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Ko Yao : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Ko Yao, with Phuket to the west and Krabi to the east Ko Yao (เกาะยาว), sometimes written Koyao, is a group of islands between Phuket and Krabi. There are two main islands, Ko Yao Noi (“small long island”) and Ko Yao Yai, (“big long island”) with Noi being the more developed of the two. Contents […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Yao (เกาะยาว), sometimes written Koyao, is a group of islands between Phuket and Krabi. There are two main islands, Ko Yao Noi (“small long island”) and Ko Yao Yai, (“big long island”) with Noi being the more developed of the two.

Understand

Ko Yao Noi remains a beautiful island, where most people believe that the island should be preserved from human despoilation. It is often described as one of the last islands in the region to not be over-developed.

Ko Yao Yai is also a natural beauty, the less developed of the two islands. Ko Yao Yai is significantly larger than Ko Yao Noi.

Sea Gypsies (Moken people) inhabited the area before anybody else, except maybe other nomadic people like forest hunters and collectors (Sakai, Negritos). The 3,500 or so inhabitants of Ko Yao Noi are thought to be recent migrants from the Malay Peninsula (Satun, Trang).

The Mon population, linguistically and culturally belonging to the Khmer ethnolinguistic group, settled in peninsular Thailand ruling over maritime states like Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat). They melded with southern migrants from Malaysia and with northerners (Thai), over centuries of commercial exchange and political conflict. Most probably the Mon stock remains prevalent for most of the people living in southern Thailand today, including the people of Ko Yao.

Numerous cave paintings hidden in the many islands of the bay, extending from 2,000 years ago to last century, attest to the influence of distinct communities in the emergence of a mixed origin population, living now in the provinces of Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, and Satun.

The most recent migrations (17th-18th centuries) from Satun and Trang to Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi is corroborated by the particular dialect spoken on the island. It bears obvious Malaysian lexical traces, particularly regarding toponyms and vernacular names of the flora.

The main industries on the island are fishing and rubber plantations. A little rice farming and some fruit, palm, and coconut plantations are present. Boat building and farming techniques here have been passed from generation to generation and, while some of the youngsters leave Ko Yao to seek the bright lights of Phuket, most return to their tight-knit community.

Stay with our Hotel Partners on Ko Yao

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Arrive at Phuket either by:

  • By long-distance bus from Bangkok or one of the cities north of Phuket.
  • By air to Phuket International Airport. Air Asia and Silk Air have regular international flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Domestically, Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia fly from Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui for generally less than USD30-50 one-way.

Boats depart Phuket’s (two piers), Krabi (Tha Len), and Phang Nga for Ko Yao Noi at the following times:

  • Phuket (Bang Rong Pier): 12 different departure times between 7:45 to 17:30 of either slow boat (120 bath) or speed boat (200 bath). There is no ticket counter, tickets are sold on the boat. The ferry go first to Koh Yao Yai, then to Koh Yao Noi. The pier which is in he far north of the island Phuket can be reached by taxi for about 2000 bath from Phuket town or public bus (large Songthaew, takes about 60 minutes) for 50 bath.
  • Phuket (Chianwanich Pier (near Ratsada Pier) – Only to Ko Yao Yai): Every day: 08:30, 17:00 (speedboat) | Sundays-Thursdays: 10:30, 14:00 | Fridays: 10:00 | Saturdays: 06:00, 10:30, 14:00
  • Krabi (Tha Len): 11:00 and 13:00
  • Phang Nga: 07:00

Boats depart Ko Yao Noi for Phuket (two piers), Krabi (Tha Len) and Phang Nga at the following times:

  • Phuket (Bang Rong Pier): 07:30; 10:00; 13:30 and 15:00
  • Phuket (Chianwanich Pier (near Ratsada Pier) – Only from Ko Yao Yai): Every day: 07:20 (speedboat), 10:30 | Sundays-Thursdays: 08:00, 15:00 | Fridays: 14:00 | Saturdays: 08:00, 14:00
  • Krabi (Tha Len): 07:30
  • Phang Nga: 07:30

All trips cost between 100-140 Thai Baht per person (except the speedboat), 120 Thai Baht to transport a motorcycle, one-way. Pay on the boat.

