Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ko Yao Noi updated

LAST VISITED FEBRUARY 2014
  Some pretty nice scenery looking from the east coast bungalow strip of Yao Noi towards the mid-bay islands and the Krabi coast in background (image KohYao Travel Guide)

I've visited Yao Noi three times, March 07, Nov 08 and Feb 14. The place has changed with quite a few new resorts over the years - mostly in the mid-range and better category. But it still rates as one of the more laid back islands in Thailand, and such a contrast to most of nearby Phuket.

Want a nice, off the beaten-track island less than 30km from Thailand’s second busiest ariport?
KOs YAO NOI and YAI are big rugged islands off the eastern coast of Phuket in the mouth of Phang Nga Bay. When you are staring out to sea from popular Railay and Ao Nang at that big mountainous island you maybe think is Phuket, you are in fact gazing at these two.
Yai is the bigger, larger than Lanta and nearly the size of big Ko Chang,. It is the less settled and visited. Noi is smaller, around the size of Phangan, has a bigger local population than Yai and about two dozen tourist operations. It can be described as off the beaten track and genuinely laid back, with nice scenery and a very friendly local population.

Ko Yao Noi and larger Ko Yao Yai - east of Phuket and west of Krabi - map from Yao Yai's Heimat Garden - more detailed maps can be found on the links below.

ISLAND MAP

AREA MAP

SOME OF THE PLACES MENTIONED ON THIS PAGE
The east coast resort beach strip runs from just below the Tha Kao pier symbol mid east coast to the south end of the beach arc below Sabai Corner - opposite the R of MANOC PIER (modified Google Earth image)

Most of the budget travelers’ bungalow operations are in a roughly 5 km strip on the east coast taking in HAT PASAI, LONG BEACH and HAT THA KAO as you head north. These beaches start about 5 km across the island from the arrival pier from Phuket which is near the main village of THA KAI in the south west of the island.

The main accommodation strip - the two small beaches between Long Beach and Hat Tha Khao are associated with the high-end Six Senses resort aka Evason Hideaway (oblique Google Earth image).

A good paved road circles the southern two thirds of the island with several cross routes and offshoots. It’s a nice place to explore by hire motorcycle or bicycle. Only a short section of this route, west of the northern most pier town of Tah Kao was what I considered seriously steep for a bicycle rider. The rest is easy, which is interesting for a mountainous looking island. The northern third of the island is a different proposition - this relatively untouristed and unsettled area has serious mountains and hills - the few roads tend to be rough, unpaved and very steep in parts.

When I first visited in March 07 I stayed at COCONUT CORNER right at the northern end of Pasai Beach where the road does indeed take a corner around the inside of the headland separating it from Long Beach. This is a typical old style travelers’ place with a handful of bamboo thatched bungalows and a small restaurant right on the corner and across from the beach. I’ll put a detailed description of the place at the end of this article for interested punters.

Restaurant on the corner for Coconut. The beach is immediately behind camera. The popular Sabai Corner cottages are about 150 m up the road to the right.

The local guy running Coconut Corner was a bit of a character: greeting guests 8am with how are you tomorrow? and 8pm with guten morgen!!. Sounds corny, but as David Lettermam from The Late Show says: it aint the material, it’s the delivery
Well sure, but if you figure out which one Letterman thinks he’s got, let me know.
Coconut’s owner had an eclectic taste in music, ranging from current pop thru dance/boys wid attitooood/techno/blues to 50s-70s stuff. Don Mclean aint too rare, but you don’t hear Buddy Holly too often these days. I also loved his coffee cups with the picture of the ‘59 Caddy Eldo convertible. Which has got to be the most spectacular production car of all time.

The bungalows at Coconut Corner (image kohyaonoi.com)UPDATE NOV 08 - quoted prices 500 and 400 before bargaining.

UPDATE FEB 14 - Coconut Corner looked pretty much the same, except across the road fronting the beach there was a cool little beach bar place which doubled as a kayak, mortorcycle/bicycle hire, trip booking place.

SABAI CORNER (aka Sabai Cottages in some of he guidebooks) is probably the best known of the Yao Noi bungalow places, with bungalows built up the steep rain forested headland 3 minues walk from Coconut. Looked pretty nice to me, all the cheaper 500s gone in 2007 and booked out on Agoda months before my Feb 2014 visit. Their beachside restaurant is okay, a bit more expensive than Coconut Corner, and does not take top advantage of the offshore karst island views because of trees. Jeez, where’s the local chainsaw dealer?

UPDATE NOV 08 - I called in for another meal at Sabai corner. They seemed to have cleared some vegetation to improve views from the restaurant, and this sitting platform/picnic table area to the side was new from memory. As was the case last trip, the restaurant had a healthy number of guests and visitors dining whereas most other places seemed very quiet. Once again, all the lowest priced bungalows were taken, I was told. Pretty good for early shoulder season.

UPDATE FEB 14 - Lady Tezza and I ate most of our meals at Sabai Corner. Would have stayed there but the joint was booked out on Agoda months before. Good food and beer at budget prices, nice atmosphere, place seems able to fit a bunch of people together to share a longtail to Ko Hong etc in nearby southern Phang Nga Bay.

Maybe 600m further north, on Long Beach, is the blue roofed HOLIDAY RESORT whose restaurant definitely did take in those views. So did all but the least expensive bungalows, built on a slight slope up from the road level. In 07 hired my bicycle from this place, and I gotta say the big overweight local running the show was a sweet guy, giving me a nice ice cold drink gratis on return, and not caring a damn that I plonked my very sweaty self at one of his slightly upmarket restaurant tables. Their hire bicycles at 150 per day, were in pretty good condition. They also hire motorcycles, as do just about every bungalow place plus a guy at the pier.

Update Feb 14. With such a good impression from my earlier visit I had no hesitation in selecting HOLIDAY RESORT for accommodation latest visit. User reports on Agoda booking site were okay, but just before leaving I also checked Trip Adviser which was scathing. Apparently the joint had changed hands and the new owners had let things slip.
Well, I can say is that it looks like they have lifted their game - our fan room was comfy and quiet, the inclusive breakfasts reasonable and service really good. Agoda's price at the time of booking was a bit high but I have noticed it has dropped to reflect the walk-in price I heard the manager quote a couple, of 1500 baht including breakfast. Aircon bungalows (above) were a bit scarce (many being refurbished) but latest Agoda pricing has them at 200 baht more which seems fair value. The reason we ate mostly at nearby  Sabai Corner was that currently Holidays's restaurant could only do breakfast. I'll put more details in a TRIP REPORT when I get time.


After my first visit (07) I wrote: Between Sabai and Holiday are a couple of bars, the one closer to Holiday tending to attract in late arvo an interesting mixture of locals, long stay travelers, blow-ins like me and island expats. They put on a pretty good buffet dinner here. I spent a fascinating couple of hours talking to a local expat resort owner about the cut-throat island politics and business deals.
UPDATE NOV 08 - there was a really big holiday-villa development going in on the inland side of the road between the bars and Sabai on this latest trip - done by the same people who developed Boat Harbour in Phuket. I think the aim is to attract wealthy Phuketees and other Thais, but I'm sure Farang money is welcome from all you bond brokers out there wanting to hide ill-gotten gains from the Securities Commission.


UPDATE FEB 14. Villas finished - there are actually a number of places here and they have upmarket accommodation for tourists- google VILLAGUNA, NIRAMAY and VILLA DIVA. Some units are privately owned but I figure I might be wrong about the fugitive Wall St bond brokers - having been burned on Phuket before I jumped across to Noi, I reckon quite a few would be the weekend escapes for the Phuket taxi mafia. Most of these places had upmarket restaurants and there were some budget eats joints on the adjacent main road. Sabai Corner is only a few minutes away. The cool bars were gone - one was now the restaurant of one of the villa places and the other had pushed upmarket to attract customers from the flash joints.


Heading along the main road from Holiday Resort in the other direction (north) we came after a 5 minute walk to this construction site in Feb 2014 where a new high end place was going in. Should be finished for high season 2015. Adjacent to this is the rather nice KOYAO ISLAND RESORT. I checked the beach here in 08, was a fair bit nicer than at HOLIDAY RESORT or SABAI CORNER.


2 minutes further north the main road heads inland/uphill over the headland. A side road leads off to the right 400m to the very flash SIX SENSES. Back here on the main road is a logical place for an ATM (there are at least 3 others in the main village Ban Tai on the other side of the island) plus a couple of budget restaurants and bars to the left. The concrete side road at left leads to SIX SENSES' staff accommodation and workshops.


Long Beach, the area of places mentioned above. If you click-expand you can see the blue roofs of HOLIDAY RESORT mid shot. SABAI CORNER is tucked behind the headland far left. The very flash hilltop bungalows of SIX SENSES can be seen on headand far right. The beach level places to its left belong to the rather nice midrange KOYAO ISLAND RESORT.


This shot almost adjoins the left margin of the one above it - it shows Pasai Beach. COCONUT CORNER is tucked behind the headland at right (it is only abt 3 minutes walk south of SABAI CORNER). My latest 2014 visit saw a bunch of new developments at the far left (south) end where the main island road turns inland towards the main village - like an idiot I took no names but one long-running budget/flashpacker joint of good repute is PASAI COTTAGES. 
Each time I passed the southern end, a neat looking restaurant/bar beachside right at the corner with good shade was doing plenty of business. I think it is associated with Pasai Cottages. The beach down that end tends to suffer less from the low tide blues. This was shot as we were heading for the near COCONUT CORNER end after a KO HONG daytrip (see the TRIP REPORT) and there was 150m of not so white sand flat when we landed at low tide.

