A (Rough) Day Trip to Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Tao, Thailand
You’d think an experienced travel blogger would be better at planning. I arrived in the Chumphon Archipelago, which includes Koh Tao, Koh Phangan (Full Moon Party central) and Koh Samui in November, which happens to be the height of rainy season. The absolute worst time to visit tropical islands like these is when the skies are grey and the winds are howling, but I decided to make the best of it. The day trip to Koh Nang Yuan is one of the most popular activities to do when visiting Koh Tao, but what’s it like in rainy season? You’re about to find out!
A Rough Boat Ride
I was staying in Mae Haad, the main port area of Koh Tao, and asked a few vendors about the boats to Koh Nang Yuan. A few said the boats weren’t running because of the weather, but I eventually found someone who sold me ticket. It was a rickety old diving boat and I was the only one on there.
We waited around for 15 minutes or so and a few other people boarded – obviously the normal boats weren’t running so someone saw an opportunity to make some money. The boat cost 300 baht return, which is what I’d heard all the boats to Koh Nang Yuan cost. The trip to Koh Yang Nuan is short but the seas quickly got rough. It was a pretty horrible 30 minutes or so but we eventually made it!
Things to See on Koh Nang Yuan
Koh Nang Yuan is actually three islands joined together by sand bars. There isn’t a whole lot to do on the island, but I managed to find some things to pass the time.
Koh Nang Yuan has one of the most iconic island views in Thailand and this view is what attracted me to visit in the first place. It’s impressive even under grey skies, although I’d love to go back when the sun is out. It’s a quick uphill hike to the top of the track, and from there you’ll need to climb up a few rocks to get to the best viewpoint. It can turn into a bit of a bottleneck up there, as there’s only room for a few people at the viewpoint itself. There’s also another big rock next to it but it didn’t seem all that safe.
A boardwalk runs from the pier close to the viewpoint, past the turnoff to the viewpoint and all the way to the first sandbar. It’s a nice little walk and there are some bungalows at the far end. I’d consider staying there if you visit at a better time of year (the weather is best February and April).
The beaches on Koh Nang Yuan are stunning, even in less than perfect weather. The first one you come to is a sandbar which takes you to the middle island. There you’ll find a restaurant and some places to rent chairs etc. The beach is great but the water was rough when I was there – I got completely soaked walking across! If visiting in better weather, this would be very idyllic and the only way you’d get wet is if you went for a swim.
The other sandbar takes you to the third island, but there doesn’t seem to be much to see there. It’s another awesome beach though. This whole area would be great for a relaxing beach day in better weather, although better weather means bigger crowds. It was very quiet when I visited – I guess most people were put off by the big seas.
That’s pretty much it. As you can see from the viewpoint photos, it’s a tiny place. You could rent a mask and snorkel (or bring one from Koh Tao), but not in that weather. Still though, I enjoyed the day trip to Koh Nang Yuan and I highly recommend it to people visiting Koh Tao. Should you visit Koh Tao in rainy season though? Well, probably not, but I’ll be writing a post about that soon!
Getting to Koh Nang Yuan
You can organise a boat in Mae Haad, but a more popular way of getting to Koh Nang Yuan is to take a long-tail boat from Sairee Beach. I assumed these wouldn’t be running due to the weather, but they were. It must have been a rough ride too – the looks on the faces of people getting off the long-tail boats painted a grim picture. I’m very glad I did it on a bigger boat, but in calmer seas the long-tail boats will be fine.
Koh Nang Yuan is a stop on some tours from Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Apparently, it gets overrun in high season, so it’d be best to get there either early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the tour boats have left. You’ll want to spend a few hours on the island. The boat I went on left about three hours after it arrived – that was enough time to see everything and relax for a bit. If going by long-tail boat you’ll probably have to organise your return trip before you leave – I’m not entirely sure about that though (let me know if you’ve done it by long-tail boat recently).
Koh Tao is an interesting island. It’s main claim to fame is the cheap diving (one of the cheapest places in the world to learn to dive) but there are heaps to do above water too. There are some impressive viewpoints and nice beaches, and it has a slightly different vibe to other Thai islands I’ve visited. That’s probably because there is a big expat community on Koh Tao – heaps of people stay a while as dive instructors or work in the bars, restaurants and guesthouses. I liked it and if I was planning on staying on an island for a month or two and doing some work (blogging is work too) I’d consider Koh Tao.
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