Regular longtails ply between Chonglad Pier on Ko Yao Yai and Manok Pier on Ko Yao Noi during daylight hours. 20 Thai Baht per person, 30 Thai Baht extra to bring a motorcycle, takes 10 to 15 minutes

Get around

Ko Yao Noi

Ko Yao Noi covers about 50 square kilometres. There is no accommodation available within walking distance of Manok Pier. There will generally be between ten and twenty tuk-tuks waiting to take you to accommodation for a fare of about 85 Thai Baht.

Ko Yao Noi has approximately 18 km of concrete and dirt road around it. The main road is a two-lane concrete road that rings the entire perimeter of the island, excluding the northernmost parts, where there are only dirt roads. There are several interior roads that are a combination of either sand/dirt or concrete.

The most efficient way to get around the island is to hire a motorbike, and cost 200-300 Thai Baht per day. No licence is required and helmets are provided. Enquire at your hotel.

Tuk-tuks are available to give you lifts across the island. Simply flag one of these vehicles down as they drive past. Failing that, if you simply wait most locals will be happy to give you a lift. That may mean squishing onto a motorbike that already has three Thai adults and a baby on it.

Bicycles are also an excellent mode of transport and the main perimeter road around the island only has one large hill that must be navigated. The flat terrain makes it perfect for leisurely rides. Bicycles can be hired from Sabai Corner Bungalows or most accommodations.

Ko Yao Yai

As with Ko Yao Noi, the most efficient way to get from the Chonglad Pier to any accommodation is to make use of the tuk-tuks that will be awaiting your arrival. As Ko Yao Yai is larger than Ko Yao Noi, there is no exact fare, but anything over 150 Thai Baht is usually too much.

Once at your accommodation, most larger resorts will have motorcycles or bicycles for rent. Due to the terrain on Ko Yao Yai it may be wise to hire an automatic transmission motorbike for travelling longer distances (>10 km) and using bicycles when travelling shorter distances.

You can also walk along the roads and either flag down a taxi or try to get a lift from the locals. Ko Yao Yai, like Ko Yao Noi is a very safe island and vehicles rarely travel above 15 km/h, so hitch-hiking is not exactly a dangerous pursuit here.

See

Ko Yao Noi is mountainous in the centre and has beaches to either side. The east side has beaches suitable for swimming and snorkelling and the west is a picturesque blend of rice flats and mangrove trees. The island is a sanctuary for at least four species of hornbills, very commonly seen around.

The beaches on the east side are (from north to south): Hat Ao Loh Ha, Hat Sai Kaew, a nameless beach south of Hat Sae Kaew, Hat Tha Kao, Hat Klong Jaak and Hat Pasai. Hat Ao Loh Ha is occupied entirely by The Paradise Koh Yao Resort and not open to public. It can be reached by boat or over a about 10 km long rough jungle path. Hat Sae Kaew and the nameless beach just south of it are absolutely deserted and beautiful. They can be reached by a four km jungle path by foot or motorcycle (if you have proper driving skills), but not by car (at least in off-season the path is in dire condition). Hat Tha Kao, Hat Klong Jaak, and Hat Pasai are literally next to the main road and equipped with bungalows, bars, and shops.

Do

  • DragonHeart , ✉ info@dragonheartthailand.com. Indonesian Pinisi sailing boat with day cruises to surrounding islands, includes a full Thai-style buffet meal prepared on-board, fresh fish and Thai curries, music, lots of pillows, plenty of breeze and friendly crew.
  • Ko Yao International Diving School (Ko Yao Noi). Diving at Lam Sai Village Hotel in Ban Laem Sai.
  • Koh Kayak Expeditions. This small operation is fun and friendly and they help you design your own adventure away from the crowds.

