Hi, if anyone has been to either or both of these islands recently and could give us some feedback on them, it would be much appreciated:
- Would these be a good base for exploring the Bay? Or is that better done from Phuket/Krabi/mainland? For example, can one do a guided kayak tour of the Bay from these islands?
- Any thoughts about staying at one versus the other? Sounds like Noi is more populated/developed, but are there other differences?
- Any strongs rec's on places to stay, things to do/see on the islands, etc.
#1 dbmk has been a member since 29/1/2013. Posts: 3
Well it's been a while since I visited - just booked a trip for July to get up to speed on both. In the absence of other answers I'll give yer questions a go:
Ko Yao Yai means long island big as that's pretty right - it is I think the 4th biggest island in Thailand, maybe twice the size of Yao Noi (long island small), perhaps more. But it is less settled, less touristy, maybe slightly less scenic (but a big backbone of high mountains and lotsa bays etc still make it pretty attractive). It is easier to reach from Phuket town, but not from Phuket airport. It has nicer beaches but none I'd class as stunners. Being further from most of the streams that run into Phang Nga Bay the water is clearer (but not pristine) which makes snorkeling and diving a possibility off some of the small islets close by.
Overall, to me the two islands are about equal in appeal although Noi probably would be more attractive to most tourists.
You can do Phang Nga Bay daytrips out of both islands. Noi is closer to most attractions so less time would be wasted. I think a fair few of the trips from both islandds concentrate on the south bay, the same area done out of the nearby Krabi area, but no doubt you could organise trips to the main northern and central bay areas.
I was just on Yao Yai's Heimat Gardens website and it had a link to Sea Canoe on its Activities page so no doubt you could organise some kayaking of the bay.
I personally think the best Bay daytours are out of Phang Nga town to the north and central bay areas. Mr Kean operating out of his shop at the bus station can include kayaking in his budget daytour. Just about all the trips out of Phuket concentrate on the northern and central bay too - downside is more travelling time to get to the bay.
I reckon there is a bunch of good places to stay on both islands - I'll leave it to you and travelfish's/Trip Advisor's/Agoda etc booking sites' reviews to pick out what you fancy.
On both islands I think one of the best things you can do is grab a moped and cruise around checking the sites. Roads are quite good and uncrowded.
On Noi its nice to hire a kayak somewhere on Hat Pasai and paddle out to the lovely little spit on nearby Ko Nok.
On Yai there is apparently a great viewpoint to hike to with views of the Krabi coast etc - I didn't make it last time but will try next July.
I go to these islands every year since 2007.
Yao Noi is smaller although more densely populated than Yao Yai. Saying that, densely populated isnt a term you could really use to describe either. Both have small main towns and then smaller communities dotted over them. Yao Noi is more developed as far as tourist infrastructure goes, with more accommodation options, more ranges of accommodations and more restaurants.
We usually stay on Pasai beach. Its the best beach for swimming on Yao Noi, although all the beaches are rocky and unswimmable at low tide.
There are no snorkelling opportunities although you can rent a long tail and do a day trip to Pak Bia and Koh Hong off the East coast.
Pasai cottage is a decent relaxed place to stay, their basic bungalows with attached bathrooms go for around 700 baht.
If you have any specific questions after doing your research dont hesitate to drop me a line.
Tezza - I am sure you probably know this but Yao Noi is usually a complete washout in July and the non tarmac tracks around the island get very muddy. The surrounding waters can also be very rough with capsizing boats an unfortunately regular occurrence. You may also get stuck on the island longer than you want as the boats just dont go there when the water it too choppy.
Yeah, I have no other choice but to go in wet season - my stuff on Yai particularly is pretty old and should be updated before next high season: for some reason Yai has become one of the most visited pages, often beating Phi Phi. Noi aint too far behind.
I was hoping to miss one of those rainy/blowy wet season periods where the seas can get pretty crap despite the shelter of Phuket island. Not that getting to Yai's southern pier from the Jiarn Warnet pier near Phuket town should be a problem - those ferries are pretty big. But your message reminds me it would not be too smart to book a joint on the islands or just after - keep things flexible. Low season doesn't really need booking of course (actually I've never booked high season there either) but after the Yaos I intend to head for the southern Gulf and July/August aint exactly low season there. No worries, may just have to walk a bit more to find somewhere.
Did you decide on somewhere at Tanote/elsewhere on Tao?
You wont need to book somewhere unless you are planning to stay somewhere midrange and you get one of those half price deals on Agoda. Sometimes we have gotten to our destination and then searched Agoda on the places we are choosing between and gotten a better rate than walking in, and you can pay on credit card which many places wont take at their front desk.
Haven't looked further on Tao yet, will get round to it sooner or later. Just want someone where a not too crowdy beach with some shade and easy access to towns or other beaches.