While winter rages on in the Northern Hemisphere, Thailand remains a tropical oasis to many travelers. So when the snow starts to get heavy, and you’re in need of an island getaway look to the tropical Thailand: crossing from Phuket to the south east. In total, you will see 5 different Thai islands. Below you will find the need to know tour details that will take you all about the country, with some true locals only knowledge. Here, it is best to start with the largest island, Phuket. From there you will dive into an incredible word of diverse nature and culture and uncover some of the best kept secrets of the country. For your motorcycle excursion, something light and easy to maneuver is best recommend, so look to the likes of the Honda CRF 250L. This is especially important as you will be taking a few ferries to and from your destinations, and weight requirement s dictate what comes and goes. You can complete this route in about 7 days, but it’s better to plan it for about 10 days to enjoy it without hurry.
Now that you’re ready to dive in, let’s explore!
Arguably the most famous, and definitely the largest Phuket is the perfect first stop. Not only is it an island of diverse popular attractions, but it is also the centerfold for some lesser known gems such as Nai Yang. Nai Yang is a plane landing beach which no descriptor could do justice… Also, you can stop by in the enormous abandoned resort located at 8.084833, 98.286715, with a basis in interesting history. Here, it is believed to be the sight of a fire during construction, however upon authoritative investigation it was uncovered the land was built on illegally. Due to this, construction was halted immediately, and the luscious jungle decided to grow around it. It is an incredibly unique sight, worthy of a visit and fascinating to explore.
The rest of your day in Phuket will take you Northbound towards the Sarasin Bridge that connects Phuket to the land area. This is ideal place for lunch, where the seafood is exquisite and the service is charming. As you continue on into nighttime, you will reach Phan Nga Bay which sits atop hundreds of limestone formations and small islands. Fall asleep and wake up to some of the most breathtaking sights in the country, and stay at the one hotel on the bay. Since it is such a hot commodity, here it might be important to reserve in advance. If a hotel is not the top of your priority list, check out Sametnangshe Viewpoint for tent or room accommodations with sea views. Due to the fact there is no light pollution, we highly recommend you spend your nights stargazing. The Milky Way and other adjacent constellations are visible and stunning and something few can catch back home. If solitude is your preference and the tourism scene doesn’t interest you check out the Ao Tho Li Viewpoint and sleep in one of the bungalows for 600 thb.
Rise and shine on the beautiful Phan Nga Bay and hold the memories for the rest of your life. From here, you can drive to the nearby Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. Two options present themselves: a 20 minute strenuous climb or a pickup truck that makes regular rounds up to the peak. Both provide incredible views all the way up. Once you reach the viewpoint and descend, take the first ferry crossing and arrive in Koh Yao Noi. This ferry departs from the Tha Dan Pier and typically takes an hour and a half (Phang Nga- Tha Dan Pier to Sukha Pier: 13:00, no service on Sundays). This ride costs 250 thb per person, and 350 thb for a bike, so come prepared!
Koh Yao Noi is a considerably smaller island found in Koh Yao Archipelago, resting halfway between Phuket and Krabi, and in the center of Phang Na Bay. There is one main that cuts across the island, with a few dirt roads that lead up to some smaller paths and paved roads taking you in every direction. The roads here aren’t terribly difficult to navigate, but it’s best to come with a sense of adventure. Some roads lead to dead ends, and others to beaches—- half the fun of exploring is taking the routes presented to you! However, if you have a specific destination in mind then it’s important to note there is data access all about the island. Meaning you can access maps, google, and any other internet-based mediums with ease. Many hotels offer complimentary wifi as well, so you can stay connected if desired!
Accommodation: Even for those not typically interested in a resort stay, Koh Yao Noi is the place to splurge. Most are even eco-friendly, and relatively smaller in size with only the height of relation in mind. One particularly noteworthy one is Paradise Koh Yao. If budgeting is on the mind, check out Sabai Corner located just at the sea or Tabeak View Point to watch the sun set on Phan Nga.
Travel to Koh Yao Noi
Koh Yao Noi
Continue the adventure, and use the next two days to familiarize yourself with Koh Yao Noi. You can venture off to Laem Sai, the southeast corner of Koh Tao Noi and experience the coastline for a day. As the East Coast heads Northbound, it turns inland for about 2km and then back to the coast where some of the best views are to be found. Here there is a sandy football pitch and just across the road is a small Suntisook Resort which consists of small bungalows with an attached restaurant. Weather permitting, you can even take a kayak out to the neighboring community of Koh Nok Island. Here is the perfect place to sit back, relax and soak in the sun! Spend the sunset at the fisherman’s pier on the west side of the island.