I modified this Google Earth image to show the area covered by the above two pix and to try to ease any confusion about place location.  The main road hits the beach from the southern piers and the Tah Kai main village near Pasai Cottages bottom left. It leaves towards the northern Tha Khao pier and village top left. You can loop back to the main village by a moutainous road from Tha Kao.

FROM THE 07 REPORT: A couple of other accom places looked pretty nice to me.
About a km south-west of Pasai beach towards the main village of Tha Kai is a side road heading south - look for the KOH YAO LAMSAI RESORT AND SEAFOOD sign. This place about 2-3 km down the road, right at the end - you will have to continue maybe 50m along a rougher track when the paving ends. The restaurant with reasonable prices is perched on the seaside rocks with superb views across to big Ko Yao Yai, and their bungalows starting at a 600 ask are on a steep slope above and look like they would have similar maybe tree interrupted views.


UPDATE NOV 08 - I could see Lamsai Seafood's restaurant from my accommodation on neighbouring island Yao Yai so I decided to hop across there for my stay on Noi. Tewson (Thiwson) Resort's longtail guy charged me 200 baht for the 4km trip which was around what I figured and saved me a heap of time compared to going to one of Yao Yai's northern piers, waiting for a public longtail to the town pier on Yao Noi and then going around to Lamsai by the exxy tuk-tuk taxi. 10 minutes v 2-3 hours.

Lamsai Seafood's restaurant from its pier. Pens in foreground are full of fish - your seafood is pretty fresh here. The bungalows are built up the steep hillside behind to the right. The restaurant pylons are in water at higher tides.

Lamsai Seafood's bungalows - the path is pretty steep and needs a torch in sections at night. Trees mean only a 10% view of Yao Yai, but get your fix at the restaurant.
Traditional style bungalow reduced from 500 to 400 in early shoulder season 08 - I was the only guest. Enough room for 2 and their gear, fairly good condition, clean, big bathroom, sink, towels + soap. Good mirror. I had to turn water on around the back and ask for mozzie net. Nice big veranda. Very quiet at night.

The restaurant attracts visitors from around the island. The usual multi-plate seafood thing. Which I couldn't afford so I picked a simple one-plate sweet and sour seafood - very tasty, lots of vegs, rice and pineapple, fish-chunks a bit limited. They charged me 60 baht + rice, which was about half the menu price. Cut-price for house-guests? I dunno, had only one dinner here on account of wanting to recheck other eating places.
UPDATE FEB 14 - I rode a bicycle down from Holiday Resort and again checked the joint out. The restaurant has been upgraded with some pretty snazzy upmarket tables and seats. The bungalows looked much the same. I've googled for a website - plenty of places mention the restaurant but no-one has booking facilities for the bungalows. Looks like this is a walk in place just like in the good old days.

Sunset over neighbouring Yao Yai from Lamai Seafood's restaurant.

There is no beach, but you can swim any tide off the end of their combined pier/fishpens directly out from the restaurant, and there is a nice, totally secluded beach about 200m north-east, a small section of which looked like it would have sand even at lowest tide, something not so common on Yao Noi.
In 07 walked down to Lamsai Resort via the beach from Coconut Corner in a bit under an hour (would be difficult when the tide is getting up) and rode it on a bicycle next day in about 15-20 minutes via the roads.
Small beach near Lamsai Resort - Ko Yao Yai in background (imageLamsi Village Guest-House and Restaurant).

The other place which appealed to me was back on Long Beach - TABAEK VIEWPOINT BUNGALOWS are situated up a steep slope with great views of the bay and offshore stack islands. This budget place gets good reviews on travelfish.
UPDATE - trip reporter Boleslav stayed at Tabaek Viewpoint and sent me a report and some pix here.
Latest trip I walked up from Holiday Resort for a meal (only 7 minutes - last 3 moderately steep uphill from the coast road). Nice budget priced food, sweet hosts and the above killer views. The owner who is also one of the local cops (excellent English) proudly told me the place was booked out until mid March.


NORTH OF LONG BEACH
The main road north of Long beach does a bit of a hike over the headland and takes a fair distance to get back to the beach , but where you first hit Hat Tha Kao (Ta Khao) take the side road to the right several hundred meters where THA KAO BUNGALOWS have a handful of nice cheapies and an atmospheric restaurant which seems popular with old time travellers, tucked into the corner of the beach. This place can also do you hire bicycles.
There are several other newer places in this area - one is the flashpacker  NAMTOK BUNGALOWS towards the north end of Tha Koa beach. I believe this place can also do camping.

