Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ko Adang

Post-sunset shot from the southern part of the National Park HQ beach - nice place and time with a bottle of Maekong for company.

Ko Adang is another large, mountainous, rainforest-covered island in the Tarutao National Park. It is less than 2km north of Ko Lipe and about 30km west of Ko Taruatao itself.
I visited immediately after Tarutao and preferred Adang (and I did like Tarutao). Adang has no roads and fewer bungalows, so is even more laid-back. The beach at HQ is arguably better. Snorkelling off the HQ beach is better. The viewpoint is way more spectacular and little harder to access. The waterfall is much closer to the bungalow area and better signposted (until the last 300m) - although like Tarutao’s Lu Du falls, it aint breathtaking once reached. And most of the bungalows and other facilities at HQ are either brand-new or at the most 2 seasons old.
For people wanting to break their desert-island quiet with some shopping or other touristy action, Ko Lipe is a very short and cheap longtail ride away.
AREA MAP - image from Andaman Island Hopping.
Adang's National Park HQ beach starts on the bottom right-hand corner of the island where the three + symbols are and wraps around the corner to the lower east coast. Image -
The beach at NP Headquarters is a reversed L shape - the shorter southern section faces Ko Lipe and is backed by a 100m deep tree-shaded sand flat.
The HQ buildings, restaurant and long-house accommodation block are located here. The bungalows are located on the lower hillside behind the flat.
People can camp anywhere under the trees behind the corner of the beach at the junction of the L or the lower part of the northern extension of the beach. The beach is about 2 km from end to end. This shot is towards the far northern end.
The beaches attract people from Lipe although they were never crowded when I was there - when I took this shot there were 2 other people on the north-south section of the L. There is some okay coral off this beach, particularly near a buoy closer the junction of the L - look for the snorkelling-trip longtails.
Longtails from and to Lipe were charging 50baht per person - 100baht for one person in Nov08. National Park officials were not hassling casual day-visitors from Lipe for the 200baht entry fee. ..
Ko Lipe from the Gado Cliff, immediately above Park HQ - Mountain Resort's beach in the middle, the sweep of Andaman beach to the left.You can see the roofs of Adang’s lower-slope bungalows at bottom.
The path to the lookout is well-signposted from HQ reception and also from where it starts climbing near the new camping area bathroom blocks - 45 minutes and 35 minutes walk from each. 30% of the climb is easy, the rest steep - but no heart-breakers, although circumferentially-enhanced trekkers will stop for a few blows. And bolt to the restaurant on return to celebrate the 50grams lost in the climb with a plate of fries and a coke.

Trip reporter MV sent me this great shot from the top of the peak behind the lookout - it must be about 3x higher again - shot with a 1oomg lens. There is no track so he had to bush bash - said it was hot and dry going.

The restaurant looked brand new - actually having finishing touches made to the steps in this shot.
Nice views thru the trees of Lipe behind. Food and service good - prices a bit cheaper than the average budget bungalow restaurant - maybe a legacy of so many Thai visitors who aint gonna pay Farang prices. Unseen in this shot is a real nice outdoor balcony on the other (sea) side of the restaurant + picnic tables to the right suitable for big groups.
UPDATE - from 2011 all Thai National Parks have been alcohol free so you can no longer buy a beer.
Near new National Park bungalows on the lower slopes behind the beach-flat.
Most had tree-interrupted views of Lipe, although the 2 western-most at far left were much better. When booking on the NP website, there is a schematic where you can select your bungalow.
My 600 baht bungalow - best room all trip.
Tiled floor, concrete walls (hardiplank clad ext for some reason), sliding aluminium doors and windows, cathedral ceiling, dormer windows, skylight (but over enclosed-roof bathrooom section ????? - I don’t think that was the architects’ plan).
Heaps of room inside, near spotless, 4 good lights, quiet fan, thick but very firm mattresses and pillows.
Good mozzie screens on windows but never as good as mozzie nets. Big bathroom 100% tiled, western toilet and bidet gun, separate screened shower recess, wash basin + plug with vanity and huge mirror, towels, toilet paper supplied - even a toilet paper holder. Good water pressure - cold water only. Drying rack, broom and pan, tap for sandy feet at foot of stairs.
The longhouse and its bathroom blocks plus some staff quarters were the only facilities not new or near new in Nov 08.
Each room has 4 mattresses on floor. At 500 good value for 4 sharing. Could be noisy with wooden partitions between rooms. This block only 25m from the beach with fairly unimpeded views of Lipe.
You can pitch your tent pretty much anywhere under the trees although the very nice and brand new bathroom blocks were in back of the corner of the beach.
Some Thais had pitched bigger tents up against the cliff in this area. Tents in shot are NP ones - being taken down after departure of Thai student group shipped in to clear the beaches of wet season rubbish - the park had been open only a week or so of the 08/09 season. Beaches were spotless. You need your own bedding when staying in tents.
The Pirate Falls are 3km and 1 hour up a nice rainforest track which leaves towards the western side of the area near the longhouses. Look for the signs.
Slopes were mainly moderate with only a few short steeper areas. The track was well defined and sign-posted UNTIL the last 300m where it becomes just as difficult as Lu Du falls on Tarutao. Basically you just follow the thick black water-pipes. At one place these dive thru a tangle of tree trunks and thick climbing vines and you think NO WAY - but yep, you’ll find there is a kind-of-way taken by others. The falls themselves are 8m - 25’ tops. Nice pools below and above for cooling off, but not swimming. A small dam for the water pipes is slightly higher.
About 75% back down the track you can branch off and walk down to a small beach abt 500m west of the National Park HQ area where some private outfit is building a midrange hotel. NP is unhappy.  This new place hasn’t got much space and is kinda squashed in on itself. It looked 70% finished in late Nov 08. It sticks out from the north coast of Lipe - the National Park HQ buildings are largely hidden by the casuarinas. UPDATE JAN 2015 - this place is still not open. Apparently it is illegal, on account it is on National Park land with no permission to build.
I didn’t think to ask the ranger if the sea-gypsy fishermen in the two small villages at the north end of Adang had title to their land.

