INTRODUCING KOH YAO NOI
Though just a short boat ride away from Phuket, Koh Yao Noi is a far cry from the buzz and bustle of its island neighbour. Fishermen sell just-caught seafood straight from their boats. Noisy tuk tuks give way to peaceful kayak trips through mangroves. And there’s little to interrupt your view from the east coast beaches facing the splendour of Phang Nga Bay.
Lesser-known and laid-back ‘Small Long Island’ is a refreshing take on Thai escapes.
Things to do
Long tail, kayak or speedboat – getting around Koh Yao Noi is best by water. You could spend every day on a different island just off the shore, diving amongst barnacle-clad shipwrecks and coral or searching for natural swimming holes. You can even travel to Koh Yao Noi’s sister isle, Yao Yai, within half an hour.
From the interiors of boutique Koh Yao Noi hotels to sarongs worn by villagers, batik is a major decorative tradition on this Thai island. To creative it, locals stretch cotton over a wooden frame and leave the painted article to dry in the sun. You can get hands on too. Thai Boxing is another big thing here. So if you’ve energy to burn, time to play with and know a bit about it, it’s possible to take part in training sessions.
After beach-worshipping and watery adventures, rock climbing is popular on Koh Yao Noi. Routes tend to be un-crowded, and views take in rice fields, coconut trees and rubber farms. Don’t have a head for heights? Stay closer to the ground on a guided trek to see thousand-year-old trees. The dense mangrove forests are another tropical must-see, with opportunities to boat or kayak through them.
When following trails inland, keep an eye on the trees. In amongst the leaves you could see monkeys and the bright beaks of Hornbills.
Top tip from SLH