Modified Google Earth image of curved Hat Tha Kao south of Tha Kao village pier. This area would particularly appeal to travellers from Krabi because some of the longtail ferries from Krabi province's Ao Thalen arrive at the nearby Tha Koa pier.

Note the better sands and water of Temple Beach (see below) top right of image.



BEACHES are not Yao Noi’s strongpoint. They look real nice opposite Coconut Corner, Sabai Corner, Tabaek, Holiday Resort and Tha Kao Bungalows at high tide but are very rocky or sand flats low tide.
The southern end of LONG BEACH at Sabai corner - this is about half tide, more rocks exposed at lower tides along stretch in background.


The northern end of PASAI BEACH at Coconut Corner. Looks nice enough at this shot near full tide but 6 hours later lowest tide exposed about 150m of muddy sand and a few rocks. Yao Noi is well into Phang Nga Bay with its many streams and so the water is not as clear as further west.


HAT THA KAO is the next main beach north of Long Beach (SIX SENSES' little beach [see below] and another undeveloped small beach are actually between them) and is similar to Pasai and Long Beach - looks okay in the top half of the tide, pretty ordinary other times. See below.
Tha Kao beach flats at low tide seems less rocky than Long Beach in front of Holiday Resort and Sabai Corner. (image Aksiniya Bg - Panoramio)


There are a few areas of better beach:
- at the southern end of Sabai Beach, opposite PASAI COTTAGE is a nice section of sand with fewer rocks at lowest tide. Pasai Cottage looks a pretty nice place, with widely spaced attractive bungalows. It takes maybe 10 minutes to walk down here from Coconut Corner, 13 from Sabai Corner and 25 from Holiday Resort.
Although the tide is down, it does not look too uninviting here in the southern corner of Sabai Beach - image Tim Laven - Panoramio

- AFTER MARCH 07 I WROTE:
There is supposed to be a nice private beach belonging to a flash resort KOYAO ISLAND RESORT near the headland at the north end of Holiday Resort’s Long Beach.
UPDATE NOV 08 - I had a look at Koyai Island Resort's beach this trip - looked way better than at Coconut, Sabai and Holiday Resort, but not quite as good as Temple Beach below.

Major work was going on just north of here in 07, putting in what seemed to be at least 30 high end bungalows, artificial ponds, swimming pools etc on a steep little knoll on the headland. I believe this is the new EVASON HIDEAWAY RESORT aka SIX SENSES- there is a link futher down this report.
NOV 08 - completed and operating for some time - checked it from the outside, looked real flash.

Note I don't know about the beach at SIX SENSES - the security guys at these high end places are not too keen on letting in rif-raff like me to check the scene. No doubt Trip Adviser etc reviews will give some info. Looks okay in the image below - and high end joints have a reputation for manicuring and improving their beaches.
This is one of the images of Six Senses' beach embedded in Google Earth - taken by Traveller666 - Panoramio.

- TEMPLE BEACH (Hat Sai Taew) is north of the little village at Tha Kao, the east coast pier village about half way up the island and approx 3km north of Holiday Resort. Take the first paved road to the right after the main road turns inland past the pier, and turn right again down a track which runs to the left of a group of huts. This follows a canal a short distance and then goes over a hill to a buddhist enclosure. Walk thru the enclosure to the beach. There was always a handful of ferangs at this nice spot, which is a bit shallow low tide but has sand right into the water. There are some nice casuarinas for shaded sand back of the beach.
Total walking time past the pier maybe 15 minutes.

TEMPLE BEACH
UPDATE NOV 08 - there is now a new gate immediately after you cross the canal on the entry road to Temple beach. This was open when I came in, closed when I left with a padlock. No problems - a permanently open walk-way to the side for pedestrians was big enough to fit my rental bicycle* thru. Not big enough for motorcycles. The walk to the beach over the steep hill is about 600m from here. There is was a new, less-steep but longer concrete road almost finished over the hill. The entry gate for the buddhist enclosure at the beach itself seemed permanently open.
* Lamai Seafood got me the bike for 200 a day - seems a bit steep but it was a good one, had a long seat-post which aint that common in SE Asia, and it had to be transported down from town.





NORTHERN BEACHES
If you turn to the right, AWAY from Tha Khao village when you come back off Sai Taew’s access track alongside those huts (see above image) the paved side road soon deteriorates into a dirt track which continues north thru the forest for about 4km up and down a few mild hills to terminate at a DESERTED NORTH EASTERN BEACH, quite long but a bit rocky at lower tides. This is just to the south of the bay containing the upmarket KO YAO PARADISE resort which is accessed from a separate, apparently killer 4WD-only road which comes in from the central western island. I didn’t try this one - I hate bicycling killer roads where I usually manage to jam a wheel in a rut and fall on my head. I did have a peek around the corner of deserted beach's headland at Paradise's beach - looked pretty nice from the distance but reviews suggest low tide has an impact here as everywhere else on the island.

