Koh Klang is on the west coast of southern Thailand , at the mouth of Krabi River ]in the Andaman Sea. It is the closest island to Krabi town, opposite the Krabi river. To reach Koh Klang from Krabi town head south along the riverside promenade a few hundred metres from Chao Fah pier and look for a small floating pier just past the marina in Thara Park. Boats run continually throughout the day and cost 20 baht per person, plus an extra 10 baht for a motorbike. From here or Chao Fah pier, you can also pay 50 baht for a private crossing. The island is connected only by longtail boats and crossings take as little as ten minutes.
Translated as “Middle Island” in Thai, Koh Klang is located in Klong Prasong Sub District, which covers a total area of 26 Sq kilometers. The sub-district has four villages, three are located on Koh Klang island: Ban Koh Klang, Ban Klong Prasong and Ban Klong Kum and a forth village, Ban Bang Kanun is located on the mainland.
Most visitors arrive in the northwest, at Tha-Lay pier, in the largest of Koh Klang’s three villages. A strip of white concrete shoots inland and then cuts south along the coastline, ending at Laem Kham in the far southeast.
There are no cars on the island only a mix of Local Tuk Tuks, motorbike and bicycles. The 6KM drive from one end of the island to the other takes about 15-20 minutes, so you can safely explore the island in a short day. Crossing with your personal motorbike will enable you to take in all the richness and authenticity of the island, Luxuriant vegetation, goats and water buffalos grazing in the fields, families taking naps under their raised woody houses and big lizards darting across the road here and there.
Koh Klang is home to nearly 5000 residents, with a rural landscape it is often hard to believe. 70% of the population are indigenous people of the island and 30% originated from Krabi and other districts of Krabi. The inhabitants on the island are 98% Muslim and 2% Buddhist. Islam’s traditional moral guidelines have not been relaxed here, including for travelers. The call to prayer can be heard all over the Island from each of the mosques, all of which serve for worship and gatherings. Although Koh Klang is only a five minute boat ride from Krabi town, the friendly Muslim families living here maintain a simple and modest life, which they are proud to share with visitors searching for an insight into authentic southern Thai culture. Signs posted throughout the island make this perfectly clear. Calm, quiet, traditional, Koh Klang is the antithesis of nearby touristic party spots.
The community is tight-knit and everyone knows everyone else. Most families are fishermen, followed by rice farmers and coconut and banana farmers.
Koh Klang offers great opportunities to cherish a simple life by the sea, pamper in natural peace, meet local people and observe traditional local life. The local people are involved in developing eco-tourism on the island with the help of the local government.
Koh Klang is also traditional fishing community where visitors can see the living relationship between locals and the ocean that surrounds them.
Community members use ingenious, local methods to capture fish, crabs and shellfish. From the Tha-Hin pier you can take a long tail boat and sail along the Krabi river to the high seas to learn about Shallow Water Fishing. The fish nets are stuck to wooden planks and form a giant V-shaped trap in the seas. At the base of the V, there are dense nets in which the fish gets caught during the high tide. It is from these net traps that the local fishermen catch the fish using submerged baskets. Every time the fish basket is submerged, it brings up a huge quantity of fish. Because of pollution and over-exploitation, many varieties of fish are depleting. Despite this, there are still many fish that are available in abundance for example, Milkfish, Barramundi, Seabass etc. Koh Klang is famous for fresh seafood as it’s one of Krabi’s major seafood producers. Small fisherman trade their daily catch with many merchants on the island and mainland.
This marine life survives thanks to the extensive mangrove forest that covers the entire island. Koh Klang’s mangrove constitutes an important part in the bio-diversity of the island’s eco system. They provide a safe, protected environment for juvenile fish to grow, before they head out to sea.
There are only two places in Thailand where Sangyod (or Sang Yot) Rice are produced and these are Koh Klang and Pattalung. The canals in Koh Klang make it an ideal location for rice cultivation. Approximately 600 rai of land in the interior of the island are dedicated to rice farming. Sangyod Rice is a purple colored organic rice, having a very high fibre content. Its unique flavor is due to Koh Klang’s mixture of salt and fresh water. Traditionally, Sangyod rice is cooked during special occasions.
In addition to producing a unique kind of rice, Koh Klang is also the place where the long tail boats or the traditional Hua Tong boats originated. They are now recognized as the symbol of Southern Thailand, in particular Krabi. These boats have become iconic on the beaches and islands throughout Southern Thailand, and often make great backdrops to photographs and postcards alike. The elongated “head” of the boat was designed to stand against the current while also acting as a marker for direction.
If you are willing to try Koh Klang’s famous seafood, a string of restaurants floating along the northern canal raise their own fish. You can enjoy a very satisfying and reasonably priced seafood meal, simply pick your own fish or crab order the cooking procedure; fried, steamed or grilled, and enjoy! You can also have some seafood salads or try out the clams and lemongrass broth that will definitely delight your taste buds. The dining atmosphere is serene, with a view to mangroves absorbing the lapping of waves as passing local fishermen speed along or dock their boat at their stilted homes.
Just like the restaurants, houses are made of wood and rest on stilts, there is one major difference though; they are raised over ground and not water. Evidence that there has been Tsunami or flooding damage in the area and now people are more prepared. Bicycles, colorful clothes being dried in the hot sun, scattered toys, pet cats and dogs snoozing in the cool shade, the area underneath each house narrates its own story.
While our discovery of the island’s nooks and crannies was about to end and we were heading back to the pier we came across the local markets which lined the main street, it was full of small stalls and was predominantly managed by women selling vegetables, fruits, dry fish and different sauces in sealed transparent small plastic bags that seemed irresistible and tempting.
Life in Koh Klang seems to be frozen in a different time period, far away from hustle and bustle of urban life just across the river. The island warmly welcome guests who come to learn and share in the local culture and way of life. In respect of the precious local culture, they ask for cooperation to follow their local rules.