It’s certainly not a ‘paradise’ of white sand beaches that many tourists might associate the south of Thailand with.
Visitors to this traditional fishing community will, however, be able to experience the living relationship between the islanders and the sea – something increasingly rare in these modern days.
In addition to experiencing first-hand the untouched nature and traditional culture, visiting Koh Klang allowed me to get involved in several community arts and crafts groups and get a better grasp of life in Koh Klang.
I was fortunate to be part of Air Asia’s Journey D initiative, which seeks to develop sustainable community tourism and training for the locals to promote local tourism, by developing their local products and enhancing the English language capabilities of their residents so that they can better welcome visitors.
- Geography and Map of Koh Klang, Thailand
- Getting to Koh Klang, Thailand
- Where to stay in Koh Klang, Thailand – our Homestay experience
- Koh Klang’s Environment
- Seafood in Koh Klang, Thailand
- Rice planting in Koh Klang, Thailand
- Local handicraft in Koh Klang, Thailand
- Things to note before you visit Koh Klang, Thailand
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Geography and Map of Koh Klang, Thailand
Koh Klang village is located within the Khlong Prasong sub-district, which itself is part of the Mueang Krabi District. An island 5 minutes by boat from Krabi Town, Koh Klang is mainly populated by small fisherman families.
70% of the 4,700 inhabitants work in agriculture. Most families fish for a living, while others engage in rice farming, or tend to their coconut and banana orchards.
The remaining 30% of the population are traders or civil servants. In fact, many inhabitants here in Koh Klang travel to the nearby Krabi Town to peddle their goods daily.
Here, Islam is the focal point of community life.
The island’s total land area is 26 square kilometres.
Getting to Koh Klang, Thailand
There is only one way to get to Koh Klang, given that it is on an island – you can catch a ferry from two mainland piers:
Suan Thara Pier
It’s a 5-minute ferry ride from Suan Thara Pier to Tha Le Pier.
Chao Fah Pier
Alternatively, a trip from Chao Fah Pier to Tha Hin Pier will take you (still pretty short) 15 minutes. Ferry services run daily on a regular schedule from 6am to 9pm, so there should not be too many issues getting to and from Koh Klang.
Once on the island, there are the options of catching a tuk tun (traditional-style taxi) or renting out a bicycle for getting around. Cars are not used here!
Where to stay in Koh Klang, Thailand – our Homestay experience
More and more homes here are opening themselves up for guests to experience a homestay as the local tourism gains traction. One of which is at Kidthung Homestay.
The owner of the place have been living in the home for 14 years before deciding to open it up as a homestay 2 years ago. Like many other locals, he has listed his home for guests to book a homestay when visiting Koh Klang.
The locals here are as intrigued about visitors as you are about them when you do stay over, especially when the majority of the guests are Thai.
Koh Klang’s Environment
The island is rich with wildlife, with pristine mangroves and untouched caves, beaches and the limestone mountains Krabi is famous for.
Tourists can even do bird-watching in birding huts that provide views of the surrounding islands, such as Chicken Island and Ko Jum.
Seafood in Koh Klang, Thailand
Small-scale coastal fishing was the original livelihood of Koh Klang’s inhabitants. They would fish for sustenance, as well as for trade with nearby villages.
A variety of local equipment has evolved over the years, tailored to catch different species such as crabs, catfish, squid, and a huge variety of shellfish. Various methods of catching these marine species are passed down from generation to generation.
The iconic shallow-water fishing nets exemplify the evolution of fishing techniques employed by the villagers. I was really impressed at the creativity and ingenuity of these fishermen.
The bulk of the local population are fishermen, to reflect the traditional livelihood of the villagers. Perhaps it’s due to the proximity to the main city, Krabi Town, which is only 5 minutes away, but what used to be a sleepy fishing village is slowly being transformed to cater to tourism. Make it a point to drop by if you’re ever in the area before Koh Klang loses its rustic charm!
Rice planting in Koh Klang, Thailand
Koh Klang’s rice farmers have been following the same traditional farming practices for generations. Villagers work together in the fields to plant and harvest the ‘Sang Yod’ rice strain, which is considered to be unique to the island and particularly delicious.
Koh Klang is unique in having its rice fields in the middle of the sea. Due to the balance between fresh and saltwater flooding the soil, the Sang Yod rice here is both chewy and fragrant.
It is perhaps due to this high salinity in the water that results in a distinctive red glow for the harvested rice. Full of nutrients, the rice clumps together and is slightly sticky when cooked, just like glutinous rice.
If you want to catch the farmers in action, make sure to come during the planting season during August or the harvest season during December. All the villagers will come together and help each other out especially during these periods, including husking the grain together at the communal rice mill and building sea walls to keep the water out. Come with an able pair of hands to help out!
We tried our hand at rice planting, something I’ve seen so common around Southeast Asia but never got the chance to be a part of. What you don’t notice is how soft and uneven the muddy patch used for planting is.
The whole time I was doing the back-breaking job of planting rice shoots, I was more concerned about falling over from the soft, fertile muddy ground than the dumb fact that I couldn’t plant in a straight line (which I later got mocked at).
Keeping in line with being at one with nature, leftovers like husks and hay are also used to make natural fertiliser. It is then stored in a community store for the benefit of everyone in the village.
Local handicraft in Koh Klang, Thailand
Handicrafts like batik paintings and tie dyes are also produced locally, which I got the chance to try out.
The local mums will teach you how to make different tye designs using simple materials like rubber bands and stones. It’s ingenious the beautiful designs that came out of some simple folding of the cloth!
Expect to see unique tie dyes made from naturally-found components like ashes, turmeric, lemon and mud. Definitely check it out if you’re environmentally conscious!
Some of the men also specialize in making mini longtail boats, which are sold as keychain souvenirs to tourists.
Things to note before you visit Koh Klang, Thailand
There is a generally abided to code of conduct when coming to Koh Klang. Keep in mind the predominantly Muslim population here and be respectful of their culture and practices:
- Do not bring alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances onto Koh Klang.
- Do not show intimacy in public.
- Do not bring dogs.
- Do not bring pork.
- Dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees.