We could not have been happier when we arrived in Koh Phayam. Our first island stay after a long trip over from NY and a short stay in Bangkok. Our 9 hour bus ride from Bangkok turned out to be quite a bit longer when our bus broke down. We missed our first ferry, but luckily they run quite frequently so we were able to catch the next one out. There are two ferries that run to Koh Phayam, a ‘slow boat’ which takes about 2 hours or a speed boat, which is about 45 minutes the latter being a bit more expensive. We opted for the faster boat as we were feeling exhausted after two days of nonstop travel.
Koh Phayam is a small island off the coast of Ranong. There are no cars on the island, only motorbikes and the hotels and bungalows run on generators so power is limited to the daytime. We chose to stay on the northwest side of the island on Ao Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay) Beach at a small resort called Baan Klong Kleng. There are a number of places to stay along Ao Kwai, ranging from inexpensive bungalows to high-end resorts. It is the smaller of the two main beaches on the island with big rocks and gentle waves.
The island is slowly waking up from the low season, some bungalows and shops have yet to open, which made it a perfect way to ease into our trip. We rented a motorbike on our second day as a way to get around and explore more of the island. Ao Yai (Long Beach) is a short ride south from Ao Kwai, and an excellent place to watch the sunset. We rode our motorbike down the second evening, after a fairly rainy day, and surprisingly caught an amazing sunset.
We were most excited about the food and it certainly did not disappoint. The restaurant at our bungalow served a wide range of options. The manager, Fabien, is French, and he makes croissants and baguettes every morning, they also have excellent Thai food prepared by their chef Nok. Having tried a number of other restaurants on the island, this was definitely our favorite place to eat and we ended up having most of our meals here.
We closed out our stay with a trip to Hippy Bar on our last night. Its located at the far end of Ao Khao Kwai beach, just a short walk down from our bungalow. The bar is made completely out of driftwood, compiled to look like a pirate ship coming out of the sand. There were decks overlooking the beach and sea, a crow's nest atop the main mast and a bar where you can order anything from Mai Tai cocktails to classic Thai beers like Chang and Singha.
Koh Phayam is a tough place to leave, we actually met some people that came to the island and never left, but we are looking forward to our the next stop on our trip Koh Yao Noi, another small island, further south off the coast of Phuket.
Daily flights operated by Nok Air from Bangkok, Don Muang Airport to Ranong or take an overnight bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal to Ranong. Once in Ranong, take a taxi from the airport or bus station to the pier where you can purchase your tickets for the slow boat or the speed boat.
Baan Klong Kleng - a small beachfront resort on Ao Khao Kwai beach, with an amazing restaurant which has both excellent Thai and western (French) cuisine