Thailand to close several popular islands for environmental restoration

Koh Kradan | Photo via World Beach Guide

Four islands in Trang province, southern Thailand, will close for four months to give nature a chance to restore itself after a hectic tourist season, namely Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, Koh Chuek, and Koh Waen. Thailand’s Similan Islands will also close for the monsoon season.

Yesterday, the Chief of Hat Chao Mai National Park Prit Narasaritkul announced the temporary cease of tourism activities and overnight stays in the park from June 1 – September 30, 2023, reports KhaoSod.

Hat Chao Mai National Park’s famous Emerald Cave, to the west of Koh Muk island, will be closed to tourists for a shorter period from September 1-30, 2023.

Chief Prit said that the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation decided to close the park to tourists for four months to protect Thailand’s natural resources and tourist attractions.

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The department took into account the safety of tourists and decided that monsoon season would be an appropriate time to close the park since the Andaman Coast will experience strong winds, heavy rains, and choppy conditions, said the chief.

One of the islands to close – Koh Kradan – needs a rest more than ever after tourist arrivals at the island recently increased sixfold.

After Koh Kradan was voted the ‘best beach on earth‘ by the UK website World Beach Guide in March, tourism at the undeveloped island has exploded. Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said…

“After Koh Kradan was ranked the best beach on earth, the number of tourists has jumped to 2000 per day, a sixfold increase from the previous average of 300 visitors per day.”

Unlike its neighbour Koh Muk, Koh Kradan has no village or local life. There are only small resorts and one minimart. The island is not designed to handle thousands of tourists.

After a bustling Songkran period, Thailand’s Similan Islands – a remote archipelago of 11 islands located 70 kilometres off the coast of mainland Phang Nga province – will also close to tourists this monsoon season. The marine park will close on May 19 and reopen again on October 15, 2023.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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