Eat

  • Cha’s Noodle Shop (Ban Prunai).
  • Coconut Island (Along the main road between accommodations and the town). Delicious seafood suited to budget travellers.
  • Good View Restaurant. Daily, 10:00-22:00. Really good seafood.
  • Je t’aime Restaurant, 21/1 Moo 1 (At the market just opposite the 7-Eleven). 09:00-22:00. French- and Danish-owned restaurant. At the centre of the island. Serves daily specialities, French and Thai dishes, fresh seafood, freshly made coffee, beer, wine and cocktails. Free Wi-Fi is available for guests.
  • La Luna (Pizzeria & Bar), Ko Yao Noi (Between Baan Thakow and Pasai Beach). Real Italian wood-fired pizza. Romano, the owner, serves other Italian dishes, homemade bread, fine wines and sweet desserts! An open and friendly atmosphere, good music and a great place to hang out.
  • 8.08138298.6106791 Lam Sai Lobster Seafood, Ko Yao Noi (At the very southeast corner of the island, 500 m after the inactive Tha Laem Sai Pier.). High quality seafood restaurant with almost no meat dishes (tom yam gai and vegetarian dishes are available). Porch is built onto the sea. Dishes come in the different sizes and prices (e.g. tom yam gung for 180, 250 or 350 Thai Baht). A medium sized dish with rice is enough for even a hungry Westerner. 150-500 Thai Baht.
  • The Pyramid Bar & Restaurant (Between Sabai Corner Bungalows and Tabaek Viewpoint Bungalows). This bar and restaurant is a thatched roof-style bungalow overlooking the sea to Krabi. It is open all year. They have an extensive menu serving everything from Western breakfast, wraps, pasta, to the best burgers and pizza on the island. Everything is homemade: bread, burger buns, tortillas. They also have a very good dessert menu. They serve a variety of beer, cocktails and have a good wine list. Live music on Fridays, when everyone comes out, including the local people, to have a great dinner and dance.
  • Rice Paddy (Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour), Pasai Beach (At the edge of the small rice field beginning of Pasai). Small, simple place, but great atmosphere and background music. Quality of ice cream and food (Western and Thai) is amazing, prices reasonable. Gourmet-style meals with ingredients hard to find elsewhere on the island. All meals are available vegetarian with mock meat.
  • Sabai Corner Bungalows. Owned by an Italian. One of the few restaurants offering delicious Italian food. However, make sure that the Italian, Nonna, is residing over the resort kitchen when you eat here. If not, you will be served the Thai chef’s interpretation of spaghetti, tomato sauce from a bottle, and cold pasta.
  • Tabaek Viewpoint Bungalow. Owned by Paramote, the local police officer on Ko Yao Noi. His Japanese wife Kazuyo is an excellent Japanese cook. No sushi, but Kazuyo offers up authentic Japanese food for under 75 Thai Baht. The set of bungalows is up a dirt road. The top bungalow is Paramote’s and this is where the restaurant is located.
  • Thai Hideaway Restaurant, ✉ jasmin@thaihideaway.com. A private pool villa restaurant with amazing views. Fresh seafood BBQs as well as authentic Thai food and sandwiches are available. Book in advance.

Drink

Many of the restaurants also have lively bars.

Where to stay in Ko Yao

  • Activities Resort, 106/8 Moo 3 Prunai (Ko Yao Yai, near Loh Jak Pier). Many activities available. 1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Elixir Resort (Ko Yao Yai). Hosts Elixir Divers dive centre on the resort premises.
  • Esmeralda View Resort. 900-2,500 Thai Baht.
  • Hill House, 6/4 Moo 4 (Ko Yao Noi) , ✉ info@hillhouse-kohyaonoi.com. New bungalows with double fan, fridge, private hammock on a big balcony and a family atmosphere. Set on a tropical hill with stunning view over the limestones. 900-1,100 Thai Baht.
  • Koyao Bay Pavilions, 46/7 Moo 5 (Ko Yao Noi) , ✉ kbpmanager@koyaobay.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Three beachfront pavilions surrounding a swimming pool in a lush tropical garden. Surrounded by a white-sand beach and rice paddies with an excellent restaurant.  (updated Jun 2019)
  • Ko Yao Island Resort, 24/2 Moo 5 (Ko Yao Noi). Bungalows designed in traditional Thai-style. Each villa faces the beach, has its own private garden. Rim Thalay Restaurant on premises is open from 07:30-22:00, and offers delicious and authentic Ko Yao dishes. Excellent BBQs in the evenings. -.
  • Lam Sai Village Hotel. Pool and air conditioned rooms. Also has muay Thai training available.
  • The Paradise Koh Yao, 24 Moo 4 (Ko Yao Noi). A blend of boutique beach resort and health spa. Private villas and studios adjacent to 400 m of untouched beach providing year-round natural luxury.
  • Six Senses Yao Noi Beyond Phuket, 56 Moo 5 (Ko Yao Noi). Spa resort. 20,000+ Thai Baht.
  • Tha Khao Bay View, 4/8 Moo 4, Ko Yao Noi (Hat Tha Kao Beach. From Tha Kao pier, turn right along the road and walk for about 10 min. From Manok Pier, take a songthaew). The ultra-friendly and attentive Mr Ling and his lovely family run the Bay View. The huts have en suite bath, are clean, and are on the side of the hill about 20 m above the beach, and so have wonderful views across the bay. Mr Ling’s brother runs a highly recommended, very chilled out bar made from a boat on the beach below. Food in their restaurant is consistently good. 500-700 Thai Baht, high season.
  • Thiwsonbeach, 58/4 Moo 4, Ko Yao Yai (Phuket Town and Bang Rong Pier). Check-out: 12:00. 12 beachfront bungalows. Views of Phang Nga Bay. Stunning sunrise. 800-3,000 Thai Baht.
  • Yao Yai Resort.
  • Waterhouse Koh Yao Noi, 44/4 Moo 5. Check-in: After 15:00, check-out: Before Noon. A tranquil rental home available to book through airbnb. Built over the water, this home provides the perfect base of operation for visitors to Ko Yao Noi hoping to explore the unspoiled natural beauty of the island. 2340+ Thai Baht. (updated May 2018)

