The DestinAsian Guide to Finding Your Perfect Thai Island

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Serene Koh Yao Yai is situated in the middle of karst-strewn Phang Nga Bay (iStock).

For a Glimpse of Island Life:
Koh Yao Yai

It might lie just 10 kilometers offshore, but Koh Yao Yai is worlds away from the busy and brash international destination of Phuket to its west. While millions descend on that island every year, oft-overlooked Koh Yao Yai is home to only 9,000 or so people, and until recent years had very few places to stay. The main reason for this lack of development is because the locals like it this way. Traditionally, the islanders have made their living from harvesting rubber, coconuts, and fish, and you’ll still see these industries on the other side of the main road, which cuts down the middle of the island from north to south. While five-star accommodation is now available for visitors, including the Glow Elixir Koh Yao Yai (glowby; doubles from US$145), there’s still little else to do on the island but relax by the pool, laze on the beach, and eventually realize exactly why the chilled-out locals are in no rush to see their island home modernized.

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