Although located near popular destinations such as Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, the island of Koh Jum is perennially overlooked by the average tourist. Such a shame! With its dirt roads, bamboo bungalows with sea views, long empty stretches of beach, small-scale tourism and incredibly slow internet, a stay on Koh Jum feels like being transported to a bygone era.
Earlier this year we spent some time in Ao Nang, a popular bathing resort in the Krabi province. As we were having lunch we were approached by a Dutch family.
They told us they thought Ao Nang was really busy and touristy and that they’d be taking a boat to Koh Phi Phi the next day, in the hope that it wouldn’t be as busy.
But… Koh Phi Phi is just about the most popular Thai island among tourists. Barring a few exceptions – it’s incredibly busy.
Don’t make the same mistake! If you’re really looking for somewhere restful, go left where others go right. Hop on the boat to Koh Jum!
The atmosphere on Koh Jum
Locals divide the island in two parts: Koh Phu (pronounced: Koh Poo) in the north and Koh Jum (pronounced: Koh Jem) in the south. When referring to the island as a whole, these names are used interchangeably.
The local atmosphere is very distinct. There is one single main road, some parts of which are paved, while others not so much. Cars on the island are a rarity as locals tend to get around on motorbikes. Some of them have an improvised sidecar attached to them that can fit up to eight children.
People on Koh Jum not only teach their children to ride bikes early, but motorbikes as well. They’re used as a mode transport by people of all ages.
Just as in other parts of Krabi province, Islam is Koh Jum’s main religion. Its 2,000 inhabitants dress colorfully – bright pink head scarfs, fluorescent green t-shirts, azure blue pants – any combination goes, as long as the colors are as bright as possible.
With its peaceful, golden bays and a few wooden bungalows and small beach bars sprinkled about, Koh Jum’s beaches are surprisingly pretty and restful.
Arrival by long tail boat
Arriving at Koh Jum is fantastic, as you’re not dropped off at the pier but in the water.
Every beach and resort has its own long tail boat that picks you up – luggage and all – from the ferry to take you to the beach.
On the beach tuk tuks will be waiting to take you to your hotel.
The beaches of Koh Jum
Koh Jum’s beaches aren’t pearly white, nor is the sea water crystal clear. Still, they’re incredibly relaxing – especially if you’re staying in a bungalow on the beach. Here are a few of Koh Jum’s most beautiful beaches!
1. Ao Ting Rai
With black rocks on either side of the beach and some lovely palm trees, Ting Rai Beach is our favorite beach on Koh Jum. Nearby are several good quality mid-price resorts with bungalows that all come with sea views. Perfect for peace seekers and families.
2. Ao Luboa
This beach lies in the northwestern part of Koh Jum and is something of a backpackers’ beach, with small bars that serve coffee, fruit shakes, beer and freshly prepared Thai meals. It’s a fun and trendy spot to meet other travelers. All in all, not the most beautiful of beaches, but the atmosphere makes up for a lot.
3. Long Beach (Golden Pearl Beach + Andaman Beach)
Long Beach is Koh Jum’s most popular beach and spans just about the entire southwestern coast. There are a few restaurants and bungalows scattered about on the north side of the beach, but the further south you go, the quieter it becomes. Ideal for long walks on the beach during sunset.
4. Coconut Beach
This small deserted beach on the northwestern part of Koh Jum comes highly recommended. You can reach it by long tail boat or by taking a dirt road. With its thick rows of palm trees and clear water, this is – in our opinion – Koh Jum’s hidden gem.
5. Ao Si
Finally, we would like to recommend Ao Si; a small-scale beach, halfway up Koh Jum’s west coast. Great for relaxing and having a drink while enjoying the sunset, though there isn’t much else to do. Accessible by long tail boat or via Jungle Hill Beach Bungalows.
Food on Koh Jum
We spent five days on Koh Jum and we tried to visit as many restaurants as we could. These are the ones we kept returning to, our favorites:
Rim Tang Restaurant
The freshly prepared food served at the small-scale Rim Tang Restaurant is of outstanding quality. It’s prepared with love and attention by the hostess, so might take some time. We had dinner here twice – highly recommended!
