Photo: Bring a book.

Accommodation

The most popular beaches are Ao Yai and northern Ao Khao Kwai, both with at least a dozen places to stay and clusters of restaurants and shops on the access lanes. Southern Ao Khao Kwai is great for peace and quiet, but not for swimming at low tide. Some good options can also be found closer to the pier on the east coast, at Ao Mook and Ao Mae Mai along with some scenic inland locations. If seeking seclusion, check out Ao Kwang Peeb.

Expect rates at most resorts to jump by around 20% from mid December through January and perhaps through February. Many places are not listed on the big booking sites, so it’s often best to contact them directly to reserve a room. Also be aware that many places are very similar; we chose to feature some rather than others by the thinnest of margins. Do read to the bottom of accommodation listings to find out about similar choices in the same areas.




North Ao Khao Kwai

The bay’s northern portion hosts the bulk of Ao Khao Kwai’s places to stay, running from the dirt-cheap backpacker range to the upper flashpacker range. Most are small resorts squeezed in one after the next on a hillside that backs the beach. Unlike at South Ao Khao Kwai, it’s possible to swim here at low tide. The scene is also livelier after dark, especially around Hippy Bar at the northern end, though still subdued compared to Ao Yai.


Northern end of Ao Yai, Ko Phayam
Under 600B
Archan Pan Bungalows
Backpacker - Under 600B
Northern end of Ao Yai, Ko Phayam
T: (095) 953 5289

Set at Ao Khao Kwai’s northern corner, Archan Pan Bungalows was named after the “Teacher” who rents out basic wood huts while crafting herbal remedies and maintaining fruit trees and fresh water sources for wild hornbills, monkeys and other animals. It’s a memorable option for back-to-nature types who like things as laid-back as they come. Looking more like a wizard than a... Read our full review of Archan Pan Bungalows.

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North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
600B to 1,500B
Baan Klong Kleng
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
T: (092) 597 1110

One of a few flashpacker-range resorts found towards the south end of North Ao Khao Kwai, Baan Klong Kleng impressed us with personable service, a traditional Thai artistic touch and rooms that are classy and comfortable. The resort occupies a narrow strip of land with rooms built fairly close together along a tree-lined hill, with only the priciest rooms joining the sea-view restaurant... Read our full review of Baan Klong Kleng.

(  Read more on Booking.com )

North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
Under 600B
Jansom Bungalows
Backpacker - Under 600B
North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
T: (083) 389 6408

Whereas most of North Ao Khao Kwai’s resorts are squeezed onto narrow pieces of land, Jansom boasts a sizeable hunk of hillside with two lines of large wood bungalows all facing the sea and shaded by trees. The bungalows are far from new, with plenty of cracks and scuffs giving them a lived-in feel. Even so, we detected no major mould and the cold-water bathrooms, with psychedelic... Read our full review of Jansom Bungalows.

North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
600B to 1,500B
Starlight Resort
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
North Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
T: (081) 978 5301

A short stairway runs from a great stretch of beach up to Starlight Resort, offering brick or bamboo bungalows with more style than most. The priciest bungalows face a shaded hilltop lawn culminating at a wood deck with sea-view loungers and tables near a restaurant with a book exchange and reception desk. Made of woven bamboo with high metal roofs, most of these have sea views from hammocks... Read our full review of Starlight Resort.

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South Ao Khao Kwai

The south side of Buffalo Bay is separated from the north side by a long stretch of rocks and reached by a different access road. It’s quieter and less developed and the sand is whiter and finer, but there’s no swimming at low tide due to a vast swathe of flats. It’s a good option for seclusion with a location that’s central to the rest of the island.


South Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
Under 600B
June Horizon
Backpacker - Under 600B
South Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
T: (080) 145 9771

An excellent choice for backpackers seeking a simple bungalow in a quiet setting, June Horizon embodies Ko Phayam’s quiet, artistic and relaxing character. The last resort found along the lane running behind South Ao Khao Kwai, June Horizon has a peaceful atmosphere punctuated by Tibetan prayer flags and lanterns that cast a soft glow over an open-air beachfront restaurant and bar after... Read our full review of June Horizon .

South Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
600B to 1,500B
Buffalo Bay Vacation Club
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
South Ao Khao Kwai, Ko Phayam
T: (081) 961 0375

Opened in 2006, Buffalo Bay Vacation Club was one of the first places on Phayam to offer air-con, WiFi and 24-hour power—and it’s still a fine choice for families or anyone who appreciates their creature comforts. Spread over white-sandy grounds with trees, all of the fully enclosed beige concrete bungalows come with tile floors and tinted-glass doors fronting porches with wood chairs.... Read our full review of Buffalo Bay Vacation Club.

(  Read more on Agoda.com or Booking.com )

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