropical plants and has plenty of wildlife. We spotted a monitor lizard, butterflies and some very cool looking birds on the short nature walk.

Note: You’ll need to pay a national park fee of 400 baht per person to enter Hong Island Krabi.  

Our top tips for visiting Hong Island

  • When you first arrive at Hong Island, plan to visit the viewpoint and nature trail first, especially if arriving on a morning. You’ll experience the beauty of these areas with less tourists around.
  • When completing the mini hike up to Hong Island viewpoint, be sure to bring lots of water with you, wear sun cream and bring along a hat if you have one. There isn’t a lot of shade once you reach the top of the cliff.
  • If you want lots of time on Hong Island and aren’t particularly bothered about visiting other nearby islands, opt for a return transfer directly to Hong instead of an island hopping tour.
  • If you’re looking for a quieter spot to relax on the island, walk to the furthest end of the beach from the boat docking area. Most tourists grab a spot on the beach right next to the dock.
  • If you want to do a spot of sea kayaking on Hong Island, you’ll need to reserve this beforehand with your tour guide or rent kayaks as soon as you arrive at Koh Hong. There are limited kayaks available and they’re always in high demand.
  • Bring snorkelling equipment with you. Hong Island’s shore is the perfect place to spot some tropical fish.

Hong Island tour and transport options:

Speed boat tour

We highly recommend booking an organised group tour with Sea Eagle Tours through Get Your Guide. You’ll tour the islands on a modern, double-engine speed boat that’s fast and comfortable. It’s also the quickest way to reach the islands. Other speed boat tours are available. However, we researched companies before arrival and Sea Eagle tend to have the best reviews.

image showing the back of the speed boat and the two larger motors - a complete guide to hong island, krabi
Pros
  • The tour is reasonably priced, considering a group long tail boat tour doesn’t cost much less.
  • The speed boat gets you to places much faster than the traditional Thai long tail boat. You’ll spend less time at sea and more time exploring the islands.
  • Lunch is included (there aren’t any restaurants on the island, making it more difficult to find food).
  • The entire tour is organised, so you don’t need to do a thing.
Cons
  • Many tour groups arrive on the islands around the same time. This means it can be overcrowded at times, especially during peak times of the year.
  • You might need to wait around for other people on the tour at times (if they’re late at arriving/ getting back to the boat).
  • Speed boats hold more passengers, usually 20-40 people. This can be less appealing for those that prefer smaller group tours. Long tail boats only fit around 10 people, for example.
Costs
  • The entire day trip, including transportation, lunch, and the use of snorkelling equipment costs 1350 baht per person.

Long tail boat tour

Very similar to the speed boat tour, with almost identical itineraries, a long tail boat tour is another great way to explore Hong Island and the surrounding national park. Smaller than speed boats, long tail boats fit up to 10 passengers. These tours are slightly cheaper than speed boats and as there are so many long tail boats in Krabi, you can sometimes negotiate prices.

Pros
  • Smaller group sizes of 10 or so people. There’s less waiting around for other guests.
  • Long tail group tours of Hong Island in Krabi are the cheapest tour option.
  • Many people love the traditional experience of seeing Thailand’s island on its iconic long tail boat.
Cons
  • Long tail boat tours take almost double the time to reach Koh Hong Island compared to speed boat tours.
  • These boats can be quite noisy and bumpy compared to their speed boat counterparts.
  • Tours are less organised than speed boat companies as long tail excursions are run by a range of different providers. Therefore, experiences differ depending on drivers and guides.
Costs
  • Long tail boat tours to Hong Island cost around 1100 Thai baht per person. Prices can vary due to the vast number of different long tail boat tour providers.
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Hong Island Long Tail taxi boat

If you’re looking to just visit Hong Island, as opposed to seeing other islands along the way, the long tail group tour might be best for you. You can book a return transfer to the island on Ao Nang Beach or the Railay pier. Long tail boats usually wait to fill up before departing and you’ll get a pickup time for return back to the mainland. Most long tail boasts depart to Hong on a morning and return around 4pm.

