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Ko Phayam

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Ko Phayam is an island in Ranong Province, Thailand.


Ko Phayam is the second largest Andaman Sea island off the coast of Ranong Province (Ko Chang, about 4 kms distant, is the largest). Ko Phayam has no roads suitable for automobiles, thus motorbikes are the chief means of transport. Tourists hire motorbikes or motorbike taxis at the pier and ride along the road to the resorts. There two major beaches/bays, i.e., Ao Yai and Ao Kao Kwai (Buffalo Bay). For those who want to get away from it all, Ko Phayam is reminiscent of what Ko Samui was like 30 years ago, before the airport and hotel developments.

Ao Yai is the largest bay on the west coast, about 3 km long and 300 m wide, with a white sand beach and a gentle swell from Andaman Sea. Stunning sunsets as well.

Ko Phayam is widely thought to be one of the most beautiful--and undiscovered--of Thailand's islands. Although this island is developing fast and is by no means deserted anymore. Tourists have found the place, the beaches are lined with low-key resorts and prices are going up. Good thing is that the beaches are wide and still not crowded if compared to the most popular tourist islands in Thailand.

Get in[edit]

Ko Phayam is just over 30 km from Ranong, about 2 hours from the mainland's Phayam Pier by slow boat, 30-40 minutes by speed boat. The slow boat leaves at 09:30 and 14:00 from the mainland, cost 150-200 THB (11/2015). 8:30 and 14:00 on the return journey. Speed boats depart at different and more frequent schedules.

From Bangkok you can take a bus (Mitrap Tours) which is leaving from Khaosan Road to Ranong for 544Baht (May 2013). The advantage with these busses is that you can make a reservation in advance. This bus is leaving at 7.00pm at the agency (the bus also stops at the south bus station). There are also some slightly cheaper busses running directly from the southern bus station, but you have to buy the tickets directly at the bus station.

Flight connection from Bangkok (Don Meuang International Airport) to Ranong Airport and back is available via NokAir [9] and AirAsia [10].

Ferry Prices as of Nov 17. 2015

  • Slow boat: 200 baht, travel time 2 hours
  • Speed boat: 350 baht, travel time 45 min in advance via Ranongferry [11]

Ferry Schedule as of Nov 2015 To get from the Ranong bus station to the Ko Phayam pier you can avoid tuk tuks and take a Songthaew instead. Therefore just walk to the main road and stop one of line #3 or #4. The costs are 15 THB per person.

From Ranong to Ko Phayam:

  • Slow boat: 9:30, 14:00
  • Speed boat: depend on season.

From Ko Phayam to Ranong:

  • Slow boat: 8:30, 14:00
  • Speed boat: depend on season in advance via Ranongferry [12]

Get around[edit]

No cars on this island. Motorbikes and scooters can be rented at Phayam Cottage Internet Shop near the main arrival ferry pier as well as many other places. The price is roughly 150-200 baht per day unless heavily booked. Gasoline costs 40-50 baht per liter. If you rent a motorbike don't drive it on the beach. There are rumours that you can get fined 5,000 baht because of fine print on the rental agreement.

Motorbike taxi drivers will be waiting for you as you step off the pier and can be found around the island, differentiated by their blue or red vests. Maps of the island near the pier are colour coded, showing you what the fixed price is to get to certain areas. 70 baht from the pier to Ao Yai. Ask your guesthouse to call you a taxi bike if you are at the quieter end of the island. The wait for a taxi to pass by can be longer than you wish to wait.

See[edit][add listing]

Ko Phayam island

There are many beautiful beaches, some of them long like Ao Yai--the largest. The ferry pier area is vibrant with restaurants, a few Internet and other shops, and places to settle into a lounge chair or hammock and enjoy a cold drink or two.

Do[edit][add listing]

Aow Yai (Big Bay) is the longest and busiest beach of the island with few bars located along it. You will find here some nice swells since it faces southwest into the Andaman Sea. Great for surfing, walking and meeting people.

Aow Kao Kwai (Buffalo Bay) in the northwest is a quieter beach. If you looking for getaway and relaxation - this is the place go be. Calm water here is ideal for swimming. There is a mangrove forest along the river on this beach - great place for kayaking.

  • Yoga - "1-Self Yoga" at Cha-Chai Home.
  • Batik courses - PP. Land Beach Resort.
  • Kite-surfing and surfing lessons - Buffalo bay Vacation Club.
  • Snorkeling and diving tours to Richelieu Rock, Surin islands, and Similan Islands - Phayam Divers and Buffalo Bay Vacation Club (+66-85-1079473).
  • Aladdin Dive Safari (diving with aladdin dive safari from koh phayam), Cross Road 200m before Ao Yai Baech, +66 (0) 872747601, [1]. 09;00-22:00. Liveaboard diving to the Surin and Similan Islands and the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma)and day trips to Richelieu Rock and the Surin Islands, starting from Koh Phayam. 19900. (9.7270879,98.3937883) edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is one ATM on the island. It is located on the main road just off the pier. Some hostels change money but it's better to bring enough cash.

