Most resort islands of Thailand aren't exactly off the beaten track - long-standing tourist destinations; they have grown more infrastructure than anybody could ever need. In some of them, like Ko Samui, the number of visitors per year exceeds the local population. Fancy restaurants, "stellar" hotels, tourist services and even scams (with a very vague line between those two). The crowd, hammering nightclubs, and wild parties are not exactly the right environment for those who want to relax and enjoy nature. Yet, a few islands still offer this opportunity. Ko Phayam in Ranong Province is definitely one of those. With sufficient accommodation options, mainly in the simple beach bungalows, beautiful sunsets, warm sea, it's an excellent place to spend a few days in perfect peace and quiet.
Wild, uninhabited islands do exist, even in Thailand. And then, quite a few destinations make it possible to stay in the fishing villages, either in a dedicated homestay or simply with a hospitable local family. What makes Ko Phayam special is that it has just enough infrastructure. It's comfortable, but never invasive. There's no need to bring a tent - a choice of rooms and bungalows is sufficient, but there are no giant hotels to blot out the sky. A variety of food is served in cafes, some attached to guesthouses, some independent - but again, there's neither suited for fine dining nor mindless partying. For those that can't stay sober for too long, there are a few bars, but no nightclubs. Basic shops are available as well. There's one ATM near the ferry pier. No cars have been brought to Ko Phayam, and the roads are often too narrow for them anyway. A few locals offer motorbike taxi services, but everything on the island can actually be reached on foot.
To be honest, there is not much to do. Swim or sunbathe - the Andaman Sea is lovely, and the beach is white and clean. Walk or cycle around - you should be able to rent a bicycle in one of the guesthouses. Read a book. Even better, write a book. Socialize a bit - there's no tourist crowd, but you'll see a few travelers resting after a month or a year on the road. Relax. Enjoy.
Ranong, the provincial capital, is easily accessible from Bangkok, there are regular buses, and take up to 10 hours to reach the destination. There is also a direct connection with Phuket in the south. Coming from other locations, you may need to change buses in Chumphon. The city isn’t really a tourist destination, but it has enough hotels if you need to relax after the bus ride. From Ranong, take a songthaew (a passenger pick-up truck) to the ferry port. There are cheaper slow ferries to the island, and more expensive fast boats, usually two of each per day (the timetable changes too often to list it here). Once on Ko Phayam, take a motorbike taxi to the beach of your choice, or stroll amidst cashew plantations, enjoying the tropical peace and quiet. Almost nothing on the island is further than a couple of hours walk. Every so often, you’ll get another beautiful panorama of the greenery descending towards the sea. Some bungalows can be pre-booked online, but the cheapest ones can not. Call them, or simply come and choose on the spot.
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