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Koh Yao Yai, longtail boats on the beach
Koh Yao Yai longtail boats at the beach


If you ask us whether the beaches of Koh Yao Yai are among the best swimming and snorkeling beaches in all of Thailand, we honestly have to say no. The beaches of Koh Yao Yai are beautiful because you only meet a handful of other tourists or because you have the beach all to yourself. Moreover, the beaches are often lined with lush greenery, palm trees and nothing else at all! That is exactly why Koh Yao Yai can be a wonderful refuge when the hustle and bustle of for example Phuket or Ao Nang has become too much for you.

KoH Yao Yai, beach at low tide with withdrawn sea
Koh Yao Yai low tide sunset

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Swimming is often not possible during low tide because the sea retreats completely. Often only some mud remains. We also saw a lot of rocks in the sea along the coast. If you want to see when the water is higher and what is the best time to go for a swim check the Koh Yao Yai tide chart created by our friends tideschart.com.

Do you like an authentic island but do you like to be able to take a dive at any time of the day, then book just like us a place to stay at with swimming pool. After exploring the island on a scooter it’s great to take a refreshing dip in the pool of your accommodation!

Or top it off like us in a villa with bath AND private pool on the terrace! Koh Yao Yai is a lovely island to completely unwind!

Here you can read about our experiences at the Glow Elixir Resort.

Koh Yao Yai, pool Glow Elixer
Koh Yao Yai, Pool villa Glow Elixer

The most beautiful beaches of Koh Yao Yai

The most beautiful beaches of Koh Yao Yai are in our opinion: Laem Had Beach, Loh Pared Beach and Ao Muong Chan Beach. At these beaches you will not unexpectedly also find most hotels and resorts. But it rarely gets really crowded there. The island doesn’t have a lot of really cheap places to sleep like hostels, but there are quite a few middle class and luxury hotels.

Leam Had Beach

That low tide can also be beneficial you see on the beach of Leam Had Beach, this beach is at its best at low tide! Because of the low tide you can walk a long way over the sandbank that is created. The white sand and beautiful palm trees provide beautiful Instagram pictures! From the sandbank you can see Koh Yao Noi up close, you would almost get the idea that you can just walk there! 

Koh Yao Yai, Leam Had Beach, sandbank
Koh Yao Yai, Palm tree on beach Leam Had

Because the beach is at its best when it’s low tide, it’s good to know that you can’t swim there as well, you can bathe and sunbathe on the stand. Remarkable are the many holes in the ground made by crabs, some of them must be really big ones! You can also see whole colonies of little crabs fleeing in front of you.

Koh Yao Yai, swing on the beach
Koh Yao Yai, swing on the beach

Images: ThailandMagazine.com

Near the sandbank is the Laem Had Bar. Besides delicious iced coffees, you can have a bite to eat or swing on the swing. You can see the beverages and menu here. When we arrived on this beach there was one speedboat with a handful of people, not exactly crowded! Most speedboats don’t stay longer than an hour and after that you often have the beach all to yourself again!

Koh Yao Yai, sand road to sandbank Leam Had

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

The road to the beach is in good condition and the beach is signposted above the road. You can almost drive on to the Laem Had Bar, where the path becomes a dirt road. You can park your scooter (for free) at the restaurant. It’s not far then, because from there the sandbank is already visible. Just before you arrive at Leam Beach is the Chong Lard Pier on the right side. This was also the pier where we arrived from Railay (Krabi).

Look for the complete list of departure times per pier in the infobox at the bottom of this article.

Colored bungalows, Candy House Resort, Koh Yao Yai

Koh Yao Candy House | Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Hotels in the Leam Had Beach area

Most hotels and restaurants can be found on the east side of Leam Had Beach. Only the Backpack Hostel Kohyaoyai is still somewhat within walking distance (15 min) of the famous sandbank of Leam Had Beach. 

The good accommodations below are located a lot lower on the east side within walking distance or on the beach at Leam Had Beach.

Read also our article about the best hotels on Koh Yao Yai.

