Here’s What You Need to Know About Koh Ngai!
If you are looking for an undeveloped island completely off the beaten track, then you need to visit Koh Ngai. There is almost nothing developed here; no roads, no cars, in fact, there aren’t even motorbikes!
I can imagine that this is what popular islands like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta would have looked like 30 years ago!
Here I will give you an overview of the things to do on Koh Ngai, the top hotels, and suggest a couple of great islands to visit nearby.
A quick note: hotels on Koh Ngai range in quality from terrible to good. We recommend a few nights at Thanya Beach Resort on the south of the main beach.
Things to do on Koh Ngai
There aren’t really that many things to do on Koh Ngai, but that’s where it gets its charm.
Koh Ngai is an island where you can forget about trying to see 100 different attractions. Instead, wake up for sunrise, chill on the beach, and go for a snorkel. Finish the day with a fresh coconut or a cold Chang beer, hit the bed early, and repeat the next day.
Chill on the beach
Main Beach – this is a beautiful 2.5 kilometer stretch of along the east coast of the island. It is also where you will find most of the hotels. The sand here is soft and white, perfect for swimming and lazing back in the sun. This is also the best area on the island to watch the sunrise.
Paradise Beach – this is a more secluded beach located on the south coast of the island. To get here you will need to follow the walking track starting behind Thanya Resort. The walk takes about 30 minutes one way. There is only one resort here called the Koh Ngai Paradise Beach Resort.
Ao Muang – this is a little secluded bay along the south coast midway between the Main Beach and Paradise Beach. The trail that connects the two veers off with an alternate route to Ao Muang Beach.
Snorkeling the Reef
The main place to go snorkeling on Koh Ngai is along the east and south coasts off Main Beach and Paradise Beach. You can reach the reef directly from the sand.
The first 20 meters or so is mostly sand with some dead coral, however, beyond here you will find about 40 meters of more impressive coral and fish. This reef stretches for about 40 meters before reaching a 10 meter drop off at the edge of the reef.
While you will find a broad range of tropical fish here, the coral is not the most amazing in Thailand. They are mostly hard brown corals, with little to no vibrant soft coral. You can see lots of photos of the coral reef here.
For some more impressive snorkeling, you might want to explore the reef at Koh Kradan.
Hike the to Viewpoint
There is an impressive viewpoint on the far south west of the island. To get here, follow a small trail for 1 hour from Main Beach on the east coast to Paradise Beach on the south coast. After Paradise Beach, there is another 30 minute walk to the viewpoint up a fairly steep trail.
You can see a detailed map of the trails to the viewpoint here.
Kayak Around Koh Ngai
For those that just need to keep active, then kayaking around Koh Ngai might be your best option for a cheap half-day adventure. Depending on how good you are at kayaking, this 10 kilometer trip will most likely take a few hours to complete.
If you’re not an experienced kayaker and want to tone it back a bit, just kayak down the east coast, around the southern headland, and across to the remote beach on the south coast.
Many of the resorts along Paradise beach offer kayak rental. You can typically rent a kayak on Koh Ngai for 100 THB per hour, or 500 THB for the full day.
Koh Ngai Divers runs sunset Yoga classes by the beach in front of their dive shop. If you want to join just drop by before 4.45pm to register your interest. Classes run for about 75 minutes and cost 400 THB per session per person. They also do a package of 5 classes for 1,600 THB.
Scuba Diving Near Koh Ngai
There are three scuba diving shops on Koh Ngai including; Laytrang Diving, Koh Hai Divers, and Sea Camp Divers. All these shops are located along Main Beach on the east coast of the island.
Dive shops are only open throughout the green and peak seasons from 1st November to 1st May. During the monsoon season, the water is quite turbid and visibility is quite poor. It is not really considered worth scuba diving in the monsoon season.
Popular dive sites for half-day trips by wooden longtail boat are around Koh Ngai, Koh Waen. Local dives start at about 2,000 THB per person for a single dive, up to 4,000 THB per erson for three dives.
Full-day trips take divers to islands further out including Koh Haa, Koh Rok, Hin Daeng, and Hin Muang. These packages start at about 5,000 THB for two dives. The higher cost covers transport out to the further islands.
Facilities on Koh Ngai
Money – there is no ATM on Koh Ngai so bring cash for food and drinks. Most of the hotels accept credit/debit card for hotel payments. Meals are typically paid for by cash in Thailand.
Minimart – there is also no 7/11 on here, life as it should be! There is a small minimart on the island at Fantasy Resort where you can buy stale goods like water, snacks, and fruits. Note that prices are quite a lot higher than on the mainland as they need to cover the cost of transport. Expect to pay about 50 THB for a large bottle of water.
Motorbike rental – there are no roads on Koh Ngai so you won’t have to worry about renting a motorbike. Just get used to walking everywhere.
How to Get to Koh Ngai
From Bangkok – Fly to either Trang, Phuket or Krabi first, then arrange a transfer to the island (keep reading).
From Trang Airport – this is the closest airport to Koh Ngai. You will need to take a taxi from Trang Airport to Hat Yao Pier, followed by a boat to Koh Ngai (see tickets and timetables here). The entire trip takes about 90 minutes.
From Krabi – if you are staying in Krabi already, then take a taxi to Klong Jilad Pier followed by the speedboat (see tickets and timetables here). The boat takes about 2 hours direct to Koh Ngai.
From Krabi Airport – if coming directly from Krabi airport you can also book a combined van + boat ticket (see ticket and timetables here).
Hotels on Koh Ngai
There is a growing range of accommodation available on Koh Ngai. Below are three quick options to suit luxury, mid-range, and budget travelers. However, if you’d like to see other options (like the amazing Thapwarin Resort) then be sure to check out this article on the best hotels on Koh Ngai.
Thanya Beach Resort ($$$)
Check Deals on Agoda: Thanya Beach Resort
Thanya Beach Resort is one of the top-rated hotels on Koh Ngai. The luxury wooden bungalows come with air-conditioner, refrigerator, kettle, and a private bathroom. There is an outdoor pool and Thai massage at the resort too. The resort is located at the southern end of Main Beach, which is also the best beach for sunrise. You will find the Sea Breeze Bar nearby which is great for a late afternoon drink.
Koh Ngai Resort ($$)
Check Deals on Agoda Now: Paradise Beach Resort
Koh Ngai Resort is significantly cheaper than the other resorts on Main Beach. Although it is located on the east coast, it actually not on Main Beach but on another small cove. It can be quite difficult to reach the resort by foot during high tide. I have also heard that food at this resort is about 20% more than at the hotels on Main Beach.
Koh Ngai Camping ($)
Check out Deals on Agoda Now: Koh Ngai Camping
If I really had to go hard on the budget, I would pick the camping option on Main Beach. Large tents are set up with double beds directly on the floor and you sleep just a few meters away from the beach. Bathrooms are shared but there supposed to be free WiFi accessible from the tents.
Day Trips from Koh Ngai
Day Trip to Koh Kradan
Koh Kradan is a beautiful island about 8 kilometers south of Koh Ngai. The coral reef on the south end of the island is one of the best in snorkeling spots Thailand. The white sandy beaches are about as empty as on Koh Ngai with just a couple of small bungalows dotted along the sand. Check out my guide to Koh Kradan here for more details.
Day Trip to Koh Mook
Koh Mook is famous for the hidden beach within Emerald Cave. Many people come to Koh Mook just to visit the cave on a day trip from Koh Lanta. However, there is plenty more to do on this island. Check out my guide to Koh Mook here for more details….