Khao Yao lays half way between Phuket and Krabi in the Phang Nga Bay and travellers can get to the island from both provinces easily. The island is despite his position near well-known Phuket nearly unexplored by tourists and offers the charm of the traditional South Thailand way of life. Especially for travellers who want to see the normal routine in an island village far away from the trails of tourists combined with many quiet and secluded bays, endless sandy beaches is the island a good spot.
The island archipelago of Koh Yao consists besides the bigger islands Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi of multiple other smaller, unoccupied islands. Koh Yao Yai ("long big island") is more than twice the size of the little brother Koh Yao Noi ("long small island").
Not far from the island lies the Phang Nga marine national park which can be explored in organised trips. Further activities are diving and mountain biking around the island.
The island of Koh Yao offers various wonderful sandy beaches and bays, which can be visited the whole year and are perfect for relaxation or swimming purposes. Particular the Hat Pa Sai is good for relaxation and regeneration. The Hat Tha Khao offers a spectacular view to the islands in front of Krabi whereas the palms at the Ao Ti Kut and Ao Klong bay give you some shade during the midday time.
Koh Yao Noi:While the west part of the island is mostly dominated by dense mangrove forest, the east coast has some kilometre long white sand beaches where tourists can swim all year around in the waters of the Phang Nga bay. The centre of the island is covered in compact rain forest as well as some rubber and mango plantations. Around the little village Nai Kong are some romantic rice fields on which travellers can see water buffalos grazing like hundreds of years ago. The island population is by about 5,000.
Koh Yao Yai: Just 15 minutes with the long tail boat away lays Koh Yao Yai. According to an old local legend once an angry Naga (sea dragoon) pushes through the island Koh Yao on his way to Krabi and separated the island in Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai. With just a few resorts and limited shopping opportunities the island is even quieter than the already really quiet Koh Yao Noi. The island has about 9,000 people living on it. Due to the lack of tourism the long and sandy beaches of the island are mainly empty what keeps them in their original beauty.
From Bangkok you can chose to travel by plane or bus. The next airports to Koh Yao are in Phuket and Krabi, the prices for a ticket can diversify from day to day. Cheaper is a bus ride from Bangkok to Krabi or Phuket. You can also reach Koh Yao from Phang Nga. The in many cases used connection is the one from north Phuket to Koh Yao. Three times a day a small ferry is shuttling between the Bang Rong Pier and the Pier in the east of Koh Yao. The voyage takes about 1:15 hours. From Krabi there is one ferry leaving daily to Koh Yao with an estimated journey time of one hour. Most of the hotels and resorts are offering private transfers via long tail boats or speedboats from Phuket as well as from Krabi. Most of the ferries will stop at Koh Yao Noi where travellers can take another ferry to Koh Yao Yai when desired.
On the island itself visitors can chose between regular taxis and motorbikes that can be lend all around the island. The streets on both islands are in poor condition, but particular the ones on Koh Yao Yai do nearly not exist. Therefore we recommend driving carefully or changing over to a mountain bike, ideal to get through the plain terrain.
Phang Nga marine national park
Koh Yao is an ideal starting point for tours and day excursions through the Phang Nga marine national park with its dense mangrove forests and many little islands and secluded sandbanks which invite people to relax on the beach and do snorkelling along the coast. Other attractions are on the neighbouring islands are the sepulchre caves of the sea gipsy. On Koh Belle travellers can visit a lagoon in the middle of the island surrounded by high cliffs. The isle has three sandy beaches with a coral riff outside of it. For people visiting the island, a national park fee has to be paid.
In addition the island has countless small unpaved streets and paths that can be explored by foot or with a mountain bike. On this little tour you can observe the still basic life of the locals who seem like talking all day long in small groups and aren’t at any time in a hurry. Sometimes you can see the water buffalos taking a mud-bath or grazing next to plantations. Visitors should forget to take their camera with them.
Diving & snorkelling
Also diving and snorkelling is in the area around the two main island of this archipelago possible. On the island of Koh Yao Noi is a diving school for those who are interested. With the long tail boat you can reach the island of Koh Hong, Koh Lading, Koh Lao Hang and Koh Lao Ka easily which offers each of their own a fascinating underwater world. One of the diving schools is offering even night diving courses.
Hat Pa Sai Beach
The clean, white Hat Pa Sai beach section lies in the middle of the east coast and offers a great view to the islands in the province of Krabi.
Tha Khao Beach
At the long stretched Hat Tha Khao beach with some rocks and bigger cliffs lays the Koh Yao Island Resort. As well as from the Hat Pa Sai beach you can enjoy a great view over to the islands on the coast of Krabi. Not far from the shore is a small island, which can be reached by foot during low tide. On this island there are a couple of wild animals and a few species of big monitor lizards plus some wonderful orchids.
Ao Ti Kut Bay
The Ao Ti Kut bay has a nice white strand and a rocky tongue of land in the north. The palm- fringed part offers shade during the hot midday hours where some deck chairs can be rent for a small fee.
Ao Klong Son
On this section, the island offers a nice beach in good conditions with some rocky cliffs at its left edge. At this place visitors can enjoy a swim all year around due to his protected positions so that wind and therefore waves aren't too strong during the green season. Not far from the shore lies an intact and colourful coral riff.
The sand on this beach is very fine, alike fine powder with many palms all around. At the northern edge of the beach lays a rocky tongue of land. As well as on the Ao Klong beach, island visitors can enjoy swimming at this part of the island all year around.
Hat Laem Beach
This extra-long beach section is encircled by palms that gives tourists welcomed shades during the midday heat. The beach is however easier to reach with a boat than by foot.
As nearly everywhere along the Andaman coast are the months from November to April the best time to visit this region. In Mai the low season starts and there are only a few tourists remaining on the island. The weather is often good till the end of June with some sporadic rain showers mostly in the afternoons or nights.
From July onwards till the end of October the weather can be rainy for many days in a row. Despite this fact, Koh Yao lies in a good position where Phuket takes most of the monsoon which goes in this direction, which leaves the island with less rainfall than others around the area.