Ban Ban Restaurant
The Ban Ban Restaurant is located on the main road and doesn’t exactly give off the impression that great food is served there. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The food here is amazing! Massaman curry with roti, fried rice, fresh spring rolls and som tam!
Rosa’s (Hong Yong) Restaurant
For a simple but tasty breakfast, go to Rosa’s, along the main road and halfway up Koh Jum’s west coast. It serves toast, mango shakes, boiled eggs, butter and jam and the cats walking around are included in the price.
Oonlee Bungalow Restaurant
Though a little more expensive than the previous ones, this restaurant is excellent as well. With fruity breakfasts in the morning and freshly barbecued fish in the evening, you’ll never want to leave.
Sleeping on Koh Jum
Koh Jum has a wide selection of high-quality mid-priced resorts, either on or near the beach. We recommend the following sleeping accommodations:
Get away from it all! The wooden cottages with thatched roofs blend in with the scenery and they all come with a sea view. The beach is big and private. Don’t expect any luxury, but do expect complete and utter relaxation!
From 1500 Thai per night →
Oon Lee Bungalows
Much like its restaurant, Oon Lee Bungalows is nice and tasteful. You’ll receive a warm welcome from its French owner. This small-scale resort is situated at the end of rocky Ao Ting Rai Beach.
From 900 Thai Baht per night →
Jungle Hill Bungalows
The bungalows here are basic, cheap and lie directly on the beach. However, the bathroom does look like it needs to be replaced. Choose to stay in a more expensive bungalow with a sea view.
From 500 Thai Baht per night →
We stayed here for a couple of nights. The bungalows are good quality, clean, spacious and located along the main road, about a kilometer from Long Beach. The owners are very friendly and prices are fair. You’re allowed to use the owner’s motorbike.
From 1000 Thai Baht per night →
Sunset Beach Bungalows
Choose to stay in one of many bungalows or even in a tree house. Sunset Beach Bungalows is situated on the backpackers’ beach of Ao Lubua. It’s simple and modest and all the more fun because of it.
From 800 Thai Baht per night →
In the southwest you’ll find Freedom Hut’s spacious bungalows. Though fairly basic, the location is a huge plus. You’ll have the beach all to yourself. What a great way to wake up in the morning!
From 2000 Thai Baht per night →
One of our favorites islands
Is Koh Jum one of our favorite Thai islands? Hell yeah!
The island’s laid-back atmosphere, small-scale tourism and friendly inhabitants are particularly pleasant. You truly feel like a welcome guest. The tropical beaches are beautiful and can be enjoyed for days on end. Besides that, there are enough options when it comes to food and sleeping accommodations.
One downside is that there aren’t a lot of organized activities on the island. Sure, it’s possible to book snorkeling trips or boat excursions to Krabi’s more popular islands – but that’s pretty much it. If you’re feeling adventurous you can climb the island’s highest mountain (Koh Phu Mountain – 422 meters above sea level) with the help of a guide. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to try that.
All of the above, combined with its favorable location, makes Koh Jum the perfect holiday destination if you’re looking to spend some sunny days on the beach in the Andaman Sea. Do make sure you visit Koh Jum in between the months of November and April, as all accommodations and restaurants will be open and it will be most easily accessible.
Transport to Koh Jum is best arranged locally, at your hotel on Krabi, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta or any of the neighboring islands.
Long tail boats leave from Laem Kruat Pier on the mainland, all year round. To get to this pier, take a taxi from Krabi Town or Ao Nang.
During the high season, which lasts from November until March, you can also travel by speedboat or ferry. They leave in the morning from Krabi Town’s Klong Jirad Pier, which is a twenty minute drive from Krabi’s airport. Booking your transport beforehand is advisable.
Last, but certainly not least, keep in mind that there are no ATMs on Koh Jum. Bring cash!