I’d heard the rumors: there was a deep jungle trail that connected the northern tip of the island’s main road to around the backside of my favorite Koh Tao viewpoint. If you look at a map, there’s nothing between the two aside from hills and jungle. I couldn’t find anyone who’d actually done it, just those who knew someone who had and wanted to.
It took two different hikes — expeditions would be a more appropriate word, really! — before I found the correct route to connect the two areas. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful hike I’ve found on Koh Tao in terms of canopy and foliage, however, it’s also the most uncertain and difficult to find and follow. I’m actually surprised it took only two attempts.
I can’t describe what a sense of accomplishment we felt when we realized we’d made it! If you decide to attempt the same, please proceed with extreme caution and heed all warnings contained in this post.
Start Location: Dusit Bunch Resort, at the end of the road north of Sairee. In fact, this hike is named after it! You’ll be able to find the resort on Google Maps or on various Koh Tao maps around the island. If you’re walking here, no problem; if you’re driving, I strongly recommend leaving one bike closer to the end of the hike and bike-pooling up to the start (this is not a trail to hike alone). Otherwise it will be a very long slog through town at the end of an already lengthy trail.
So park at Dusit Buncha, but don’t enter the resort. Instead, walk back a few steps from the direction you just drove from. You’ll find a road leading away from the ocean into the jungle with an “ATV no entry” sign. This is the start of the trail.
The trail will quickly become a curving but incredibly steep uphill road. You’ll pass a few water tanks and buildings associated with the resort, but those will soon give way to nothing but jungle and the shattered evidence of motorbike accidents from drivers foolish enough to take on the sheer ascent by bike. It’s the steepest road I’ve found on the island.
After about thirty minutes (it feels longer!) the trail will level out slightly and turn to dirt, and you’ll hit a fork in the trail, not long after passing a rock painted with an eye. I thought this might signify a viewpoint and was baffled never to find one; I’m not sure if there was one once and it grew over or the painting signifies something else but suffice it to say there’s no viewpoint coming up anytime soon after that painting!
At the first fork, turn right. The first time I attempted this hike, we turned left and after about half an hour of whacking through the jungle, we hit a serious dead-end and turned around back to the start. If you have the time and want to explore, it is an interesting path — but it will eventually become impassable without a machete. The second time I attempted this hike, we headed right at the fork. The jungle turned dense and enormous, like we were walking through a Jurassic Park set! But we were on the right path.
After about five minutes, we hit a second fork. This one, we took a left at, based solely on intuition. Now you are in deep, deep jungle — the deepest I’ve found on the island.
After fifteen more minutes, you’ll open into a clearing and hit a third fork. Go left again. (We originally made a wrong turn to the right; it goes nowhere.) We were startled to see a few motorbikes and Burmese workers burning trees, but we knew we were on the right track since they certainly hadn’t come from where we had!
After about ten minutes, you’ll pass an abandoned house on your left (shown above). Keep going. In ten more minutes, you’ll hit a road, though you’ll have to pass under a gate with a “no trespassing” sign in Thai to reach it (it’s facing in the other direction, and we were met with a bewildered laugh by the family that owns Mango Viewpoint when we passed through from the back.) Congratulations! Take a right and you’re at the right-side viewpoint at Mango Viewpoint. Here, we stopped for a fresh coconut and a chat with the owner about the route we’d taken to get there. He congratulated us and told us we made great time. He also warned that the route changes from year to year as the rains reshape the jungle, so again, I can’t overemphasize caution enough.
From Mango Viewpoint down to Living Juices it’s about forty five minutes. Factor in more time if you have to return to the start of the hike at Dusit Buncha (hence my recommendation to park one bike closer to the end of the trail.)
The first time I attempted this hike (and didn’t make it!) it took me an hour and forty five minutes. The second time I attempted the hike (and made it!) it took two hours and fifteen minutes, not including a thirty minute stop at Mango to relax, toast to our victory, and enjoy a fresh coconut, and twenty minutes lost on wrong turns that I subtracted from the final total.
Estimate that in total this will take at least three hours of your day between parking, trekking, getting lost, and enjoying a well-deserved drink at Mango Viewpoint.
5 out of 5. This is one of the longest hikes you can do on Koh Tao and path is very unclear. The first stretch is incredibly steep. It requires a good sense of humor and a taste for adventure to undertake.
There is a 100B entrance fee to Mango Viewpoint that you will have to pay if you decide to enter (and you’ll want to after coming all this way!)
