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Ko Yao Noi

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Busier but still laid back
Yao Noi had many more resorts (particularly upmaket) and visitors than my last visit in 2008. But it...

By tezza

Ko Yao simply means 'Long Island,' which is kind of funny if you're familiar with the one in New York. Ko Yao Noi is 'Little Long Island,' which is where you'll find most of the accommodation and is the primary destination for most travellers.

Rich in natural beauty, and as with Ko Yao Yai, Ko Yao Noi constitutes one of the last bastions of untouched wilderness in the region. There are some paved roads, a lot of them pretty rough, and many more are simply made of dirt. There's plenty of room to roam and explore in this area, and almost anywhere you choose to stay will be in a peaceful setting surrounded by nature.

The beach is no good on much of the coast at low tide -- too many rocks and mud flats -- but is largely swimmable at high tide, and a few beaches are good all day long. The Thais here are overwhelmingly Muslim, so alcohol, while available, is not ubiquitous. As with other Muslim areas in Thailand, nude sun-bathing and skimpy clothing are considered very offensive by locals.

None of the accommodation is walkable from the pier, so be sure to call ahead and they'll pick you up, usually for no charge. The centre of town is marked by a three-way intersection where you'll find the 7-eleven, which has a 24-hour ATM machine, and two internet places (dial-up only) which are open until about 21:00.

There aren't any road signs to be found, but the hospital is located on the same road as Amina Bungalows, quite a bit further down, on the road that leads to Pa Sai beach. The police station and the post office are near the centre of town, along the road that leads to Manok Pier, where you catch boats to Ko Yao Yai. Maps of the island are not readily available, but a lot of the guesthouses have some kind of map -- try stopping in and asking at Lemsai Village Guesthouse.

There are precious few restaurants here oriented towards tourists, so for the most part, it's local food or whatever's on the menu at the place you're staying in.

In the push to develop every inch of Thailand for the tourist industry, the Ko Yao islands represent something of a final frontier. Huge luxury developments are underway on both island, and this place won't remain a well-kept secret for long. Best to get here while the going is good.

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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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Busier but still laid back
By tezza, 15 March 2014
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