Koh Phayam: Soulful Throwback to the Thailand Islands of Old

Koh Phayam’s undeniable beauty and charm may have something to do with it being located in close proximity to one of Thailand’s National Parks. The island is located in Thailand’s Andaman sea, half way down the southern peninsula off the coast of Ranong.

The secret to this place is that although access here is easy enough, it’s not so easy that the place is overrun with tourists and development.
Phayam attracts a friendly mixture of backpackers, hippies and holiday makers but all seem to co-exist with a tranquil vibe that is a mile away from the busier southern Thai islands.

More bungalows have popped up in recent times but this cracking island has retained its identity with its fantastic bays and laid back beachfront bars and restaurants.

Grab a book and hit the beach or kick back in your hammock and watch the sunset from the west-facing Ao Yai or Buffalo Bay.

Whatever you choose to do you’ll be sure to have the time of your life and create memories that will linger on until your return to Koh Phayam in the future.

Apart from the sandy coastline, the island is mainly forested but has enough concrete paved road to allow you to travel around on a bike and get to each of the main beaches. Most boats arrive at the pier on the eastern side of the island (Ao Mea Mai) which is also where the main town is so it’s a good idea to stock up here before heading off to your beach as things cost a lot more once you’re there as you won’t have access to shops.

What can you do on Koh Phayam?

Apart from relaxing on and enjoying the beautiful beaches you could also consider –


Phayam is not a good island for these pursuits but if it’s underwater adventure you’re seeking then superb snorkeling and diving is available at the nearby ‘Surin Islands National Marine Park’. You can catch speed boats there or even go the whole hog and stay on a live-aboard expedition!

Wildlife watching

Nature lovers are big fans of the island as it is home to many bird species as well as wild animals that tend to congregate more within the interior of the island. It’s not uncommon to see wild boars, monkeys or eagles while you’re here.


You’re not imagining it, these activities are possible here! Out of high season when the sea gets a bit rougher it’s possible to hit the waves here. OK, so they might not be world record waves but there aren’t many Thai islands that offer this prospect so it’s certainly something to think about.

Nearby islands

Just a few kilometres north of the island is Koh Chang (not the famous one) and this makes a good day trip. Highlights include wildlife, mangroves, jungle and white sandy beaches. Schedules vary so check ferry timetables before you arrive on Phayam to make sure you’ll be able to get there and back.

Where to stay

If you’ve decided to visit the island you’ll need to work out which beach you want to stay on. Luckily you have the choice of several cracking bays on which to throw up your hammock! Here are a couple of them..

Buffalo Bay (Ao Kao Kwai), north-west coast
If you’re looking for a beach that faces west for the sunset then consider Buffalo Bay as an option. It’s only a few minutes transfer from the main port and has lots of different bungalow operations on the beach to choose from. Kayaks can be hired from the bungalows so you can explore this serene and beautiful bay from a low and tranquil viewpoint… [read more]

Ao Yai (Long Beach), south-west coast
Slightly further from the main port is Ao Yai, a gorgeous stretch of sand located on the south-western edge of Koh Phayam. You’ll be well placed for sunsets here too, so why not lay back in your hammock and unwind whilst it plays out on the horizon. There are lots of beach bungalows here so your choice of where to stay is pretty extensive… [read more]

Ao Kwang Peeb (Monkey Beach), north coast
On the far northern tip of the island is this stunning little beach which has a small amount of wooden huts (Kwangpeeb Bay Resort) that you can stay in if you’d like to make this your base on Koh Phayam. The huts hark back to the Thailand islands of yesteryear are are pretty basic but allow you to experience some real solitude. You’ll need to head down dirt track and through some canopy to get here.

Head to Koh Phayam before too soon if you want to experience the real laid-back and tucked away vibe of this place. There aren’t too many islands in Thailand that still offer it, so get out there while you can!