You can walk back from the new place to the NP beach along the shore at lower tide levels. 

Adang has some pretty good snorkelling by Thai standards off the western coast - longtails are always around on the beach near HQ to hire. You can also visit reefs at Rawi and some other locations. I didn’t bother - I have done these out of Lipe last century.
Apparently a more distant Ratana Waterfall can be visited but you need to hire a longtail for the first part of the trip.

- is dry season for Adang and Tarutao - usually opens mid Nov, closes mid May.
Note that these island NPs can be very popular with Thais on Thai public holidays and weekends - maybe not such a good idea to show up unbooked at those times unless you have your own tent.

Pak Bara is the main departure point at present. I have info on how to reach it from Trang and Hat Yai on my Lipe page.
There is a NP booking and information office (Tel:(074) 783 485) inside the pier compound at Pak Bara where you can also pay the 200b NP entry fee. The entry ticket is good for both Adang and Tarutao. You can also do these things on entry to the island itself. Booking accommodation over the internet is difficult from overseas because you have to get to a NP office or one of the Thai banks within about 4 days to pay. Online booking -

Andaman Island Hopping’s website shows 2 slow ferries leaving at 1030 and 1500 taking around 4 hours, but KK Travel in Trang said their combined minibus/ferry ticket picks up a ferry departing 1230.

At least 2 speedboat operators also do the PB - Tarutao - Adang/Lipe run - Tigerline's timetable - - shows a speedboat leaving PB at 1100 arriving Lipe/Adang 1230 and the 1130 speedboat I took (can't remember the company) went onto Lipe/Adang after dropping me at Taurtao.
If you want to stay on Tarutao also, tell the ticket seller who will endorse the ticket. Buying a ticket for Tarutao and then another there for Adang is MUCH more expensive.

There is no pier on Adang or Lipe. Ferries and speedboats terminate in the channel between Lipe and Adang or off Pattaya Beach. A fleet of longtails then delivers people all over the place for 50baht per head including the NP HQ at Adang . My longtail first dropped people at Lipe's Sunshine Beach, next Mountain Resort, shuffled me across to Adang and then left with some people for Lipe's Pattaya. Pretty good tour for 50baht.

Thammalang pier near Satun where the frequent fast ferries from Langkawi in Malaysia arrive used to have a morning boat to the eastern pier on Tarutao and then to Lipe/Adang but this is not running so far in 08/09 season - looks like the new direct Langkawi-Lipe boats have starved it of passengers.

Several boats make this trip to Lipe - you need to land first on Lipe for customs/immigration. See my Lipe page for details and sublinks.

Tigerline runs its fast ferry down to Lipe from Phi Phi picking up at several other islands and the Hat Yao mainland pier near Trang.
Satun Pak Bara Speedboat Club runs from Lanta to Lipe.

Satun Pakbara Speedboat Club's fanger will pick you up at Bulon Lae on its way down from Lanta.

A reliable Trang travel agent for booking and transport into all Trang and Satun area islands - good on transfers/accommodation to/for Lanta and further north too - KK Travel in the parallel street directly opposite the railway station tel 075-211198, 223664, 081-8945955.

If you visit Adang you may also be interested in nearby:




If you have any extra information or corrections post them below. If you have questions, please ask them on the Forum, which can be accessed about 80% down the Index. I don't get to check each island page often, but I'll try to check the forum each day when not travelling.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ko Siboya

You don't come to Siboya for beaches, snorkelling, diving, climbing etc. You come to relaaaax.
Ko Siboya is a medium sized island south of Krabi - just to the north and closer to the mainland than Ko Jum. Map -
I rate it equal in "untouristy" to Kos Sukorn, Libong and Yao Yai. Main activities are cash cropping and fishing. The 3 low key resorts on the west coast have minimal impact..
I stayed at the original Siboya bungalow outfit - SIBOYA BUNGALOWS
This place is located on the west coast not far south of where the cross-island road arrives from Ko Siboya Village. Mr Chung who runs the place has selected an area with a nice long flat area immediately behind the beach which 100m or so inland climbs towards the coastal road up a gradual slope. Most of the 20 bungalows and the private houses at the resort are located on the flat.
Nice lawn area behind beach and immediately south of restaurant - elcheapo 250 bungalows at left, more expensive 350s start at top. Private houses, some for holiday letting, start further south and to the north.
You don't go to Siboya Bungalows for the beach - but maybe for the sunsets.
This low-tide shot shows the starter-mangrove set-up directly out from Siboya Bungalow's restaurant. NW orientation slightly lengthens the impression. Underfoot is dark sand and rock, not mud. At high tide there is a nice enough strip of sand a few meters wide along the beachfront and the occasional mangrove emerging from the water as in the opening pix top of page.
Look I'm a beach junky, but knowing what to expect, I was not the least fazed. Combine your stay with a few days on nearby Jum to get your beach-fix.

About 300m north (and south) of Siboya Bungalows the beach improves, but it still aint Phra Nang.
Some posters have said THAI WEST resort has a better beach. I walked 10-15 minutes north and yep, it is better than in the sunset shot at Siboya, but no better than immediately above. Nice looking resort BTW - but it seemed deserted in what was early shoulder season (mid-Nov).

Some of the private houses at Siboya Bungalows.
These range from beach-shacks to much bigger, flasher places than the above. Many are for rent when the owners are not using them - rates seem very reasonable - see website. These could be just the thing for family groups wanting somewhere relaxing to spend time.
Owner Mr Chung. The perfect host - remembers your name and quietly asks every now and then if everything is okay. Image Siboya Bungalows.

House owners are largely old-time Thailand hands who holidayed with Mr Chung back in the day when he ran successful places on Phra Nang and Railay. So successful the leaseholders kept increasing the rent and forcing a move. Eventually he decided on finding the best building site on an untouristy island and quite a few of the Farang regulars threw in $10000 to help - and later built their holiday houses. Some winter here for 4-6 months. You always get a warm greeting from them when arriving at the restaurant - and this seems to spread to short-time guests.

No TV, amplified music, computers at Siboya Bungalows. The only time the no-music policy is relaxed is at Christmas and at New Year where a buffet-dinner and dance is organised. A long-termer told me this is one of the few times when there is 100% occupancy. Image - Siboya Bungalows.
Thorntree regulars normally have a piss-up in Bangkok at these times - but if I'm ever in Thailand around the same period I'm heading for Siboya.
BTW - I found food and service at the restuarant good. Prices seemed very similar to the average budget bungalow place.
My 250 baht bungalow at Siboya Bungalows.
Rustic, very close to needing some TLC with timber renewal. Just enough room for 2 and their gear. Clean. Thin but comfy double mattress, ditto pillows. Mozzie net in good condition. Big indoor-outdoor concrete and tile bathroom, twin mirrors. No wash basin. Squat toilet. Toilet paper supplied. No longtail or traffic noise at night. Spacious verandah with nice outlook over big manicured lawn area to Ko Jum in background. The 350 bungalows were closer to the "beach", bigger and seemed newer.
Beachside sitting-cabanas - perfect place for post-midnight discussions about the meaning of life.
I say this because the Brit girls and their Thai guys in this shot wanted to discuss the meaning of life at 2am on the bungalow verandah adjacent mine - at least the guys did.
I believe in letting the world know when I have a good idea - so I loudly suggested that these cabanas were the go. To a chorus of YES!!! from other bungalows.
BTW, the meaning of life to these Thai guys seemed to be having enough money**, which they didn't, but the way they kept returning to the theme seemed to suggest they thought that maybe their cute new friends could help.

** No doubt to keep their 16 year old wives and horde of kids comfortable back in Ban Saladan or wherever.
A regular mid-afternoon game of Tak Raw (volleyball type soccer) with staff, long termers and other guests. Mr Chung (foreground) is a keen participant. Image Siboya Bungalows.

I hired a bike (right) and explored the rest of the island. Ban Siboya here is the main village, but is pretty basic - a few stores and restaurants - no ATMs, money changers, computer shops. Most roads are dirt, thru flat and lowly undulating countryside with rubber plantations, cash-cropping and rainforest. This concrete section stretches W to E across the island to the small pier for Laem Kraut on the inland side - about 500m down the slight hill from this shot.
Songthaews leave for the pier at Leam Hin at 1100 and 1500 - this took abt an hour and cost me 100baht which seemed too much - I think I was overcharged. Small public longtails leave from this tiny village on demand but seem to wait for the songthaew - cost if there are enough passengers only 20 baht. Siboya Bungalows has an office in Krabi town (see website) and if you go there they will arrange for the songthaew to call around to pick you up and for transport to be waiting at the pier. Otherwise you can usually hitch a ride with a local for maybe 50 baht.

The pier you want is at Laem Kruat, a bigger busier market/fishing town further south on the mainland. Get off a Trang-Krabi bus at Nua Klong on the highway and get the songthaew across to the pier. I think there is one morning and one afternoon longtail across to Siboya. It cost me 50 baht on my way out to Jum.

Public longtails leave from both Ban Ko Jum and Ban Ko Pu to Laem Kraut (50 baht Nov 08) where you jump a public longtail for Siboya (50 baht). You can charter a longtail of course - in the opposite direction I negotiated a longtail from Siboya Bungalows around to Ting Ray on Jum's west coast for 600, but the Italians who were sharing pulled out at the last minute.
Public longtail leaving Laem Hin village for Siboya. Don't be alarmed at tilt, the cap'n is doing a radical reverse-turn off the pier here. Trip takes 10-15 minutes in sheltered waters.

