Koh Phayam – Thailand’s Best Kept Secret Island

I’ll take your Koh Samuis, Koh Changs and Koh Phangans and raise you my perfect Koh Phayam, an island on Thailand’s Andaman coast that the tourist boom seemed to bypass, and it’s all the better for it.

 

I just spent 4 days at what is now my favourite Thai island. Koh Phayam has only recently started supplying it’s beachside bungalows with 24 hour electricity (you’ll need those fans, it’s hot here!) and wifi is an ingenious new invention on the island, springing up here and there, giving you your facebook fix when paradise isn’t quite enough.

Koh Phayam

At any given time there’s probably only around 100 foreigners on the island, and given that there are about 5 amazing white-sand beaches to choose from, one of which is over 2km long, you’ll have a beach seemingly to yourself. Without the tourist hordes the prices have been kept Thai style so enjoy the cheap fruitshakes and local food for a fraction of the Koh Phi Phi prices.

 

How to Get to Koh Phayam:

First up, you have to get Ranong – the coastal Thai town is effectively the only way to access the island, with ferries running throughout the day.

welcome to Koh Phayam

The slow boat leaves at 9am and 2pm from Ranong and costs 150 Baht ($5), it takes 2 hours

The fast boat (speed boat) leaves at 4 junctions through out the day, starting at 9.30am with the last boat around 3pm. It costs 350 baht ($12) and takes 40 minutes.

 

So now you need to know how to get to Ranong….

 

How to get to Ranong:

AIR: There is now an airport at Ranong but Happy Air have a monopoly on the route so one way air fares start at $100. Ouch.

 

TRAIN: No train station at Ranong, but if you’re heart is set on Thailand by train, then the nearest station is Chumpon, about 2 hours away by bus.

 

BUS: Far and away the best option, buses leave Bangkok around 8pm and arrive in Ranong at 6am, giving you plenty of time to catch the first boat at 9am to Koh Phayam. If I were you though, I’d stick around Ranong for a day or two, it’s a nice place to relax too.

How to get to Ranong

Luxury bus from Bangkok to Ranong

 

Best Beaches in Koh Phayam:

There are beaches dotted around the island but the best 3 are as follows:

 

Ao Yai: The flagship beach on the island, 2km of white sand with no ugly resorts of note. There are a couple of beach restaurants and bars (although this is certainly no party island) dotted along the stretch meaning you can spend your entire day here should you choose too. Sunset’s not too bad here either 😛

Ao Yai beach Koh Phayam

Ao Yai beach

 

Ao Khao-Kwai: Hat Yai’s little brother doesn’t match up with size but it’s a great combo for privacy yet still with long stretches of white sand. Only a couple of places to eat/drink and you’d be pushed to see 10 other people in an afternoon here. Amazing. This is the perfect spot for sunset, blue skies turning orange, then pink, then red and no-one there to interrupt the moment. Possibly my best sunset experience ever.

 

Ao Khao Kwai beach

Ao Khao Kwai beach

Ao Kwang Peap: A hidden gem of a beach within a hidden gem of an island. This is found in the extreme north of Koh Phayam, after the ‘road’ has ended you can brush up on your scooter driving skills across the dirt trek. Then a couple of hundred metres walk through the jungle to the bottom of the hill where a resourceful dude has set up a quaint Thai bar/restaurant. The beach is about 90m long, white sand (standard by this stage), crystal clear water and has great snorkeling. Don’t miss this out in your trip here.

 

Accomodation on Koh Phayam:

There is one high-end resort ($130 per night) called Blue Sky just at the pier where you’ll land. It’s heavenly, wifi, on the beach etc. I was splashing out and stayed here with my girlfriend for a few nights.

 

Backpacker accommodation is much easier to find though with bungalows all across the island, ranging from 150 baht ($5) for a basic hut with limited electricity and a fan if you’re lucky to around 1500 baht ($50) for air-con, 24 hr electricity, western bathroom etc. Ao Yai is your best bet for budget bungalows, for an extra $2 or $3 you can get it literally on the cusp of the beach.

sunset at koh phayam

sunset at Koh Phayam

 

Getting Around Koh Phayam:

Straight of the ferry you can rent a scooter (around 200 baht per day, $7) and from then on you’re free to find accommodation, sample the different hotspots etc. If you’re not confident on a bike, motorbike taxis are alla round just look for their green or pink vests and call them over, they’ll be happy to take you wherever you need to go.

 

Ok guys, that’s all you should need to be convinced to whack this on your Thai itinerary. Just do me a favour and don’t tell too many people about it, deal?! Happy travels!

