This is the island I’ve been looking for all of my life. No markets, no vendors, no traffic, no noise and hardly any people. There are only a handful of places to stay and one expensive resort. This is what I remember Thailand to be 15 years ago. Just locals and a few tourist. I love it here. There is nothing to do but relax and listen to the sounds of nature. Koh (means island) Yao Yai is an Island in Phang Nga Bay. It is the largest island in the Ko Yao Archipelago. . The population is 3000.
We arrived here by boat from noisy Phuket. The ride was about 45 minutes. Seeing the island from the boat, I knew it was going to be special. The pier we stopped at was closet to our hotel. We were the only two to arrive here. There was one taxi waiting. He started at 600 baht ($17.00USD) to take us to the hotel about 2 miles away. Doug talked the driver down to 300 baht then it was a stand off. We quickly realized there were no other options and paid the guy the 300 baht ($8.41USD). The ride was on a two lane paved road with nothing in sight but goats, chickens, palm trees and two local restaurants.
Doug initially wanted to stay at a 5 star resort as a splurge but I talked him into staying at a smaller property. We were so glad we did. The Better View Bed & Breakfast was perfect. Each room is a bungalow overlooking the ocean. The infinity pool was beautiful and the grounds had lots of space to walk around and chill.
The side of the island we stayed on swimming can only be done during high tide. When the tide is low you can walk all the way out on sand.
Roosters, chickens and their babies visited the property throughout the day. At night a white rabbit came out and hopped around. Of course I was feeding all of them, all of the time. I would save my pancakes at breakfast for them. I went to the local market and bought donuts for the chickens but they didn’t really care for them. Strangely they loved a jelly sandwich I bought for them. I thought it was just bread initially until I broke it apart. I ordered steamed squid at a local restaurant and didn’t like it. I took it “to go” and fed it to the chickens. They loved it.
Even though the island is remote, the locals know how to profit. The prices for food is very high compared to the other islands. Even the small local restaurant we visited charged the same prices as our hotel. We spent an average of $50.00(USD) a day on lunch and dinner combined. I know it may not sound like much but that’s really high for Thailand. Especially for Thai dishes. Most of the locals are Muslim. Alcohol (and tampons) won’t be found in any stores. The resorts sell alcohol to their guest and the price is very high per drink. I quit drinking years ago so this is a big money saver for me.
We rode our motorbike to the most expensive resort here (Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa). We planned to spend the day on this side of the island swimming in the ocean. The tide doesn’t go down on this side. We wanted to have lunch and spend the day at the resort and spa. The resort was really nice but it didn’t have the essence of the island. Being inside the huge gates (literally) it was like we landed in any 5 star beach resort in America. After being told we would have to pay $169.00(USD) to use the facilities (beach chair and umbrella) plus a $40.00(USD) minimum tab at the restaurant we left. Leaving means we walked off the upper deck where their chairs were and set up our towels on the beach. The beaches are public so they have no authority there. The attitude attached to the English asshole employee they called over to tell us about the charges was incredible. The room rate there was $115.00(USD) so it was baffling that he would charge us almost double to use the chairs. We knew going in that it would cost something but not $209.00(USD)! We found a hammock under a tree on the beach and stayed there all day. It was much better than being on a lounge chair on cement crowded into each other. There was a stand selling fresh coconuts on the beach, so we drank fresh juice and talked to the locals. It was priceless.
This was the perfect place to unwind and relax from all of the sightseeing and noise. It’s nice to know that there are still places in the world that are “untouched” by the machine of tourism. Despite a few short rainfalls and noisy children in the pool the last few days here, it was paradise. The people of Koh Yao Yai are so friendly and genuinely care about others. Most of the locals are Muslim and very accepting of other races, creeds and colors coming to their beautiful island. Everyone we met smiled and welcomed us.
So far, this is my favorite place of all since we began our world trip. I know one day I will return to this beautiful island.