Northern Yao Noi from the north-east

The beach at Paradise Ko Yao Boutique Beach and Spa Resort, high tide (image Bamboo Travel)

KO NOK
Even better than Temple Beach is the LOVELY SAND SPIT on KO NOK, a small double-karst island about a km out from the south east corner of the Yao Noi, with sand and deep water right offshore all tides. In 07 I hired a kayak from Coconut Corner for 300 a day and paddled the 3km or so from there in maybe a half hour (I am a novice kayaker). There is reasonable coral/fish off the beach here.

Ko Nok from the south-east corner of Yao Noi.


Oblque Google Earth image of south-west Yao Noi - Ko Nok top left. Pavilion beach (my name) is the site of the rather flash Koyao (Bay) Pavilion and Lom'Lae Beach resorts.

A Brit guy about 4 pick-axe handles across the shoulders with a racy looking sea kayak was packing up his tent when I arrived at Ko Nok - he had hired his gear at Ao Nang near Krabi and done a detailed cruise around both Yaos, sleeping where he found a nice location for his tent. He was off to explore those amazing karst islands in Phang Nga bay next. This sounds a great way to check these types of places - I gotta get me into a long distance kayaking program! He said the west coast of big Yao Yai was amazing with heaps of pristine unsettled beaches.and some great mangroved estuaries. Who said there were no new places left in Thailand? And within sight of Phuket!
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UPDATE NOV 08 - well I haven't got into the kayaking program yet, but I did visit Yao Yai on the latest trip. Should have a separate page on it by the time you read this.

UPMARKET ACCOMMODATION
Yao Noi was regarded as a budget destination when I first visited - the only more expensive places at the time were the very flash Ko Yao Paradise and Koyao Island Resort and the flashpackers (at the time) Ko Yao Bay Pavilions and Lam Sai Village Hotel. It seems things have changed - the last two have headed upmarket and several other midrange or better places have been added. These include Six Senses, Villaguna Residences, Chukit Dachanan, Niramayan Villa and Lom Lae Beach Resort plus others which Agoda and similar booking sites will find. Be careful - some booking sites lump Yao Noi and Yao YAI accommodation together. One even includes the nearest Phuket and Krabi area resorts.

Most of these are beyond my budget so I'll leave it to your research of the user reviews to pick the best one. Personally I go for elevated ocean views and from what I've seen the outlook from the pool, restaurant and a lot of the villas at Six Senses takes a lot of beating. But first I gotta go rob that bank.....
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Karst island stacks of southern Phang Nga Bay and east Krabi coast from restaurant of Six Senses which I pinched off their website. Got a shot from the hilltop pool on the WHICH ISLAND OR BEACH page which is even better.

DAY TRIPPING to YAO NOINote that this island is okay for DAY-TRIPPING out of Phuket. In 2007 a middle aged Malaysian couple caught the songthaew up from Phuket town and then the ferry with me - they were pounced on by a guy hiring motorcycles at the pier. I met them again early afternoon leaving Temple Beach - they’d had a nice cruise around the island including a good lunch at Holiday Resort. The roads are good, there is very little traffic, the various villages are nice to check out (the main one, Tha Kai, has several restaurants, quite a few shops including a 7-11 which also has an ATM (at least one other in town 2014) internet and a small produce market for some good fruit bargains) and scenic countryside/coastline which is a mixture of farming, fishing and forest. There are FEW DOGS!
Note the last ferry (actually a speedboat) back to Phuket leaves at 1700.
By 2014 there are several commercial operations running daytrips out of Phuket to Noi. Google is your friend here.
In 2014 I got the impression that quite a few daytrippers were hopping across from nearby Yao Yai on the roughly hourly public longtails. And vice versa.


THE MAIN VILLAGE
- Ban Kai in the south-west of the island has a pretty good range of services these days. These include a bank, at least 3 ATMs, a bakery, ice-creamery, health clinic, post office, a 7 Eleven, several touristy restaurants and stores plus heaps of elcheapo local versions, a fresh fruit market etc. The island hospital is on the main road approach to town from the east coast beaches.

Local island transport near Tha Kai village (imagekohyaonoi.com/)

WHAT TO DO
Yao Noi is the perfect place to kick back and relax. Hiring a motorcycle or bicycle and checking out the island seems the #1 activity - I was amazed by the number of cyclists in 2014. There is even one Phuket outfit which organises mountain bike daytrips. No shortage of people walking around checking the scene too.
Quite a few places have kayaks for hire.
Longtail trips to distant Phang Nga Bay islands are popular - Yao Noi is a fair bit closer to the southern Ko Hong and its neighbours than Krabi. Some take in Ko Hong only, others include other islands in the area.
Phang Nga bay daytrip islands from Yao Noi's Tabaek Viewpoint Bungalow's restaurant - Ko Hong is far right, 7.6km measured on Google Earth.

