Koh Yao Noi. Or: Finally a Thai island away from mass tourism! The location would suggest something completely different: Koh Yao Noi and its sister island Koh Yao Yai are in the middle of the famous, spectacular Phang Nga Bay at the gates of Phuket, Krabi and Co.
And yet: Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai have their Originality preserved. Two islands are waiting for you here, which can easily be described as insider tips . In any case, we fell in love with this beautiful piece of earth. Spoiler: Our dream hotel was just one of many reasons – more on that in a moment.
You want to spend a few days on Koh Yao Noi or Yai? Wonderful, then you’ve come to the right place on our travel blog. We will show you what awaits you on the islands and reveal our personal tips for your trip.
1. Koh Yao Noi & Yai: First information about the two dream islands in Thailand To the crowds Escape Phuket? Is possible – and how it is possible! Just 45 minutes boat ride away is Koh Yao from Thailand’s most popular island. The holiday hotspot Krabi is about as close. Crazy but true: Koh Yao is a little quiet oasis in the midst of some of Thailand’s most popular travel destinations.
North vs South Island: Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai? Koh Yao consists of two islands: Koh Yao Noi (North Island) and Koh Yao Yai (South Island). Only one separates the islands 10 minute boat ride from each other, making it a good idea to visit both islands. Koh Yao Noi and Yai are quite similar to each other. Nevertheless, there are small but subtle differences.
Koh Yao Noi: The northern Koh Yao Noi is the slightly smaller of the two islands, albeit those with better infrastructure. There are more accommodations and more restaurants here, but don’t worry: everything is kept to a minimum and the atmosphere is still very cozy.
Koh Yao Yai : The south island of Koh Yao Yai is even more isolated. There are only a few hotels here and the dining options are manageable. However, Koh Yao Yai has what we think are the nicer beaches.
Our conclusion: We stayed on Koh Yai Noi and from made a trip to the South Island there. We would make the same decision again and again. It was perfect for us that we could choose from several restaurants in the evening. We really liked the vibe on Koh Yao Noi. We also found Koh Yao Yai really beautiful, but it was too isolated for us personally to stay overnight.
What both islands have in common is the religion. The inhabitants of Koh Yao Noi and Yai are mostly Muslim Thais. Therefore you will find mosques on both islands. So don’t be surprised if you occasionally hear the muezzin calling to prayer. Alcohol is also not served in some places.
For whom is Koh Yao suitable as a travel destination? Koh Yao is the right choice for you if you are looking for a quiet island away from mass tourism. The clocks tick slower here. The flair on both islands is incredibly cozy and tranquil. Luckily, one looks in vain for party tourism. Here you can definitely switch off really well. But if you don’t like it that much and prefer action and adventure, you’re probably wrong on Koh Yao.
On Koh Yao you will primarily find two types of holiday types : Couples (mostly younger) and families with children. The infrastructure is also geared towards this type of guests. That means: On Koh Yao you will find many hotels with a somewhat higher standard. That doesn’t mean cheap accommodation isn’t available, don’t worry.
The “downside”: Beaches open Koh Yao Now comes a small drop of bitterness (but on closer inspection it isn’t one). If paradisiacal dream beaches are important to you, then we would tend to advise against Koh Yao. The beaches on Koh Yao are not the most beautiful you will find in Thailand.
Both Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai are heavily influenced by the tides. At low tide, the water sometimes recedes so much that swimming becomes impossible. Beaches that looked beautiful a few hours ago suddenly seem pretty dreary without water. In addition, the beaches of Koh Yao are very natural and therefore quite a lot of flotsam (twigs, coral remains) can be found.
But honestly, that’s nature. We personally had no problem with that at all. On the contrary: it is probably thanks to this fact that Koh Yao has preserved its originality . However, if diving into the water at any time of the day is important to you, then you might want to reconsider staying on Koh Yao.
