You know where to find the best pizza and Thai curry in Koh Yao Noi, and where to go for a couple of cold ones served up by the island’s one and only “Bar Captain.” But where oh where will you rest your sun-addled head once night so spectacularly falls?
One of Thailand’s many beauties is that there are accommodations galore to fit every budget. And the island of Yao Noi is no exception. From bare bones backpacker shacks with no air con and cold showers to $600 per night private bungalows with a personal butler on duty, sleeping on the island is most decidedly not a problem.
Tabeak View Point
On our very first visit to Koh Yao Noi (back when Steve and I were just vacationing with nary a thought to actually move there), we called the Tabeak our home for two nights. You may think you want to stay in a beach front bungalow, but when you see the view from the porch of one of these rustic rooms, you won’t be sorry. Wake up early and watch the sun dance its way to life, then bask in the cool breeze that blows up from the water below. Eat a banana pancake while checking your email with the free WiFi in the Tabeak’s restaurant before making the five minute walk to one of the island’s best beaches.
About $20 per night for the most basic bungalow (read no air con, no hot water).
The Paradise Koh Yao Boutique Beach Resort & Spa
One day while exploring the island by motorbike, we found ourselves bumping and skidding down a treacherous dirt road. Little did we know that this pot hole peppered lane led to Paradise…literally! Set on a private emerald lagoon surrounded by towering limestone karsts, the Paradise Koh Yao Resort offers one of the most spectacular beach views on the island. Lined with lounge chairs and hammocks from which to watch the crabs scuttering about in the waves just a few feet away, we plopped down and declared we never wanted to leave.
In fact, I loved it so much that I whipped out my iPhone and booked a room on a whim for that very night, thus causing Steve to think I’m slightly deranged. (Maybe a little, but my excuse is that I just love surprises!)
Our whitewashed bungalow was set amidst a garden of pink and yellow flowers. Inside, the mosquito net draped ethereally from the ceiling over the king sized bed is equal parts exotic and necessary in the insect-infested tropics. I squealed with delight over the luxurious outdoor shower and lounge area, complete with pillow-clad swing to laze away an afternoon as mellifluous waves crashed onto the golden sands below.
On the dining front, a collection of restaurants serving up savory Thai dishes line the private beach, but to celebrate a special occasion, the hotel can arrange a romantic table on the water’s edge – bring on the Champagne! Sunrise yoga on the beach, sumptuous spa treatments like the herbal steam cave or Indian head massage and a perfectly manicured pool ensure that the Paradise truly lives up to its lofty name.
Rooms at the resort start around $90 during the wet season, but can be considerably more during the high/dry season.
Note: Whatever you do, please don’t follow our motorbike tracks to the resort–especially during wet season…most guests arrive to this secluded lagoon-front property by boat.
Located amidst a tropical garden, along a pristine stretch of beach on the sunrise side of Yao Noi, lies the Villaguna Residence. Although it feels less a resort than simply your own private holiday rental, you’ll still get top-notch service at this indulgent retreat. Each of the spacious villas is elegantly decorated with Thai art and boasts tile floors, high ceilings, kitchens, outdoor showers and private lanais with plunge pools. Careful, you may want to move in! (We considered buying one of the villas, we loved them so much. Too bad they were all sold out, not to mention we didn’t have a spare $200,000 lying around.)
If basking in the sun by the resort’s glamorous pool or walking along the adjacent beach become too humdrum, arrange for a private fishing trip amongst the limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay or an excursion to nearby islands in the resort’s private catamaran. And if you stay at the Villaguna, please tell the lovely manager, Amina, “hello” from Leslie and Steve!
Private villas begin at $100 per night.
Six Senses Yao Noi
Perched high atop a limestone cliff overlooking Thailand’s spellbinding Phang Nga Bay is the Six Senses Yao Noi. This eco-friendly resort is as chic as they come with a collection of 54 thatch roof bungalows unfurling over pristine beaches, the only footprints made by the industrious crabs sauntering to and fro in the sand far below.
Perhaps it’s because the resort is in direct competition with the dazzling view of the bay, that its activities, restaurants and services are a wonder of lavish hospitality. Take dining for example; handmade ice cream cools during the day while menus at the private Hilltop Reserve restaurant spice up the night.
To spend a day at the Six Senses Yao Noi is to be wrapped in tropical indulgence, where your to do list goes something like this: lounge the day away by private infinity pool. Get massage at a world-class spa utilizing fresh, local ingredients. Oceanfront Muay Thai lesson after in-room Champagne breakfast served by private butler. Sounds like there are two paradises on Yao Noi to me!
Even if you don’t have the cash to splurge on this level of luxury, shell out about $20 and you can feel like a high roller in the spectacular bar overlooking Phang Nga Bay.
Prepared for the sticker shock? One night at the Six Senses will set you back at least $500.