Koh Yao Noi (North Island) is the quieter and smaller sister of Koh Yao Yai (South Island), located in the middle of the spectacular Phang Nga Bay, between Krabi and Phuket. The majority of about 4.000 inhabitants are Muslim.
It’s an excellent place to be if you love relaxing rather than hardcore parties which you may find in Phuket or Koh Phi Phi. Let me suggest to you how to organize a trip there and what is worth visiting!
How to get to Koh Yao Noi?
The island can be reached only by sea from several places, but the easiest would be to start in Phuket or in Krabi. You could also look for speedboat connections from Koh Lanta or Koh Lipe. I decided to take a speedboat from Krabi and the experience was very smooth.
When to go?
The best time to visit Koh Yao Noi is the same as for all the other islands in that area, from November to May, outside of the rainy season. The weather is stable and showers are rather occasional. In other months, accommodation may be cheaper but it’s better to check the boat schedule well in advance.
How long to stay?
Koh Yao Noi is quite a small island but you should take into consideration the possibilities of several day trips: Phang Nga Bay, Koh Yao Yai or Hong Island are just some of the most popular ones. I would say that at least 3 – 4 full days would be needed to fully discover the region.
Where to stay?
Hotels, bungalows and resorts, all of these are available on the island at various prices. I stayed in Mookdaman Bungalow for about 800 THB per night. It was located within walking distance of Klong Jark Beach and there were some restaurants nearby too. The room was clean and it was really cool to sit and chill on the small terrace. You can easily make a reservation on booking.com or agoda.com.
Getting around the island
The easiest would be to rent a motorbike and move around the island at your own pace. If you don’t want to ride it, you should consider tuk-tuks, bicycles or long-tail boats.
There are guys offering motorbikes already at the Manoh Pier, but I usually prefer renting from a place with trustworthy reviews, therefore, I walked for about 15 minutes to Fortune Travel, which I can totally recommend.
Klong Jark Beach
One of the best, if not the best beach on the island. It’s quite narrow but with such great views. Little beach bars are very nice too and you can feel so relaxed!
Tha Khao Beach
Great beach at high tide. At low tide you have to walk through wet sand for a while and even when you arrive at the water, it looks sandy and is still shallow. Countless crabs scurry across the ocean floor, so don’t forget your shoes.
Little Long Beach
Not so easy to get to and the road can get quite muddy but most likely you will have the beach for yourself.
A little out of the way but a nice beach to relax at. No vendors at this place so bring your own drink and food.
Secluded beach surrounded by high cliffs on the northern tip of the island. The way there is a bit tricky though. Continue past Paradise Hotel / Tree House Villas on a dirt forest road or park your motorbike on the side and walk the rest of the distance (500-700 meters). There are some weird abandoned constructions but just ignore them and head down towards the beach.
An alternative way is to rent a kayak at Tree House Villas and paddle there for about 15 minutes.
An Pao Beach
Suitable for watching the sunset, but the beach is just average.
The Hideout Beach
Another decent place for sunset but that’s pretty much it. Too muddy for chilling or swimming in the sea and quite tricky to reach on a motorbike so be careful.
Other attractions around Koh Yao Noi
Ko Kudu Yai
Beautiful private island where the chances of being alone are very high. You can rent a kayak at Paradise Ko Yao Resort for about 200 THB and then paddle to the island or ask around for a long-tail boat taxi.
For a taste of a little adventure, I recommend renting a kayak (about 300 THB for 4 hours) and paddling for 30 minutes to reach the island. Once there, you can enjoy the beach and hike to the viewpoint. Alternatively, you can find a boat to take you there at Laem Sai Pier.
Day trips from Koh Yao Noi
Koh Yao Yai
The bigger sister of Koh Yao Noi. Koh Yao Yai literally means ‘long and large island’, and indeed it is one of the largest in Thailand, with a length of about 30 km. It can be easily accessed in a few minutes by boat from Mahon Pier. It doesn’t make sense to transport your motorbike, just rent one on the other side and explore the most interesting places: Lam Haed Beach, Loh Had Beach, Loh Pared Bay Beach or the viewpoint.
Koh Hong, Koh Pakbia, Koh Lao Lading
It’s a popular day trip from Krabi, but a long-tail boat trip can be easily arranged from Koh Yao Noi too and in fact, the islands are even closer. There will be plenty of snorkelling opportunities in the clear waters of Lading Island, Pakbia Island, and Hong Lagoon. The best beach, surrounded by limestone cliffs is on Hong Island, where most likely you will enjoy your lunch. Don’t forget to visit the viewpoint! More about Hong Island and Lading Island can be read in my previous post here.
The boat trip here is one of the best that can be done in Thailand. The whole area is characterized by limestone cliffs and rock formations, as well as mangrove forests and many small islands. There are many popular places to stop by and explore further. Koh Tapu is known as James Bond Island for its appearance in a Bond film. Koh Phanak Island attracts tourists with its caves and lagoons and at Ko Hong you have the chance to do an awesome kayak trip.
I have definitely enjoyed my stay on Koh Yao Noi and there are enough attractions, not only on the island but in the close surroundings, to justify a few days’ stay. It’s a much calmer place than Phuket or Koh Phi Phi, but still in the middle of beautiful Phan-Nga Bay.
You may ask, which of the two islands is better to base yourself on, Koh Yao Yai or Koh Yao Noi? In my opinion, Koh Yao Noi is a nicer and more charming place so I would recommend booking your accommodation there and simply doing a full-day trip to Koh Yao Yai.