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Taking a day trip to the teeny island of Koh Nang Yuan is one of my top recommendations to those heading to Koh Tao — other than go diving, of course! Koh Nang Yuan is actually made up of three little teardrops of land connected by a massive sandbar. It’s a place where post-card dreams are made: unique topography, blindingly white sand beaches, and shores teeming with fish and coral.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Due to its tiny footprint, Koh Nang Yuan is the perfect size for a day trip. Technically you can stay at the Nang Yuan Resort (the only one on the island!) but it’s fairly pricey and seems to cater mainly to Asian tourists. However, you would get to wake up to totally abandoned beaches before the day-trippers arrived. Somehow, despite having lived in Koh Tao for so many months and the short journey to get to Nang Yuan, I’ve only been three times!

I first visited in 2009, then again with my parents on Christmas Eve 2011, when the weather did not cooperate. My most recent trip with Olivia and Zoe was so blissful it convinced me it was time for another post dedicated to this special place. Thus, the Complete Guide to Koh Nang Yuan was born.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Getting There

Koh Nang Yuan is but a 10-15 minute journey from the west side of Koh Tao. There are advertised speed boat times and mega-catamaran Lomprayah offers a package day trip, but the cheapest and easiest option is to charter a longtail. At anytime of day you can head to the beach and find a boat driver looking for customers. If it’s a particularly busy day head to Lotus Bar which functions as a bit of a boat-taxi stand during the day. The cost is 200B roundtrip. You must settle on a return time with your driver. At first I was suspicious of paying up front and felt I would be left on the island but they always come back! Alternatively, if you have a Thai phone you can ask them to swap numbers so you can call when you would like to go back to Koh Tao.

Koh Tao Longtail Trip

If you are staying in a remote area on the East or South side you may need to inquire with your resort about transport options.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan starts to get busy around 9:30am and virtually clears by 4:30pm. So if you would like some time on the island with a bit of solitude, be sure to arrive early or stay late.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Entrance

Koh Nang Yuan is privately owned and visitors are charged a 100B entrance fee in order to step foot on the island. I managed to escape the fee once when I inadvertently shared a longtail with a dive instructor working on the island, but that aside, there’s no sneaking around this fee! Nang Yuan also requests that you bring no plastic onto the island. Everything on Nang Yuan is served in reusable glass bottles.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Eating and Drinking

With its one resort, Nang Yuan also has just one restaurant and one beach bar. It is a resort restaurant, so food is more expensive than you would get on Koh Tao at an independent establishment. Menu offerings are somewhat limited — this is no major culinary destination. Still, it works for a quick ice cream binge lunch break. The beach bar is, unsurprisingly, located on the beach and is on the expensive end of Koh Tao prices.

Eating on Koh Nang Yuan

What to Do

So, you’re there, you’ve paid the entrance fee, you’ve refueled. What’s next? Koh Nang Yuan has the perfect amount of activities to keep any day tripper happy.

Beach on Koh Nang Yuan

The Beach

Without a doubt- this is the main attraction. Moments after arrival on my most recent trip my sis Olivia declared that it was already her favorite day of the trip — and we hadn’t even started on the banana daiquiris yet.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Depending on the day, the season, the tides and your luck, the beach can be a tiny ribbon on sand slammed with sunbathing bodies, or a wide, deserted stretch of paradise. Amazingly, it remains beautiful either way.

Beach on Koh Nang Yuan

Snorkeling

There’s really no need for exaggeration — Koh Nang Yuan simply is one of the best snorkeling spots in Thailand. The shallow reefs surrounding the island are lined with intricate soft and hard corals as well as schools of colorful parrotfish and shy angelfish. Shelter from the islands means the water is calm and clear.

You will often see dive boats surrounding Nang Yuan to visit the popular dive sites of Twin Peak and Japanese Gardens, which lie just off the island and are shallow enough for snorkelers. Gear can be rented in the Koh Nang Yuan Resort’s Dive Shop, or of course you are free to bring your own.

Snorkeling on Koh Nang Yuan

Just please be careful not to stand on or touch the coral. I see this everywhere I’ve been in Thailand but visitors to Nang Yaun seem to be some of the worst offenders.

Snorkeling on Koh Nang Yuan

Viewpoint

Another very popular activity at Koh Nang Yuan is taking the 10-15 minute hike up to the viewpoint of the three islands’ highest peak.

