Ko Phayam

Ko Phayam

One laid-back island

Empty beaches, deep starry nights and hammocks strung to cheap bungalows are a few of the simple joys found on Ko Phayam. Since the late 2000s, this medium-size island in the Andaman Sea has added some cushy accommodation and become relatively easy to reach, all while preserving a mellow vibe favoured by artists, hippies and long-stayers.

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Millions of bioluminescent plankton made the surf glow neon green as we waded off Ao Khao Kwai late one December night. Up above, the stars shined so bright that it seemed like we could see halfway across the galaxy. Awe-struck alongside a few new friends we’d met at a beach bar, it was easy to understand why they return to Phayam each year.

Relax by the beach. : David Luekens.
Relax by the beach. Photo: David Luekens

The laid-back atmosphere, affordable rooms and ease of meeting other people make Phayam a great choice for independent travellers, especially those seeking an extended stay. A network of sealed lanes, bicycle and motorbike rental, and even motorbike taxis, make it easy to get around. The lack of cars, 7-elevens and large resorts keep the island from feeling too commercialised, even as WiFi and 24-hour electricity are no longer hard to find.

Anyone who appreciates the earthy-crunchy side of Ko Pha Ngan should really check out Phayam. Bars and art galleries with names like Rasta Baby and The Shadow dot long beaches and narrow lanes threading an interior flush with flowers, butterflies and hornbills. Thai reggae-heads join an unusual Buddhist temple, a Moken “sea gypsy” community, quite a few Burmese staffers, and weekend Thai visitors from the mainland, to add some ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,100 words.)

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