Thailand’s Koh Phayam Island

Escaping to Thailand’s mesmerising Koh Phayam Island is perfect for eluding the hoards of people celebrating Songkran…

Koh Phayam Island, Thailand, SE Asia

Escaping Songkran

Traditionally, Songkran is a crazy holiday in Thailand that celebrates the Thai New Year.

Any unsuspecting passer-by whether strolling, in a car, motorbike, or other, is bombarded with water bombs, flour, and talcum powder. Bombs are hurled from secret locations along roads, against buildings, bins, anything, usually by children or teenagers, but also the occasional cheeky adult. So, the decision is made to escape from Khao Lak to gorgeous Koh Phayam Island during Songkran.


Getting to Koh Phayam Island

An early start today from Khao Lak so at the highway spot before the 7:15 am pick-up.

Koh Phayam Island, Thailand, SE Asia

Although the bus company advises pick-up for our group of 6 is at the Day Market Bus Depot, decide to go with our gut feel and stand along the highway.

A wise move as the bus arrives slightly earlier (unheard of here) and doesn’t drive into the Day Market at all.

As Fiona, our fabulous Aussie Host on the island pre-booked tickets, our bus seats even boast reserved signs.

With a crowded bus, we start the 4-hour journey to Ranong, which only stops for a 20-minute break at Takua Pa. This bus starts from Phuket and continues further than Ranong. As this is Songkran’s holiday week (or weeks), we decide to pay for the ticket from Phuket just to get seats. A smart move.

The bus drops you off at the Ranong bus station, which is around 5-kilometres from the jetty. After a quick ride in the back of a Ute (pick-up), arrive for the 35-minute speed boat ride, which leaves at 12:00 pm.

PrettyAndaman Sea vistas await during this relaxing boat ride while whizzing along, passing many islands.


Summary

Koh Phayam Island, Thailand, SE Asia

Speed Boat: 700B return

Accommodation: PP Land Beach Resort bungalow for 700B/night

Island Motorbike: 250B/day

Bus: Phuket to Ranong (225B)

Bus: Ranong to Phuket (350B includes minibus to Ranong Bus Station)

Tips:

  • Prices on the island are about 25% higher than in Bang Niang as everything has to be shipped to the island.
  • At the time of writing in 2016, no ATM points or banks exist on the island. Bring buckets of cash unless your plan is to spend all of your time in high-end hotels and restaurants, as think these do accept credit cards.

A little on Koh Phayam Island

As the second-largest Andaman Sea island, this gorgeous slice of heaven off the coast of the Ranong Province is easily accessible to everyone.

No cars exist on the island – only motorbikes and scooters.

Fuel is more expensive than on the mainland of course (about 40-50B/litre). Although when a local guy charges 20B to pump up one scooter tyre, this is a tad annoying.

Taxi drivers on motorbikes are plentiful and waiting at the ferry dock, so don’t despair if you don’t have wheels. There is always someone to take you somewhere on this small 5-kilometre-long island. Luckily, Fiona awaits our arrival so we don’t have to barter for bikes.

dock, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
The Island’s town

Off we ride across this tiny island to our accommodation, on sandy roads that barely resemble a track. I am told that during the wet season, most of the roads on Koh Phayam are impassable and become sandy bogs.

Although the island is busy with local and foreign tourists, a wonderfully relaxed feel exudes from our surroundings. Maybe this is because the PP Land bungalow site is off the main drag.

bungalow, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Home for a few days – could be worse!

Time seems to stop completely on Koh Phayam.

Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
The serene view from the bungalow

Interesting ‘Live Show’

Amidst the bungalow’s serenity of this island paradise location, guests are treated to what one can only describe accurately as hearing a live sex show!

One afternoon, the show begins behind the walls of the bungalow next to ours and continues again in the evening.

On this very quiet and still night, the dulcet tones of moans and groans permeate from the bungalow, which quickly increases to a shrilling crescendo until that ‘special’ moment of ecstasy is reached!

bungalow, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Not too shabby

But the intense orchestrated experience does not stop there as the pleasure and show continue for an hour or so until sheer exhaustion overcomes the 3 ladies sharing the bungalow.

