Monkey Island Pattaya goes by various names, including Koh Ling (Thai for “Monkey Island”), Koh Ped (“Duck Island”) and the official name: Koh Klet Kaew (“Crystal Shard Island”). True to some of its names, the tiny, jungle-covered lump of land is shaped roughly like a splinter of crystal and is famous for its large population of crab-eating macaques. There are no ducks, however.
The 24-hectare island just off the coast of Sattahip is home to hundreds of monkeys which have become accustomed to human contact as a result of daily visits from boats carrying tourists. The stony beach on the eastern end of the island is one of the most popular spots on the route of many of the island-hopping tours sailing from Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Na Jomtien, with visitors enjoying feeding and photographing the residents.
Monkey Island Pattaya was once the home of quite a large white-handed gibbon population introduced by US Armed Forces scientists in 1967. They were part of a study into the feasibility of using isolated breeding colonies as a ready supply of subjects for testing potential malaria vaccines on. However, the institute behind the programme stopped using gibbons in their research a few years later and the gibbons were removed and released into the wild near Kanchanaburi.
The current residents are crab-eating macaques, also known as long-tailed macaques and locally as Ling Samae (‘Ling’ means monkey and ‘Samae’ is a type of crab). There numbers have grown so large, thanks to being regularly fed by visitors, that the Royal Thai Navy has to provide food aid during the off-season to prevent mass starvation! The monkeys are so used to tourists that they will often swim out to meet approaching boats, eager to get at the fruit that most of them bring along.
If you want to feed them yourself, bananas and nuts are good, but watermelon is their favourite. It is important to note that, while the residents of Monkey Island Pattaya are generally friendly and approachable and will even climb up on you if you are carrying food, they are still wild and can become aggressive without warning.
Monkey Island Pattaya
- Location: Just off the Sattahip coast