Telecommunications in Ko Yao

Being one of the biggest islands in Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi is home to a hospital, several schools and a post office. 24 hour electricity supply, Internet access, mobile telephone connection and ATMs available.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

Southern Thailand

Phi Phi Island : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand. Understand Aerial photo of Ko Phi Phi Don The named islands are: Ko Phi Phi Don. The largest and only populated island.  Ko Phi Phi Leh. A smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie The Beach were filmed […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.

Understand

The named islands are:

  • Ko Phi Phi Don. The largest and only populated island.
  • Ko Phi Phi Leh. A smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie The Beach were filmed there. Uninhabited apart from birds nest harvesters and a few Maya Bay wardens. Expect plenty of tourists during daylight hours, especially in Maya Bay, also known as “the beach”.
  • Bida Nok and Bida Nai. Two small adjacent limestone karst formations to the south of Phi Phi Leh, with near-vertical cliff walls rising from the sea.
  • Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island). A small low-lying islet to the north of Phi Phi Don with several good beaches.
  • Ko Yung (north of Ko Phi Phi Don). The island has a stone beach in the east and small sandy beaches at the foot of the hills. It is teeming with colourful coral reefs.

Most of the development of Phi Phi Don is in or around Ton Sai Village, which is on the low, sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly spurs that comprise the rest of the island. There are also other, quieter resorts on Long Beach, Laem (Cape) Thong, and at other less accessible areas of the island.

Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when the island’s entire infrastructure was nearly wiped out. Redevelopment was, however, swift, and building regulations in place to limit the height of new buildings to preserve the island’s stunning views.

While very laid back, many of the local islanders are Muslim. You will lose considerable respect if you walk around town in your skimpies (this applies to Buddhist areas of Thailand too!). While many thoughtless tourists do parade down Main Street in their Speedos or thong bikinis, to avoid offending your hosts, it’s best just to throw on a pair of shorts or a sarong. Similarly, going topless on the beach, while grudgingly tolerated by most locals, is also best avoided.

Stay with our Hotel Partners on Ko Phi Phi

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Climate & Weather

Weather in the region is tropical. There are only two seasons: the hot season from Jan-Apr, and the rainy season from May-Dec. Temperatures during the year average 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in, say, Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily over short periods.

History

From archaeological evidence, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand, dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name after the meaning of “Krabi”, which means “sword”. This may have arisen from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.

The name Phi Phi (pronounced “pee pee”) originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were “Pulao Pi ah Pi”. The name refers to the mangrove wood found here.

Geography

Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (in fact, there are six islands in Phi Phi). They lie 50 km southeast of Phuket and are part of Had Nopparattara-Ko Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and amazing marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 rai (about 39,000 hectares; 97,000 acres).

Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le are the largest and most well-known islands. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.

There are two villages on Ko Phi Phi under the administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province.

Get in

Note: Tourism to Ko Yoong in the Phi Phi island chain and Ko Tachai in the Similan Islands National Park was shut down permanently in 2016. Maya Bay (on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea) is closed indefinitely (as of October 2018) to repair environmental damage caused by an glut of visitors.

By plane

Krabi International Airport , Tel. +66 75 636541-2, is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40 km from Ao Nang, and 23 km from Had Yao.