If you visit Siboya you might also be interested in jumping across to nearby Ko Jum

If you have extra info or see any mistakes, please post below. If you have questions, post them on the FORUM which can be accessed about 70% down the index page. I don't get a chance to check individual island pages often but I will try to monitor the Forum page.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ko Yao Yai revisited


Fishing and cash-cropping are the main activities on large sleepy Yao Yai. Big on tourism it aint. Nice for laid-back tourism it is.

Yao Yai is a long mountainous island immediately south of Yao Noi and east of Phuket.
It is much less touristy than (not particularly touristy) Yao Noi, despite having nicer beaches, equal scenery and easier access from the busy parts of Phuket. The 4th biggest island in Thailand and only a dozen resorts.

Ko Yao Yai (Long Island big - Ko Noi is Long Island small) is 25KM north to south and Ikm from Yao Noi at the closest point. - map from Heimat Garden. It's roughly equidistant from Phuket and the Krabi coast.

Some of the places featured on this page - modified Google Earth image.



Ao Jak - Ao Po La
The southern pier beach - Loh Jak - pic shot from the pier where 2 car ferries and 2 speedboats arrive most days (Fridays 1 car ferry 1 longtail ferry - 1 speedboat) from the Jian Warnit pier near Phuket town. The buildings are the Phuket Island Hopper’s Beach Club - this outfit runs speedboat daytrips visiting the small beach-fringed coral kay Bamboo Island between Phuket and Yao Yai and then doing luncheon and some beach time here on Loh Jak, plus a mini-tour of the island.

The beach north of the pier 2014

Loh Jak aka Ao Po La and surrounds - image modified Google Earth. Note Fasai Beach Bungalows which is adjacent (pier side) the Beach Club is now (2014) calling itself The White House. Name changes seem the go - was called Ko Yao Beach Bungalows when I first visited in 2008. It's a real hassle changing these images, so Fasai stays.

This is the second-best beach I saw - nice sand, water deep enough low tide for swimming, water reasonably clear (Phang Nga Bay water further north gets a bit murky).

Maybe 150m inland from the pier is GARDEN VIEW RESORT, a budget joint with trad bungalows - it looked to have been refurbished a bit from travelfish’s scathing report.
Ditto THE WHITE HOUSE (when I first checked this place in 2008 is was called KO YAO BEACH BUNGALOWS - in 2013 it was using FASAI BEACH BUNGALOWS) which is immediately on the pier side of the Beach Club - the restaurant has beach views but the bungalows are built slightly further back over a tidal creek running parallel to the sand.

Beach Bungalow’s accommodation in 2008 looked like it’d got a lick of paint both outside and interior. Inside was basic but tidy, clean, with bathroom. If I had not been put off by travelfish's report, I would have been happy with this place walk-in off the ferry in 2008.The tidal creek looks a bit daggy low tide but maybe you have your own little Venice when the water rises. Beach 30m away. 400baht before bargaining when I checked which was fair value in 2008 - but apparently prices have gone up since. They have also added some aircon to a few bungalows. And a few cheapie smaller share bathroom places closer the beach.

The White House had a snazzy new beach restaurant when I called by again in 2014. They had some nice beach lounges and umbrellas set up out of shot and a fair crowd of people - maybe they are poaching Beach Club visitors. The bungalows behind appeared to be much the same as 2008.

The beach isn’t quite as attractive on the other (southern) side of the pier, but some rather nice concrete wall/thatch roof bungalows looked like flash packer standard were going in (2008), about 50% finished - and (naturally) completed in 2014. Look pretty sweet - The Heaven Resort:
There is no village right at the pier. There is a cluster of houses and a few shops maybe 600m up the paved road. HALAVEE RESORT is just off the road to the left in this area - okay budget according to travelfish, but one I didn’t get to check.

Loh Paret
The nicest beach on the island I saw is Loh Paret (Pared) about one-third the way along the west coast from the south.

This shot shows about 20% of Loh Paret beach - the buildings belong to YAO YAI ISLAND RESORT (pix taken from their pier in 2008).

100% of Loh Paret taken from the base of the pier. Buildings in this 2014 shot belong to flash new joint SANTHIYA, which is now claiming ownership of the pier. YAO YAI ISLAND RESORT IS IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT the far side. There is another very flash new place BLUE BAY RESORT just past the beach access road about mid beach. Despite the new resorts, this beach still seems relatively uncrowded and laid back.

The new BLUE BAY resort Feb 2014 - this place is huge, stretching some 300+m back from the beach. Quite a few bungalows still under construction.

Loh Paret and surrounds - labels may be clearer if you click image to expand. Island Resort is about 8km from the arrivals pier at Loh Jak but the place has its own speedboat for transfers.

Note: the above is an image I did before the 2014  update and doesn't show SANTHIYA, just to the left of KY ISLAND RESORT - or BLUE BAY which is about where the "" of "Island Resort" is. But it takes me about 30 minutes to create a new image and I'm feeling lazy.
I think you will find that the two new flash resorts have their own boat access from Phuket. I also noticed a speedboat was now running once a day from the Klong Hia pier you can see above near the bottom left an east coast pier north of Phuket town.

