If you’re thinking of visiting Ko Jum, here is my list of top 10 things to do whilst you’re there:
1. Stay at Freedom Hut for a night. It’s a bit pricier (1000-2500 baht) but its a real experience. I paid 1000baht for a last minute bamboo hut right on the beach, very open air with balcony looking right at the sea. Then move into Bamboo Bungalows just down the beach for 300 baht a night to balance the cost out. Then head back to Freedom for breakfast or to use their Wifi, which is generally the best down that end of Andaman Beach, and the staff are all really welcoming and friendly. The shakes are also amazing here, and the views the best on the island (Freedom that is).
2. Rent a motorbike for around 300-350baht a day, and tour round the whole island. The roads are a mix of concrete, sand, gravel and rocks – its exhilarating. Even getting petrol requires an open mind. You can use the petrol station (see photo – just ask for 50baht’s worth), or one of the self service pumps that plays weird techno music whilst you wait for it to rev up.
3. Eat a fish supper at the slightly higher end Ko Jum Lodge. If you’ve been travelling a while already, playing 300baht for fresh fish might seem slightly expensive (around £5) but if you’re used to the tourist prices then this is worth it. The nice surroundings help you feel a little less rustic for the night too. The white wine is good also.
4. Sample the BBQ at Golden Pearl. I had a massive BBQ’d squid plus two huge fresh shrimp (still in their shells) for around 350 baht on New Years Eve. We then walked down the beach to Ko Jum Beach Villas for a cocktail around midnight, a swankier affair, then onto Andaman Bungalows for something a little more Thai.
5. Get a seafood pizza at Joy. Joy are famous for being the only place to get a pizza on Ko Jum. It’s not the best pizza you’ll ever eat in your life, but because you won’t have had one for a while I suspect, you’ll be grateful for this one. Plus it is served up by some of the brightest Thai characters you’ll meet.
6. Get off the tourist trail by the beach (everything is on the beach in Ko Jum it can seem like sometimes!) and head to Friendly Restaurant for lunch. It’s sign posted off the main road, and nestled amongst the big banana trees. Friendly by name, friendly by nature. There are plenty of Thais who eat here, and tourists who all feel like they’ve discovered a little unknown secret.
7. Go to Coco Bar, next to Bamboo Bungalows for good strong cocktails, and lie on the big swing staring at the stars.
8. Get a massage from Freedom Hut right on the beach, and it comes highly recommended as the best massage you can get on the island. You need to speak to the guys at Freedom early on to book your place, or else wait around for an opening. And to be honest, what else you gonna do anyway if you’re down there? You just grab a sunbed, order a coconut shake, and then relax. Just don’t get so relaxed that the thought of moving to the massage area seems to taxing (and you don’t do it – like I did).
9. Walk through the village, and soak up the local atmosphere. They are very welcoming and there are some decent places to eat that sit on stilts over the water. Don’t expect anything too touristy here, but you can change money, book trips to other islands, and buy your essentials like water and mosquito repellent. Also stock up on the amazing green stuff that looks like Tiger Balm but isn’t. Great for mozzie bites.
10. If you hear that the local band is playing one night, definitely definitely definitely go to see them play. They may get booked to perform at any of the bungalows and resorts, so just keep an ear to the ground, then go and watch them perform Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance along with some of the lesser known Thai classics. I saw them on 30th December 2013 at Joy, which it seemed like the whole island’s residents and tourists joined me on (4am finish, not bad for Jum!) and then again on 31st December at the more upmarket Koh Jum Beach Villas. Groupie!
Most importantly, Koh Jum is an island where you shouldn’t have a list. Don’t try and do it all, don’t try and do anything in fact! Just be. And Jum will do its thing.