Koh Yao Yai | Thailand

KOH_YAO_YAI_1So Koh Yao Noi was a little slice of heaven and we didn't really want to leave except for the fact that we had a booking at Yao Yai Village on neighboring island Koh Yao Yai to celebrate my 30th birthday in style. Koh Yao Yai is bigger than Koh Yao Noi and most of it looks untouched. We took the short (few minutes) speedboat ride over to Yao Yai and our welcome drink at Yao Yai Village was waiting for us. Yao Yai Village is comprised of several private bungalows set among the jungle and hillside where cicadas and other insects hum into the night. Each bungalow is unique but each has an impressive balcony or terrace. KOH_YAO_YAI_2Our bungalow was nestled among the trees with perfect privacy. We even had our own private driveway! (For when you want a lift from the hotel golf cart.) Goodbye backpacker life for the weekend! Hello luxury. KOH_YAO_YAI_3Our terrace is bigger than most apartments I've lived in and boasts some amazing decor... KOH_YAO_YAI_4 KOH_YAO_YAI_5This is probably the most comfortable bed since the trip began and the bathroom with outdoor shower (amazing!) is larger than many rooms we've stayed in. I could literally move into the bathroom and be happy. KOH_YAO_YAI_6On my actually birthday (March 2nd), housekeeping had left a present on the bed... KOH_YAO_YAI_7.1Did I mention they have an infinity pool? Or that there are two of them? We were loving life. KOH_YAO_YAI_7 KOH_YAO_YAI_8The beach is not so much a swimming beach and the tide recedes quite a bit which makes for some dramatic landscape. KOH_YAO_YAI_9 KOH_YAO_YAI_10 KOH_YAO_YAI_11 KOH_YAO_YAI_12 KOH_YAO_YAI_13 KOH_YAO_YAI_14KOH_YAO_YAI_15 KOH_YAO_YAI_16 KOH_YAO_YAI_17KOH_YAO_YAI_18 KOH_YAO_YAI_19 KOH_YAO_YAI_20We didn't really leave the premises for 3 nights. We enjoyed all of the amenities and wished we could move into our bungalow. On my birthday Rick treated me to some spa services where I received a sixty minute massage and sixty minute facial. Thirty doesn't feel so bad. We were sad to part and return to the realities of backpacking. The good news was there was one last surprise! We arranged for a speedboat transfer to Phuket and on that particular day, no one else had booked a transfer so we had our own private boat! The ride was not long enough (30 minutes) but it was the perfect ending to an epic birthday weekend. KOH_YAO_YAI_21 KOH_YAO_YAI_22 KOH_YAO_YAI_23 KOH_YAO_YAI_24 KOH_YAO_YAI_25We arrived in Phuket to our room that was much smaller than our previous bathroom, reeked of cigarettes, and was pitch dark. We were suffering from post Yao Yai Village blues. Back to backpacking.


Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

Koh_Yao_Noi_1I was tipped off about Koh Yao Noi by fellow travel blogger Leslie aka Chic Adventurer and I'm so glad we built it into our plans. The Yao Islands (Koh Yao Noi & Koh Yao Yai) are situated between Phuket and Krabi. It's about 30 minutes via speedboat from either location. We caught the speedboat from Ao Nang, Krabi and planned on a few nights in Yao Noi and then in Yao Yai. They islands are accessible yet feel very remote. We stayed at Tabeak View Point and were pleased to find budget lodging done right! The bungalows are perched on a hill with a fantastic view and each has a large balcony to take it in. It's simple and rustic but more importantly, it's clean and it was so hot that we didn't mind the cold showers. For a double with fan it will set you back 700 baht/night ($21-22).

Koh_Yao_Noi_2 Koh_Yao_Noi_3As we walked around we found rubber tree plantations and peace and quiet!!! The roads were empty and we were loving the lush landscape.

Koh_Yao_Noi_4 Koh_Yao_Noi_5Beware falling cashews! I never knew that cashews were actually part of a fruit, the cashew apple! Moreover I didn't realize that they aren't technically nuts, but instead a seed, and at this raw stage the seed shell is filled with anacardic acid and can create a skin rash on contact. Cashews become edible upon roasting to neutralize the acid. (Cashew apples below)Koh_Yao_Noi_6We eventually spilled out onto a beach in serious low tide. It was like a beautiful ocean desert.

Koh_Yao_Noi_7Koh_Yao_Noi_8 Koh_Yao_Noi_9 Koh_Yao_Noi_10 Koh_Yao_Noi_11 Koh_Yao_Noi_12The tide was so low that it was a long walk out until you could properly dunk. What a view!

Most people explore Yao Noi via scooter, but we were aching for some exercise and decided to explore on bikes. It's a hilly island so parts were quite rigorous but 20+ kilometers later, we had pretty much seen the perimeter of the island and tired out our muscles. The east side of the island has most of the accommodations and the west side was really quiet and we enjoyed riding through the local villages. (Biking photos taken with my small digital camera)

Koh_Yao_Noi_13 Koh_Yao_Noi_14 Koh_Yao_Noi_15Koh_Yao_Noi_16 Koh_Yao_Noi_17So we've finally found an idyllic Thai Island. It is beautiful. The beaches are not fantastic for laying out and swimming which is maybe how it has escaped mass tourism, but it is the place for fantastic views and peace and quiet. (Photos below taken with an iphone)

Koh_Yao_Noi_18 Koh_Yao_Noi_19 Koh_Yao_Noi_20 Koh_Yao_Noi_21Yao Noi is fantastic but it was time to head to Yao Yai where we we celebrated my 30th birthday in style.