How much time should I plan on Koh Yao? We originally planned 2 nights but ended up staying 4 nights on Koh Yao Noi because we liked it so much. For our standards, we spent an above-average number of hours at the pool of our hotel. (And we don’t regret a single second – more on that below.) Still, we had more than enough time to explore the island. A trip to the neighboring island of Koh Yao Yai was also possible without any problems.
You can perfect doing nothing on Koh Yao. From this point of view you can easily stay for a week or even longer on Koh Yao. So the ideal period really depends a lot on your personal preferences.
2. Koh Yao Noi: The most beautiful beaches and highlights Koh Yao Noi is small and manageable. A fairly well developed main road leads more or less once in a circle around the island. To give you a feeling: Without a break you are on this district road with the scooter in about 45 minutes left.
In the east of the island are the beaches and most of the hotels. In the West, on the other hand, the local population lives. On the flat west coast are mangrove swamps, plantations and inaccessible stretches of coast. Here is also the main town of the island.
Discover the beaches of Koh Yao Noi Two important pieces of information in advance: 1. As already mentioned, Koh Yao is quite strong from the tides influenced. (You can find more information about this in the first chapter of this blog article.) And 2. The beaches have a more natural character. This means: The sand is rather coarse-grained and there is mostly flotsam (twigs , coral remains).
Our tip: We recommend that you download a tide app before your stay. So you have a good view of the ebb and flow and can better plan your day accordingly.
The main beaches of Koh Yao Noi All of Koh Yao Noi’s beaches stretch along the east coast of the island. The main beaches (Klong Jark Beach and Pasai Beach) are located in the southern part, where most of the tourist infrastructure can be found.
These beaches are quite similar and are right next to each other. They are located on the main street, so you can easily park your scooter in front of it and easily find your favorite spot. Depending on the water level, it varies where it is most beautiful. There are also a few restaurants and cafes on both beaches.
A little further north you get to the less frequented Thakao Beach. There is a special feature on the beach: At low tide you can walk to the mini island (Koh Nui) in front of it. From Thakao Beach you have a particularly beautiful view of the karst rocks on the horizon.
The unknown beaches in the north North of Thakao Beach there are some hidden bays and beaches. The main road leads from here back inland again, so you have no choice but to take the dusty off-road roads. Some of these are very hilly and adventurous – so you should be fairly experienced in riding a scooter.
One of the most famous beaches in the north of the island is the Yao Beach (= Yaow Beach). Its name sometimes makes you think Confusion: It is also often called Long Beach. Curiously, “Long Beach” is also a synonym for the already mentioned Klong Jark Beach in some maps. The Long Beach we mean is definitely in the northern part of the island. The signage on site is rather poor, but there.
The further north you get, the more inaccessible the bays become. You can only reach some beaches by boat. Our tip: If you prefer to take it easy, you could also rent a private longtail boat and drive around the bays.
Thakhao Beach at low tide
Yao Beach (Long Beach)
Sunset at Thatondo Pier In the west of Koh Yao Noi you can watch beautiful sunsets. Since there are no classic sandy beaches here, you have to switch to the piers. There are two bigger ones. We ourselves were at the Thatondo Pier, which is a bit north of the island’s main town.
A jetty leads past a few bars towards the sea. You can walk pretty far out here – or ride a scooter like some locals do. By the way, we were almost alone here – apart from us, there were maybe a handful of people present. A really nice end to the day!
Island capital: Thakhai Village To the west of Koh Yao is the largest village on the island. In any case, “capital” would be an exaggeration – it’s more like a collection of a few streets. Here you will find, among other things, the only 7 Eleven on Koh Yao Noi as well as several restaurants and cafés. There is also a small local market here.
3. Excursion to the neighboring island of Koh Yao Yai The southern island of Koh Yao Yai still seems a little More secluded and original. Personally, it would be almost too quiet here for a longer stay, but you should definitely not miss a trip there. In our opinion, Koh Yao Yai has the beautiful beaches, above all Laem Haad Beach in the north of the island.