Many guests in bungalows applaud following the finale, as we also do!

After this performance, I’m beginning to wonder whether it was an LGBT weekend as there are also many same-sex couples and groups staying at the bungalows.


Where to eat

It’s wonderful to have a ‘local’ show you around Koh Phayam and also the best authentic eating haunts. The island offers many vegetarian and vegan alternatives while emanating an alternative bohemian feel.

Aside from riding around the island, swimming, snorkelling, lazing around at one of any given gorgeous sandy beaches, and meeting locals and ex-pats, eating your way around the island is also an excellent option! Depending on how much time you spend in Koh Phayam, you could do worse than trying every eating place.

Cha Chai Home

A little way down the main road to Ao Yai, Long Beach, try this groovy cafe for the best cheesecake I’ve had in Thailand and also the incredible shakes. Try the Snickers or Oreo shakes, which are to die for then there are the wonderful homemade cakes and slices. Meals are also available.

Cha Chai Home, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Cha Chai Home

Not the cheapest prices around but friendly owners (Charmaine and Chai) and staff make the difference, especially by offering excellent service.

Bubble Bar

Right on the beach, you’ll spend hours here cherishing the cool evening breezes after a sweltering hot day. Sip your choice of liquid gold while contemplating life and your navel! Alcohol prices are a little on the high side. The Swedish father and son operation makes this very relaxed and why not, you are on island time in Koh Phayam…

My BBQ Bar

Don’t forget our amazing friend and host P Tao and Nara for delicious authentic local food, delectable fish, and incredible stories of piracy – what a colourful character. You must try this restaurant at least once during your stay.

The Hippy Bar

This incredible hand-crafted bar has taken the owner around 8 years to complete.

Hippy, Bar, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
The Hippy Bar

A labour of love collecting driftwood, flotsam and jetsam from along the beach to build this massive boat, with extra extensions.

Hippy Bar, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Inside one cosy area of the Bar

A testament to enormous patience, passion, and stamina.


Volunteer with ‘All for Villages’

A worthy cause – Thailand has many not-for-profit organisations if you want to volunteer or donate.

Another reason for the escape to Koh Phayam is to visit Fiona from All for Villages, which is a not-for-profit organisation started after the 2004 Tsunami, which devastated most of the Andaman Coast.

If you’re interested in volunteering on a paradise island, then contact Fiona.

Moken, Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Moken (Sea Gypsy) children attending class

The organisation educates and provides community support on the island, especially for the displaced Moken Sea Gypsy Community. All for Villages also operates 2 HIV Outreach Programs, runs clean water projects, includes a sterilisation program for dogs and cats, and more admirable contributions to the island.


Leaving Koh Phayam

Trying to secure a ticket from Koj Phayam is a tad harder than coming over. On the island, you need to barter for the price, although you already know what the price should be because you arrived from the mainland. You would think that the ferry cost is the same price returning as when arriving on the island?

Think again…where there’s money to be made on the side, there’s a local waiting in the shadows. Still, this is the Songkran holiday season and a time when everyone makes a little extra cash.

Thailand, Koh Phayam Island
Beautiful Koh Phayam Island – one vista

As a suggestion though, try and buy your return ticket from the mainland to avoid being ripped off on Koh Phayam Island. For now, it’s back to reality for more volunteering after an incredible time on the island.


Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images of Thailand. More blogs on Thailand at Image Earth Travel.