Need a Hiking Buddy?
Check your hostel, ask your dive crew, or check out Hiking on Koh Tao, an open Facebook group where you can ask questions, look for hiking groups, and share your hiking experiences.
Once again, I feel the need to emphasize that this is an unmarked, backroads route and not to be taken lightly! You will likely lose cell service for most of the trail, but program Koh Tao Rescue’s number (+66 0879790191) into your phone regardless. Do not hike alone, and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Bring an excessive amount of water.
Other Hikes in This Series
The Burmese Pagoda
More to come!
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Have you been hiking on Koh Tao? What’s your favorite route?
This looks amazing!!!
It’s a personal favorite. Can’t wait to try it again!
This looks like a tough but rewarding hike, maybe a bit to difficult for me! Were there a lot of Mosquitos that bothered you?
Nope! Both times I did this hike it was early in the morning though, when they are rarely if ever a problem on Koh Tao.
This hike sounds tough. I’m hoping to get some hiking in when I visit South Korea in September, because I’m getting seriously unfit. Only reading about hikes is not getting me in a better shape 🙂
I miss my hiking routine right now 🙁 I need to get out running again while I’m stateside!
Great posts! Do you ever use Periscope or other live streaming apps?
I don’t! I’m actually pretty technologically challenged, for a travel blogger 😛
Gosh! This must be the reason why this random hiker went and told me to follow the Sairee road all the way north to get to Mango Viewpoint. I ended up spending 10 minutes staring at Koh Nang Yuan with a father-daughter duo from China before tracing my journey back to Sairee and taking the traditional road to Mango. Good thing I didn’t attempt this hike, though. I was alone and have zero sense of direction.
Were they a tourist or a local? This hike is REALLY off-the-beaten-track, lots of expats haven’t even heard of it, so I’d be surprised if someone was pointing you in this direction and not just lost, ha ha. I actually only know one or two people who have ever even done it. But stranger things have happened!
I’m giving him the benefit of doubt, since he was terribly confident about it. And his entire physical build and gear screamed “well trodden paths are for the weak – I take the road not taken”. In retrospect, probably not the best idea to get hiking advice from these people. Haha
Oh my gosh that’s INSANE! I would NEVER send someone on this hike without, well, basically printing out this post and handing it to them. I would literally estimate one out of every thousand people — or at least one out of every several hundred — reaches Mango Viewpoint this way. I’ve never seen another person on the trail and I only know two other people who have done it. Ha I can’t believe someone sent you that way with so little directions!
Hiking is always on the top of my to-do list when visiting a new place. I might need to work up to this one, though! The photos make the insane journey look worth it! Thanks <3
It really was a cool one. Can’t wait to tackle it again when I’m back!
Koh Tao is a place I have been trying to get to for some time now but other destinations keep cutting the line! This has given me fresh inspiration! I really need to get some diving done! <3 love love xx Kimberley
“Cutting in line.” Love it! I know how it feels to juggle an every growing bucket list!
This sounds great! Thanks for sharing this Alex. I am heading to Koh Tao in September for some diving. I guess for some hiking as well now!
Nice! Enjoy the beautiful trails that have brought me so much joy, Jellis!
This looks amazing!!! I’m all for getting off the beaten path, but I definitely appreciate knowing someone has paved the way on a trek like this.
Ha, seriously! This was my biggest hiking challenge on Koh Tao so far… excited to do it again now that I know the route!
Oh my God, I think we almost went up that way and decided not to when we saw how steep it was and we only had scooters! Think I am glad we didn’t now, if we had made it up the hill we would surely have got lost! Maybe next time.
Believe me… you wouldn’t have made it far enough to get lost! It is one of the worst roads on Koh Tao… and turns to jungle bushwacking not long after 🙂
thank you so much for your perfect description. We couldn’t wait to hike this secret trail and finally made it two days ago! The first part of The Trail was really steep so we actually hiked our hearts out, haha! But after arriving the jungle part it was easy to walk and find. And the end the family just build up a fence including barbwire but you can easily move through! In fact any part of the trail was in very good shape, we did the whole trail in wearing flipflops – only sometimes get wet feet of the grass! Hey, thank you so much!! Feels good that we made it – tooks us 1 hour and 15 min to the viewpoint caused by your perfect Description!!
Congrats, Svenja! This makes me so happy! I’m definitely excited to try this trail again now that I finally know where I am going, ha. Will be interesting to see how it changes!