Located in the Andaman Sea, halfway between Phuket and Krabi, sits the one of Thailand’s last untouched islands – Koh Yao Yai.

A true paradise of spectacular beaches, rubber and coconut plantations, picturesque sunsets and amazing sea life.

A trip to Koh Yao Yai is the closest you will ever experience to ‘REAL’ Thailand.

Also read:

18 things to do that will show you Phuket is more than just a beach destination

11 incredible beaches in Phuket with pristine white sands and clear blue waters

Immerse yourself in the local culture whilst surrounded by pure nature. Once you have arrived by traditional longtail boat, you will never want to leave!

We recently visited this little known island so check out all 7 highlights of the gorgeous Koh Yao Yai!

Getting there:

Take a local taxi (speedboat) for USD $5.80 / 200 Baht per person, from Bangrong Pier that’s situated in the north of Phuket. The speedboat will take you straight to Klong Hia Pier on Koh Yao Yai. See below for a list of the taxi timings!

Getting around:

To get around, tuktuks are available, and if one prefers to travel around independently, scooters are available for rent too. (If your scooter needs filling up, there’s a petrol kiosk on the island so you don’t have to worry about getting stranded.) Check out this useful map given to us by a friendly policeman on Koh Yao Yai!

Photo Via TripCanvas, Caroline_26

1. Treat yourself to a night of luxury, spa included! – Santhiya Koh Yao Yai resort, Ayurvana Spa, Khantok Restaurant

Perched on the side of a hill and overlooking the ocean is the magnificent Santhiya resort.

Photo Via Sazzzzzle, Mayluxe

You deserve to experience this luxurious take on traditional Thai heritage, from the stunning décor, furniture and views to the exceptional food and service.

Photo Via Ivy_Bay
Photo Via Djpoom
Photo Via Linglingwan,-Jojo_Blossom

Top off the stay of a lifetime with a visit to the Ayurvana Spa and prepare for total relaxation!

When you’re hungry, head to Khantok Restaurant for a true taste of Thailand. Not only is the food delicious and authentic, but also beautifully presented and served in the most traditional surroundings.

Photo Via Sarinee-C

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai resort, Ayurvana Spa, Khantok Restaurant

Price: Spa treatments from USD $28 / approx. 950 Baht (Khantok mains from USD $7.50 / approx. 250 Baht)
Rate: From USD $85 / approx. 2900 Baht (per night)
Address: 88 Moo 7, Prunai, Koh Yao, Phangnga, Thailand 83000
Contact: +66 (0)76 59 2 888
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 10pm

Check Rate on Agoda 

2. Get the best of both worlds (beaches) like Ariel – Son Bay Beach, Ao Muang beach

For a remote island like Yao Yai, it’s not surprising to have some really incredible untouched beaches here!

2-a. See what it’s like to grow up an islander – Son Bay Beach

This is the beach to go if you’re looking to explore the local slice of life. When we were there, we saw many local kids playing here, which made the local experience that much more endearing.

It truly felt like the Thai version of Polynesian life where you don’t have to imagine how it’s like growing up an islander – you get to see what’s it’s like to grow up an islander. Frolicking with much laughter all day in the sun sand and sea.

2-b. A truly secluded beach with white sands and crystal waters – Glow Elixir Beach / Ao Muang Beach

Despite being right in front of a resort, this beach is surprisingly quiet, secluded and the most beautiful place you will ever see. This beach has it all – palm tree fringes, a pristine stretch of sand, crystal waters and best of all? No other people!

If you’re looking for a luxurious secluded island experience, combine a stay at Glow Elixir with multiple visits to this luxuriously untouched beach.

PS: There’s another beach down a tiny path just off Bole Bay Road and discover paradise at the end. Ao Muang Beach is really tidal so ask locally for the best time to visit, otherwise it can be a long walk out on the mudflats to reach the sea!

