Along with the smaller but more developed Koh Yao Noi, Koh Yao Yai sits in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, with Phuket to the west and Krabi in the east. A beach-lover's paradise, Yao Yai is one of only a few of Thailand’s southern islands that remains a quiet, unspoiled refuge away from the crowds.
Meaning ‘Big Long Island,' Ko Yao Yai is 18 miles (30 km) from top to bottom. It’s populated by thick mangroves, coconut groves, rubber plantations and picturesque villages, all of which are fringed by pristine white-sand beaches. The island has thus far managed to avoid any major tourism development, though it features a smattering of resorts and guesthouses. Fishing and farming remain the primary source of income for residents.
A visit to Koh Yao Yai means to slow down and enjoy the lush landscapes, making it ideal for couples on a romantic break, families seeking a quiet beach holiday or those simply looking for peace away from the crowds of Phuket. Beach-hopping, snorkeling and relaxing are among the simple pleasures to enjoy while on the island, while exploring by motorbike or bicycle is also fun, with the island's scenic main road being mostly smooth and easy to navigate.
Insider’s Tip: It’s a good idea to withdraw some cash before you leave for Koh Yao Yai, although ATMs can be found at each of the government offices in Chong Lad and Prunai villages.
It's a 30-minute speedboat trip from Phuket’s east coast to Koh Yao Yai. Long-tail boats also make daily trips to both Yao Noi and Yao Yai. Island infrastructure is good, with decent internet and phone service throughout.