I spent 10 nights on remote, peaceful Koh Yao, splitting the time between Koh Yao Noi (the more developed island) & its even quieter neighbor Koh Yao Yai. Here’s my guide on where to stay!
Koh Yao Noi
Whether you get a private pool villa or a smaller hideaway terraced up the hillside, the views of the limestone hongs and Phang Nga Bay are worth the trip. The only downside here is that low tide causes the 400 meters of beachfront to be unswimmable – but don’t worry. The hotel has a boat to whisk you to a private beach on the days when the tides make it necessary, or you can just veg out by the pool. Paradise Koh Yao is cut off from the rest of the island (you arrive by boat transfer from either Phuket or Krabi), so you can expect to eat most meals at the resort’s restaurants. A huge, yummy breakfast buffet is included in the rate. As for activities, there’s a special desk designated to help you plan boat tours, dive trips, rock climbing or visits to the rest of the island. And if you don’t feel like doing a thing (or you’re deathly ill, like I was), there’s a lovely spa with its own aromatic steam cave to sweat out the toxins. For more info, click here.
Like Paradise Koh Yao, the 12 Niramaya Villas also face breathtaking Phang Nga Bay, only this resort is a bit further south and is situated on a public beach. The real star of this property is the spa, which comes directly to you in the comfort of your villa. Though there’s a huge pool in the center of the property, I had my own as well just outside my villa – the perfect spot to cool off after a day tootling around on a scooter with one of the sweet front desk staff members. Speaking of staff, the folks at Niramaya Villas are lovely… always checking to make sure you’re still alive and willing to drive you to the pharmacy to try and locate some miracle remedies. To get here, all it takes is a ferry ride from Phuket or Krabi. The staff will pick you up and the dock and bring you right to your villa.
My living room where I worked and worked and worked!
Koh Yao Yai
Yao Yai Resort was one of the more rustic places I’ve stayed on this trip, but you can’t beat the location on a secluded beach (Loh Pared) on Koh Yao Yai’s western side. I watched the sunset from a hammock on the beach one night and took a long, ambling walk on the beach in the morning with only birds and waves for company. Supposedly there are monkeys living at one end of the beach, but I couldn’t find them. A real plus here is 24-hour swimmability. Tides do not affect swimming conditions, so you can walk right out of your bungalow and be in the ocean in about 30 seconds. There are free kayaks and mountain bikes to use and the onsite restaurant is small but tasty. As for accommodations, my beach bungalow was a bit rustic for my liking; I shared the bed with quite a few insects despite the mosquito net. (And I didn’t sleep great because of it.) If you’re ok with that proximity to nature, this eco-friendly retreat is an inexpensive way to experience Koh Yao.
Koh Yao Yai Village is a cute seaside property spread over 32 acres of rice fields and forests. Walking around the winding paths, you’ll come across acres of farmland still in use by the local population. The staff here took amazing care of me and my massage at the tiny, circular spa was one of the best I had in Thailand. The highlight of this property was the infinity pool with ridiculous views of Phang Nga Bay and the Phi Phi Islands. The bungalows are huge and decorated in natural materials so it sort of feels like you’re roughing it — that is until you climb in the fluffy soft bed with the world’s most heavenly pillows and realize there’s nothing rustic about this best kept secret. The only downside for me was the lack of free WiFi, though since most folks visit this place for vacation purposes, perhaps that’s actually a plus!
*Each stay was provided free of charge. Thanks to each hotel for hosting me!