Thai island hopping itinerary: Phuket, Koh Yao Yai and Krabi
While we were in Thailand, we had to visit a few of the Thai islands. In two weeks we visited Phuket, Koh Yao Yai and Krabi. In this blog post, we will tell you all about our experiences on the islands in Thailand!
If you have a hard time choosing which Thai islands you want to go to, make sure to read our blog post full with tips and advice on how to create a Thai island hopping itinerary.
The reason why we went to Phuket was because we could get very cheap flight tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket. This made Phuket our first Thai island hopping destination. We stayed in Phuket for 4 days and stayed in a town called Tambon Choeng Thale. The nearest beach to Tambon Choeng Tale is Bangtao Beach and it takes a half-hour walk or a 10-minute drive to get there. As Phuket is a pretty big island, 4 days is way too short if you want to explore the entire island. As we felt like relaxing, we didn’t leave the area of Tambon Choeng Tale and Bangtao Beach.
Things to do in Phuket
We liked the area of Tambon Choeng Thale as it was close to a variety of restaurants, a supermarket and a day/night market. The Bangtao Market is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 14:00-20:00. The Tinlay Night Market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays Saturdays and Sundays, from 16:00-22:00. If you’re in the area, both markets are nice to wander around.
We really enjoyed wandering around the town and our daily walks to the beach. Phuket has some very nice island vibes and the people on the island are super nice. Tambon Choeng Thale is not that touristic, which is a big advantage for us. If we had more time we would have definitely rented a scooter to explore more of the island. Phuket is a pretty big island, so if you want to explore it more, consider staying more than a week in a central area.
Koh Yao Yai
From Phuket we took the speed boat to Koh Yao Yai, a small island off the coast of Phuket. Koh Yao Yai is one of Thailand’s last unspoiled islands, and it is a true paradise. The big advantage of this is that you’ll have a real Thai island experience without huge crowds on the beach. The disadvantage is that many people consider the island ‘underdeveloped’ and that you can’t buy food and drinks on every street corner.
We stayed on Koh Yao Yai for four nights, which was the perfect amount of time to explore the entire island. We could’ve even stayed longer to relax a bit, but we had to move on to our next destination.
Things to do in Koh Yao Yai
During our three full days on the island, we rented a scooter and drove to every corner of the island. The first day we explored the southern part, the second day the northern part and the last day the western part was the only unexplored part left. The beaches at the northern and southern parts of the island are the most beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
While driving south on the main road towards the beaches, we spotted a sign indicating a view point. We took the turn and after a ride through the jungle and a sweaty walk up, we reached a point with stunning views overlooking the palm tree jungle and the sea. Koh Yao Yai really is the island to just go with the flow and stumble upon amazing things like this view point!
Although Koh Yao Yai is considered an ‘underdeveloped’ island, the main road is very well-maintained, there’s a 7-Eleven (with ATM) and a gas station along the main road and the Wi-Fi at our hotel was pretty good. While driving around the island you’ll come across many restaurants that serve Thai food all day. We specifically loved the food at Chill Chill @ Pai and we were lucky this place was so close to our hotel.
If you love to experience the beauty of the Thai islands but are not into overcrowded beaches and tourist attractions, Koh Yao Yai is the place for you. Furthermore, Koh Yao Yai is also a central place to do day trips from to other surrounding islands such as Maya Bay (or better known as ‘James Bond Island’).
Koh Yao Yai is definitely our favorite Thai island we’ve been to and we’d love to go back someday!
Krabi isn’t actually an island, but being right at the coast of the Thai mainland, the area does feel like an island. Especially the Ao Nang Beach and Railay Beach have these island vibes. However, we didn’t stay at the beach but we stayed at the nearest city Krabi Town.
Things to do in Krabi
After a few intense days of exploring Koh Yao Yai, we needed to unwind for a bit. Krabi Town doesn’t necessarily sound like the perfect location for that, but it did the job very well. Because we were having laptop issues, we couldn’t really explore the area and the beaches along the coast, like we had in mind when staying in Krabi Town. Our days consisted of going out for breakfast, trying to solve the laptop issues, having lunch, walking around town, having dinner and grabbing a smoothie at the day or night market. We didn’t complain though, as this was exactly what we needed!
Krabi Town is the cheapest place we’ve been to in Thailand with the best (western) food! We specifically loved May and Mark’s House where we ate at least twice a day.
We loved walking along the river river and enjoying the views from there. Every night there is a night market with different kinds of (Thai) food, but we loved the food at May and Mark’s so much that we didn’t want to eat anywhere else.
Many people staying in or around Krabi Town visit the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea). The temple is located on top of hill and offers beautiful views. It’s just a 10-minute ride from Krabi Town, and we would absolutely go there next time we’re in the area. This time we were too exhausted to head that way and climb 1237 stairs in the tropical heat.
Krabi Town is a nice and relaxed town. It’s not that big so everything is easily reachable by foot. Since hotels and food prices aren’t expensive at all and it’s not that far from the coast, Krabi Town is a good place to stay if you want to explore the area by scooter or motorbike.
Which Thai islands have you been to or which ones are still on your list? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out more of our visual experiences on Instagram!
Island hopping in Thailand: Tips for creating a Thai island hopping itinerary