I'll do a TRIP REPORT on our 2014 daytrip to Ko Hong when I get a chance. boleslav already has one in the Trip Report section.
I also noticed a poster pushing an around Yao Noi longtail trip at Holiday Resort.
Rock climbing is apparently available at Noi - I'm not a climber and don't have details but no doubt Google will find something.

ALCOHOL
Noi is a Muslim island and the many local small stores don't sell booze. However the 7/11 in Tha Kai village does. Most small local restaurants are dry. However restaurants at/near resorts and most bungalow operations can sell you a beer or similar. I found 2014 prices at Sabai Corner, Tabeak Viewpoint and Holiday Resort reasonable although the last could only do small cans of beer. Am I the only person in the world thinks beer out of cans tastes inferior?

GETTING THERE
Noi has a sizable local population and so transport has always been pretty good. In 2014, perhaps as a result of the increase in tourism, it was even better. You can get a ferry or speedboat from Phuket, Krabi and the Phang Nga mainland.

FROM PHUKET - there are 13 speedboats or longtail ferries per day from BANG RONG pier about 30km north of Phuket town. Cost in 2014 was 200baht for the speedboat, which has got to be one of the better bargains in the Andaman and 100 for the fewer big longtails. The speedboats take abt 35 minutes, the longtails an hour.
There are regular songthaews from the day market area in Phuket town (the same area on Thanon Ranong the songthaews to the beaches leave from) to Bang Rong. - this takes about 90minutes.
Most people will come from the Phuket beaches and airport by taxi - the Phuket taxi cartel has prices nicely stitched up at well over double what you would pay in Bangkok and they don't reduce it for world champ hagglers like yers truly. I paid 800baht to come up from Chalong pier ex Ko Raya in Phuket's south west

Taxi cartel sign at Bang Rong pier gives some idea of what you will pay early 2014 from various Phuket starting points and a definite idea of what you will pay to get to them ex speedboat/longtail ferry.

When the ferry arrives at the island pier, tuk tuks and songthaews are waiting to take passengers away - cost to Coconut Corner in 07 was 70 baht, which annoyed the proprietor no end, saying it is way too high. Cost to Holiday Resort in 2014 was a more reasonable 100baht. Note that Holiday Resort gave us a free transfer back to the pier on departure.

UPDATE 2013 - in recent years there has been an afternoon (1500) speedboat service operated by Green Planet joining Phuket's Bang Rong pier with the northern pier on Yao Yai - it then goes across to Yao Noi after which the Nopparet Thara pier near Ao Nang in the Krabi district. I caught it in the reverse direction in March and when we got to Yao Noi there was transport waiting at the pier - some seemed to be from accommodation, some local taxi services. At Phuket there were fare-inclusive minibuses waiting to take passengers to the main beaches and airport so I assume they will pick up for the outward journey. Green Planet's Phuket tel - mobile 082 42069998 - no doubt just about every travel desk on the island will be able to book them.

FROM KRABI - the service from  AO THALEN (Thalene/Talen) pier about 30km north of Krabi town has greatly improved from 2 big longtail ferries per day in 2007 to 9 longtails (90 minutes) or speedboats (45 minutes) hourly from  0900 to 1700 with the last a bit early at 1730. All go to the Tha Kao pier on the mid-east coast but the 1300 speedboat continues to the Manoc pier in the south.. Some nice stack island and coastal views here, so sit up top if you can.
Ao Thalen longtail ferry goes straight between some pretty nice-looking stack islands.

Songthaews take about 90 minutes between Krabi and Ao Thalen. They leave Krabi from near the big Vogue department store, pretty close to where the white Ao Nang songthaews terminate.
Going INTO Krabi on the return journey, the songthaew stops at the KRABI BUS STATION about 3 km north, good news for people wanting to push on south or east. An enterprising lady from the travel agency here comes out and offers normal priced boat tickets to LANTA and PP including free transport to the pier, which is south of town. This saves a lot of mucking about in town, plus precious time which is a bit tight for people wanting to catch the morning ferries.

Much quicker but more expensive - Green Planet's speedboat runs at 1100 from Ao Nang's Nopparet Thara pier to Yao Noi, then Yao Yai and finally Phuket's Bang Rong pier in the morning (at 1100) taking around a half hour. Transport was waiting at Yao Noi pier. The Krabi tel # is +66 075 637 488 and travel desks all around the place were advertising this. Green Planet also run an express boat in the afternoon at 1600 - takes approx one hour.

FROM YAO YAILongtail taxi boats shuttle from Chong Lad pier to Noi's Manoc (Manoh) pier roughly on the hour - cost 50 baht per passenger and took 10 minutes in 2014.
In 2008 I went directly from  Tiewson’s beach to Laem Seafood Bungalow’s pier on the south-east corner of Noi on Tiewson’s longtail for 200baht.