Viewpoint on Koh Nang Yuan

Despite its short distance, the path can get steep and in the heat of day might seem pretty tricky! But the view from the top, a vista that graces postcards across the country, is one of the most beautiful I have ever laid eyes on.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

By hiking the viewpoint at the end of the day right before heading back to the boat you are more likely to have a lovely abandoned beach in your photos. Not to mention, it will be cooler, and photos of yourself will be less embarrassingly sweaty.

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Guide to Koh Nang Yuan

Ziplining

Last but clearly not least is Koh Nang Yuan’s newest attraction: ziplining! Earlier this year I wrote a detailed, photo and video packed post about ziplining in Koh Tao. The course consists of two lines that go between the islands…. the world’s first inter-island zipline!

Update: The zipline on Koh Nang Yuan is no longer in operation.

Ziplining on Koh Nang Yuan

The whole course takes about an hour and costs 1,000 baht, making it totally do-able during a Koh Nang Yuan day trip. There’s really nothing like it!

Ziplining on Koh Nang Yuan

If you’re coming to Koh Tao, I know it’s hard to resist the urge to spend every day diving. But schedule in an extra day and explore the topside wonder of Koh Nang Yuan.

You won’t regret it!

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64 Comments...
  • Vicky
    March 30 2012

    Great post. The little island and the ziplining sounds awesome (and I just read your other post -ziplining on koh tao). Not sure if I mentioned this in my other comments but my boyfriend and I are planning a 2 yr backpacking trip through Asia and Europe to start in the fall during which we’ll continue to run my food blog and a travel website we are working on now (http://acoupletravelers.com/ if you’re interested). Right now I’m in process of planning the Thailand portion of our trip – we’re hoping to allocate a month to the whole country. It’s been great reading this island guide and though we’re not sure if we’ll get diving lessons (since they are still a bit pricy) I am definitely looking forward to some awesome snorkeling!
    Vicky recently posted..Daring Bakers March 2012 – Dutch Crunch Bread and Prosciutto Sandwiches

    • Alex
      March 31 2012

      Hey Vicky, glad my posts can help a bit with your planning! Thailand absolutely deserves a month, and if Koh Tao makes it into the itinerary you’ll find some great snorkeling. I’m heading up North this month so stay tuned for some different coverage!

  • Kathryn
    March 30 2012

    Alex, great photo of Liv underwater. Liv, you look super cute!!!!

    Love the B&W photo at the end.

    • Alex
      March 31 2012

      I’ll have to get you a copy!

  • Nomadic Samuel
    April 1 2012

    This is a great guide Alex! Bookmark worthy 🙂
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Incredible India | Part 35 | Travel Video Slideshow Series

    • Alex
      April 2 2012

      Thanks Sam! It’s one of my favorite places…

  • paul | walkflypinoy
    April 3 2012

    the water looks absolutely amazing. it makes you want to fall from the zipline actually. haha. great guide! 🙂
    paul | walkflypinoy recently posted..Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: The Trek (Part 1)

    • Alex
      April 4 2012

      Thanks Paul! I agree… I think they should make some sort of zip-jump-slide contraption!

  • Vanessa
    April 4 2012

    Great post! That zip lining looks like SO much fun! Glad you’re living the dream and traveling to incredible destinations like this! There is nothing like the gift of travel that’s for sure!
    Vanessa recently posted..Top 10 Luxury List 2012

    • Alex
      April 5 2012

      Hi Vanessa, thanks for commenting! I agree, travel is one of life’s greatest treasures.

  • Heather
    April 5 2012

    This is awesome! We are going to Thailand in November and spending 5 days in Koh Samui, is it close enough for a day trip from Samui? So excited for this trip! It looks so beautiful!

    • Alex
      April 6 2012

      Hi Heather! There is at least one day trip to Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan via the meg-catamaran/ferry operator Lomprayah. However, be warned that you will spend over four hours in transit between the islands! I would definitely recommend an Ang Thong Marine Park day trip to you, though. Check my archives for posts about my two trips there!

  • Carol
    September 2 2013

    Thank you for the great post – this information is really helpful! my husband and I will be in Koh Tao shortly and we were wondering about how to get to this island I’ve seen in so many pictures! Really looking forward to going there – your pictures are great!

    • Alex
      September 5 2013

      Thanks Carol! Glad this post was helpful and enjoy your time on Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. They are such special places!

