If your idea of the perfect beach vacation involves escaping from urbanity, the rustic islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in the middle of Phang Nga Bay will be worth the extra time it takes to get there. Because the predominantly Muslim Koh Yao islands haven’t been impacted by tourism development to the same extent as more popular mainland destinations in Thailand, there are less travellers here compared to destinations such as Phuket, Krabi or Koh Samui.
Equidistant to Phuket and Krabi, and about a 35-50 minute speedboat or local longtail boat ride from the piers in both these destinations, the journey to the Koh Yao Islands is a treat in itself, as you’ll get to see mythical looking limestone islands on route. A mere eight-minute boat ride will take you from one island to the other.
There are no malls, dining and nightlife streets, or busy roads here. Time stands still, so you can soak up the simple joys of the laidback village life. You can snorkel and scuba dive, rent a sea kayak and explore mangrove swamps or hire a boat and explore the nearby islands. Or you can rent a moped and visit rubber or coconut plantations, or ride around the island. But the best thing to do while you’re here is simple check into beach resorts like the gorgeous Six Senses in Yao Noi , or the more economically priced Glow Elixir in Yao Yai, find a nice spot under a tree or an umbrella by the beach, kick back, get yourself a fresh coconut, and just relax!
Cuisine: The restaurants at the resorts serve both Thai and international food. High-end hotels such as the Chantara Restaurant in the Santhiya Resort in Yao Yai, and various dining outlets at The Six Senses in Yao Noi offer extensive and impressive menus. There are also a handful of simple village eateries where cheap and tasty local food can be found.