Just once 10 minutes takes the crossing from Koh Yao Noi to Koh Yao Yai. Roughly speaking, there is one main road on Koh Yao Yai that runs from north to south. The distances are a bit further than on Koh Yao Noi. (As a guide: From the pier in the north you can reach the popular Loh Pared Beach by scooter in about 30 minutes.)
We will tell you more about the crossing and how to handle your scooter further down in this blog article.
Laem Haad Beach Caribbean feeling in the middle of Thailand. The Laem Haad Beach (also Hua Laem Beach called) is undoubtedly the most beautiful beach on the island. It is located in the north of Koh Yao Yai , just a stone’s throw from the pier. Nowhere else on Koh Yao (neither on Noi nor on Yai) is the sand as white and fine as here. In addition, the beach protrudes into the sea as a sandbank. Depending on the water level, it looks really beautiful.
By the way, we have heard different opinions as to whether it is better to go to the beach at low tide or high tide to visit. At low tide (or rather low tide) the beach doesn’t look so paradisiacal, but you can walk to the offshore island. The tide (or the high water), on the other hand, turns the place into a dream beach like in a picture book. If in doubt, we would rather come at high tide. Then, however, excursion boats sometimes head for the beach – and suddenly there are many more people there.
There is no accommodation at Laem Haad Beach. Even the first Beach Bar was only recently opened. There you can sign up for 100 Baht per person rent a beach chair. We “only” allowed ourselves a fresh coconut and tested what is probably the coolest palm tree swing ever. We really hope that the cozy flair will remain for a long time!
Another small drop of bitterness that we don’t want to hide: directly behind the beach (on the way there, so to speak). on the day of our visit several small mountains of rubbish. We have read that boats often simply unload their rubbish here. For us it is absolutely inexplicable how one can litter such a paradisiacal place.
Located roughly in the middle of the island, Loh Pared Bay Beach is in touristically one of the most popular beaches of Koh Yao Yai.
Here are some accommodation and places settled. As you can easily see from our photos, there was almost nothing going on here on the day of our visit. Because the beach faces west, you can also see the sunset from here.
4. Tips for restaurants and cafes on Koh Yao Noi Rice Paddy High recommendation! In Rice Paddy we had the best food enjoy our stay. The restaurant (which is run by a German, by the way) attaches great importance to quality – and you can taste it.
On the menu are Thai dishes from different parts of the country. Great thing: There are countless vegetarian options and really creative ones. So if you’ve had enough of tofu, this is the place for you. The Massaman curry was probably the best we have ever eaten.
Apart from the fact that the food here is delicious, the view fantastic. Because the restaurant is on a hill, you have a beautiful panoramic view. You should definitely come at sunset and ideally make a reservation – the restaurant is rightly quite popular.
Chaba Café and Gallery Chaba Café and Gallery is a really nice place for a lunch snack or a fresh fruit shake. Here you sit in a beautifully landscaped garden. The ambience is just great.
We have to admit that we weren’t as impressed with the food as we expected. The drinks, however, were really delicious. It’s best to make up your own mind – and tell us how you liked it.
More restaurant tips for Koh Yao Noi Kaya: This highly recommended restaurant has become a small institution on Koh Yao Noi. The place is run by locals who make you feel welcome right away. Excellent Thai food is served. We also found the atmosphere very nice. We would come back!
Koh Yao Bistro by Aon: We had a very good meal in this simple but really nice restaurant. The eatery is on the beach (back across the street) so you can see the water. All kinds of Thai dishes are on the menu. Happy hour is also worth mentioning, where you can get cocktails at reasonable prices.
5. Where to sleep? Our hotel tip for Koh Yao Noi The Cape Kudu Hotel was ours for four nights Home away from home. Yes, that’s right: at home. That’s how we felt. We have rarely been so sad to have to move on. The price of the hotel was higher than our personal travel budget, but to be honest: we don’t regret a single cent! If you want to treat yourself to a really nice place to stay on Koh Yao, then Cape Kudu is the place for you!