Some of Island Resort’s variety of bungalows - flashpacker prices and pretty nice.
Island Resort now has a new big beachfront restaurant with modern styling somewhat incongruous with the trad bungalows.  With prices maybe 50% more than av budget bungalows it is  no doubt aimed at attracting diners from neighbouring Santhiya.  When I last checked, the place has polarising guest-reports in the travel forums - some loved it, some were not particularly gruntled.

Some budget restaurants and a diving outfit are 150m out of frame to the right where the beach access road terminates.

In 2008 I originally planned to stay at Heimat Gardens , a boutique flashpacker in the small village about 10 minutes walk up the road from this beach. But my tentative enquiries fell thru when long-time guests extended their bookings. Nevertheless the lovely Yamalia picked me up from the ferry, took me on a tour of her place and then transported me about 15 km up-island to an alternative room she had negotiated for the same price. No complaints from me, particularly when the alternative place had a rack rate considerably upmarket from her nice accommodation.
Yamalia's Heimat Garden restaurant - this fronts the beach-road in a little village.
Kinda nice watching the ebb and flow of passers-by. Nice food maybe 20% pricier than the average budget bungalow and a good number of outside diners when I had some tucker around mid-day, a few of them island-dwelling expats with the usual bunch of interesting stories and info.
Yamalia’s rooms are in a modern motel-like block set back about 100m from the road in a really nice tropical garden setting. Very nicely appointed - looked every bit as good (and newer) than the pricier accomm she organised for me. An alternative track to the beach leads thru the jungle to the southern completely deserted end of Loh Paret - 10 minutes.

To La Ma Beach

To La Ma is a 4km long strip of sand in the north-east of the island. Thiwson Resort is about 17km from the southern Loh Jak pier - but only 3km from the north-east Chonglad Pier where frequent boats go across to the Manok pier on Ko Yao Noi. There is another northern Yao Yai pier, Klong Hia about 1km out of frame to the right - longtail ferries and speedbaots from Bang Rong on the central north coast of Phuket land there plus Green Planets speedboat from Krabi's Ao Nang enroute to Bang Rong. There are villages just inland from both northern Yao Yai piers, Ban Chonlad being considerably larger but not particularly big.
Koh Yai Village Resort in the image is on a separate strip of beach on Hing Kong Bay. This midrange or better resort gets good reviews but was too expensive for me in 2014. I stayed at Ban Taranya Resort just south - see down page.

To Ma La beach shot from the base of the spit at it's northern end. To the left the beach runs 4km south along Yai's west coast - to the right it runs across to Chong Lad pier on the island's north coast. Behind is the recurved end of the spit which was rapidly disappearing as the tide came up. This was shot past 3/4 tide - at low tide the amount of sand in this area is pretty awesome. Nice sand, few people but note this far north the water is not particularly clear - too close to all those streams emptying into wonderful Phang Nga Bay. Shallow water at low tide too. I accessed this area from a side road near the pier in Chong Lad Village with signage "beach 1km". Road mainly dirt but good surface at the time (Feb2014)

TIEWSON BUNGALOW - aka Thiwson, Thewson, Thiw Son, Tue Son - my digs on Yao Yai, all by itself towards the southern end of the very long To La Ma beach in the NE of the island.
The shaded restaurant and the sitting cabanas are to the right. The other beachfront buildings are new upmarket accommodation under construction in Nov 08 - the far left one a huge family thing with a big central living area and 2 double bedrooms with bathrooms each side. Huge verandas.
The irony is that this is the joint which initially appealed most to me when doing research into the island - BUT being in the middle of nowhere I thought access would be complicated for what was my first stop off the aircraft.
Thanks Yamalia.

The beach does a slow curve out of frame to the right and goes for about 4km to terminate in the looong sand spit (low tide at least) which reaches across towards Ko Yao Noi.
I jogged a few km up the beach each morning before brekka - no huts or villages. The main road is abt 200m behind the trees and scattered houses are along this.
Mid-tide in this shot. High tide goes right up to the sea wall. Lowest tide leaves 100m of sand (not mud) and really shallow water for another 60m. Water less clear in these northern areas.