FROM PHANG NGA - there is one boat each way - the Phang Nag coast pier is Tha Dan. Timing is tricky - some websites show 1200 out,  1430 back, others have an hour later. No problems - Phang Nga and island booking desks willl know the current situation. Apparently this is a really spectacular trip passing thru some of the best karst island areas of this fabulous bay.

FROM PHI PHI - a couple of years ago some dudes started a direct speedboat service but this lapsed due to too few customers. You can charter a boat but this would cost a fortune.
Coming FROM Phi Phi, I noticed the Green Planet speedboat at Ao Nang in 2013 delayed it's departure a few minutes so incoming passengers on the regular ferry from Phi Phi or Lanta /Jum could transfer across. This won't work in the opposite direction due to timing - the best bet to get to PP/Lanta/Jum ex Noi is to catch the very first longtail ferry to Ao Thalen and jump on the Krabi town songthaew.

Google throws up all sorts of transport info - some seems sadly out of date. The best I could find was this one http://www.kohyaotravel.com/transfer.htm - hopefully they will keep it up to date. Maybe this outfit which is more of a general island info site has more incentive to keep up to date - http://www.koyaonoi.com/Koh_Yao_Noi/Ferries.html

One further thing - some of the high end resorts have their own transport. SIX SENSES' two white speedboats looked pretty swish. I'd be hoping at the prices they charge that the transfers are inclusive.



COCONUT CORNER 2007
I got me a traditional thatched bamboo, metal roofed bungalow with bathroom for 350, which I thought was right on the money. It was not too squeezy for two and their gear, although shelf speace was limited (a fair few hooks). The double bed had firm but fairly comfy mattress and pillows and the mozzie net was in good condition. Although adjacent to the road, traffic noise did not bother me, and I’m a bit sensitive to this. Not much traffic here, particularly at night.
There was a reasonable sized portable mirror that you could move from main room to bathroom hooks.
The toilet was a squat one, no toilet paper supplied but towels were. Water flow was very good except once at 1800, when it disappeared! Maybe the whole island was having a pre-dinner shower.
The verandah was a nice place to spend time, with a hammock and a big park type bench. A broom was supplied. The grounds were pretty clean, but my sub verandah area just failed the NO CIGGY BUTTS, NO RING-PULLS TEST, as do most places.
The open-sided restaurant was right on the corner where the road turns in past the headland, a good place to watch the leisurely passing parade and to scope out the tree interrupted coastal/sea views. Food quality was good and prices were pretty normal for budget bungalow restaurants with one or two exceptions - a small beer was 60baht (more normally 40-50), those ubiquitous 950ml translucent waters 30 (10-15) and Cokes 30 (15-20). There are a couple of nearby shops to stock up on cheap water and other provisions. Not booze - this island is heavily Muslim.
Coconut hires motorcycles and kayaks, the latter a third of the prices of Ao Nang and Railay across the bay. Their bicycles were all broken. What’s new - what do you guys DO to them?
Artistic shot of road just north of Coconut Corner - each day around 1700 some girls selling ice-creams off a motorcycle would cruise down here - lovely. The ice-creams weren't bad too (image kohyaonoi.com/)

OTHER LINKS
Jamie of JAMIE'S PHUKET BLOG has an interesting report on a day visit to Yao Noi,inckuding some nice photographs here
http://www.kohyaotravel.com/
Lomlai Resort
Ko Yao (lots of info including a nice satellite photo of the island)
Sabai Corner Bungalows
Koyao Island Resort
Evason HideAway
The last 5 links were provided by Eric Haeg in 2007.
With so many new places, good old Google can these days turn up a bunch of other websites.

Eric Haeg also provided this terrific extra information when I was getting facts together for my first visit in 2007. Some may be out of date by now, but others still useful:

"After you arrive on Koh Yao Noi--and thank yourself for doing so--there are a few people you should meet and some great sites to see.

In the center of town, opposite the pharmacy, you'll find Simon's restaurant. His wife serves absolutely authentic, local,Muslim food for a low price. If you're in luck, Simon will be there too. Strike up a conversation with him...he's been living there longer than some of you have been alive.

Down from Simon's is the Koh Yao Noi Children’s Center. It was started by a Californian named Tim, but who is now referred to on the island as Ajarn. He's usually around, and can be very helpful if you want to find out what's happening around the island. You never know when someone's celebrating a birthday, there's a village fair, or a gnarly game of beach bocce going on later that night.

Head to Had Pasai and stop at Pasai Bungalows. If you've got time (and it may take some time for things to come to you on KYN), stop in for some french fries. Yes, I said french fries. I've lived in Thailand three years, and I've never had a better tasting chip. While you wait, you can chat with the owner, An. He's also a local musician and can cover some great Job To Do hits. BTW, Job To Do is a great Thai-reggae band from the south of Thailand. This is where I usally stay. It's basic, clean, and pretty cheap.