Thai Airways operates daily direct flights from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok Airways flies direct from Krabi and Ko Samui nearly every day of the week. Nok Air operates daily flights to Krabi from Bangkok (Don Mueang).

Air Asia has a special “Island Transfer” offering that includes a flight from Bangkok to Phuket, surface transport, and a ferry to Ko Phi Phi. It can be booked at their website.

  • Air Asia, Tel. +66 2 5159999.
  • Bangkok Airways, Tel. +66 2 6555555, +66 2 2655678.
  • Nok Air, Tel. +66 2 6272000 or 1318.
  • Thai Airways, Tel. 1566, +66 2 2800060, +66 2 6282000, +66 2 3561111, +66 75 701591–93.

The international departure tax extra charge is 700 Thai Baht but is included in most ticket prices. Domestic departure tax is included in the price of the flight.

National Car Rental and Budget Car Rental have branches at the airport. Motorcycle taxis are available outside the terminal.

Krabi Limousine (Tel. +66 75 692073) has a desk inside the terminal and provides “limousine taxi” (using large air-conditioned sedans) transport to Krabi for 500 Thai Baht, Phuket for 2,500 Thai Baht.

Air-conditioned airport bus service is 90 Thai Baht to Krabi. The bus service meets all incoming flights and serves most outgoing flights. A songthaew to Krabi town is 40 Thai Baht from the road near the airport. Going to the airport they will drop you right at the departure terminal.

By boat

Travelling to Ko Phi Phi by boat is how almost everyone arrives. Ferries leave from Phuket and Mainland Krabi daily (from Krabi, two ferries a day, 09:00, and 14:30, and from Phuket at 09:00, 11:00, and 14:30 (11:00 during high season only). Sailing time from Phuket or Krabi is 1.5-2 hours. Tickets can be purchased on the dock, from tourist offices, most local guesthouses and hotels or online at Phi Phi Ferry or Phuket Ferry (Online seems to be more expensive). There is a 20 Thai Baht per person fee required on the pier for “keeping Ko Phi Phi clean”. Unfortunately, there is still plenty of rubbish on the beaches.

Ticket prices:

  • From Ko Lanta: 350 Thai Baht.
  • From Krabi Town: 300 Thai Baht from PP Family, office right by the pier in town. Includes songthaew to the pier outside town. The normal passenger ferry does not leave from the centre of town any more, but from a new passenger port (Klong Jilard Pier Tel. +66 75 620052) about 3 km outside Krabi Town. Free taxi transfer to the pier should be included in the price of your ticket. Many times they’ll take you to a travel agent near the Chao Fah Pier and sell you additional accommodations or services. Only ever buy the ticket you need. Additional ferries are added during peak season.
  • From Ao Nang: 400 Thai Baht one way (including transfer from hotel to Noppharat Peir) 0930 and 1530.
  • From Phuket Airport: To Rassada Pier (Phuket) by meter taxi for around 500 Thai Baht. It’s about a 30 km drive and takes 45 minutes depending on traffic and climate.
  • From Phuket Pier (Rassada): 600 Thai Baht one-way/1,000 Thai Baht round trip when bought at the pier. It’s possible to get 300-350 Thai Baht one-way tickets as part of a deal with a guesthouse stay.

Ferries are all not of equal quality. Despite reports to the contrary, Andaman Wave Master will no longer take you for free to north Ko Phi Phi after the stop at Ton Sai pier (expect another 200 Thai Baht per person). Andaman Wave Master has also suffered a pretty big hit in customer service. Watch out for their Krabi representatives, who will offer to sell round-trip tickets at a discount with the option of changing the return destination to Phuket if you decide to take a different way back to the mainland. Representatives at both Ko Phi Phi and Phuket will refuse to refund or alter the tickets.

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Southern Thailand

Khao Lak : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more than 3,000 more who were never accounted for, and thousands who were injured. It has since made an impressive recovery and is once again a popular tourism destination. Unlike Phuket, the many resorts in the Khao Lak area cater mainly to families and those looking for peace, quiet, and nature.

Understand

Khao Lak is a ~20 km stretch of lovely beaches along the Andaman Sea coastline set against a backdrop of jungle-covered mountains. The region is dotted with numerous resorts and tourist facilities.

