Koh Nang Yuan is a small island off the west coast of the diving destination island of Koh Tao in Thailand. It’s owned by the same guy who’s the master behind the inescapable Chang beer. You’ll want at least a half day to visit Nang Yuan when you’re in the area, but you’ll probably want to kick back for a little longer.

Koh Nang Yuan is actually made up of three little islands connected by an enormous sandbar. The snorkeling is some of the most spectacular in all of Thailand (don’t stand on the coral, it’s alive!). There are no cars on Nang Yuan, it’s a pedestrian paradise.

You’ll probably want to make Koh Tao your home base for visiting. It’s possible to stay on Koh Nang Yuan, at the singular resort on the island, but it’s quite pricey. Yes, if you stayed, you’d have the beaches all to yourselves, but it’s also only 15 minutes from Koh Tao. You decide.

They don’t allow any plastic bottles on the island, cool right? And, since it’s privately owned, they do charge a small entrance fee (waived if you’re staying at the resort), but the waters and beaches are worth the (small) effort it takes to get here. If you hire a longtail boat to take you to the island, you’ll have the opportunity to get there before the snorkel boats arrive (which infiltrate the island from 9:30am onwards, with a small lull between 12 and 12:30).

If you want to get that postcard (or Instagrammable) picture, walk the 15 minutes to the viewpoint—situated at the top of one of the three islands, and then post up on the sandbar for the rest of your day—sneaking in and out of the water as you like.

How to get there

A lot of people day trip to Koh Nang Yuan from Ko Tao, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui (more expensive), but it’s also possible to take a high speed catamaran from Chumphon and Surat Thani on the mainland. If you’re flying into Bangkok, the closest airport to Koh Nang Yuan is Chumphon.

What to consider

  • There’s an entrance fee to the island —- 100 Baht or approx $3.
  • You aren’t allowed to lay out your beach towels on the sand, and are instead forced to rent a lounge chair and umbrella (for ~$4), but you’ll be happy for the shade later on.
  • If you don’t have snorkel gear, you can rent gear at the island dive shop.
  • For the scuba inclined, there’s an awesome dive site called Japanese Garden just off the island, and you can arrange that dive at the gear rental/dive shop as well.
  • This island gets really crowded with tourists, so it’s one that’s worth getting to early.