Photo Via Phutetastik

Glow Elixir Beach / Ao Muang Beach

Getting there/Coordinates: Finding Glow Elixir Beach is simple, since it’s right in front of the resort. (For Ao Muang Beach, head to Bole Bay Road about 200 metres down a dirt track (near Elixir Glow Resort. There’s a small hand painted sign marking the path.)

Staying at GLOW Elixir Koh Yao Yai

Check Rate on Agoda 

3. We told you this island has it all and for us one of the highlights is definitely the food…yum! – Ban Rim Nam, Chada Cafe, 24 Camping & Bar

Whether it’s eating at the restaurant by the pier, literally chilling in a cafe, or hanging out at a BBQ bar with a viewpoint (camping available too) – Yao Yai has something perfect for most of your culinary needs.

3-a. Watch the world go by whilst eating the best seafood of your life – Ban Rim Nam (Pier Restaurant)

There’s no excuse not to visit Ban Rim Nam restaurant, you will pass it at least twice on Klong Hia Pier, once when you arrive in Koh Yao Yin…and once when you finally have to leave!

Right at the water’s edge you simply can’t get fresher seafood, trust us, the prawns are amazing! (The pineapple fried rice and phad thai are also delicious.) This is the perfect place to sit back, relax and watch the boats on the pier!

Photo Via TripCanvas, Tom D

PS: Around Ban Rim Nam, another great thing to do is observe local living – it’s great fun watching the local kids launching themselves off the pier and right into the water, laughing and splashing all the way.

Ban Rim Nam (Pier Restaurant)

PriceMains from USD $5.50 / approx. 200 baht
Address: ท่าเรือคลองเหีย 23/3 ม.1 ต.เกาะยาวใหญ่ อ.เกาะยาว จ.พังงา, 82160 Phang Nga. Coordinate here
Contact: +66 81 956 2141
Opening hours: Daily from 9.30am to 10 pm


3-b. Have an iced coffee and enjoy air-conditioning (if you need it!) – Chada Café

After a busy day exploring under the heat of the Thai sun, you should retreat to the chilled haven of the Chada Café and mix with the locals.

Enjoy an iced coffee and try and pick out a chilled treat – the mango Bingosu is our favourite, fruity and freezing – yum!

PS: There’s a Family Shop next to the cafe, if you’d like to pick up some snacks or drinks for the road!

Chada Café

Price: Drinks from USD $1.50 / 45 Baht
Address: Ko Yao Yai, Ko Yao District, Phang-nga 82160, Thailand
Contact: +66 88 384 4914


3-c. Travelling with friends? You gotta make a stop and have a pint or two! – 24 Camping & Bar

It’s a bar, a seafood restaurant, a campsite, and a viewpoint all rolled into one. Thus far, only locals know about this fantastic place to chill, along with the few lucky travellers who have accidentally stumbled on it.

Now the secret’s out. Especially if you’re adventuring with friends, consider making a stop at 24 Camping & Bar. Whether you eat there, drink there, or choose to camp overnight – it promises to be a super fun experience to be shared.

Photo Via Phocomo
Photo Via Dreamdukkk, Phocomo
Photo Via Mayluxe, Dreamdukkk

24 Camping & Bar

Price: From USD $2 / approx. 70 Baht
Address: Unnamed Road, Phru Nai, Ko Yao District, Phang-nga 83000, Thailand (Coordinates here)
Contact: 66 85 001 1008
Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 11.45pm


4. Fix your body, mind and soul during an intense healing session with a famous guru – Dr Saad

Got any aches or pains that normal medicine has failed to heal? There’s no harm trying the intense healing powers of Dr Saad. Accordingly, for over 30 years this blind medical masseuse has been “curing” people from across the globe of any pain – from their head to their toes.

Photo Via Bangthisworld
Photo Via Woody
Photo Via Alex110784

Dr Saad has a powerful spiritual healing energy that you can feel simply by being in his presence; you have to visit to believe it!

