Koh Yao Noi Island Guide
You can get to the island by either hitching a boat from Ao Nang or other islands or paying for a speed boat, longtail boat or ferry. If you book in advance you get a better price, but normally the price is dictated by the number of people on-board the boat. We haggled our price down to 600 baht per person from Ao Nang to Koh Yao Noi.
The ride is about 30 to 40 minutes by speedboat. The views are very intriguing, but if you have the chance try to sit in the very back or front of the boat otherwise much of the view is blocked from the roof of the speedboat. I believe longtail boat is the most costly way to arrive to Koh Yao Noi, however, it’s more private and less people so if that is what you are looking for then that is an option as well.
Once you arrive on the island there are tons of vans to drive you into town. The normal rate per van is about 80 – 100 baht depending on where on the island you want to go. For us, we wanted to go where the climbers stayed to meet people with similar interests and possibly get boats coordinated to climb Grateful Wall a little north of Paradise Resort off the northern part of the island.
We stayed in “Namtok Bungalows,” which I highly recommend to climbers or low-budget travelers. The price of staying in a bungalow was very cheap at 500 baht a night. You can also rent motor scooters for 300 baht per day (automatic) or 200 baht per day (manual), which you will need to take the ridiculously sketchy drive down a sub-par, dirt road to the climbing walls off the beach of Paradise Resort Hotel.
I still camped outside for the duration of the trip while my friend stayed in the bungalow, but I prefer camping over sleeping inside. The bungalow offered free coffee, free water and a few electrical outlets in the main lobby along with hammocks both in the lobby and on the bungalow porch. They also included free WiFi, which was not the greatest, but it worked well late at night or during the day when people were either asleep or climbing.
They also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for reasonable prices ranging from 20 to about 150 baht per meal depending on what you order. The food is great by the way some of the best dishes on the island. Danny also organizes snorkeling and fishing trips off of the island if you can get a large group together the prices are reasonable. Snorkeling isn’t recommended as the water off the island is murky and it’s hard to see fish from what I heard. However, fishing sounds fun so we might check that out in the next week before Trevor heads back to America.
The town has a climbing shop where you can rent gear. Prices are kind of expensive (a chalk bag and ATC were 100 baht a day), but if you want to do multi-pitch climbs off of “Big Tree Wall and The Mitt” you need an ATC with an auto-blocking device.
For breakfast in the morning you can hit up the corner market in between the climbing shop and Bamboo Bridge for an assortment of sticky rice dishes from jackfruit, and mango to regular rice at 5 baht per entrée.
For lunch and dinner we hit up a few places on the island. We always went to the meat stand in the center of town on the same side of the street a few blocks down from the 711. There is also a great place for roasted duck noodle soup towards the other end past the 711. You can choose either beef, chicken, or roasted duck soup for 40 baht per bowl. I don’t recall the names of either of these restaurants and street vendors but ask around and I’m sure one of the locals knows exactly what I’m referring to and the location of each.
Another place we ate was the Rice Paddi, which is extremely expensive and despite the great ratings my friend showed me, I would not recommend you eat here on a budget. I only ate vegetable rice for 100 baht, but he spent over 600 baht on his meal. The place is overpriced, but definitely delectable. If you don’t have a budget and have the money to spend then you can check it out otherwise stick to the local restaurants and street vendors.
As for rock climbing you need to take a 30-minute motorbike ride in the morning down the shittiest dirt road following the power lines to the northern part of the island near Paradise Resort. You can climb “the Mitt” until about 11 AM or noon before the sun hits it. There’s an easy 5.9 warm-up inside the cave and the rest of the routes are relatively pumpy 5.10’s and 5.11’s with steep verticals. Then in the afternoon you can hit “Big Tree Wall” which is the wall past “HD Wall.” Big Tree has a lot of cool routes, all ratings are between 5.10 and 5.11 for the most part and they have a multi-pitch route at the very end of the wall. This is normally good to climb mid-afternoon. Then you can hit up HD Wall around 3 PM to 4 PM since it will be in the shade around this time. We did not climb too much of this wall, but everything on the island was pretty decent climbing. The island offered a lot of tufa’s and different style climbing than what I’m used to along with a rougher type of rock (limestone). If you have the money and the people definitely try to arrange a boat for Grateful Wall, which is a 20-minute boat ride to a wall full of 5.10 climbing. For 10 people you can pay 250 baht per person to take a boat to and from the wall. You can climb from 9 AM to 4 PM and you’re in the shade the whole day. The climbs on Grateful Wall are spectacular. Last time we were there they were actually bolting six or seven new routes on the wall so they might be ready now.
If you’re looking for a nice beach you can take the bamboo bridge near the boat pier closest to Namtok Bungalows and relax in an area with little people and have the beach to yourself. I hope this Koh Yao Noi Guide helps you out on your travels whether backpacking or rock climbing definitely check out this island; it’s beautiful!