The name “Khao Lak” translates as “Lak Mountain”. The mountain is the centerpiece of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park.The headland formed as the mountain plunges into the sea near the southern end of the Khao Lak roughly marks the southern boundary of the Khao Lak region.

The attractions of Khao Lak are impressive and many, but they are not flashy. The expanses of lovely uncrowded parks, mountains, roads, and beaches, relatively unspoiled nature, easy access to great off-shore diving, accommodations ranging from luxury to basic, and an infrastructure that supports tourism, but not at the expense of local customs or the Thai way of life, appeal to an increasing number of visitors.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Khao Lak

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Compared with a place like Patong, Khao Lak can seem boring, especially during low season (Apr-Nov). If jet skis (forbidden in Khao Lak) or exotic nightlife and its associated attractions are the reason you’ve come to Thailand, Khao Lak is probably not the place for you. On the other hand, it’s an excellent vacation spot for people seeking to get off the treadmill, for family getaways, and for nature-lovers.

Films

Released in early-2013, The Impossible, a Spanish production (Spanish title: Lo Imposible), recounts the events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Filmed on location in Khao Lak at the Orchid Beach Resort, it is the story of a family caught up in the events of 26 Dec 2004 and its aftermath. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor, the film incorporates stunning special effects recreating the tragic events of that day and the weeks following. Many Khao Lak residents participated in the filming as consultants or as extras.

Orientation, addresses, and navigation

The entire Khao Lak region straddles Phetkasem Road (ถนนเพชรเกษม, also Petchkasem Road or Thailand Route 4 (ทางหลวงแผ่นดินหมายเลข4), one of the four major highways in Thailand. At 1,274 km, it is the longest highway in Thailand, stretching from Bangkok to the Malaysian border.

The centre of the Khao Lak area is 37 km north of the Sarasin Bridge, gateway to Ko Phuket, 76 km north of Phuket International Airport, and 106 km north of Phuket City.

Driving north from Phuket, at km803 you will see a sign for Ban Khao Lak, a small village of little interest. Then, after climbing over Lak Mountain on a curvy road, you will descend into Bang La On, de facto heart of the Khao Lak region.

Khao Lak is laid out like a long strip mall. Early settlement patterns resulted in three population centres spaced out along the beaches. Since the 2004 tsunami, development in low-lying areas has tended to gravitate away from the beach, nearer to the highway.

The region hosts many resorts, scattered chiefly among three main urban areas, all containing businesses identifying themselves as “Khao Lak”. This can be confusing to visitors and it is useful to distinguish between the settlements.

From south to north the population centres are:

  • Bang La On
  • Bang Niang
  • Khuk Khak

Bang La On

Bang La On is the most tourist-oriented of the three main Khao Lak towns.

Stretching from km795 to km797, Bang La On is mistakenly called Khao Lak by most visitors. It has many shops, bars, restaurants and banks. Any given group of store fronts seems to consist of a souvenir shop, a tailor shop, a dive shop, a massage parlour, an eyewear shop, and a restaurant. Strolling along the short main town centre in the evening can be quite pleasant as there are pavements.

If you are travelling by bus and tell the conductor you are going to “Khao Lak”, Bang La On is where you will be let off the bus, near the Nang Thong Supermarket. This may be far from your intended destination, so try to be more specific if you are not staying near there.

Just south of the supermarket, Nang Thong Road leads to the town’s beach, Nang Thong.

Webcam: Just north of the Nang Thong Supermarket are the offices of Khao Lak Land Discovery, a local tour organiser. Their webcam is mounted on the roof of their building. It shows you a segment of Rte 4, roughly in the centre of Bang La On. Camera’s angle of view is to the southeast.

Bang Niang

A couple of kilometres north of Bang La On is Bang Niang. Bang Niang is more “Thai” and less “tourist” than Bang La On. The 7-Eleven at km793.3 roughly marks the town centre.

Bang Niang is not much to look at, but is home to the intermittent outdoor market (“talat nat” ตลาดนัด) that takes place in the centre of the town just south of the 7-Eleven on M-W-Sa, from roughly 13:00 until dark. You will find the market area dusty on dry days and muddy on wet days, so dress down for a visit.

Bang Niang is, increasingly, a centre of Khao Lak’s nightlife as it is home to a significant number of the area’s most popular bars, discos, and cabarets.

Bang Niang Beach can be accessed by turning towards the sea at the 7-Eleven shop in town centre.