Leam Had beach, Koh Yao Yao

Thiwson Beach Resort | Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Restaurants at Leam Had Beach

Jikgo Bar & Restaurant and Chill Chill @ Pai have good reviews. For a cocktail or beer the Bear Bar Beer & Cocktail is a nice option! The restaurant has a cozy garden with beach chairs and sea view, can you see yourself? West of the Leam Had Beach sandbank is about 4 km away the popular fish restaurant, Ban Rim Nam. The restaurant is built on stilts above the water. The Klong Hia Pier (for Phuket) is a 2-minute walk away.

You can learn to make Batik yourself / paint at Batik De Kohyao, also fun for children. There is also Batik clothing for sale, you will find the shop 350 meters from the Klong Hia Pier.

Loh Pared Beach

At Loh Pared Beach you can swim a little longer even when the water is low during low tide, an advantage over most other beaches on Koh Yao Yai. Loh Pared Beach is also the only piece of beach with something that resembles a shopping street. At no other beach on Koh Yao Yai we saw this. Loh Pared is the most popular beach of Koh Yao Yai. In the shopping street there is a small supermarket, an ATM, currency exchange office and some stalls and restaurants. The supermarket tries to pretend to be a 7-Eleven by sticking the logo on the window, Thailand at its best!

Koh Yao Yai, Loh Paret strand met pier

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

There are also a number of travel agencies where you can book snorkel trips to the Khai islands and Koh Phi Phi. These islands have white beaches and clear blue waters, which is exactly why they are very popular! Rent your own boat and go early or accept that you will certainly not be the only one there.

On the north side of the beach is a large (private) pier, which belongs to the super deluxe yet affordable Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa. On this pier you can dine while lounging and floating above the water. If you are not a guest of the hotel you have to spend 1000 baht per person to get on this pier. Don’t forget to book in advcance!

Because the beach is located on the west coast of the island you can see the sun setting in the sea.

Koh Yao Yai, chair and table on the beach

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Restaurants and bars at Loh Pared Beach

On the beach of Loh Pared are a number of restaurants and bars. A nice bar on the southern side of the beach is Gypsy Bar and Grill, it has affordable beers (70 baht) and a cozy house-cock (male chicken, what were you thinking?!). Walk a bit further and you’ll get to Nikki’s, recognizable by the reggae colors and vibe. Sometimes there is a lady on the beach who sells beers from a cooler on the beach.

A few minutes walk from the beach is the family restaurant, Harris Kitchen. Here they serve nice and tasty curries and smoothies for reasonable island-prices. A Pad Thai costs 100 baht here. 

At the restaurants on the beach you quickly pay 150 baht, but you get the sea view for free.

Koh Yao Yai shopping street and Loh Paret beach

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Hotels at Loh Pared Beach

Most resorts on this beach are in the luxury / more expensive segment, with the luxury Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa as a big highlight. The terrain of this resort is so large that you will be transported by golf carts. The rooms have a bath on the balcony and/or a private pool with sea view!

In the middle of the tiny village, two minutes from the beach, it is the basic Boodsarin Hotel, with small balconies. Six minutes walk from the beach are also the nice Sang Un Bungalows. The yellow bungalows have air conditioning, hot water and a balcony. In addition, the price is a lot more budget friendly. Unfortunately, these bungalows cannot be booked online at the moment. You can call them: +66 84 447 8149, the owner speaks German and English.

Koh Yao Yai Santhiya Resort

Ao Muong Beach

Ao Muong Beach is a beautiful beach southwest of the island, not far from Cape Beach. The beach is lined with lush vegetation and you are probably a fisherman or a single speedboat but often alone on this beach. Although… monkeys are regularly seen in the trees!

There are no restaurants or hotels on this beach, there is just nothing at all! So bring something to eat and drink yourself. To get to this beach you have to walk a few hundred meters, leave the scooter if you’re not used to riding on bad paths!

Although it sounds nice that there are no restaurants and accommodations (who wouldn’t want a deserted beach?) this also has a downside. Unfortunately, nobody feels responsible for the mess that washes up here from the sea, so the edge of the beach is regularly littered with plastic and other rubbish. At high tide the beach is sometimes very narrow. If you want to go into the sea it is wise to put on water shoes, there are quite a lot of rocks in the water.