Pros
  • If you head out first thing in the morning, you’ll be one of the first people on the island before all the tour boats arrive.
  • You’re able to spend most of the day there and won’t have any time constraints.
  • It’s more affordable than the likes of the speed boat tour. This is the cheapest way to visit Hong Island.
Cons
  • It’s less of an experience compared to the Hong Islands Tour as mentioned above, as you only go to one island.
  • It’ll take longer to reach the island. It takes around 30 minutes by speed boat, and around an hour by long tail boat.
  • The ride by long tail is loud and a little bumpy compared to speed boat tours.
Costs
  • Costs for the long tail boat return transfer are around 400-600 Thai baht per person.
Private tour to Hong Island

The final, and most luxurious tour option is a private tour. If there’s a small group of you, or even just the two of you and want to celebrate an occasion, then this is the way to do it. You can choose a traditional long tail boat, or a small speed boat to take you to the island. You’ll get to experience Koh Hong Island and the surrounding national park away from the tourist crowds and can set your own itinerary. A private tour is a great option, but it’s also the most expensive way to explore Hong.

Pros
  • A private tour is more intimate, with just you and your partner/ friends.
  • You can organise the trip yourselves and tell the driver where you want to go first (this is a good way to avoid the mass crowds).
  • The tour is designed around you. You can decide how long you spend at each place and decide when to leave.
  • Lunch is usually included.
Cons
  • A private tour is the most expensive option, out of all the options mentioned above.
  • Once you arrive at the main islands, you’ll be surrounded by other tourists. There isn’t a great amount of time at sea in your private boat.
Costs

Costs will vary depending on the type of boat and the tour provider. Have a look online or negotiate a rate in person for the best deals. You may be able to negotiate a better rate during quieter times. Private tours start from around 4000 baht.

What to bring with you on the Hong Island Krabi tour

As it’s a full day out, you won’t want to leave any essentials at home. Here are some of the must-haves to bring along with you:

  • Bottles of water (ideally in a thermal flask to keep the water as cold as possible throughout the day). Some tours provide drinking water
  • Suncream
  • A hat and pair of sunglasses
  • Water shoes
  • A towel
  • Snacks
  • Sanitary products and tissue (some toilets won’t have toilet roll, so it’s a good idea to bring some with you)
  • A Go Pro / camera

Food and drink on Hong Island

Due to the remote location of many islands in Krabi, there aren’t many options when it comes to dining on the islands. If opting for a tour, they’ll provide you with a packed lunch that’s included within the tour package.

There are a few beach shacks and kiosks on Hong Island that sell sodas, waters and fruit shakes, along with snacks such as crisps and biscuits. We also noticed a small snack shack on the neighbouring island on the tour, Koh Lading.

If you’re planning a trip to Koh Hong Island on your own, without a tour, we recommend bringing plenty of water, snacks and even make yourself a package lunch.

Toilets and changing facilities

You’ll find toilets on all of the islands on the tour; Hong Island, Koh Lading and Pak Bia.

Best time to visit – Morning vs afternoon vs sunset

As with many islands in Krabi, the Hong Islands are extremely popular amongst tourists and can get really busy, especially during peak times of the year (December – March). If you’re on a group tour, you won’t have a choice of itinerary. However, if you plan a private tour or visit via a return boat taxi, we recommend arriving either first thing in the morning, or later on in the afternoon to watch the glorious sunset. Not only is the weather much more manageable at these times, you’ll also avoid the mass crowds of tourists!

Our final tips for an amazing day of island exploration

  • If you’re not doing an organised tour, try to catch the first long tail boat that leaves from Ao Nang/ Railay. That way, you’ll get to experience Hong Island at its best, without masses of tourists. The same goes for private tours; ask if you can depart early morning.
  • When you arrive at the islands, be sure to walk further along away from all of the boats. You’ll find that these areas are much quieter and less people tend to relax there.
  • Bring food with you if you’re not doing an organised tour.
  • Watch out for small rocks in the sea. Not only are they sharp, but some sea lice are known to roam around these areas and nibble at your feet and legs.
  • If you’re prone to seasickness, be sure to sit at the back of the boat for a less of a bumpy ride.

We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to Hong Island in Thailand’s southern province of Krabi. If you’ve recently visited, or are thinking of visiting, be sure to leave us a comment down below. We’d love to hear your thoughts. 😊

By Susie

Author bio:

I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.

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