Koh Yao Noi – Beyond Phuket
Now I am the first to admit, Phuket has never really appealed to me …too busy, noisy tourists and those bars on Bangla Road are just not my scene.. but if you go beyond Phuket, as I recently discovered, there are some amazing jewels located just a short, scenic boat ride out into the magnificent Andaman Sea – including the beautiful Koh Yao Noi.
My partner and I flew Singapore Airlines overnight and arrived into Phuket International Airport about 8am, where we met by a representative of the Six Senses Yao Noi and whisked away into a car (complete with cold towels and water), for a short ride to Ao Po Grand Marina.
After a short wait with a complementary Mango Lassi at restaurant at the marina, we boarded a sleek speed boat, decorated in the pastel colours we’d come to know and love over the next 7 incredible days at the Six Senses Yao Noi.
The 40 minute luxury speedboat transfer and subsequent warm welcome at the Six Senses pier was our first taste of the amazing service we would receive over the next 7 days at the resort. Waiting on the pier for us was the wonderful Khun Gwen, our GEM (Guest Experience Maker) and a golf buggy with our name on it (quite literally!) ready to take us up the hill to our villa.
WOW- no other words quite come close to the first impression of these rustic-luxury private villas. We chose the Hideaway Pool Villa, set among the lush gardens and with a view over the jungle interior of the island, it felt like our own exotic treehouse. The villa has all the modern luxury conveniences, but created to look like something out of Hollywood “castaway” style movie. The mosquito net was suspended on a frame of sun-bleached driftwood, the “his & hers” bathroom mirrors were suspended on ropes and the outdoor shower clad in bamboo.
The Six Senses Yao Noi was truly stunning resort, but the real highlights of our trip was actually getting out of the resort to experience the stunning islands around Yao Noi, and then a cycle ride right around the entire island.
There were a range of day trips around the Andaman Sea that could be booked in resort, including the eponymous trips to Phi Phi and the James Bond Island, but we chose to explore the northern islands off the coast of Yao Noi in a traditional Long Tail boat. Our guide, Lee, took us to three amazing islands, including a stop at a beach with a small sea cave, through which we could access a mangrove forest inside the cliff walls of island, a visit to another beach, home to a jungle path that took us to Yoa Noi’s aptly named “Big Tree”, and finally to a small lagoon where we had the entire beach to ourselves – talk about the real “Robinson Crusoe” experience!
The other excursion we took, and my favourite, was a mountain bike ride around the island. Along with Kee, our trusty guide, we set off early in the morning and rode along the quiet roads of Yoa Noi. Although home to a range of small hotels and resorts, Yoa Noi has not experienced the mass-development of its big island brother Phuket. With no direct car ferry from the mainland, the island was extremely quiet and a devoid of traffic (a scooter or motorbike would pass us every now and then, but otherwise, we had the road almost to ourselves). Kee guided us to a local fish market, a coconut plantation (where we picked our own fresh coconut to for a refreshing mid-ride break), a rubber plantation and finally a local cloth-painting collective. The gentle ride round this undeveloped island paradise gave us a true experience of local Southern-Thai life.
A truly wonderful experience, I highly recommend Yao Noi to anyone. If you’ve been to Thailand before, you’ll love the difference vibe on this quiet island, and if you never been to Thailand, one taste of local Thai hospitality will have you coming back for more! Kob kun mak krab Yao Noi!
Written by Al Morrris – Infinity Digital Marketing