The sister islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi sit halfway between Phuket and Krabi within scenic Phang Nga Bay and are both worth a visit for their delightful beaches, natural scenery and back to nature ambience, that feels far removed from the nearby larger islands. Ideal for those seeking a relaxing beach holiday off the beaten track.
The pace of change here has been delightfully slow, with the local population content to retain many aspects of their traditional rural life. While a few resorts have now appeared around the islands, the main source of income for the locals is still farming and fishing.
Blessed with a variety of beaches lapped by turquoise waters and fringed by swaying palms, the islands really does offer the ultimate relaxing beach holiday off the beaten track. Notable beaches include Laem Had beach on the north east coast; Loh Paret in the central west coast and Loh Jark Beach, which while far from hectic, does see more hustle and bustle.
There are no particular landmarks on the islands; it's simply the island itself that is the attraction! Hire a bicycle and pedal along the scenic main road that winds around the island to catch a glimpse of local villages with their stilted wooden homes, lush green paddy fields and rubber plantations. Alternatively, hire a canoe and take to the water to explore the mangrove forest or, enjoy a tour of the stunning Phang Nga Bay itself where majestic limestone karsts rise from the calm sea. Snorkelling is possible from several beaches, or on boat trips out to nearby islands.
Koh Yao Yai is not the place to come if you seek a buzzing party scene and plethora of shops. Most dining options are within the hotels, although a few local restaurants can be found in each village along with aromatic roadside stalls.
GMT +7 hours
There are no direct flights from the UK. Fly to Bangkok and onwards to Phuket. For Koh Yao Ya and Koh Yao Noi transfer by road to Phuket pier and continue by speedboat.
Koh Yao Yai enjoys a tropical climate with year round high temperatures and fairly little rainfall. The main hot and dry season is between January and April, with the rainy season between June and November, although rainfall is usually restricted to a short heavy downpour and the sun will still shine.