Khuk Khak

Heading north again from Bang Niang, a couple of kilometres will bring you to Khuk Khak. It is even more Thai and less farang than Bang Niang and is the regional centre for things like hardware, paint, kitchen equipment, etc., i.e., all the infrastructural ingredients that keep the resorts running.

It has the daily “fresh market” (“talat sot” ตลาดสด) and the area’s only real, albeit tiny, bus station.

Khuk Khak Beach can be reached by turning at the signpost just south of km790 or, better, turning at the JW Marriott Hotel sign (km789.1) and following the signs to the hotel, then proceeding past it to the beach.

North of Khuk Khak are Pakarang Beach and Pakarang Cape (km787), Pakweep Beach (km784), and Bang Sak Beach (km780). The latter beach is just ~18 km south of Takua Pa.

Pakarang Beach is a beautiful and quiet beach overlooking Cape Pakarang and Andaman Sea beyond. During the high season (November to February), as well as parts of the low season, meals can be bought from nearby food outlets and consumed in the series of huts that have been constructed close to the shore. The setting provides a perfect meditative antidote all year round to the bustle of the Khao Lak area in general.

Navigating Khao Lak can be confusing to visitors because many businesses use their mailing addresses in ads and a mailing address can be very misleading. Almost the entire Khao Lak region (except Ban Khao Lak itself) is located in the Khuk Khak Sub-district of the Takua Pa District of Phang Nga Province. Mailing addresses in the area include both the district and sub-district. Thus a typical address will read: “Moo 3/15, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga”. This would lead visitors to think that the business is in Khuk Khak. In reality, the business could be located in Bang La On or Bang Niang or Khuk Khak or anywhere else in the Khuk Khak Sub-district. The mailing address is of absolutely no help in finding the business. Be careful when reading tourist brochures as many businesses do not go to the trouble of telling you their physical location.

Climate & Weather

The climate of the Khao Lak region is under the influence of two monsoon winds of a seasonal nature: a southwest monsoon and a northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon starts in April when a stream of warm moist air from the Indian Ocean moves inland resulting in significant rain. It peaks in October, Khao Lak’s wettest month. Subsequent months, under the influence of prevailing northeast winds, are much drier.

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Southern Thailand

Ko Lanta : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches. Contents 1 Understand 1.1 Orientation 1.2 Climate 1.3 Culture 2 Get in 2.1 By air 2.2 By passenger van 2.3 By car 2.4 By boat […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches.

Understand

Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (เกาะลันตาน้อย, “Small Lanta Island”) and Ko Lanta Yai (เกาะลันตาใหญ่, “Big Lanta Island”). However, Ko Lanta Yai is where all the tourist action is, so this article will refer to it simply as “Ko Lanta”.

Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It’s popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party. It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. Ko Lanta can provide a party if you know where to look.

Ko Lanta is a little less well-known than Ko Phi Phi, which has become more commercialised and corporate, but it is hardly undiscovered: the several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, although the farther down the island you venture, the less this is true. And even when the island is at it fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax – the beaches are never full. Ko Lanta is especially popular with Swedish tourists: although the “tourist language” is English as it is in most places in Thailand, and you will find menus and so on are translated into English, expect the poolside language to be Swedish much of the time. However, there are still many English and Irish bars and restaurants.

Ko Lanta was hit by the tsunami in December 2004, which killed 20 people, but virtually all businesses are now operating normally again.

Visit our Resort Partners on Ko Lanta

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Orientation

The main island is 6 km wide and over 30 km long, and approximately 70 km from Krabi Town. The island has 9 attractive white sandy beaches and splendid scenery. Off the coast are more than 70 small islands and plenty with forest, coral reefs and sea life. The geography of the island is typically mangroves, coral rimmed beaches and rugged tree-covered hills.

A paved road runs along the beaches from the northern part of the island almost all the way to the southern tip. The last 8 km leading to the headquarters of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park in the south are quite hilly and aren’t yet paved so can become quite tricky to negotiate if it rains. The landscape is dominated by a series of mountains covered with rainforest. To the east is an old settlement.

Ban Saladan (near Saladan pier, approximately 3 km from Klong Dao Beach) — is the tourist centre of Ko Lanta. Facilities include inexpensive and easy to find transport, diving trips, banking and shopping.