Locally grown cashew nuts available.

There are no big shops on the island, small kiosks/shops on the main roads and near the ferry pier.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are many good local seafood restaurants with fresh catch and several Western food restaurants run by the island's local foreigners.

The entire island offers many cheap vegetarian/vegan food options.

  • ""Sabaidee"" close the peir.Best place for eating or drinking before leave or just arrive.Good Thai food and homemade bread, homemade baguette and homemade yoghurt.
  • '''Paceluce''' ('''Snack bar Italiano'''), Ao Kao Kwai North (next to '''Chomjam Resor'''t), +66 860 294 106. closes 17:00. Little Italian family restaurant serving pasta, salads, bruschetti, sandwiches, real coffee, shakes, and crepes, all made with fresh ingredients.  edit
  • 'Fan's Place', in the village on the road leading away from the pier up to the hospital, has some great cakes and bread homemade by the owner - Pi Fan, who has more than 20 years baking experience. The menu includes Thai and Western dishes and is a nice little restaurant for breakfast or lunch, especially if you are making a trip to or from Ranong.
  • 'Cha-Chai Home', a little way down the main road to Ao Yai (Long Beach) on the corner of the road to Buffalo Bay (the Payam Cabana/June Horizon road), it has a large selection of custom made hot and cold drinks, such as a wide range of teas, fresh coffee, vegetable and fruit juices, herbal drinks, shakes, lassis and super shakes. Cha Chai Home offers a wide selection of fresh homemade food, including extensive gluten free, vegan and superfood options. Although a no-meat zone, 'fake' meat dishes are available, such as burgers, spicy sausage pizza, five spiced lamb or Tamarind Fish - for vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Their is a large focus on healthy lifestyle choices here, so the rice and homemade bread are wholegrain; the homemade dairy and non-dairy yogurts and cider vinegars are probiotic; the fruit and vegetables are soaked in activated charcoal water to remove chemicals, bacteria and any other toxins; and there is a wide range of herbs, spices and super foods used in the dishes.

Additionally, they try to assist in the health of the planet as much as possible, by avoiding using plastic as much as they can, offering only water refills or jugs (no bottles), paper bags and cups, and bamboo straws (for a small extra cost) which the customers can take away with them and reuse.

The menu is extensive, with many original creations, as well as traditional Thai, fusion and International dishes on offer, and for those who prefer, a shorter version is also available. Customers can choose to write their orders themselves, on order sheets provided, or request that a member of staff do it for them.

Like the majority of restaurants in Koh Phayam, Cha Chai Home tries to offer the best they can to their customers, and is just one of many excellent choices for the tourists who come to the island.

  • 'Kruq Khun Kao', a couple of doors down from Cha-Chai home, may well be the best restaurant on the island. The chef, Mr. Kao, is a master of his craft, and can turn his hand to all the usual Thai dishes, but his specialty is Issan food. Particularly recommended is the whole snapper, which can be had with a choice of sauces, but whatever you fancy you'll find it done very well here. They'll even cook you a mean burger. The magician will give up his secrets in a cooking lesson at a cost of 850 baht, in which you'll learn to make two dishes of your choice, and get to eat them for lunch afterwards. The more people attend, the more different dishes you'll learn to make, so consider bringing a few friends. Very friendly, welcoming place that will leave you feeling well fed and happy.
  • Blue Sky near the pier
  • Phayam Lodge at Ao Yai Beach.
  • 'Phayam Cabana' at the far end of Buffalo Bay has great Thai food and is well worth the trip to give it a try. They have a large restaurant on the seafront with a beautiful view of the ocean and mangroves. Jimmy's cooking is among the best on the island, especially Tom Yum Kung, or chicken Masaman curry. She offers great dishes, including meat, seafood and vegetarian options for all tastes, as well as homemade yogurt and bread for delicious breakfasts and sandwiches.
  • 'Heaven Beach' in the middle of Buffalo Bay offers great drinks and a very good western/Thai menu,with high quality ingredients, including excellent homemade bread and yogurt and fresh coffee. It has a great laid back feel and is perfect for watching the sunset or enjoying a delicious lunch on the beach whilst the kids play with the toys available, including a trampoline and sand pit. The owner is an absolute angel, and will always do her best to make sure that everything is perfect for you, including meeting special requests (such as for vegetarian food).
  • 'PP Land' follow the road past the temple in the village and turn the corner at the end), also offer a very nice choice of Thai and Western food, with homemade bread and fresh coffee.
  • 'Ao Yai Seafood', on the road to Ao Yai (Long Beach), has some of the best seafood available and all freshly caught from the fishermen on the island. Their Yellow Curried Crab or Tamarind Prawns are especially worth a try.
  • 'Chomjan Bungalows' also offer excellent Thai cuisine and have a very comfortable and clean restaurant, set amongst the gardens on the hill with beautiful views of the ocean. Well worth a visit.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are many bars and restaurants on the island with quite a few German-speaking guests. Now Scandinavians are starting to discover Ko Phayam.

