Koh Phayam is located on the Andaman Sea in Ranong province which is still surrounded by basic natural environment. It is the second largest island in Ranong (the largest Koh Chang Noi, located about 4 km to the north of Koh Phayam). The island has an area of 35 square kilometers subdivided into 2 villages - Baan Koh Phayam and Baan Koh Chang.
Koh Phayam has many beautiful beaches including 2 major beaches Aow Yai and Aow Khao Khwai (Buffalo Bay), located on the western side of the island. There are no cars at all on this island so motorbikes and scooters can be rented. The bays are located not too far away from each other and it takes only about 5-10 minutes between them, moving by this order: Aow Mae Mai and Pier, Aow Yai, Aow Khao Khwai (Buffalo Bay) and Aow Kwang Peeb.
Attractions on Koh Phayam
Aow Mae Mai and Pier
Aow Mae Mai located on the eastern side of Koh Phayam. It is considered to be the center point for everything including transportation and commerce. It has a pier, restaurants, supermarket, ticket reservation desk and fishing boats. You can hire motorbike taxi here to take you to the other beaches, resorts or guesthouses. The beach is about 400 m length but it has a lot of junk and splinter. It’s ok for someone who doesn’t care about the beach life too much. Aow Mae Mai is a good place to see a beautiful sunrise in the morning. Not far from the pier, there is the most luxury and famous resort on Koh Phayam - The Blue Sky Resort. Wat Koh Phayam temple is located at the end of the bay, you will see its Ubosot (ordination hall) located in the sea near the pier.
Aow Yai is the largest bay located on the west coast, about 3 km long and 300 m wide. The beach is divided into two sections by a small stream. The northern sector of beach is a full two kilometres, the southern - one kilometre. There is a small surf break on the beach. If you wish to have more activities during your stay such as surf boards and kayaks, you will love it here. There are many big trees along the beach, making this a shadier and cooler place than the northern bay. At low tide you will see a beautiful uncommon line of the sand on the beach which is a mix of white sand and black sand. The water is not so clear here. However, Aow Yai is the most beautiful sunset spot in Koh Phayam and bars as well as many of budget bungalows can be found along the beach.
Aow Khao Khwai (Buffalo Bay)
Aow Khao Khwai or Buffalo Bay, called like that because its shape is similar to buffalo horn, is divided into 2 bays - Aow Khao Khwai North and Aow Khao Khwai South. When the tide is at the lowest, you can climb over the rocky hill from one part of the bay to another part, but it is dangerous. It’s safer to access these two beaches by motorcycle tracks.
Aow Khao Khwai North
With a quiet atmosphere, Aow Khao Khwai North is a good place for relaxing and enjoying the environment. The sand is golden and it is not as powdery as on the southern part. The northern part has deeper waters making swimming here possible for most of the time. Walking along the beach is also possible at any time. There is a dominant bar in the north - Hippy Bar, which is a must see if you’re visiting Koh Phayam. It is one more amazing sunset spot of Koh Phayam. There are many beachfront bungalows along the bay and also on the hillside or just behind the beach.
Aow Khao Khwai South
The southern part of Aow Khao Khwai is rich in nature and much different from the northern part. The beach has a large number of living creatures, such as clownfish, crabs and birds. The sea at Aow Khao Khwai has the clearest water in Koh Phayam with white and very powdery sandy beach. It's suitable for swimming during the high tides only. The waves here are not strong because the bay is surrounded by cliffs. During the low tides, it is impossible to swim here because the sea moves back and disappears from half of the bay. However, low tides make it possible to walk across the mudflats for seeing the beautiful mangrove forest or the village of Moken, located at the end of the southern Buffalo Bay. The coast has many accommodations, restaurants, and bars. You will see the sunset on the left side of the bay. You can also explore interesting rock formations, situated on the beach right in the middle of the beach.
Aow Kwang Peeb
Aow Kwang Peeb is a small hidden bay, located at the northern end of Koh Phayam. Sometimes it is called Monkey Bay because this area is the habitat of a few monkey tribes. The bay is surrounded by jungle. The atmosphere here is calm so it is a very special place for all people loving nature. The beach is clear. The road leading there is not very good. For reaching the beach you need to climb up a steep sandy trail through the jungle. It's not a good idea to stay there till late evening but it's totally worth to spend some time at Aow Kwang Peeb. The only accommodation here is Kwang Peeb Resort.
