Ko Yao

Ko Yao, with Phuket to the west and Krabi to the east

Ko Yao (เกาะยาว), sometimes written Koyao, is a group of islands between Phuket and Krabi. There are two main islands, Ko Yao Noi ("small long island") and Ko Yao Yai, ("big long island") with Noi being the more developed of the two.


Ko Yao Noi remains a beautiful island, where most people believe that the island should be preserved from human despoilation. It is often described as one of the last islands in the region to not be over-developed.

Ko Yao Yai is also a natural beauty, the less developed of the two islands. Ko Yao Yai is significantly larger than Ko Yao Noi.

Sea Gypsies (Moken people) inhabited the area before anybody else, except maybe other nomadic people like forest hunters and collectors (Sakai, Negritos). The 3,500 or so inhabitants of Ko Yao Noi are thought to be recent migrants from the Malay Peninsula (Satun, Trang).

The Mon population, linguistically and culturally belonging to the Khmer ethnolinguistic group, settled in peninsular Thailand ruling over maritime states like Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat). They melded with southern migrants from Malaysia and with northerners (Thai), over centuries of commercial exchange and political conflict. Most probably the Mon stock remains prevalent for most of the people living in southern Thailand today, including the people of Ko Yao.

Numerous cave paintings hidden in the many islands of the bay, extending from 2000 years ago to last century, attest to the influence of distinct communities in the emergence of a mixed origin population, living now in the provinces of Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, and Satun.

The most recent migrations (17th-18th century) from Satun and Trang to Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi is corroborated by the particular dialect spoken on the island. It bears obvious Malaysian lexical traces, particularly regarding toponyms and vernacular names of the flora.

The main industries on the island are fishing and rubber planting. A little rice farming and some fruit, palm, and coconut plantations are present. Boat building and farming techniques here have been passed from generation to generation and, while some of the youngsters leave Ko Yao to seek the bright lights of Phuket, most return to their tight-knit community.

Get in

Arrive at Phuket either by:

Boats depart Phuket's (two piers), Krabi (Tha Len), and Phang Nga for Ko Yao Noi at the following times:

Boats depart Ko Yao Noi for Phuket (two piers), Krabi (Tha Len) and Phang Nga at the following times:

All trips cost between 100-140 baht per person (except the speedboat), 120 baht to transport a motorcycle, one-way. Pay on the boat.

Regular longtails ply between Chonglad Pier on Ko Yao Yai and Manok Pier on Ko Yao Noi during daylight hours. 20 baht per person, 30 baht extra to bring a motorcycle, takes 10 to 15 minutes

Get around

Ko Yao Noi

Ko Yao Noi covers about 50 square kilometres. There is no accommodation available within walking distance of Manok Pier. There will generally be between ten and twenty tuk-tuks waiting to take you to accommodation for a fare of about 85 baht.

Ko Yao Noi has approximately 18 km of concrete and dirt road around it. The main road is a two-lane concrete road that rings the entire perimeter of the island, excluding the northernmost parts, where there are only dirt roads. There are several interior roads that are a combination of either sand/dirt or concrete.

The most efficient way to get around the island is to hire a motorbike, and cost 200-300 baht per day. No licence is required and helmets are provided. Enquire at your hotel.

Tuk-tuks are available to give you lifts across the island. Simply flag one of these vehicles down as they drive past. Failing that, if you simply wait most locals will be happy to give you a lift. That may mean squishing onto a motorbike that already has three Thai adults and a baby on it.

Bicycles are also an excellent mode of transport and the main perimeter road around the island only has one large hill that must be navigated. The flat terrain makes it perfect for leisurely rides. Bicycles can be hired from Sabai Corner Bungalows or most accommodations.

Ko Yao Yai

As with Ko Yao Noi, the must efficient way to get from the Chonglad Pier to any accommodation is to make use of the tuk-tuks that will be awaiting your arrival. As Ko Yao Yai is larger than Ko Yao Noi, there is no exact fare, but anything over 150 baht is usually too much.

Once at your accommodation, most larger resorts will have motorcycles or bicycles for rent. Due to the terrain on Ko Yao Yai it may be wise to hire a automatic motorbike for travelling longer distances (>10 km) and using bicycles when travelling shorter distances.

You can also walk along the roads and either flag down a taxi or try to get a lift from the locals. Ko Yao Yai, like Ko Yao Noi is a very safe island and vehicles rarely travel above 15 km/h, so hitch-hiking is not exactly a dangerous pursuit here.


Ko Yao Noi is mountainous in the centre and has beaches to either side. The east side has beaches suitable for swimming and snorkelling and the west is a picturesque blend of rice flats and mangrove trees. The island is a sanctuary for at least 4 species of hornbills, very commonly seen around.

The beaches on the east side are (from north to south): Haad Ao Loh Ha, Haad Sai Kaew, a nameless beach south of Haad Sae Kaew, Haad Tha Kao, Haad Klong Jaak and Haad Pasai. Haad Ao Loh Ha is occupied entirely by The Paradise Koh Yao Resort and not open to public. It can be reached by boat or over a about 10 km long rough jungle path. Haad Sae Kaew and the nameless beach just south of it are absolutely deserted and beautiful. They can be reached by a 4 km jungle path by foot or motorcycle (if you have proper drivong skill) but not by car (at least in off-season the path is in dire condition). Haad Tha Kao, Haad Klong Jaak and Haad Pasai are literally next to the main road and equipped with bungalows, bars and shops.



There are some restaurant and food stalls on Ko Yao Noi and some more opened just recently, including really good seafood restaurants near the beach.


Many of the restaurants also have lively bars.



Being one of the biggest islands in Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi is home to a hospital, several schools and a post office. 24 hour electricity supply, Internet access, mobile telephone connection and ATMs available.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, December 23, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.