Dr Saad

Price/Entrance fees: $22 (750 baht) per hour (packages available for multiple sessions)
Address: Ban Lo Po, Ko Yao Yai 82160, Thailand. Coordinate here
Contact: +66 89 685 9940


5. Explore the crystal clear waters and immerse yourself in the colorful underwater world – Elixir Divers

Koh Yao Yai is surrounded by the warm, clear and calm waters of the Andaman sea – and offers some world-class dive sites including Shark Point, Anemone Reef and King Cruiser Wreck.

Photo Via Roberts69

Alternatively snorkeling and speedboat trips also allow you to see the towering rock formations, coral structures and vast array of sea life.

Photo Via Roberts69

Small groups, great guides and a super speedboat mean that whatever package you choose, you will love discovering the underwater world of Koh Yao Yai.

Photo Via Dlind2, Zuzkae, Le_Leanne

Elixir Divers

Price/Entrance fees: USD $110 / approx. 3900 Baht (for two dives); USD $105 / approx. 3500 Baht (for 1 day snorkelling trip)
Address: 2/3 Moo.3, Phru Nai, Ko Yao District, Phang Nga 82160, Thailand
Contact: +66 87 897 0076
Opening hours: All day depending of trip (and evening/night dives)


6. Meet a famous local and kayak through the mangroves, spy on wildlife, or trek through his coconut plantation to the Koh Yao Yai viewpoint – Khun Coco, Yao Yai Mangroves

‘Mr Coco’ is well known and loved by locals and travellers alike, whatever you need he can provide! You will keep hearing Coco’s name while you are in Koh Yao Yai, so you might as well meet the main man!

If you don’t meet him during a tour of the island, then head down to Laanmaye Restaurant for a great meal and a friendly face.

Photo Via Laanmaye

Work off your meal with a trek up through the coconut plantation to the Koh Yao Yai viewpoint – a great photo opportunity awaits!

Photo Via Evelyne M

The Bond film, Man with the Golden gun was filmed around the Phang Nga Bay and when you see the picturesque tropical beaches and twisted, mysterious mangroves you will understand why!

Be James Bond for the day, and silently make your way through the jungle by kayak. Get close to the exotic wildlife and visit a deserted beach for some tropical refreshments…but shhhh, remember this is a secret mission!

Khun Coco, Yao Yai Mangroves

Price/Entrance fees: Viewpoint walk free (Kayak Day Tour USD$32 / approx. 1100 Baht (adult); USD $23 / approx 800 Baht (children aged 4-12 )
Address: Ko Yao Yai 13/3, Ko Yao Yai 82160, Thailand
Contact: +66 93 658 1098
Opening hours: Kayak Day tour pick up 8.30am drop off 3.30pm


7. Explore Koh Yao Yai the adrenaline-rush way – ATV Tour

ATV tours never get old, and thankfully, apart from hiring tuktuks or renting your own scooter to explore this island – ATV tours are available to give you a different perspective of the island!

Photo Via Azreelazhar

Go off road on a half day tour through jungles, plantations and palm gardens, the tour will also take you to an incredible view point overlooking the east coast, through local villages and a hidden beach!

Photo Via Grimydiapers

ATV Tour

Price: Rider – USD $85 / approx. 2,900; Passenger – USD $67.60 / approx. 2,300 Baht (Adults and children aged 7years and above); Passenger – USD $55.80 / approx. 1,900 THB/Person (Children aged 3-11 years)
Address: 55/8 Moo 4, Prunai, Koh Yao, Phang Nga, Thailand 83000
Contact: +66 76 582 526, +66 89 737 0309, +66 85 783 3261
Opening hours: Daily from 9.30am to 12pm


Koh Yao Yai is one of the last remaining unspoilt islands in Thailand, an incredible place to see this country in it’s purest, rawest state.

To understand the sheer beauty and tranquillity of this island you need to visit before everyone else. Hurry up and make the best decision of your life!

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Travel Writer

My name is Kim Wilson, I’m 27 and appear to be having a quarter life crisis. I gave up my job as a legal costs draftsman and negotiator in March 2013 and since then have spent all of my hard earned mortgage deposit travelling the world. I love visiting new places, meeting new people, trying different food and have no intention of returning to the office life anytime soon!