My 2nd row garden bungalow at Tiewson.
Yamalia negotiated 800 baht without brekka but the rack rate was 1500 with brekka. This bungalow was upmarket from flashpacker - more lower-midrange, with aircon, fidge, TV. Spacious, spotless. Glass and timber bifold doors, polished floors, lots of storage, big indoor/outdoor* bathroom with western toilet, hot water, bidet gun, towels+soap+shampoo+tissues, good mirrors.
Big veranda, heavily landscaped garden manicured intensively by staff, neat tap for sandy feet at foot of stairs.
Value? Umm, despite such good facilities I’m thinking the list price was a tad high for2008. But I didn't at the time have too much experience with midrange places and I confess I paid 1500 odd for an inferior but beachfront bungalow on Long Beach Phi Phi LOW SEASON in the same year. Thing is, I got the impression from the restaurant meal choices that this place was set-up to attract higher earning locals from Phuket. Nevertheless all is not lost for budget travellers - the 3rd row had 2 traditional budget type bungalows with bathrooms for 600 no brekka before haggling.
* Ladies, don’t worry too much about blokes climbing surrounding trees to check your specifications. Very dangerous activity - I nearly broke my neck.
View from Tiewson’s restaurant on a hazy day.That is the south east corner of Ko Yao Noi on the left and some of the karst islets of southern Phang Nga Bay to the right. Ko Hong, a real popular daytrip karst islet out of Railay/Ao Nang is at far right. The Railay/Ao Nang landscape was visible further south but the curve of the earth hid the lights at night. I got tanked on 90baht big Changs after dinner and wandered south about 2 km along the main road to a viewpoint - could kinda see the lights but when I tried to get closer to the cliff edge on no-moon night I walked into a barbed-wire fence. Well DUH! Imagine an Australian being surprised by a barbed-wire fence ANYWHERE! There are barbed-wire fences in the middle of the Simpson Desert 200km from the nearest homestead…… I still have the scars 6 weeks later from the Yai one.
Nice note - on the walk back down the pitch-black deserted road a couple of locals passed me on a motorbike. They doubled back to ask if I was OK. Nice people on Yao Yai - majority are Muslim.

More on the restaurant - my notes say food around 20% dearer than the average budget bungalow places I normally eat in. Some anomalies - small Chang exxy at 70, big Chang inexxy at 90! My notes also say the stir-fry chicken I had on the last night was one of my top 5 Thai meals ever.

I hired a moped from my Taranya Resort and cruised the 4km north to Thiwson (it seems to be using this spelling these days). Place has upgraded with this very nice beachfront pool adjacent the restaurant. The beachfront bungalows (background) were naturally finished, the back-row budget bungalows upgraded and the cabanas on the other side of the restaurant now a nice beach bar area. The restaurant itself has a better finish and prices now seemed pretty close to the budget bungalow levels I'm used to in 2014. Big Changs still a bargain.
Comparison to Ban Taranya? Well I can't be bothered checking rates and current reader reviews but the places certainly looked around the same standard - if everything else checks out equal I think the cheaper food/beer at Thiwson and the fact that the pool and restaurant positions takes better advantage of the bay views would win me over.

SOME LATE INFORMATION. In Jan 2015 I got an email from a person not too happy about Thiwson.
"We chose Yao Yai as our destination and booked by its internet website for Thiwson beach resort a second line bungalow that if you check the pictures at their website looks amazing (all made of wood, beautiful bathroom...). Our surprise was that they gave us an absolutely different thing for the same price: I'm sorry I did not take any pictures, it was way under the range of what we saw in the pictures. I complained and they said that my bungalow was the exception but the rest were like the pictures (mine was B1). They were trying to get 2.300 per night so I explained them that this was not what I booked so we left and found somewhere else to sleep." 
Not real good for that user. So once again check all user reviews on the websites when deciding on a place to stay. I personally don't let one negative review sway me, but more may be cause to hesitate.

New to me in 2014 - about 200m north of Thiswon is the rather attractive BETTER VIEW BED AND BREAKFAST. I think it is a bit upmarket from Thiwson, gets raves on Tripadvisor.

Hin Kong Beach

Like To La Ma to its north, Hing Kong suffers the low tide blues markedly. Sand okay, and at high tide water plenty deep enough to swim (although the beach got very narrow at highest water). Note lack of rocks on exposed sand making wading etc much more pleasant than many of neighbouring Ko Yao Noi's beaches.
This was shot from the pier adjacent our 2014 accommodation, BAN TARANYA RESORT. Here we are looking north - the rather nice ESMERALDA VIEW RESORT is atop that far headland. Behind the camera about half as far is the very popular 4 star KO YAO VILLAGE resort at the southern end of the beach.

This shot is from the end of the pier maybe half an hour before lowest tide. That line of wavelets in the background suggest the water is even shallower there. At the bottom of the tide sand was exposed right out to that mark - a good 350m off the beach. No way would the local fishermen/longtail-trip boaties be able to use the pier etc under quarter tide. Couple here is using one of Ban Taranya's free kayaks - finding it a bit hard to paddle at this stage.

Ban Tarana was a sweet litle place. This is a nice shot to click-expand and is the view from the front of our "superior" room block - those are the more expensive "honymoon" bungalows in shot. Our room comfy, spacious, well equiped, quiet and probably the best value of all 7 places we stayed at in the Feb 2014 Thailand trip. Although booked out, this little resort never seemed crowded and was always quiet. Inclusive breakfasts although not buffet were pretty good - other meals/booze tended to be 50-100% higher in price than budget bungalow levels, but this is no budget bungalow joint and still a bargain by western standards. Free bicycles and kayaks, motos a bit exxy at 400 baht for 24 hours. Excellent and friendly management and staff - threw in a free trasnsfer to the rather distant north-west pier on checking out.
Less than 5 minutes walk up on the main road is a bunch of local shops and one restaurant. Unfortunately the last's prices were closer to the resort's than to budget.