A beach at Koh Yao Yai

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Ao Muong Chan Beach

A bit further north, lies the beautiful Ao Muong Chan Beach. The two beaches are similar, but the big difference with Ao Muong Beach is that this is the GLOW Elixir Resort and that it is a private beach. This means that the beach is cleared several times a day and you see that immediately. There is a seaside restaurant with delicious shakes and a bar that serves superb cocktails. We were lucky to sleep in the only resort on this beach, we couldn’t have made a better choice! 

Read how our experiences were at GLOW.

Here, try the Snickersshake – really amazing!

Koh Yao Yai beaches Ao Muong Beach

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Son Bay Beach

Son Bay Beach is a beautiful bay located on the west coast of Koh Yao Yai. You will be met by a cat family before you go to the beach. There is also a small simple shop for snacks and soft drinks. We bought shrimp chips here and fed them to the cats and kittens because they looked pretty hungry.

It was high tide when we were at Son Bay Beach so there was only a narrow strip of beach left with lots of shade. There was no hotel present, but we got the impression that there were plans for this. In the bay is the Sea Breeze Restaurant, during lunchtime groups come here by boat for lunch. The road to this beach is in good condition and easy to reach by scooter.

Koh Yao Yai Loh Jark Beach and Pier

Image: ThailandMagazine

Loh Jark Beach and Pier Koh Yao eiland

Loh Jark Beach & Pier

Loh Jark Beach & Pier is a nice quiet bay if no boats arrive or depart. Fish is drying on the pier and the fishermen repair their nets there. Local children jump from the pier into the sea and play in the water. A normal day on Koh Yao Yai. On the north side of the beach, jet skis are rented, which seemed a bit out of place for us within this setting. We only saw locals who used them and didn’t see any other tourists. That will probably be different when boats moor or leave. We just liked the local atmosphere on and around the pier.

Koh Yao Yai Locals repair fishing nets on the pier

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Koh Yao Yai, Fisherman with fishing net on the pier
Koh Yao Pier

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Hotels and Restaurants at Loh Jark Beach

There are currently two places to sleep at on this beach, The White House Koh Yao Yai Resort and the Koh Yao Heaven Resort on this bay, both resorts unfortunately receive varying reviews. Please check before booking if this is what you are looking for.

When you hit the road in front of the Loh Jark Pier, you’ll see Restaurant Emm on your right after 200 meters, don’t miss this nice little restaurant! You can go there for good curries and delicious shakes! Alcohol is also served here, but you can also bring your own. A small Chang costs 60 baht and a mixed drink, like a Bacardi Cola 170 baht.

There are currently two places to sleep at on this beach, The White House Koh Yao Yai Resort and the Koh Yao Heaven Resort on this bay, both resorts unfortunately receive varying reviews. Please check before booking if this is what you are looking for.

When you hit the road in front of the Loh Jark Pier, you’ll see Restaurant Emm on your right after 200 meters, don’t miss this nice little restaurant! You can go there for good curries and delicious shakes! Alcohol is also served here, but you can also bring your own. A small Chang costs 60 baht and a mixed drink, like a Bacardi Cola 170 baht.

Fun things to do on Koh Yao Yai

On Koh Yao Yai there are of course many other fun things to do! We have picked a few nice locations for you. Like good accommodations, well appreciated restaurants, places to go out and places of interest that are worth a visit, you’re here now anyway! We hope this will make your visit to Koh Yao Yai even more fun! Via the InfoBox below you can find more information about the subject per tab. We wish you a beautiful and great holiday!

