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Koh Yao Noi – The black Pearl

Koh Yao Noi (“long, little island” in Thai, though it is neither particularly long nor little), is located in Phang Nga Bay between Krabi and Phuket, and is the most up-and-coming destination in southern Thailand.

Ideally situated to offer the visitor a front-row view of Phang Nga Bay’s incomparably beautiful karst cathedrals, Koh Yao Noi is also a well-placed base from which to explore the bay, as the visitor can reach the world-class tropical kayaking destinations earlier in the day, before the crowds from Phuket envelope them.

Koh Yao Noi is a small island that one can explore in less than an afternoon. The pace of life is slow and peaceful here, and people smile and wave as you pass by.

In 2002, Koh Yao Noi gained worldwide attention after receiving the World Legacy Award for Destination Stewardship from National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Koh Yao Noi is as photogenic as its presence in the National Park suggests. It consists of pristine beaches, knotted forest and un-spoilt coast-line and offers a great vantage point for relaxing and absorbing the beautiful scenery in the bay. Hat Yao and Buddha Beach are first class beaches. There are lots of dirt trails, which are great fun to explore by motorbike.

One of the first things you notice after arriving on Koh Yao Noi is that all the motorbikes have the keys in the ignition. The people on Koh Yao Noi are particularly friendly – and by Thai standards, that means very, very friendly indeed.

A boat trip out to Koh Yao Noi’s neighbouring islands is a great day out: the only difficulty, when surrounded by such a cornucopia of attractions, is deciding which ones to visit. The deserted sand-spit beach on Koh Yao Yai is particularly beautiful, as are the lagoons at Koh Roi and Koh Kadu.

With its dramatic sea-cliffs, beautiful lagoons and pristine beaches, Koh Yao Noi has everything the traveler needs for a tropical adventure or beach retreat. If you are looking for seclusion, endless stretches of untouched white sand beaches, an island off the beaten track offering adventure and the ultimate in relaxation, then Koh Yao Noi is the destination for you.

One person’s paradise is another’s purgatory, and Koh Yao Noi charms will not woo everyone. The nightlife is low key and, outside the island’s three luxury resorts, the facilities on Koh Yao Noi are limited. There are a couple of bars, but you may need to bring your own company along, as they are often somewhat empty. Koh Yao Noi is not a good place to come in order to hook up with a member of the opposite gender. 

Koh Yao Noi’s dramatically vertiginous topography make it a fascinating place to explore, and its tranquillity make it a good place for inner exploration too: several spiritual and meditation centres have recently opened on the island.

From Krabi Town to Koh Yao Noi, take a songtheow local bus from the bus station to Ao Thalane pier. Alternatively, catch a taxi for about THB 500. Then jump on one of the ferries that run from Ao Thalane to Tackao pier on koh Yao Noi, which cost THB 120 – 150 and leave at 10am, 11am and 1pm.

From Phuket to Koh Yao Noi, you need to get to Bang Rong pier on Phuket. The journey times are as above, and the schedule is as variable. The last boat usually leaves at 4pm.

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