I had seen countless pictures of it. It looked like a paradisiac place only seen in movies and dreamy postcards that make you think “I wish I were there.”
And I went there.
I’ve visited the small island of Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand a few times, and I must say it always lives up to and surpasses all my expectations of how beautiful this place is.
Here I’ll share with you my experience and tips to help you visit this stunning paradise!
What’s so nice about Koh Nang Yuan?
Koh Nang Yuan is a small cluster of three little islands connected by two white-sand strips and surrounded by gorgeous corals and lots of sea life. Sounds dreamy, no?
There you can snorkel, dive, hike, swim in its pristine waters, and relax while sunbathing or watching the sunset.
Given that it’s so small and so close to Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan is perfect for a day trip. But, my recommendation is to spend the night there to truly enjoy the island at its best. (More on that below)
Where is Koh Nang Yuan?
While it looks like a paradisiac place secluded in the middle of nowhere, the truth is completely the opposite.
Koh Nang Yuan is located just a 15 minutes long tail boat ride from Koh Tao – in fact, you could almost swim from the closest point of Koh Tao to Koh Nang Yuan… but don’t try it as there are strong currents!
How to Get to Koh Nang Yuan
The best way to get there is by traveling to Koh Tao –which is located on the Gulf of Thailand– and from Koh Tao taking a 15-minute ferry or long-tail boat ride, or a day trip tour.
You can also overnight at Koh Nang Yuan. More on that soon…
There are many ways to get to Koh Tao, but the most common one is by taking the overnight train/bus from Bangkok to Chumphon and from there the morning ferry to Koh Tao.
I took the traditional long-tail boat from the west side beach of Koh Tao as it felt like the best way to get to Koh Nang Yuan.
Typically you can see several advertised speedboats and catamarans to Koh Nang Yuan, but the cheapest option is the long-tail boat.
You’ll see several long-tail boat drivers looking for customers right at the beach (Sairee Beach is a popular one), or you can also head to Lotus Bar, which sort of has a boat-taxi stand. Their rides are at 300B roundtrip.
When taking a long-tail boat, you must settle your return time (if going just for the day), so they can pick you up at such time – on or before 5:00 pm. If you’re staying at the resort, then you can arrange complimentary transportation with them.
Getting there by traditional Thai long-tail boat felt like traveling to a deserted exotic island waiting to be discovered. From far, I could see two small islands lying next to each other, looking almost deserted.
As I got closer, my attention shifted to the turquoise water surrounding the white strips of sand that connect the islands.
I was stunned by the beauty of Koh Nang Yuan and amused by the surreal feeling of walking over a submerged white coral-sand beach to reach my wood cabin, nestled almost naturally at the base of one of the islands.
Koh Nang Yuan, while considered to be one island, is actually a set of three islands, or rocky outcrops, connected by two strips of white coral-sand that serve as the beach during low tide, and that disappear under the clear water when it rises.
Kayaking to Koh Nang Yuan and a Beautiful Viewpoint
Yes! You can kayak to Koh Nang Yuan too.
A two-person kayak rental could cost you around 400B for half a day. If departing from Ban’s, it’ll take you roughly 45 minutes each way to reach Koh Nang Yuan. From the town center, it takes bout an hour each way.
One thing I should mention about Dusit Buncha Resort is that it is the closest resort to Koh Nang Yuan, so it’ll take you less than 15 minutes to kayak to the island, each way. Also, Dusit Buncha Resort is famous for its “Nang Yuan Viewpoint.”
If kayaking from the other resorts or the town, you can stop at the viewpoint and even have a meal there. The food is ok, not great, but the view is spectacular!
Where to Stay at Koh Nang Yuan
I knew I wanted to experience Koh Nang Yuan properly, so I chose to stay there instead of taking a day trip. It was the best decision I made and I recommend you to do the same!
There is only one resort at Koh Nang Yuan –since it is a private island– but the price for a budget cabin is not that bad, considering the location. My friend and I paid 1,600 Bahts for a night, but you can check the latest rate and book here.
One of the reasons I think staying there outweighs the accommodation price is the fact that you can enjoy the island ALL day.
You can be there with just a handful of people in the early morning or late in the afternoon. This is before and after the hoards of day tour tourists/snorkelers/divers arrive and overrun the small beach.
In fact, these are the best times to enjoy the beach since it’s low tide, there’s not such a strong current, and you can literally lie on the sand, sunbathe, relax, and read before the sandy strips are submerged by the high tide.
If you’re staying at the resort, you get a free beach chair and umbrella to relax all day by the beach!
Also, this is a dive resort, so if you’re a diver, make sure to bring your diving license to explore the beautiful reefs Koh Tao is well known for!
On the other hand, if you’re not staying at the resort, I recommend checking these snorkeling and diving tours in and around Koh Nang Yuan.
Enjoying the Best of the Nang Yuan Island(s)
Swimming and relaxing!
I loved swimming and relaxing at the beach while watching the sunset with barely anyone next to me. And I also loved waking up to have an early swim when there was absolutely no one else other than my friend and I. These moments were priceless.
By the way, there are not many places in the world where you can say you watched the sunrise and sunset on the same beach!
I did like very much swimming on the clear waters and watching the hundreds of tropical fishes that populate these waters.
Snorkeling and Diving
The snorkeling and diving are also great! You’ll often see day tour dive boats surrounding Koh Nang Yuan to visit popular dive sites like Twin Peak and Japanese Gardens. These spots are just off the island, so they are shallow enough and close enough for snorkelers on the island.
Also, the deeper you swim, the nicer the corals. But be careful with the currents! Safety first.
If you don’t have your own snorkeling gear, you can rent it on Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan too.
Besides enjoying the beach, another thing you must do is to hike to the top of the smaller island – the famous viewpoint. The hike is not arduous and it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to get to the top.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can do some light rock climbing to get to the absolute top. But be careful, as it is dangerous. (Make sure to wear sneakers or flip-flops with a good grip if you decide to go to the top)
I decided to go all the way to the top barefoot, and while I did it fine, some of the big boulders on the top were quite rough on the skin, especially when I had to maneuver some pressure to reach the next boulder up.
Once up, all I did was admire the environment, the mountains, and the beach from my unique bird’s eye view. It was stunning!
Other than the view and the beach, all that Koh Nang Yuan could offer was a calm environment to relax for the rest of the day; and that’s all I was hoping it would do.
Without a doubt, this has been one of the most unique places I’ve been in the world.
A Few Extra Tips to Make the Best of Koh Nang Yuan Island
- Have lunch before going to Koh Nang Yuan. There’s only one restaurant there (the resort’s), so it is expensive. Take a few snacks too.
- If you’re not staying at the resort, there is a fee of 100 Bahts per person to enter the private island.
- For non-resort guests, the island is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Make sure you don’t overstay as the last ferry leaves at 5:00 pm.
- If you’re staying at the resort, they have a complimentary ferry to and from Koh Tao.
- If you’re going on your own for a day trip, expect to pay around 200-300 Bahts for one way. On the other hand, some snorkeling day trips can start as low as 250 Bahts with the round-trip. (But some of them don’t actually stop at the island. They just snorkel close to it.)
- Alternatively, there are several recommended day tours to Koh Nang Yuan Island with transportation, activities, and even food included. I recommend these if you’d like to have all the logistics taken care of.
- Plastic bottles and cans are banned on the island, so any refreshment you take should be in other types of containers, like carton containers.
- Be careful during high tide, as currents can be strong and dangerous.
- There is a zip-line crossing between the two islands, but at the moment it is non-operational. Check with the resort before going there if you’re interested in doing this activity.
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