33 thoughts on “Thailand’s Koh Phayam Island

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  1. This makes me miss Thailand even more Nilla. I went to Ranong to board a liveaboard 3 day diving trip to the Similan Islands and I am pretty sure we passed this island on the way 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear that Africa has changed a lot since then and not for the best, but then again, it may also be the perception of the person telling the story.
      Yes, that was an incredible year for sure and cemented my love for travel and exploring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Africa is basically in the hands of military “leaders” who never wage war against other African countries, only inside their own. One coup after the other… Very saddening to me. Though I do catch a glimpse now and then of a new African youth, young bloggers who could make the future of Africa. If only they let them…
      That year of yours was critical… 👏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Well, they’d better hurry up, things seem to be degrading…
      V for Vendetta? Yes. It will probably happen sooner or later. World leaders in democracies basically don’t have any idea what the people need. French median income is around 1600 Euros. After tax, 1300? A studio rent in Paris is 700-800 Euros. Some people eat once a day. Some female students can’t afford feminine protection… And the high spheres talk about the “Mutation of the relationship to Time…” (Authentic)

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Degrading globally…
      Regardless of the country, primarily, people have the same basic needs: a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and a job. Our leaders haven’t got it or had it and lost it…or lost their way before the mighty dollar. Are we being too cynical?
      I didn’t realise France is so bad. Paris is very expensive. Are the suburbs or surrounding districts cheaper? I haven’t been to France since 2015. There’s something fundamentally wrong when people can’t afford the basics in a country. Not enough shared wealth.
      What a profound quote!

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Are you familiar with Maslow’s pyramid?
      One of my theories is that politicos anywhere have taken the worst elements of Marketing to further their own greed and lust for power. And they are using public spending just to buy votes, in a more or less disguised way. They are the cynics… 😉
      The province is much cheaper than Paris, but the main issue is the enormous amount of taxes. To “finance” inefficient “social programmes. Public spending in France is now above 60% of GDP. The economy is just being strangled. The public health sector in France was one of the best in the world. Not’ny more. The civil servants in the public sector has probably tripled in the past 30 years? The quality of medicine has gone down the drain. I got ill one summer in Paris. Terrible. I had to “evacuate myself to Mexico.”
      As a last example, GDP per capita in constant terms in France has been almost flat for the past 20 years.
      Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. In the crevice of my mind but had to look it up to remind myself. This seems to be a global issue right now.
      That doesn’t sound sustainable at all! Sounds as though France is going down the Italian route. Too many Public Servants shuffling paper around and nothing gets done.
      That’s serious if you need to travel to Mexico for treatment!
      Sounds like France is in a decline. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    7. The Italian route exactly, of which you are well aware… Belgium now has a higher DGP per capita… Crazy. We’ll probably have to hit bottom before someone comes from outside the system and changes it… Fat chance… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well actually, no I don’t and find that it’s better not to plan. Seem to fall into intriguing places as without stringent plans, it’s easier to meet more people and tag along if asked. 😉

      Like

  2. You’re right. In fact I remember now that a friend of mine went there not so long ago. I was thinking of Sentinel Island which is North Andaman. Just two or three years ago a missionary tried to land there and was killed. It’s amazing that the people have managed to defend against foreigners even now. I guess they are off the main sea routes and not seen to have anything that someone else wants. I am fascinated but I hope they remain safely isolated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did hear about that tragic event on Sentinel Island although I’ve never visited that island. I wonder whether he went unannounced.
      We could get into a discussion around why missionaries or tourists can’t just rock up to any island although people do think it’s their right.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Those island and coastlines are so lush and beautiful. I hope some will remain untouched. Interesting faces on the children. Different. I often wonder about the Andaman Islands. How long will they remain isolated. I am so curious about how they view the outside world. But I hope they are left in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember first bumping into Sea Gypsies in 1989 after hitching a ride on a catamaran from Langkawi to Phuket. Stopping at an island close to Koh Rok Nok, I was in awe at the facial features and the almost Afro-style thick hair bleached by the sun. Sadly, I see that Koh Rok Nok is a “popular destination” now, which it wasn’t back then but these days I’m not sure whether any Andaman Islands are void of tourists.
      I’ve read that the Moken people originated from Burma, but I’m not 100% sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi
      Yes, it certainly is and thank you for your comment.
      I travelled through your beautiful and fascinating country Egypt in 1985 when I solo backpacked around the world for 12 months.
      Cheers
      Nilla

      Liked by 2 people

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