A perfect starting point for island hopping
Koh Yao Yai, where the time stands still!
To get to Koh Yao Yai you must first travel to Phuket, and once there, I don’t recommend you renting a car to drive from the airport because if you do it will cost you to park it at the pier. My friends and I had booked to stay at the Hotel Santhiya, and the hotel arranged for a van to pick us up to continue to the hotel’s speedboat.
But if you book a hotel that doesn’t have a transfer service, I would recommend you either hire a cab from the airport to take you to Bang Rong Pier for THB 650 each way, or take the airport bus and get off at the monuments of Thao Thep, Kasattri, and Thao Si Sunthon, then take a minibus to Bang Rong Pier.
In general, going to Koh Yao Yai, most people prefer to go by speedboats which depart from Bang Rong Pier, there is a ticket counter for Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai, you board the same boat which will drop off passengers at Koh Yao Yai before going next to Koh Yao Noi. The fare for a speedboat is THB 200 per person, for a long-tail boat THB 150 per person.
The long-tail boat can accommodate dozens of passengers and the vendors around the pier recommend that if I want to sit and snap pictures and relax that the long-tail is the better option because it runs slowly with the cool breeze all the way, it takes about 50 minutes and is more comfortable than the speedboat.
It didn’t take long for us to arrive at the hotels wooden bridge and we organised our check-in, but had to wait until 14.00 to do so, most of the day had been taken by the traveling so we spent the remainder enjoying the hotel and a late afternoon beach walk, which was followed by dinner at the hotels restaurant.
The island is not very busy, nature is still very rich and impressive, there is just a single road to travel around the whole island, food is not expensive, it really is a great place to visit. Traveling around Koh Yao Yai there are mainly 3 options to choose from:
1) Renting a motorcycle on a daily basis, a manual transmission bike costs approximately THB 250 per day, and an automatic transmission bike costs approximately THB 300 per day.
2) Use the excellent Songtheaws, which will go anywhere and you can agree on the price with the driver.
3) Hire a car or a Songtheaw on a daily or hourly basis, the hourly rate is around THB 200, the daily rate is determined by the number of passengers and costs around THB 1,200 baht if there are 3–4 passengers rising to around 1,500 baht if there are roughly 10 passengers.
I got up quite early the next morning to go sightseeing, which I had planned ahead by contacting Bangnee to arrange for him to pick me up and show me around the island. Our first activity on Koh Yao Yai was to rent a boat to the Rainbow lobster farms that are set up between Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai, there are about ten farms raising the rainbow lobster in the area. When the farm owner opened the cage, everyone was stunned because we had never seen so many lobsters before, and they were so much bigger than we expected.
These rainbow lobsters sell for around THB 3,000 per kilogram, but of course purchasing it from a local farm is less expensive than purchasing it from a restaurant. The baby green lobster on the farm was imported from another country, according to the farm’s owner. Before continuing to further explore the island, we needed to recharge our energy so we took lunch at the Baan Rim Nam Restaurant, it was recommended by many people and is not far from the pier where the boat driver took us to the fish bridge.
The restaurant is very shady and built on the water and customers must remove their shoes before entering. The seafood sold here is sourced from the island’s fishermen so we were not surprised at its freshness.
The food is available in both set menus and a la carte with prices that are very reasonable, it tasted fresh and excellent, so much so I decided I might order again for delivery to my hotel for dinner!
After we were full, we were ready to go to our next location so Bangnee took us to Laem Haad which is not too far from the restaurant. On the way, the car drives past the coconut palms that line the coast, which we can see through to the magnificent blue of the water and the large and small islands.
At Laem Haad I experienced soft white sand and crystal clear water, the beach stretches out into the sea and is very beautiful. This beach’s beauty is assured by its appearance in the film “The Mechanic Resurrection.”
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recognise this scene at the start of the story, however, in the movie, it’s written that it’s Koh Lipe which is in Satun province, whereas it’s actually Koh Yao Yai.
Our next stop will involve testing Koh Yao Yai’s well-known dessert, Khanom Ba Bin Ja Ree, which is a famous OTOP product on Koh Yao Yai, you really must give it a shot. For foreigners, the shop may be difficult to locate even if you use GPS, we were fortunate enough to have Bangnee with us, so we immediately proceeded to the shop. When we arrived, we noticed a modest blue wooden house that serves as a snack-making enterprise, the smell of the goodies drifts up and kicks our noses as we get out of the car.
The picture in front of me showed that all the staff were very busy and focused on the production of reckless snacks because there were many customers waiting to buy them. This Ba-Bin snack is really tasty when it first comes out of the oven and costs just 30 baht. We bought quite a lot of them as compliments, but you must be careful about the expiration date because the dessert does not add preservatives.
It can be stored for about five days. Next, Bangnee took us for a walk at Loh Paret Beach, where the sand may not be as white as Laem Haad, but here, the selling point is that there is a bridge that reaches out into the sea and it is a wonderful place to watch the sunset.
When more tourists come to visit capitalism follows, which is why Koh Yao Yai now has a 7-11, which irritates me since it takes away from the island’s charm, but there are also rice fields near 7-11 that are very beautiful and natural.
I stopped to snap some shots on the way back to the hotel, which was just as the sun was setting. I can see two little islands, both named “Koh Sok,” from where I am standing. The word “sok” is used in the Southern language it means “pair,” which is a sign of love that will always be together. Nature still exists on Yao Yai Island, most of the residents are Muslims, and the expense of living, including food, is not too costly.
It is a wonderful place to visit, you can find the traditional way of life of the island’s villagers who have a career in knitting nets for fishing and a lot of monkeys who cling to the coconut for living.
Visitors to this island can find local food to eat generally, as the villagers on this island are all hospitable and generous to visitors. You can reach Bangnee at 081-933- 1343 if you’re interested in using his car rental service.