It’s an absolute dream Pool area. From here you have a fantastic view of the karst rocks of Krabi. Since the hotel faces east, you can marvel at the most beautiful sunrises. Of course we didn’t miss it and then enjoyed the delicious breakfast with a view of the water. The selection is great and the quality of the food is also excellent.
The coastal road separates the hotel from the beach. But that’s not too tragic, because the traffic is really limited. Because the tides are so strong, the private beach of the hotel is laid out as a kind of terrace. It’s definitely enough for sunbathing – you just have to know that this is not a natural beach. But the sand is very fine and white – wonderful!
By the way, we booked a room with a sea view . These are located on the upper floors and are highly recommended. The beds were really comfortable and we didn’t miss anything else. Our conclusion: Great recommendation! The Cape Kudu is simply a hotel to feel good.
You can book the hotel here: Cape Kudu
6. More tips for Koh Yao: Arrival and Co. Arrival to Koh Yao Noi / Yai The easiest way to get to Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai is from Phuket or Krabi. The boat ride takes around an hour from both Phuket and Krabi. So it really doesn’t matter which side you come from.
The route is served by large longtail boats and typical speedboats. With the speedboat you are generally a little faster, the longtail boat trip is a bit cheaper.
From Phuket to Koh Yao From Bang Rong Pier in the north of Phuket depart daily between approx. 6: 45 and 18 Watch boats depart for Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai. The ride costs 250 Baht by speedboat and 200 Baht by longtail boat. We ourselves simply took a taxi to the pier and then bought the boat ticket on the spot. Because boats run regularly throughout the day, this works without any problems. Once on Koh Yao Noi, shared taxis will take you for about 100 Baht per person to your accommodation.
Should you be more in the south of Phuket , then the Chiawanich Pier near Phuket Old Town could be interesting. Both passenger and car ferries depart from here.
Krabi to Koh Yao The most famous pier in Krabi area to go to Koh Yao is Thalane Pier. It is located a fair bit (roughly 30 by car) from Ao Nang, but is the closest to the islands. Speedboats and longtail boats operate from Thalane Pier throughout the day. We drove this route ourselves with the longtail boat and paid for 150 Baht paid per person.
Alternatively you can also Nopparat Thara Translate Pier in Ao Nang to Koh Yao. From here some speedboats depart daily, but they are significantly more expensive.
Boat traffic between Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai Between the two islands there are about all 10 minutes a long tail boat. Boats depart from Koh Yao Noi at Manoh Pier in the south of the island and arrive at Koh Yao Yai at Chong Lad Pier. The crossing takes only a few minutes. For the short trip we have two 30 Baht paid.
By the way, it’s hardly worth taking the scooter to the other island. For just once 100 Baht we got a scooter right at the port in Koh Yao Yai. The transfer of our scooter would have 250 Baht cost.
Scootering on Koh Yao Noi & Yai The scooter is the fastest and fastest way to get to the two islands cheapest from A to B. There is so little traffic on the roads, that you don’t really have to worry if you are reasonably experienced in driving. You also get used to the left-hand traffic thing very quickly.
You can rent a scooter for about 200 until 300 Baht per day (24 hours). Insurance is (like everywhere in Thailand) not included. Before you leave, we recommend checking the lights – not that you only realize something isn’t working when it’s dark. (We already had everything, so we mention it.)
The road conditions are fine – at least when we talk about the concrete roads . However, you have to be prepared for one or the other pothole. However, there are also some sand tracks on both islands, which we would only recommend for experienced drivers.
By the way: Most tourists drive on Koh Yao without helmets. We cannot welcome that at all and would definitely recommend that you ride with a helmet – even if it is of course very tempting to do without the helmet at the temperatures.
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Have you ever ended up on Koh Yao Noi or Yai and do you have additional tips and experiences? Or do you have any other questions? We look forward to your comment!