Soneva Kiri on Thailand’s easternmost island before Cambodia, Koh Kood ??????? (sometimes spelled Ko Kut) is what happens when luxury meets nature. It is more than just a hotel, it is an experience, a place you will never want to leave, the perfect coalescence of jungle, ocean, opulence, and simplicity.
Arrive in Style
Arriving at Soneva Kiri by private plane is an experience which, in itself, makes the whole trip worth it. The airport is a single landing strip carved into the middle of its own tiny island, Koh Mai Si which neighbours Koh Kood. Flying in, it is amazing to see the tiny landing strip in stark contrast to the dense forest as you approach. Once your quaint, tiny plane lands after an hour-long journey from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, you are met by your private butler on a golf buggy, ready to take you to a stunning boat and whisk you off to the main island and the massive resort grounds just 5 minutes away.
Your assistant during your stay does not actually go by the job title of “butler” like at many 5-star hotels but rather, “Friday”, named after the character in Robinson Crusoe. From the moment you arrive, your Mr or Ms Friday will magically be there whenever you need them. When you want a meal at one of the many restaurants or wish to participate in some island activities, they will materialise to take care of any requests. The property of Soneva Kiri is so vast that each villa comes with its own golf buggy for guests to use. This is both brilliantly fun, and possibly a terrible idea. This novice driver may or may not have crashed into some bamboo.
There are 36 private villas at Soneva Kiri and every one of them has its own pool. The smallest, the villa suites, are a massive 300+ square meters in area. They also have 2, 3, 4, 5, and even 6 bedroom villas. Each one has a stunning outdoor bathroom, lounge, and dining area. They are charming, romantic and decadent without being frilly, flashy or ornate. Glorious in their rustic elegance. Many with a private entrance to the splendid, pristine beach.
A soak in a stone tup in the jungle will make all of your worries disappear.
Going Green – Eco-Conscious Tourism
Soneva Kiri takes every possible step towards being an environmentally aware, sustainability-minded resort. During our stay, we saw absolutely no plastic. No plastic bottles, no single-use toothbrushes, no plastic bags, paper straws. They bottle their own water from a purification system into glass reusable bottles. They wrap toiletries in recycled paper. They provide luxurious soaps, hair products, and lotions in refillable stone bottles throughout the resort. They grow as much produce as possible on their extensive grounds and you can find the fruits, herbs, and vegetables from their own garden featuring on all of the restaurant menus. They use ducks instead of pesticides to control bugs and keep the composting plant free of flies. They even have a cooking oil recycling station where they make their own bio-fuel to power farming vehicles.
Exploring The Island – Koh Kood
This is not a very small island, but it is one of the least developed, large islands in Thailand. Only a couple of thousand people live on Koh Kood and most of those are hotel staff or fishing families. One captivating place to visit is the deep, emerald green bay of Ao Salat, a fishing village in the north. This is the departure and arrival terminal for the Koh Kood Princess ferry which will take you to the Thai mainland’s Laem Sock Pier. It has several tiny guesthouses where you could stay on a budget, and there are dozens of seafood restaurants where you can choose your meal straight from the fishing nets.
The island has several waterfalls, one of the best is Klong Chao Waterfall. It is the largest, with a huge pool for swimming. It is recommended that you wear a lifejacket if you wish to swim close to the falls as the water can get really aggressive, especially around the rainy season. Klong Yai Ki Waterfall in the north-west is smaller, quieter, but also has a nice pool for an enchanting dip.
Dinner at Benz’s
For a gourmet, fine-dining Thai experience, the incredible restaurant of Benz’s is just a short cruise through the mangroves of Klong Yai Kee River to the stunningly rustic open-air space which hovers over the jade river water for a nine-course menu which changes daily according to whatever Chef Benz finds fresh and sustainable on the island.
SCUBA and Snorkelling
Koh Kood is the best spot in the north of Thailand for diving. You can find turtles, rays, coral reefs, and other stunning ocean life in the crystal, calm waters surrounding the island. There are a few dive operators who can organise trips for you or even help you get your diving certification. Have a look at the website for Paradise Divers Koh Kood for more information.
Dine in the Sky
One of the most astounding dining experiences on Koh Kood is enjoying your food in the Treepod. A table and chairs disguised as a nest which is mechanically hoisted high into the sky to sit, nestled amongst the treetops while you enjoy breakfast, lunch, high tea or dinner. Your waiter will actually zip-line in and out with baskets of food as you enjoy the most awe-inspiring of views.
A Convenient Holiday Destination
Budget travelling can be fun and adventurous, but every now and then, an amazing treat like a huge, private villa with your own pool, golf buggy and decadent meals is really exciting. Koh Kood is such a glorious place, and only a 5-hour drive and a short ferry ride from the heart of Bangkok to the island, it is the kind of place you can visit when you are restricted by time. You can also get there by flying into Trat Airport and then a taxi to the pier at Laem Sock.