Just past Pasai are Coconut Corner and Sabai Corner. If you don't meet anyone else here, meet Colin at Sabai. To try and sum Colin up would do him an injustice. He runs the place with his own unique style--usually while wearing fisherman's pants and a lightweight, Thai-style, white, cotton shirt with a big, green ganja leaf on it. Roll one up with him--strictly DRUM of course--and ask him to tell you the story of how his brother and the BBC came looking for him after the tsunami. The ower is an Italian woman and if you're craving some Italian, this is the place to get it.

After Sabai corner, it KYN’s newest restaurant. The name escapes me, but you can’t miss it. The food in delicious, ask for a fresh catch. The atmosphere is great and it’ll no doubt be a new gathering spot for those who want to mingle. Neighboring on the restaurant’s right is Mot’s Pyramid bar. It’s simple, cheap and has great music. Mot is from Had Yai, but has been living on KYN for quite some time now. He’s a friendly guy and speaks English well.

If you've got money to burn, try Koh Yao Island Resort. During the low season, the fancy bungalows are nearly half price. The food is way too expensive, but the rooms are the best. It's a perfect place to bring a special lady friend. Gavin, the Singaporean GM, really knows how to wine and dine his guests. It's expensive, but worth it.

Farther north, is Buddhist meditation center. It’s difficult to find, but if you can do it, you’ll be proud of yourself. It has the island’s best beach and a hilltop observation deck. From there, all of Phang-Nga bay can be taken in; the sunsets are glorious and watching the approaching thunderstorms roll over the bay and its limestone cliffs can be quite a site too.

In addition to the meditation center, KYN has a gigantic old tree at its northern tip. The tree is so big it would take 25 people to hold hands around its base. If you’re looking for an adventurous trek, ask one of the locals to help guide you there. Once you’ve drenched yourself in sweat getting to the tree, you can take a dip in the nearby bay. No one will on that beach for sure.

KYN’s western side is a gigantic rice patty and holds some great photo ops during sunset. Buffalo, birds, winding dirt roads, swaying blades of rice, it doesn’t get much more peaceful than that.

Koh Yao is one of the last great islands along Thailand's west coast. If you find yourself there, enjoy."


Thank's Eric.

STOP PRESS - Frequent contributor to the TRIP REPORTS section boleslav has just sent me a report on a December 2010 trip to Ko Yao Noi. It has some good updated info, excellent pix, some very good links and details of kayaking trips around the EASTERN PHANG NGA BAY - Pak Bhia, Ko Lading etc.
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If you visit Yao Noi perhaps you might be interested in nearby:

KO YAO YAI

PHUKET

KRABI-AO NANG-RAILAY-TON SAI

PHI PHI

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HELP WANTED - I'M FINDING IT INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT TO UPDATE THIS PAGE ON A REGULAR BASIS. YAO NOI IS A LONG WAY FROM AUSTRALIA AND I HAVE OVER 20 OTHER ISLANDS TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON. IF YOU VISIT AND WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE A TRIP REPORT IT WOULD BE MOST WELCOME - PLEASE DON'T ATTEMPT A FULL ISLAND REVIEW - JUST A FEW PHOTOS OF YOUR RESORT ETC WITH CAPTIONS SENT TO lajolla22@hotmail.com WILL DO THE TRICK.

If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.

7 comments:

fred said...

Can i buy ganja on the island please?

Aaron said...

Wow wow wow wow wow. Thank you so much for writing this. Great job! So descriptive, nearly exhaustive, and utterly helpful. Thanks!

georges Cortez said...

here is an alternative stay at Koh Yao:

http://www.koyaobay.com/

and a directory with travel info + naturalist notebook

http://www.koyaonoi.com/

PS the beach at Island REsort is NOT private: there is even a public road crossing the property, that disappeared among the resort buildings; but they can't stop anybody to get to the beach from the road, crossing the resort itself...

Beata said...

Great article!
We are going to go to Koh Yao Noi next year
Are they any dangerous snakes on the island?
And what about caracones? Are they in bungalows?
Greetings from Poland
Beata

Sarah Stout said...

Hi there! If you visited in June 2013, would love to hear an update! Planning a short visit to this island for Feb. 2014.

tezza said...

Sorry Sarah, the 2013 visit was postponed when I was unexpectedly joined by a family member who was new to Thailand and wanted to see some of the highlights (Phi Phi, Krabi etc) in the very limited time we had.
Looks like I was on the island at the same time as you - Feb 2014.

Sarah Stout said...

We ended up skipping it too, did Ao Nang for a couple days then Koh Lanta. Thanks for following up though!