The island's official drink is Thai Sang Som rum with fresh Ko Phayam coconut milk.

Some places refill water bottles (roughly 5 Baht per liter, always a smart thing to do instead of buying new plastic bottles.

The local village is generally a quiet area, but has a couple of late night bars.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Ao Khao Kwai[edit]

  • Chomjan Resort&Garden, (on Ao Khao Kwai on the western side of Ko Phayam), [2]. Chomjan Resort is a good place for relaxing and enjoying the environment. The rooms are private and comfortable, and each bungalow comes with fan. Excellent facilities, including a restaurant serving excellent Thai cuisine. The gardens are lovely and many of the rooms have sea views, some with glass french windows looking out. It's a truly tranquil, comfortable environment for relaxing and enjoying the island.  edit
  • Kao Kwai Hill, (Buffalo Bay, central part), + 66 899 703 686. Quiet and rural bungalow's resort on the cliff right in the middle of Buffalo Bay run by nice Italian/thai staff. 8 bungalows with private bathroom spread on the hill for 300 bath and one for 700. Electricity supplied from 6pm to 11pm. Good restaurant with thai/italian/western selection of food. Super sunset overlooking at the low tide of the bay from the cliff. Possibility of self-camping also.  edit
  • Buffalo Bay Vacation club, [email protected], +66-819610375, [3]. * Right in the center of Buffalo Bay, has very nice modern fan/ac, cold/hot water bungalows. One of the few places with 24 hours electricity on the island. Great restaurant with best choice of international food, wifi, children friendly. Offer diverse activities: diving, snorkeling, kite-surfing and surfing lessons, trekking tours etc. Comfortable stay in a quiet place. 1200-5000 baht.  edit
  • Contact Bungalows. Has unsecure bungalows for 200 baht (double bed, mosquito net, sit down toilet, shower) and 300 baht. Higher up, overlooking a rocky beach, some tree-filtered views over the ocean. Serves food (60+ baht) 200-300 baht.  edit
  • Payam Cabana. * 'Payam Cabana', at the far end of Buffalo Bay near the mangroves, has very nice bungalows, all with comfortable beds and beach views.The rooms are reasonably priced, especially as it is quiet and clean and not close to any of the bars. It also has a great restaurant on the beachfront with some of the best Thai food on the island.  edit
  • June Horizon. * 'June Horizon', next to Payam Cabana - near the mangroves on Buffalo Bay, has bungalows in a choice of styles with artistic design and integrated with nature. A laid back happy hippy place to stay and hang out, with a funky small beach front bar and restaurant serving delicious breakfasts and dinners. There are several rows of bungalows. The cheap ones out of stone in the back, the 2 front rows near the sea shore. Prices increase to the shoreline. 300baht - 800 baht depending on bungalow & season.  edit

Ao Yai[edit]

