When it comes to travel, can you be selfish?
Can I keep special certain places to myself, or is it even more immoral because I am a travel blogger? Don’t I have to share everything; the good, the bad and the ugly?
Well, I have often wondered this and in the case of the Thai island Koh Yao Noi I have concluded to share. I have decided to do this because after careful consideration I believe it will stand the test of time and an influx of travellers. The island itself is hardly a secret thanks to it’s location less than an hour by boat from Phuket and yet it remains a quiet, mostly unspoilt and undeveloped traditional Thai island. I would even go so far as to call it sleepy and peaceful.
Koh Yao Noi, which literally means Little Long Island, is the most developed and populated of the Koh Yao islands, with Koh Yao Yai (Big Long Island) being mostly over run by wild rainforest. The accommodation options on each reflect this, with only a handful of very basic and homestay options available on Koh Yao Yai. Koh Yao Noi has more beds to offer ranging from a few luxury resorts to cheap and cheerful beach bungalows.
The main hub of the island, if you can call a crossroads and less than twenty shops a hub, is found a couple of kilometers inland from Koh Yao Noi’s main pier, Suka Pier. What is telling about Koh Yao Noi’s status as one of Thailand’s inexplicably best-kept secrets is that it is not catered for tourists, yet. Not all the shops have signs in English, there are relatively few shops selling Singha vests and there are even fewer bars. At the centre of the crossroads is the French-Danish owned restaurant Je t’aime which serves local and international dishes with a Thai smile.
The beaches are varied with the best to be found on the south of the island. Koh Yao Noi looks out across a number of small, uninhabited islands and rocks making for enticing views and enjoyable sunset and sunrises. The tide can vary considerable on Koh Yao so if you are planning on doing any kind of kayaking or other aquatic activities you would be wise to check the times of low and high tides. Most accommodation options will have a list of these.
The number of roads stretching up, down and across the island can be counted on two hands and don’t be surprised if they suddenly turn into a rocky dirt track snaking through the island’s numerous rubber plantations, particularly in the north of the island. Rubber is one of the island’s main source of income with families working their own plot of rubber trees and using traditional methods to catch, stretch and finish the rubber. Fishing is another family business on the island and so there should be no excuses for an unfresh fish supper on Koh Yao Noi.
During our time on Koh Yao Noi we stayed at Koh Yao Bay Pavillions, a small boutique style resort that sits very comfortably in the middle in terms of both cost and location but still offers a very unique and personal approach to holiday makers; the whole resort has an approximate maximum capacity of 20 and meals are cooked virtually in front of you in a homely communal “sala” (outdoor living area).
With this unspoken mutual desire to maintain a quiet and traditional way of Thai life, comes an obvious lack of extensive entertainment options; there’s no Crazy Golf to be found here. However, kayaking, diving, and snorkelling are all possible and long tail boat drivers will be only too happy to take you to a nearby uninhabited island for snorkelling or exploring. If you’re after a bigger thrill hire a mountain bike and attack some of the off-road roads or explore the rest of the island which is easily done within a day. You can also keep an eye out for the island’s few water buffalo.
So there you are. I’ve gone and done it now. Spilled the beans on perhaps one of the last few easily accessible sleepy Thai islands and thus the exodus commences. Or maybe not. There is something about Koh Yao Noi which makes me think that a change is not gonna come and that the proudly traditional and unassuming families who welcome tourists but are not desperate for their numbers to increase will keep their home as quiet, calm and quaint as it is now for as long as they can.