Climate

Weather in the region is tropical and there are two basic monsoons:

During the months of November – April the island experiences the dry monsoon, northeasterly prevailing winds come overland and bring dry air. Temperatures rise during March/April and it get’s quite arid and dusty on the island after many months of no rain.

May – October is the wet monsoon season, where southwesterly winds bring wetter weather from the indian ocean. Around April the season changes and the increase in rain helps revitalise the island to its tropical lushness, everything regrows and the cool wet spells brings relief from the heat of the dry season.

Temperatures during the year average 25ºC to 32ºC (77ºF to 89.6ºF) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in say Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily and quickly over short periods. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round.

Culture

Krabi and Ko Lanta are a melange of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Most of the people speak with a thick southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.

With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition.

The unique lifestyle of the Chao-Le (sea-gypsy) in Ko Lanta particularly is well-worth seeing, a life-style that has been almost completely unaffected by the booming tourism on the island.

Get in

By air

The nearest airports are Krabi, Trang and Phuket. Krabi and Trang have direct road and boat connections to Ko Lanta, and are the best options if you’re only visiting Ko Lanta. Flying into Phuket is a better option if you’re intending to spend time in Phuket and nearby islands, or, since Phuket has many more international flights, if you don’t want to have to organize a domestic flight to Krabi or Trang from Bangkok. As an alternative to Bangkok, there are daily flights to Krabi directly to and from Singapore, as well as Kuala Lumpur.

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There is scheduled van service from Krabi Airport taking roughly 2.5 hours, 250 Thai Baht if prearranged and 400-500 Thai Baht if arranging it at the airport (2016). When going back to the airport from the island, van can be booked via any tourist office for 250-300 Thai Baht, departs every round hour in the morning.

Private vans and taxis can be chartered to Ko Lanta for about 2,000 Thai Baht per vehicle (2,500 Thai Baht if you are going to the south end of Ko Lanta).

Air Asia and Nok Air have a special “Island Transfer” offering that includes a flight from Bangkok to Krabi, surface transport to the port, and a ferry to Ko Lanta. It can all be booked at their websites for additional price: Air Asia 470 Thai Baht, Nok Air 900 Thai Baht (2016).

Alternative to passenger van is an express transfer – the quickest albeit much more expensive way to get from Krabi Airport (2,045 Thai Baht per person) and Phuket Airport (3,350 Baht per person) to Ko Lanta. It is a combination of minivan and speedboat travel. If you arrive early you will not have to wait for the ferry and if you arrive late at these airports you can still arrive on Ko Lanta the same day. From Krabi airport a 45 minute air conditioned minivan to the first car ferry port. You then go on board the speedboat which then takes you on a stunning boat ride across the water along the coastline of Ko Lanta. The journey takes around 15 minutes depending on weather and conditions. You will arrive directly in Saladan (alternately written as Sala Dan) on Ko Lanta, where you are then transferred to your hotel by car. That means the total journey time should be 1.5 to 2 hours. This eliminates the waiting time at the car ferry and also if you are going from Ko Lanta to one of these airports allows you more time to enjoy your visit.

By passenger van

There is a minivan service that runs between Krabi Town and Ko Lanta, However it must be booked in advance through your hotel or someone local, the cost is 400 Thai Baht per person. Book early as it fills up quickly. It will pickup and drop off at the airport. You should factor in 3-4 hours to get from Ko Lanta to the airport, since the minivan will pickup and drop off other people along the way.

Vans going to Ao Nang cost 450 Thai Baht (2016), 3 hours, number of vans greatly varies during a year.

By car

The distance from Bangkok to Krabi is approx 950 km or about 12 hr by car.

  • Route 1: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon-Phang Nga-Krabi = 946 km.
  • Route 2: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon (Hwy 41) to Chaiya (Surat Thani)-Krabi (Viangsra) – Hwy 4035 – Krabi (Ao Luk) and along Hwy 4 again = 814 km.

Ko Lanta does not have roads connecting it directly to the mainland, but is served by car ferries. Take Rte 4206 off Hwy 4 about 20 km southeast of Krabi airport. Drive to the end of the road, where there is a car ferry from Baan Hua Hin to Ko Lanta Noi. From the pier here, turn right and follow the “ferry” signs to the second car ferry to Ko Lanta Yai. Ferries operate 07:00-22:00.

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Thai Covid-19
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