Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ko Tarutao Marine National Park

One of Thailand's most exquisite, unspoilt regions, Ko Tarutao Marine National Park encompasses 51 islands blanketed by well-preserved rainforest teeming with fauna, surrounded by healthy coral reefs and radiant white beaches. Within, you might spot dusky langurs, crab-eating macaques, mouse deer, wild pigs, sea otters, fishing cats, tree pythons, water monitors, Brahminy kites, sea eagles, hornbills, reef egrets and kingfishers.

Ko Lipe has become a high-profile tourist destination and it's where most travellers stay. It's exempt from national park rules governing development because it is home to communities of chow lair (sea gypsies, also spelt chao leh). The only other islands you can stay on are Ko Tarutao, the biggest island and home to the park headquarters, and Ko Adang.

Rubbish on the islands is a problem. Do your part and tread lightly. Apart from Ko Lipe, the park officially shuts from mid-October to mid-May.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Ko Tarutao Marine National Park.