Where to Stay in Koh Phayam
There are many options for accommodation on the island with over 60 places to stay, with prices of hotels, guesthouses and small bamboo bungalows varying from the hundreds to thousands baht. Most of accommodations are led by local Thai families who are very friendly and welcoming. The accommodations are located at Aow Mae-Mai, Aow Yai and Aow Khao Khwai, with only one resort on Aow Kwang Peeb. The electricity here is provided by solar panels and generator system, so most of accommodations will have electricity available only from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, depending on their policy. Few resorts offer electricity throughout the day.
Accommodations are limited in Koh Phayam so booking in advance is recommended. If you are planning to visit Koh Phayam in low season, it is possible just to walk in.
How to Travel around Koh Phayam
There are no cars at Koh Phayam. The road on the island is a concrete road about 2 meters wide enough just for driving a motorcycle. On the island, most of people just travel by foot or on motorcycles or scooters. There are motorbike taxis waiting at the pier and they can bring you to various places around the island. The fare starts from 50-100 baht. In addition, renting a motorbike is also a good option. You can go around the island by yourself. Rental fee ranges from 150-250 baht per day depending on the condition of motorbike and the season. The fuel is about 50 baht per liter. Some rental shops may ask you for a deposit or ID card/passport. Besides of motorcycle rental, some shops also provide bike rental, but bike rental shops can be hard to find here.
How to travel to Koh Phayam
Koh Phayam is located 35 km from Ranong (Ranong Province). You will have to get to Ranong first and then take a boat to Koh Phayam.
Getting to Ranong
There are 2 daily flights at the moment operated by Nok Air leaving from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The flight takes approximately 1.5 hour. Once you arrived at the airport, there are usually taxis waiting to take you to the city or directly to the pier.
It is also possible to fly from Bangkok to Chumphon (122 km from Ranong) or Surat Thani (around 220 km from Ranong) and then take a bus or mini-van to Ranong, but it is quite unpractical.
Chumphon - Ranong
You can always take a bus or minivan from Chumphon to Ranong. The distance between these 2 cities is 122 kilometers. The trip takes about 2.5 hours. The ticket costs 150-200 THB. Minivan is faster but more expensive option. You can book minivan ticket here: Minivans from Chumphon to Ranong or just at the place.
Surat Thani – Ranong
The Bus (from Tarad Kaset1) or minivan (from Tarad Kaset2) from Surat Thani town to Ranong is available. The distance is 193 kilometers and it takes about 3.5 hours. The ticket costs approximately 200 Baht.
If you are traveling to Ranong from Bangkok, you can get an overnight bus from the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Taling Chan or Sai Tai Mai). The journey from Bangkok to Ranong takes about 8-9 hours and you will be able to catch the first morning boat to Koh Phayam. If you take daytime bus leaving around 9:00 am, it will arrive at Ranong too late for catching a boat to Koh Phayam on the same day.
The General Government buses or Bor.Kor.Sor. run from Bangkok to Ranong every day.
Private bus companies (New Mitr Tour, Lignite Tour and Choke Anan Tour) also cover this route. They also run from the Southern Bus Terminal (or Sai Tai Mai) and stop at Ranong bus station. But you can also get dropped off at their offices in Ranong. Most of the departure times are around 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. You can go to buy the ticket at the Southern Bus Terminal. However, it is safer to buy tickets at least one day in advance as the number of seats is limited. You can also check schedule and buy bus tickets online from Bangkok to Ranong at Buses From Bangkok to Ranong.
Getting to Koh Phayam
Once you arrive in Ranong, you will have to get to the Pier at Sapan Plaa. The pier is located around 6 km from the bus station. You can get there by songthaew or motorbike taxi to catch the boat. The cost for motorbike taxi should be about 80 THB and the songthaew costs 15-20 THB.
When you arrive at the pier, you have the option to take a regular ferry boat or a speedboat. The ticket can be bought directly at the pier.
- A regular ferry boat – it costs 200 baht per person and takes 2 hours to get to Koh Phayam
- Speedboat – This boat is available during the high season only. There are many company operating speedboats on this route. The departure time is from 7.00am to 5.30pm (about 10 times a day). The schedule can be changed every day. The ticket costs 350 baht per person and it takes about 45 mins to get to Koh Phayam.
Getting back from the pier to Ranong town
When arriving to the pier in Ranong, the pick-up taxi will be waiting you there. You can take it to Ranong bus station or to the town. It should cost about 100 baht per person.
The best time to visit Koh Phayam
It is possible to travel to Koh Payam all year round but the best time to visit the island is November to April. During this time you can expect to meet a calm weather with blue seas and sunshine.
- There are no ATM machines in Koh Phayam. Even if it’s possible to change your money there but it's always better to bring enough cash.
- There are many restaurants offering cheap vegetarian or vegan food options.