Eating & Drinking on Koh Yao Yai

  • Jikgo Bar & Restaurant
    Tasty authentic Thai dishes! A fine reflection of Koh Yao Yai! Also for a cocktail or other drink Jikgo is a top location.
  • Baan Rim Nam Restaurant
    At Baan Rim Nam you can have lunch or dinner with a fantastic view over the sea.
  • Chill Chill @ Pai
    At Chill Chill you eat delicious cakes and cookies but also fantastic dishes. And after dinner, chill out with a cocktail or two!
  • Iyara Cafe
    When visiting the Iyara Cafe you can enjoy delicious shakes and cakes! A top spot for a hot or cold coffee!
  • Laem Had Bar
    Eating and drinking on a special beach in Koh Yao Yai.
  • Emm Restaurant
    The Emm Restaurant is not far from the Loh Jak Pier. A beautiful location in the middle of a beautiful green garden!
  • Together Restaurant
    Whether it’s western or Thai food, here you eat together!
  • De restaurants van het Santhiya Resort
    This immense Santhiya Resort has several restaurants. For example Jettin Teppan at the pier from where you can see a beautiful sunset. Or the Titan Grill for grilled dishes. Besides these restaurants there are also By the Sea and the Saaitara Restaurant. More than enough choice!

Going out Koh Yao Yai

The nightlife on Koh Yao Yai is limited to a single bar, usually in places where most tourists come. Because 90% of the population is Muslim, alcohol is not available everywhere. Small local shops do not sell alcoholic beverages. The Family Shops, 7 Elevens and most hotels do.

Taxi & Scooter on Koh Yao Yai

Koh Yao Yai can be reached from many destinations in Thailand, because the island has no airport you can only get there by boat. Taxis on the island are quite expensive, if you travel on the island from north to south you will soon be half an hour away and will cost you around 500 baht by taxi, one way. For short trips (10 minutes) you pay around 250 baht by taxi. Cheaper and maybe even more fun is exploring the island by scooter.

Boats and departure times Koh Yao Yai

Loh Jark Pier -> Chean Vanich (Phuket)
From Loh Jark Pier speedboats depart 11 times a day to Phuket’s Jain Vanit Pier, the boat trip takes about 30 minutes.
Departure times speedboats: 06:30 – 07:30 – 08:00 – 09:00 – 10:00 – 11:30 – 12:30 – 13:30 – 15:10 – 16:10 – 17:00.
On Friday the boat departs from 13:30 at 14:00.

Baan Larm Yai Pier / Laem Yai Pier ->Chean Vanich* (Phuket)
From the Lam Jay Pier a ferry leaves twice a day to the Chean Vanich Pier on Phuket.
Departure times ferry: 07.30 and 14.00, the trip takes between 1.5 and 2 hours.

*If you want to go to Patong Beach/ Kata Beach, the Chean Vanish Pier on Phuket is the nearest pier. From this pier it is about 30 minutes drive.

Chong Lard Pier -> Thalane Pier (Krabi)
From the Chong Lat Pier longtail boats and speedboats leave for the Tha Len pier, the speedboat takes about 30 minutes and the longtail boat 1 hour.
Departure times speedboats: 06:40 – 09:40 – 14:00
Departure times longtail boats: 07:40 – 08.40 – 13.00
Prices: Speedboat 300 baht, longtail boat 200 baht

Chong Lard -> Ao Nang
From this pier speedboats depart 3 times a day, the trip takes about 40 minutes.
Departure times speedboats: 09:00 – 13:00 – 15:30

Chong Lard Pier -> Phi Phi
From Chong Lat there are 2 speedboats a day to Phi Phi island, you are about an hour away by boat.
Departure times speedboats: 09:00 and 13:00

Khlong Hia Pier – >Bang Rong* (Phuket)
8 times a day speedboats depart from the Khlong Hia Pier to the Bang Rong Pier on Phuket. You’re about 30 minutes away.
Departure times speedboats: 06:30 – 07:50 – 09:30 – 10:30 – 11:30 – 14:00 – 15:00 – 16:00.

*If you want to go to the Phuket international airport the Bong Rong Pier on Phuket is the nearest pier. From this pier it is about a 30 minute drive.

Khlong Hia Pier – > Railay Beach ( Krabi)
Once a day a speedboat goes to Railay Beach,
Departure time Speedboat: 08:30, the speedboat is about 40 minutes away.

Take a look at our selection of some beautiful pictures of Koh Yao Yai through our fifth Picture This article.

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Click here if you want to see the best pictures of Koh Yao Yai
Dr. Saad, click here for the full article on Dr. Saad massage on Koh Yao Yai
Click here if you want to know all about GLOW Elixir Koh Yao Yai Resort.
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