Ko Phayam is perfectly positioned for day trips and live-aboard journeys to a raft of idyllic beaches and great snorkeling and diving sites dotted around Thai national park islands to the south and Burma’s islands up north.
While much of the coral in this part of the world has suffered from bleaching caused by warming seas in recent years, you’ll still find plenty of vibrant marine life.
Advertised under the name, Mr Trip, the most popular day trips use a speedboat operated by Mr Gao that launches from the resort of the same name on North Ao Khao Kwai. Running from 08:30 to 15:30, a trip to the stunning twin islands of Ko Surin costs 2,600 baht per person and includes the national park fee, snorkeling equipment and lunch. Mr Gao also runs a group trip to Ko Kum and other small islands in Laem Son Marine Park, which is a little shorter than the Ko Surin trip and costs 1,500 baht per person.
These trips take place only once or twice a week in high season and can be booked directly at Mr Gao Resort or through any travel agent. It takes about an hour and a half to reach Ko Surin from Phayam by speedboat. Due to the infrequent departures from Phayam, you’re better off departing from Khuraburi on the mainland if wanting to camp on Ko Surin. Snorkelers can also look into tagging along with some of the diving boats.
Run by a European expat, Koh Phayam Fisherman leads fishing trips around Phayam and Ko Chang Noi for 2,000 to 4,000 baht per boat. They can also arrange private longtail boats for snorkeling and beach lounging around Ko Kum for 6,000 baht, total, for up to four people, with the price going up for more heads. Private speedboats can be chartered for 15,000 to 40,000 baht per day through Phayam Lodge and Buffalo Bay Vacation Club.
A-One Diving, Phayam Divers and Aladdin Dive Safari all have offices on Phayam offering day trips to Richilieu Rock and Ko Surin, or live-aboard trips lasting from two to eight nights that can reach all the way down to the Similans and other Thai islands to the south, or up north to Burma Banks, Black Rock and other sites in the Mergui Archipelago. Hitting the Burma sites entails being stamped out of Thailand so keep that in mind if you have a single-entry visa. Ranong-based dive outfits can also pick up divers on Phayam.
Aladdin Dive Safari Office on road running away from central Ao Yai. T: (087) 278 6908 ; (087) 274 7601. www.aladdindivecruise.de/en/
A-One Diving Office in Ko Phayam village. T: (077) 832 984 ; (081) 891 5510 a-one-diving.com
Koh Phayam Divers Phayam Lodge, Ao Yai. T: (086) 995 2598. www.phayamlodge.com/default.asp?ID=8
Koh Phayam Fisherman Took’s Place, Ko Phayam village. T: (093) 713 8380 ; (087) 060 9360 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Trip Mr Gao Resort, North Ao Khao Kwai. T: (086) 266 0223. www.mr-gao-phayam.com/snorkelling-mr-trip/
By David Luekens
Last updated on 9th January, 2017.