41 thoughts on “Koh Phayam – Thailand’s Best Kept Secret Island

  1. TuanMMaenpaa

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  2. Pingback: Ko Phayam Travel Guide: A list of the best travel guides and blogs on Ko Phayam - Thailand

  3. Dan

    Koh Phayam is a very small Island, about 35 km2. The population consists of about 400 families. Most of the villagers are cashew nut gardeners and rubber tree cutters. The second largest occupation is tourism (resorts, guesthouses and restaurants).
    There are no cars on the Island, only motorbikes. As a result the air on the Island is very clean. Koh Phayam has a big jungle and a perfect nature. You can see thousands of birds, among them the Hornbill, everywhere on the Island.
    Now a big change for Koh Phayams wildlife and people is coming. The ICFT Green Plus from South Korea has plans for major projects on the Island. They will make an electric factory from wind, wave and sun. They plan on constructing massive wind turbines, a huge solar farm and a coral threatening wave power generator. We on Koh Phayam are in favour of power alternatives to an over reliance on generators but all three parts of this proposal will cause tremendous destruction to local wildlife, the local environment and in turn our relationship with this land we call our home. It’s not green energy if it’s killing hundreds if not thousands of our wonderfully diverse species of bird and bat life.
    The statistics for the impact on bird life and bat life from wind farm turbines alone is undeniably horrendous! This would of course include genuine threat to our Hornbill and Sea Eagle population not to mention the hundreds of species of songbirds.

    The benefits of a 200 million Baht plus investment for such a small community like Koh Phayam will be negligible.
    These constructions will have a dramatic effect on the wildlife, waters and coral reefs on and around the Island. Koh Phayams attractiveness for tourism will disappear. This will be a problem, not only for the wildlife, but for the people living on the Island as well. Our lives on our home island will be irreversibly changed.
    Forever.

    Reply
    1. Basia

      YES I agree with you and this is terrifying!!… so we need to do something to help this island and stopping the destruction. People on Koh Phayam made on Facebook a page Save Ko Phayam and putted there a petition, which you can sign as well. PLEASE LIKE this site and SIGN PETITION

      Reply
  4. Danny

    Thanks for sharing this great article. I love Koh Phayam and discovered it after a tip off from a fellow backpacker on a bus journey back to Bangkok from Surat Thani. He said it was like how the islands were years ago and I absolutely loved it when I visited a while ago. I stayed on Ao Yai and it was amazing.

    Reply
  5. Ellie Quinn

    I went to Koh Phayam at the start of this year and LOVED it! It was one of those places that when I told people who I had met in Thailand where I was going to next they all asked ‘where’s that??’ Which is exactly why I wanted to go! I didn’t hear another English accent for about 3 days too! Definitely my favourite Thai Island!

    P.S really glad I’ve came across your blog while googling if Dubai is it’s own country! Haha it turns out I was wrong!

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Things to See in Ranong, Thailand | Travel Lifestyle Of Your Dreams

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  14. ffKKelz

    “Just do me a favour and don’t tell too many people about it, deal?!” DEAL! Don’t forget lil. Koh Chang too. I managed not to tell too many people, only the cool ones, lol. I am heading off in 2 weeks and can’t wait to be back there. Hope they are as local as they always are. Cheers Kelz

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      That was exactly what I was thinking when I read this. I hope too many people don’t make the trip and invade my favorite little island!

      Reply
  15. Roxy

    Hi Johnny! Thinking and planning on heading to Kho Phayam in the next month! (August) Do you think thats an ok time to go, seeing as it is the rainy season? Will probably be flying into Bangkok, wanting to get out of their as quick as possible too! Is it pretty easy to organise a bus to Ranong from the airport? Thanks so much for the help!

    Reply
  16. Kathryn

    Hey, thanks for this little guide, I’m off to Koh Phayam at end of September & cannot wait, looks fantastic!

    Reply
  17. amy macdonald

    absolutely love the look of it here was over in Thailand for 6 months there 2 years ago and didn’t know about this place definately going here in June when i go back thanks for putting this place on the map!also if you have any more little secret gems like this one please let me know

    Reply
    1. Emma

      Amy macdonald can you let me in on any of your little secrets? Phuket and all the touristy places just don’t interest me!!! Thanks!x

      Reply
  18. Nick Levitan

    YO Johnny,

    Thinking about Thailand down the road. Fantasizing over a hut/bungalow set up by the water. Where is the best place (cheapest/ most beautiful/ near a good time) to post up and try to get some online work done (ie. i’d need internet). I know you know, give me the goods.

    Cheers,
    Nick

    Reply
      1. Nick Levitan

        Good question. I’d like to be on the Thai side of the spectrum. And prioritize beauty over booze, although I don’t want to be too far away from a good time..

        Reply
        1. Johnny Post author

          in a nutshell, the group of islands of Tao, Samui and Phangan are all boozy, off the west coast and east of Bangkok and more quiet

          Reply
  19. Pingback: Koh Phayam – Thailand’s Best Kept Secret Island | Perhentian Island - Pulau Perhentian

  20. Alexa

    Wow, sounds like a fantastic place! Will be in Thailand in April and am deciding where to go. Definitely interested in staying here. Thanks for posting!

    Reply

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