UPDATED MAY 2016
Fishing Villages – Ao Salad and Ao Yai – East Coast at a Glance
Both are very much working villages, with a mixture of Thai and Cambodian residents and most if not all families involved with the fishing industry in some shape or form. Neither village offers places to stay bar some basic homestays, though the solitary resort, Baan Ao Salad has recently opened at the bottom of the hill down to Ao Salad.
As a window onto island local life in this part of the world, you will find no better example than these two villages. Thankfully, neither village has yet developed into a diving or snorkeling base catering to Koh Kood’s increasing number of visitors.
Tourism is, however, just starting to change things in Ao Yai, with the appearance of several seafood restaurants cheek by jowl at one end of its long wooden walkway. Only time will tell if this is the fishing villages’ first tentative steps to becoming Koh Kood’s version of modern day Bang Bao in Koh Chang.
The road to Ao Salad
With the central area of Klong Chao Beach behind you and having passed the police station, hospital and gas station, you reach the first crossroads. Swing a right here and shortly after, the road reaches a junction by the local vegetable shop. This offer you an option of a right turn or straight-on, with the straight-on choice ending at Klong Mad.
By taking the right fork instead, you start out across the island to Ao Salad, up and down hills, passing through the forest, with just the odd collection of houses and even a resort, Koh Kood Little Hut. After a couple of kilometres, there is a right turn for a little back road which surprisingly leads to a public library and then brings you back out at the old electricity generator near the police station, a back route loop.
Ignoring that turn and continuing on further, another local shop marks the spot where you should veer to the left to continue onto Ao Salad. Going straight on here reaches the track to the ancient trees and Huang Nam Keaw waterfall and beyond that, a dead end.
Once more, you will find yourself pretty much alone on the road, though you do pass a left turn, which is the back road from Klong Mad and gives access to Klong Yai Kee waterfall.
After a good ten kilometers, you drop down a steep hill past the turning to the new Ban Suan Ao Salad Resort to arrive at the village. It’s a fabulous bay, with the narrow road running alongside the roofs of the stilted houses beneath and a temple complete with 30 metre Buddha covering the ground up above. Narrow paths allow you to drop down to the jetty which serves as the pavement and motorbike route for the villagers, houses on one side, boats, moored up ready for the next trip out to sea, on the other.
There are no souvenir shops or ticket shops for snorkel trips, just the odd local store and at the very northern end of the walkway, Ao Salad Seafood restaurant, which has homestay should you need it.
On the top road at the start of the village, Kraten Seafood is another spot for lunch, also offering a place to stay, with lovely views out across the bay. In the next cove around to the south, there is another resort, Koh Kood Island Resort, only really used by Thai packages.
Ao Yai, meanwhile, lies at the end of the main road which links the beaches on the south west coast. At the turning to Ao Phrao beach, follow the road to the left and after passing through rolling hills and forest for 4 to 5 kilometres, you ultimately arrive at a viewpoint complete with pagdoa just before the drop down into the village.
From here, you get a magnificent bird’s-eye view of Ao Yai, with its stilted houses and walkways hugging one of the side of the bay
Continuing on to the village, as with Ao Salad, the top road adjoins the tops of the houses beneath. At the southern end, a new walkway leads down to a cluster of seafood restaurants. All simple affairs at the moment, with Thai Kitchen seemingly the most popular, this could be how the village develops.
At the northern end, Chonthicha also offers fish and crab at its restaurant by the walkway. It’s a great place to watch the boats loading and unloading or arc out into the bay as they head off to the open waters.
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