  • Coconut Beach Resort (Coconut Bungalows), 14 Moo 1, Ao Yai, Ko Phayam, 85000 Ranong, Thailand (down Ao Yai Beach, past South Star Bar, before Ao Yai Bungalows. Around 500 m down from the taxi stop.), +66 899 208 145, [4]. checkin: All day; checkout: 12:00. While the bungalows are well-fitted out, if a little rustic, and the food at the bar is fantastic, the real reason to come here is the warm welcome and service you will receive from the family of young people that run the resort. A beautiful location directly on the beach. 300-1,000 baht. (N09º 43.320,O098º 23.648) edit
  • Friends Bungalow, (Ao Yai Beach - from the pier rent a scooter or hire a taxi), +66 8 18495296 (), [5]. Four sea view bungalows and eight furnished tents on elevated wooden platforms, each with own bathroom and a roof made from nature materials that protects the tent from sunshine and rain. All the windows have mosquito nets that allow the sea breeze to come in without having the room full of uninvited animals. 400-1.000 Baht. (N9º 43.40,O98º 23.23) edit
  • Green Beach Hut, Ao Yai, Ko Phayam (Take the southern Ao Yai road, this resort is right next door to Lazy Hut), +66(0)812599894 (). Formerly "Tonson" this resort has great value, well built bungalows all thoughtfully placed to have sea views from their porches in two rows, interiors are fully lined with bamboo matting, large bed with excellent linen and pillows, 3 power points, several lights, ceiling fan, glass windows and French doors, hammock, outside chairs or deckchairs, clothes airer and bedside table, a Thai style broom so you can sweep out beach sand, bathroom features skylight and bonsai tree. a lot of space with well kept grounds, a great restaurant with lots of choice of seating including swing platforms with Thai leaning pillows. Power is from 6pm to midnight from generator then solar backup switches on and runs til early morning (varies) generator power then takes over from 7.30am-11am. No power 11am - 6pm in rooms but there is limited power in the restaurant. Pretty much 24hr wifi. Open December to May. 600 baht.  edit
  • Lazy Hut Resort, (from the pier rent a scooter or hire a taxi (70 baht to Ao Yai). Take the road perpendicular to the beach. Go about 500 m, turn left on Tupauan Rd. Take it all the way to Ao Yai Beach (about 3 km). On the beach turn right. First is Longbeach Bungalows, next is Lazy Hut.), +66 89 724 0386 (). Offers a mix of classic bamboo bungalows and brand new family style bungalows on the south end of Ao Yai, which is a bit quieter than the central area. Free Wi-Fi, electricity 09:00-24:00, tasty restaurant, and a friendly and personable staff. Has probably the best beach lounging setup on Ao Yai: shaded hammocks, lay-down cushions, tables and chairs, and beach lounge chairs. A great place for those who want to chill out for a few days or creative types looking for a longer stay. Classic bamboo bungalow 350 baht, new luxury room 700 baht, beach front luxury bungalow 1,000 baht. Discount can be negotiated for longer stays.  edit
  • Phayam Lodge Beach Resort, (on Ao Yai Beach), +66 86 995 2598, [6]. Offers family houses with 3 bedrooms and fully furnished kitchens. They also have beach bungalows with sunset terraces for couples just 20 m from Ao Yai Beach. Amazing sunset view. All accommodations have 24 hour electricity, air-con and Wi-Fi. The resort also offers an on-site restaurant, The Bubble Beach Bar and Phayam Divers. 1,400-2,500 baht.  edit
  • Kohphayam Sanctuary, +66-81-891-3971, [7]. Our home rentals really exemplify the idea of sanctuary. Located amidst mango, sator, rubber and various jungle trees they are quiet yet fully equipped. website  edit
  • Vijit Bungalows, [email protected], +66 77 834 082, [8]. To fit almost every budget, Vijit Bunalows is a good choice at Ao Yai. 300-1,500 baht.  edit


  • Heaven Beach Resort & Art [[13]], run by the adorable Namwaan, is a small luxury resort on Ao Kai Kwai beach. 50 sm bungalows with hot/cold open air showers, spacious porches, and a very cozy restaurant on the beach. Great sunset views can be enjoyed either from the beachfront bungalows or in the open-air restaurant. From the same owners as PP.Land Beach Resort, so customers of Heaven Beach are allowed to use all the PP.Land facilities.
  • PP.Land Beach Beach Resort [[14]] is a small eco-resort run by Paul from Belgium and Pearl from Thailand. All bungalows are built to Western standards in an old cashew garden, next to a 300 m private beach. There is free WiFi and a swimming pool and they organise boat tours for their customers. The restaurant is open all day.
  • Sabai Sabai Bungalows[15] A charming place with an informal, friendly atmosphere. Has 8 simple, but stylish, themed (e.g., India, Africa, Cuba) beachfront bungalows priced 200-500 baht per night. Also a restaurant serving sociable family-style meals, a cool lounge area showing movies and sports, an abundance of hammocks in which to relax, and a small sailing boat and a kayak for its customers. The Coconut Bar and the comfy hammock-filled Shisha Lounge are also both on-premises, and the establishment hosts beach parties fortnightly.

Get out[edit]

  • NokAir [16] flies to Bangkok from Ranong Airport (20 minute drive from Ranong)
  • Boats go from Ko Phayam to Ko Chang on some weekdays at 16:00. Boats do not sail on Sa-Su.
  • Buses from Ranong bus station to Chumphon (minivan 2.5 h, 120-150 baht), Khao Lak and Phuket, seven times a day. (Phuket Town: ~6 hours, 240 baht)
  • Minivan Services (Can be booked with any travel agent) run to Surat Thani (4,5h) & Surat Thani Airport (3,5h, this airport has a wider range of flights than Ranong). Prices range between 150-250 bht.

Stay safe[edit]

A tsunami shelter has just been built near the school. If there's an earthquake be sure to head there, as the island doesn't provide many safe spots.

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