The Koh Kood fishing villages of Ao Salad and Ao Yai lie at the respective ends of the main road in the north east and south east of the island. They are the only developments of any kind on the east coast.
Despite the increasing level of tourism, for now, neither village has made that transformation across to Koh Kood’s version of modern day Bang Bao in Koh Chang, where multiple souvenir shops jostle with diving or snorkeling outlets and restaurants.
Indeed, 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. As a window onto island local life in this part of the world, you will find no better example than here.
Getting to Ao Salad – East Coast Fishing Villages
With the central area of Klong Chao Beach behind you and having passed the police station, town hall, hospital and gas station, you reach the first crossroads. Swing a right here and shortly after, the road reaches a junction by the local general store. This offers you an option of a right turn or straight-on, with the straight-on choice ending at Klong Mad.
By hanging a right, you start out across the island to Ao Salad, passing Thai roadside resorts such as Ton Tawan and further down, Koh Kood Little Hut. You’ll spot too the right turn for the shortcut loop back to the electricity station in Hin Dam – Kama Siri Homestay is located a few hundred metres in, the restaurant Fisherman Hut further down.
After another few kilometres, a local shop with a good cheap restaurant at the back sits on the fork where you should go left for Ao Salad. The right fork takes you either towards the inland road to the ancient trees and Huang Nam Keaw waterfall or to a collection of houses and beyond them, a fascinating farm, deep deep in the forest.
On the main road, meanwhile, you will find yourself pretty much alone, though you do pass a left turn, which is the back road from Klong Mad and gives access to Klong Yai Kee waterfall.
Ao Salad Fishing Village
After a good ten kilometers, you drop down a steep hill past the turning to the solitary Thai resort, Ao Salat View and arrive at the village, with Captain Nhong Seafood, a sweet spot for lunch, immediately on your left.
Ao Salad sits in a fabulous bay, with its 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, their traditional homes on one side, boats, moored up ready for the next trip out to sea, on the other.
The fishing village has no souvenir shops or ticket shops and next to no accommodation bar the odd homestay like Captain Nhong and a few rooms at Dutchman Guesthouse. There are also a few very decent, small seafood restaurants too, Red, Jack and M & M.
Throughout the day, at the far end, the small jetty serves as the arrival and departure point for all the mainland boats – Boonsiri Catamaran, Koh Kut Express and Koh Kood Princess – coming from and returning to Laem Sok Pier. Kraten Seafood also has its home here at the end.
Incidentally, in the few coves around to the south and accessed only by sea, you’ll find another resort, Koh Kood Island Resort (currently closed for renovations) , only used by Thai packages tours.
Ao Yai – East Coast Fishing Villages
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, two to three years ago, Ao Yai did undergo a mini explosion of seafood restaurants but most have subsequently closed up again due to lack of business. Noochy Seafood Restaurant, always the most popular, remains though and continues to draw in the daytrippers from the resorts. See the Sun has relocated across to Far East Resort in Ao Ngamkho.
At the northern end, Chonthicha also offers fish and crab at its restaurant by the walkway and it’s a great spot to watch the boats loading, unloading and arcing out into the bay as they head off to the open waters.
The concrete pier, used by the larger ships, is currently being rebuilt but if you egde your way past it, you can pick up a path to the small Naval memorial about 200 metres from the village itself.
UPDATED November 22 for 22/23 High Season
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