It’s a well known fact that spending all day in the blazing sun on a tropical island makes for a hard day’s work. And it’s also common knowledge that a hard day’s work deserves an ice cold beverage as a means of recuperation. Steve and I worked hard on Koh Yao Noi–both the real kind of work and the laying on the beach in the sun kind–and we justly rewarded ourselves with a few cold beverages. But imbibing is not as easy as it seems on Yao Noi as the island is Muslim and adult beverages can only be found in certain shops and restaurants. Don’t worry, we’ve scouted out the scene and here is a list of our favorite Yao Noi watering holes.
Where to Drink in Yao Noi, Thailand
Step One Bar was our go to hangout on a Saturday night, not for its glitz, its glamor, or its beachside location, but because of the quirky character Mr. Poong. A previous ship captain who has dubbed his new title as “bar captain,” Mr. Poong is the man in charge of the slightly ramshackle Step One Bar. Although sometimes he is dozing away the afternoons, Step One Bar is always open for business, so in Mr. Poong’s words, “If asleep, wake up!” (As a going away present, Steve painted him a sign with these very words. The sign is hung in Step One Bar to this day.) Located directly across the street from 7-11 and next to Je T’aime restaurant, this modest place has only a few picnic tables on the sidewalk, but Step One is an ideal location from which to watch the whole island go by.
During the high season (November through February), Step One Bar serves a bevy of beverages–everything from beer to wine to cocktails. But during low season (May through September) aka rainy season, it’s simply beer, beer or beer. Since we lived in Yao Noi during low season, we were generally the only customers at Step One at a given time, which gave Mr. Poong a chance to regale us with stories from his days on the high seas. If you go to Step One, please give Mr. Poong a big hello from Steve and Leslie!
Tip: Staying in a fancy resort where beer is sold at extortionate prices? Pick up cheap beers to go at Step One Bar–one of the only locations on the island that sells take away alcohol.
Para Bar was love at first sight for me. I enjoy a good themed establishment, and Para Bar has a great pirate vibe. Built to look like an actual ship, Para Bar is decorated in ocean-themed kitsch–think fishing nets, life rings and sea shells. Snag a seat in the dimly lit bow area and get comfy before you read the vast menu, filled with fruity cocktails, wine and beer. Para Bar is also a restaurant which serves up excellent traditional Thai food. In my opinion, the place could be improved with a good pirate style soundtrack to accompany the surroundings, but instead you’ll hear plenty of tunes like “Lady in Red” or “Wonderful Tonight” as you sip your poison of choice.
Para Bar is located down the road from the Six Senses Resort on the island’s main east side road.
Popular with the posh honeymooning set, Six Senses is the most expensive resort on the island where private villas start at a mere $500 per night. But if you’re willing to drop $5 for a beer or $10 for a G&T (which will include complimentary banana chips), you will have paid your way to the most beautiful view on Yao Noi. Since the Six Senses is perched on a bluff above Phang Nga Bay which is filled with soaring limestone karsts, the views are worth an overpriced concoction or two. Relax amidst the lily ponds on sunken couches or sit high on the balcony in a cozy swing as the cool sea air drifts off the waves below. Though Steve and I only stayed for two beverages, we were enchanted and vowed that someday we would come back (when we are famous novelists perhaps?) and splurge on a villa.
The Six Senses is located on the island’s main east road, right before the village of Thakao.