I found a kid selling tickets to next island, and while I tried to get the CRF to Ko Yao Yai, the captain that was there at the time refused to do it for a normal price. I remember, he said it’s so heavy and difficult, for 500 bath he would have done it (instead of 150bath for a scooter). But he clearly didn’t want to do it, so he recommended me a big car ferry that leaves once a day around 3pm, 100 bath, quick and easy.
Koh Yao Yai, or “Big Long Island” runs about 30 km from top to bottom and sits between Phuket and Krabi, nestled in the middle of Phang Nga Bay. This long, narrow island is lush with thick mangroves and white-sand beaches, and continues to be a relatively undisturbed location for knowledgeable travelers. It is more than twice the size of the neighboring Ko Yao Noi, but tourism is not as rampant here.
Life is simple here, yet there is a feeling of fertile abundance all about the land. Here the landscape consists of coconut groves and rubber plantations, tidy villages of handcrafted gems, and tropical bougainvilleas. The island’s infrastructure is good, with decent internet and mobile service all throughout, without its primary focus being modernization. The scenic main road that runs through the length of this island is smooth and easy to navigate, making this ideal for your motorbike adventure.
Beach-hopping and exploring the island by motorbike is one of the greatest pleasures of staying on Yao Yai. The beaches here are narrow white strips of sand in calm, shallow bays that transform into mud flats at low tide, meaning for most occasions you’ll need to properly time out your swim sessions. Loh Paret Beach along the West Coast is a notable exception, and with the appeal of all-day swimming and sunset views this is where the tourist scene manifests in earnest.
Koh Yao Yai
While in Krabi, check out the Dragon Crest, which is an incredibly breathtaking sight that few others know about. Other spots to venture about include the Tiger Cave Temple in Wat Tham Sua, and the Nopparat Thara Beach on Fossil Shell Beach.
Here it is important to ride early, and drive a short way to the National Park. Bring a flashlight and make it to the peak, with plenty of time to enjoy the early morning moments of solitude in an otherwise populated area. Watch the sun rise at the crest, and do all that you want before the crowds arrive and follow your path!
Koh Jum is a small island, halfway between Krabi Town and Koh Lanta (around 25km to the North and South respectively), with Koh Phi Phi lying 20km to the West. On the Northern part of the Island, the landscape is dominated by the jungle-covered peak of Koh Pu, some 400 meters high; and on the Southern end it mostly consists of flatlands with rubber plantations and scrubland. The West Coast, where all the bungalow resorts are located, has around 12km of rocky beaches that face the Andaman Sea.
Important to note is that there are no cars on Koh Jum other than those which make deliveries to and from the pier. Here the most common mode of transportation is bicycle, motorbike, or on foot. The roads are semi-paved to hard to navigate foot paths— which primarily lead onwards to the beaches. To get from bungalow to bungalow, it is actually easier to walk along the beach rather than the main road.
While the majority of the accommodation on Koh Jum falls into the backpacker category, there are also a few spotted upmarket resorts and villas available that offer a luxurious “eco-chic” accommodation. Always check if 24 hour power is available before booking if this is integral to you. So either make your peace with the arrangements, or research the kinds of places that fit your needs. Also, it is important to note there are no banks or ATM on the island so be sure to be suitably prepared before arriving!
I didn’t like the island at first, having much more tourism and traffic than expected, but the places we found were so great that I now think this is one of the best islands to come to for a relaxed few-day holiday. One place specifically comes closest to the word “Paradise” on this trip so far. Check out “Freedom Huts Koh Jum” if you plan to come here (in season).
The island of Koh Lanta is located in the South of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea, about 80km South-East of Krabi. Logistically, Koh Lanta consists of two islands: Koh Lanta Noi (fairly non-touristy) and Koh Lanta Yai (touristy) which are connected by a bridge.
Most tourists tend to visit places like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Samui. However, these same tourists often tend to miss Koh Lanta, which makes it the perfect low key destination! The beaches are equally stunning, and the atmosphere significantly more relaxed.
Koh Lanta is fairly large in size, approximating at 27km long, so being able to transport yourself from place to place makes for easy exploration. The roads are paved (if not a bit bumpy in the South), but there is no traffic. Additionally, everything is laid out fairly simply, making it hard to get lost when there’s only one road that goes around the island.
Drive all the way to the southernmost point until you reach a barrier and cannot continue on further. After paying the National Park fee (200 THB per person), you can go on to toward the iconic lighthouse, where all of Koh Lanta’s beaches are viewable. The mangrove forests reside in the Northeast and the rough, rocky coast in the South-West make Koh Lanta a diverse and exciting island you cannot afford to miss.
Return to Phuket
Koh lanta was the last island during your adventure. It’s time to return to Phuket. Along the way, you will enjoy beautiful views through the Krabi and Phang Nga provinces. You are about 230 km away from Phuket, so you can travel this distance in one day or stop on the road for a night.