Ko Yao Noi
Known for its low-key tourist scene, ultra-luxurious resorts, and peace-loving Muslim culture, Ko Yao Noi is an island idyll hidden among the famous party islands and backpacker beach towns of the Andaman Sea.
The great thing about Thailand’s islands is there’s something for everyone. There are party islands and lazy islands, big islands and small islands, islands for those on a shoestring, and islands for those who want the very best of luxury. Tucked in between renowned party paradise Phuket and the busy beach towns of the Krabi coastline, Ko Yao Noi lies at the quieter end of the spectrum, attracting a small number of visitors every year with its clutch of high-end resorts and natural, understated charm.
Part of the attraction, for us, is its diversity of landscapes. It’s only 140 square kilometres in total, but Ko Yao Noi has a coast lined with tangled mangroves, a lush interior with forests and rubber plantations, rice paddies patrolled by wandering buffalo, and views of the towering karsts of Phang Nga Bay. It also has stilt fishing villages where life has changed little in decades, and stereotypical white-sand beaches aplenty — although at low tide many reveal rocky mud flats, which might disappoint those who like their beaches sandy and their waters ultra-clear.
Despite its reputation for peace and quiet, you certainly won’t be bored on Ko Yao Noi. Don’t expect raucous parties, but do expect some of the friendliest people in Thailand, and outdoor activities galore, from sea kayaking and rock climbing to diving and snorkelling. This is island living at its chilled-out finest, and we’d take its subtler beauties over a beach party any day.