What Is The Right Time To Visit Koh Phayam?
Finally we were in Thailand in the right season. In fact since leaving Australian waters over a year ago, this was the first time we had been sailing in an area at the “right” time.
What does the “right” time mean? Well it means it is dry season, therefore not so much rain and not as much humidity, but it does mean it is high season and therefore there are more tourists. But for sailors the “right” time, in Thailand, means you are able to explore the west coast of Thailand and visit islands such as Koh Phayam, Koh Surin and Koh Similan, because the prevailing wind is from the north east and you therefore have some protected anchorages to use on the west coast.
So we grabbed the short window of opportunity that we had when we arrived back in Phuket and sailed north. Predominately, we had very good sailing with 10 to 20 knots of wind off our starboard beam. We anchored in many anchorages that are not available during the south-west monsoon season (wet season) such as Patong Beach, Hai Harn, Layan Beach and Khoa Lak.
We had already made the observation that there was less rubbish in the water; this, we assumed, was to do with it being the dry season and the rubbish was not being washing into the sea by rain. When we arrived at Koh Phayam we were delighted to discover a lovely beach and nice water.
We anchored in Ao Yai (aka Sunset Bay). At this time of year Ao Yai is a very pleasant anchorage with good holding and it is not ridiculously busy; in fact it would be considered quiet… very quiet, considering it was high season. There are no fast boats speeding in and out, ferrying people to other destinations; the beach is not packed with people, and the calm waters, a little cooler than in wet season, are very appealing.
Koh Phayam is a quiet idyllic place. The island is only 10 km long and 5 km wide with population around 500 people. It has small path-like roads and NO cars – just motorcycles and bicycles. Getting around on the island is easy. It is not too hard to find a motorbike or bicycle for rent and to get around by walking is easy also… nowhere is very far away.
We hired a motorbike for one day to have a good look around the island and for the rest of our stay we just walked everywhere. There are a couple of mini markets on the island and we were able to buy fresh (reasonably fresh) fruit and vegetables as well as other main staples e.g. flour, rice, soft drinks etc. Close by, on the beach at Ao Yai there are a few restaurants and bars.
The Hippy Bar did become one of our favourite in the short time we where there. Not only is the construction of the Hippie Bar an extraordinary fusion of drift wood and bamboo, but they serve the best green chicken curry, and the very best lemon shake I have ever had the pleasure to get brain freeze with!… And if you think it can’t get any better… the prices are also very reasonable. Just 100 Baht ($4 AUD) for the chicken curry.
There were quite a few yachts anchored in Koh Phayam and we met many other cruisers…. this is another benefit of cruising at the “right” time. We had drinks aboard Thorfinn with Brian and Debra, SV Chinook, and Ian and Sue, SV Icy Red; sundowners at the Hippy Bar with a bunch of sailors and a meal at a beachside restaurant called Sai Thong, with the crews of SV Chinook, SV New Views, SV Icy Red and a bunch of others… I can’t remember all the names..oops! Brian and Debra introduced us to the best coconut shake coupled with a double shot of rum, soooo yummy.
On Koh Phayam there are cashew trees everywhere. They are quite interesting. A single cashew grows at the bottom of a cashew fruit. The cashew fruit is edible or so Dwayne was told; of course he just had to have a taste. He didn’t drop dead, so I assume the information he heard is correct.
The cashew fruit it very soft, even when small and green, and apparently it has a very delicate skin which therefore makes it impossible to transport and sell in shops. The ripe fruit falls everywhere all over the island and, after a while, I grew to dislike the cloy sweetness of the rotting fruit; Dwayne on the other hand really liked the aroma.
Cashew Photo credit – Dinesh Valke
Don’t miss Koh Phayam if you want to chill out on a great little island. However, it’s not all about quiet relaxing times. There are parties if thats your thing. There is also yoga, batik courses, surfing lessons, snorkelling and dive tours. So if you want somewhere a little off the beaten track Koh Phayam might be just the place.
Travel Notes (March 2016)
*There are NO ATM’s on Koh Phayam.
Cruising & Anchoring – At the “right” time of year, we found this anchorage to be well sheltered with good holding. Be aware of the reef at the very northern end of the bay as it comes a far way off shore. We had no waves or surges on the beach and it was easy to leave to dinghy ashore. Be aware that some areas have exposed rocks at low tide along the shoreline. We anchored in front of The Sun and it appeared to be rock free.
Getting to Koh Phayam from Ranong –
The ferry boat goes out to Koh Phayam daily, takes two hours and cost THB200
The fast boat only runs in high season (November to April) cost THB350
Accommodation – Accommodation ranges from resorts to backpacker. For all the best deals check out Booking.com
For more info on what to see and do on Koh Phayam visit –
For more info on travelling South East Asia visit –
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