About 10 minutes stroll south to the end of the beach got us to the well regarded  KO YAO YAI VILLAGE resort. This is shot from the end of the nice rim pool which curves to the left and runs a good 50+m. Sweet. The outlook is NNE towards Ko Hong and neighbouring southern Phang Nga Bay islands. Prices in the restaurant were a bit eye-watering to me, but once again a bargain compared to similar eating in the west. I noticed this area had more rocks exposed at lowest tide but not too bad.

High on the headland at the other (northern) end of Hing Kong beach is ESMERALDA VIEW RESORT - this also rates highly in user reports. Similar but higher views of Phang Nga Bay plus the full length of To La Ma beach and southern Ko Yao Noi. I rode my moto in here to get this shot and didn't have time to discover whether beach access is to To La Ma or Hing Kong.

Aow Say Beach
This is in the far south east of the island, accessed from a short rough track at entry to the fishing village in the opening shot. I wasn't whelmed. This low tide shot shows the maximum sand you will get - at highest tide the water mark indicated no beach. Entry to the water was through the narrow section at right - fairly rocky underfoot fairly rocky. 
There are several other small beaches on the southern half of the east coast, 3 or 4 of which have unsealed access roads. But I'd already done 4+km of rough dirt with a few sections of very bad broken up concrete to get to the southern fishing village so I didn't bother to check them.

Loh Poh Noi Bay beach
There is a longish but narrow (at high tide) beach where the main road ends in the north-west at Loh Poh Bay. This is no killer beach but looked to be a popular place for locals at weekends etc.

Both trips I hired a moped (250 baht 2008 from Thiwson (fair)/400 2014 from Ban Taraanya (a bit high), and checked the island out. A concrete road runs from the southern pier past the two northern piers and then around to Loh Poh Bay bay about three quarters of the way along the west coast. In 2008 the road was in very good condition but 2014 saw some rough patches in the more heavily used sections. There is ribbon development in patches right along this road, along with lots of cash-cropping, and rubber plantations, even some padi areas - and a lot of unused land - plus about 5 villages - the largest being the north-east pier town of Ban Chong Lad. However this is considerably smaller than Yao Noi’s biggest town - ditto total population.
From the north west bay, the road continues along the west coast to rejoin the main north-south road about mid-island - however this section is dirt and was badly cut up after rain and I'm no dirt road motorcyclists, so I gave it a miss and retraced my path.

Main concrete road plus dirt return loop around Loh Poh Bay in the central west. I've also added the sealed side road past Loh Paret Beach in the central west to Lam Yai pier. There are several unsealed side roads not shown.

Midway between the two northern piers is a nice roadside restaurant (budget prices) with a sign pointing to a viewpoint. 10 minutes moderately steep climbing up some good stairs gets you to a nice cabana with the view below.
This is another nice one to click expand - Chong Lad pier mid-distance, southern coast of Yao Noi background.
The guy running the restaurant showed me some great pix of kayak tours he runs in the mangroves north of Loh Poh Bay - nice waterways, monkeys, big croc-like monitors swimming (they are great swimmers), a rubber plantation, visit to one of the nice isolated beaches of the north-west. 1300baht for a full day including lunch. In Feb 2014 he didn't have a booking site online or advertise at resorts - this is one you book walk-in.

Google Earth shows several really nice beaches in the north-west corner - but both side-roads I took ended up at little estuaries where longtail guys eagerly asked me if I wanted to go to Yao Noi.

Oblique Google Earth image of the northern half of the island from the north-west

About half way down the island, Yamalia had shown me where a hiking track leaves from beside some roadside houses and climbs the high east coast mountain ridge to a viewpoint which looks out towards the Krabi mainland. However about 2 dozen roadside houses looked similar next day so I didn’t get to do this. Yamalia’s place runs guided climbs here.

Way down the southern end of the island paved roads which soon turn to dirt head down both sides of the big southern inlet - the fishing village in the opening shot was in the south east of this bay.

Oblique image of south bay - fishing village is about 7km from Loh Jak pier not too far out of shot top left. Aow Say beach mentioned up page is the strip of white above the "g" in "fishing".

Back on the side road past Yamalia’s, Loh Paret Beach and Island Resort is a the Laem Yai pier and fishing village on a nice north-west facing bay .

Not too far south of the southern pier at another bay, Bo Le, I came across a real high end joint - GLOW ELIXIR. The cheapest bungalow they quoted me was 5200 (in 2008) and I notice their website has some 33000 joints! Just the thing for you high-rollers. They weren’t real keen on riff-raff like me having a look - but the website gallery sure looks nice.
Value? Um when you get into this territory, value aint important - except in maybe bragging rights: “You paid only 6000 at the Elixr??”

Glow Elixr is a little over 2km from Loh Jak pier and has exclusivity on its own bay - Bole Bay.

I've just found out there is another resort in the Bole Bay area - the budget Ko Yao Activities Resort. This is set back from the southern-heading road in the image above, about 300m north of the turn-off into Glow Elixr and is supposed to be a pretty nice place, up a step or two on Yai's other budget options. The owner runs kayak tours through the nearby mangroves to the east.

There is an ATM in Ban Chong Lad and another on the main road near the Prue Nai Health Center about 4km north of Loh Jak pier. I think I saw another in a shopping strip on the main road a bit closer the pier.

