When you think of Thailand, the words luxury and seclusion might not be the first to come to mind. The country’s southern regions are famous for their vibrant full-moon parties and well-worn backpacker trails. The region draws crowds of budget travelers and party enthusiasts. However, a tranquil haven nestled in South Thailand offers an entirely different perspective.
Koh Yao Noi, serenely positioned between Phuket and Krabi, is just a short 45-minute boat ride away from the lively crowds. Translated as ‘Small Long Island,’ this unspoiled gem is renowned for its untouched beaches, pristine mangroves, picturesque rice fields, and lush interior. Covering 19 square miles, it maintains a laid-back lifestyle and embodies the warm embrace of Southern Thai culture.
Luxury with a Sense of Purpose
As the world’s travel preferences shift towards privacy, Koh Yao Noi effortlessly aligns with this evolving trend. Modern travelers yearn for authentic and experiential journeys that transcend traditional opulence. Here, guests find a slow and soulful island life. This is a stark contrast to the over-tourism that plagues some of Thailand’s once pristine spots.
Nestled along the island’s eastern coast is ÀNI, an ultra-secluded private resort that’s redefining luxury in Thailand. A luxury stay at ÀNI doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting at $14,118 per night.
Journeying via motorcycle sidecars, guests arrive at The Noodle Shop. This local rice paddy field restaurant is where visitors enjoy a traditional Thai breakfast in the company of friendly locals. The owners, Sukanya and Chalothorn Hapolkla, affectionately known as Ja Yam and Bang Mee, offer warm hospitality. The meal features egg-and-crab fried rice and fresh fruit, focusing on local rice varieties.
A tuk-tuk ride transports guests to rubber plantations. Guides can show the art of rubber tree tapping, a critical step in the production of rubber, an indispensable material in various global industries.
Koh Yao Noi’s small town center offers an authentic local experience. Visitors can explore the lively surroundings, interact with friendly locals, and sample various sticky rice pouches and bio-organic fertilizers.
Local artists Ms. Sapiyah Yusoh (Ja Cha) and a colleague share their expertise in batik painting. Guests are encouraged to create their own batik artworks, starting with sketching and moving on to the meticulous process of applying hot wax to outline their designs. A range of vibrant hues allows guests to bring their creations to life.
The island’s fish conservation center plays a vital role in preserving the marine ecosystem. Guests embark on a boat ride to the nursery, where they gain insight into its dedication to breeding, conservation, injured fish care, and educating the next generation of fishermen. This hands-on experience offers a deeper understanding of the island’s commitment to protecting its marine life.