Yao Yai is a Muslim island. I didn't see booze on sale in any of the local stores or in small restaurants catering for locals. There is no 7-Eleven unlike Yao Noi. Nearly all resorts and some restaurants catering for tourists will sell you a drink but prices vary. If you are on a budget best bring some from Phuket or Krabi etc.

Yao Noi is the perfect island for relaxing on the beach or by the pool, grabbing a meal or a drink and cruising around on mopeds or bicycles (note I saw only a fraction of the bicycles that were cruising on Yao Nao latest trip). An island for partying, shopping etc it's not.
For the restless there are other Yao Yai activities like cruising (lots of longtail and other boat trips advertised to the southern Phang Nga Bay islands such as Ko Hong,to Ko Kai Nai and Koh Kai Nog islets linked below, across to the Krabi beaches and islands, even as far as Phi Phi and Bamboo Island (although a speedboat would cost a bomb to charter that far) There is also diving and snorkelling the nearby Koh Kai Nai and Koh Kai Nog.

TO THE SOUTH OF THE ISLAND (the southern pier - Loh Jak)
2 car ferries at 0830 and 1400, one conventional ferry AT 1000 and 1 speedboat at1700 arrive most days (Fridays 1 car ferry at 0830 1 longtail ferry at 1000 - 1 speedboat at 1700) from the Jian Warnit/Chianwanich pier near Phuket town.
I used the conventional ferry in 2008 - the pier was about 500m “upriver” from the popular Rassada pier used by the Phi Phi ferries, but it took me a while to find a motorcycle taxi guy in Phuket town who knew the location.
On arrival at the southern pier in 2008 there was one old guy with a motorcycle-sidecar and one songthaew like vehicle waiting to transfer passengers.
Of course if you are going to the south of the island and the above times don't suit you, you could always go up to the Bang Rong pier in north-west Phuket for the more frequent transfers (see below). But it is a fair haul back south on the island.

There is one speedboat per day (at 1600) from the Lam Hin pier in central east Phuket to the Laem Yai pier on the southern shore of Loh Poh bay a few km north of Loh Paret. Remember too that at least some of the resorts on the beach run their own transfer boats. And of  course you can catch a boat into the southern or northern pier and grab a pickup truck transfer.
Yamalia offers free transport from the southern pier to her place. It’s about 8km to Loh Paret, so not a bad deal - image Heimat Garden

TO THE NORTH OF THE ISLAND (the north-west Klong Hia pier).
The fairly frequent speedboats and longtail ferries which go from Phuket's north-west Bang Rong pier to Yao Noi also call in at Yao Yai's north-west pier. Because it only takes 5 minutes between the island piers, most timetables show same time of arrival (and departure). For details see the Yao Noi page's GETTING THERE section for times and some info on getting to/from Bang Rong or: (shortcut for times) - part pf a general info site which hopefully will keep up to date with changes. Note this can be a problem with several of the accommodation places' websites - the info can be out of date. Last I looked, Heimat Garden's ferry info hadn't been changed since 2008.
Our 2014 speedboat departs Yoa Yai

In recent years there has been an afternoon (1500) speedboat service operated by Green Planet joining Phuket's Bang Rong pier with Klong Hia - 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 2012 and when we got to Yao Yai there was transport waiting at the pier - some seemed to be from accommodation, some local pickup taxi services (this is the case when the other speedboats and longtails arrive too). When we arruved 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. This is a good deal considering the rip-off taxi prices from Bang Rong (see pic Yao Noi page), but I have an idea Green Planet's may be a bit more expensive Bang Rong to Yai than the very reasonable 200 baht for the public speedboats/100 for the longtails (2014 prices). On our latest trip we didn't consider Green Planet in either direction - the time's didn't suit.

Green Planet's speedboat runs 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 Yai 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.

Apart from the above, a boat leaves Ao Thalen about 40 minutes slow songthaew ride north of Krabi town, at 1300 in the afternoon. Songthaews to Ao Thalen leave from outside the Vogue department store in Krabi town - they go via the bus station and the lady who runs the small travel agency there will tell you when and where it will arrive.
Only one service a day is not great but you could catch one of the more frequent boats out of Ao Thalen to Yao Noi's central-north Tha Khao pier, catch a songthaew around to No's southern Manoc/Manoh pier (150-200 baht in 2014) and then one of the hourly public longtail ferries across to Yao Yai's Klong Hia pier (see below).

Longtail taxi boats shuttle to and from Klong Hia to the other northern pier on Yao Yai (Chong Lad) regularly - 50 baht in 2014/10 minutes. You can charter one if you don’t want to wait for about 5 times the cost. Transport waiting at the arrivals pier.

I shortcut the process in the opposite direction in 2008 by going direct from Thiwson’s beach to Laem Seafood Bungalow’s pier on the south-east corner of Noi on Tiewson’s longtail for 200baht which for the greater distance involved I thought a very fair price.

See the Yao Noi page for details.

EXTRA INFO - John Bassett sent a January 2011
Trip Report on Yao Yai.
He caught the Green Planet speedboat from Ao Nang to Yao Yai via Yao Noi..


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