  • David Johnson
    December 24 2013

    I am visiting Koh Tao in February 2014 and found your comments very helpful about the adventures awaiting one in Koh Nang Yuan. If there is any more useful pointers please forward.

    David Johnson

    • Alex
      December 26 2013

      Hey David, glad you found me here! I have tons of posts about Koh Tao on this blog, just check out the “Thailand” tab in the navigation bar above. You’ll find plenty of inspiration!

  • Rosie
    January 22 2014

    We are heading to Koh Tao later this year and have just discovered your blog through googeling Koh Nang Yuan. You have sold it to me and your post is really useful! Am definitely going to be nosing around your blog a bit! x

    • Alex
      January 22 2014

      Hey Rosie, I’m so glad you found me here! Let me know if you need any help with your trip!

  • Shreya Saha
    February 25 2014

    Hi All, I contacted the Goodtime Adventures who organize the ziplining, but sadly, it does not exist anymore.

    • Alex
      February 26 2014

      Hey Shreya, I’m so bummed to hear that! I wonder why they discontinued it. Thanks for letting us know, though!

  • Shreya Saha
    February 26 2014

    Yes Alex, I felt really sad to know that they discontinued it. I was pretty much interested to do it. But anyways, Koh Nang Yuan is a beautiful place. I am still going to visit there.

  • David Kuhnke
    April 19 2014

    Nice post.
    Been there myself and its wicked…
    Travellink around Thailand 11 times since 1988 the only place ive seen that is better was Koh Lipe.

    • Alex
      April 20 2014

      I’m hoping to get to Koh Lipe when I return to Thailand this fall. I’ve never been!

  • Jason
    June 23 2014

    Sold! Especially after reading your opinion that the beach is beautiful even when it is just a sliver of sand jam-packed with bodies.

    • Alex
      June 23 2014

      Enjoy KNY 🙂 It’s a special place!

  • Ellen
    March 16 2015

    Hi Alex, thank you for this great post! Loved it 🙂 We are going to Koh Tao in 2 weeks, and I’m still doubting to bring my own snorkeling gear… it’s just a two weeks vacation and with the luggage weight limits, I’m just not sure 🙁 Did you rent them there? Or was it your own? Is it expensive to rent out? Can you only rent the flippers for instance? That would be an option, to only take the glasses and snorkel 🙂 Ellen

    • Alex
      March 16 2015

      I always bring my own, because nothing makes me more mad than an ill-fitting mask! Actually in some snorkel spots on Koh Tao, you cannot wear fins in order to protect the coral. So bringing your mask and snorkel might be a great compromise!

      • Justin
        April 16 2015

        Hi Alex, I was planning on bringing my own snorkel & mask to Ko Tao and renting fins. Which snorkeling areas don’t allow fins? I’ve never snorkeled before. How do the fins harm the coral?

        • Alex
          April 17 2015

          Basically because sometimes people stand on the coral or bash into it when they wear them 🙁 Jansom Bay is one that I know does not allow them.

  • Sylvan
    March 17 2015

    hi i plan to go koh nang yuen at end of april..but i not sure which pier should i take the long tail boat from koh tao to koh nang yuen? In ur blog, it just mentioned heading to the beach…TQ

    • Alex
      March 17 2015

      You can hire any old longtail on the beach — no need to go to the pier! 🙂 Enjoy!

  • sofina
    March 19 2015

    it looks amazing!! i’ll be going there in a few months and i was wondering what time the photo of you at the viewpoint was taken? and also what time do people normally leave there? x id really like to catch the sunset there!!
    sofina recently posted..25 things to be happy about

    • Alex
      March 20 2015

      Hey Sofina! Unfortunately I can’t remember what time of day I took the photos in this post — they are from different trips 🙂 As most people arrange their own boat transfers with local longtail boats, I’m sure you can negotiate one to pick you up around sunset! Best of luck!

  • Gaz
    April 10 2015

    Just to follow on from an earlier post, we visited today and the zip line is definitely no more! We were gutted but it’s still a beautiful place to spend an afternoon of course!

    • Alex
      April 11 2015

      Yup, it’s a bummer! Glad you enjoyed the islands anyway!

  • Shayan Naveed
    September 7 2015

    It’s definitely on my to-do list and very soon! Hopefully next month. Wow, thanks for the article. Can’t believe 20 years in Thailand and I have so much to see still.

    • Alex
      September 10 2015

      I can imagine! For me it’s been six years of exploring and I feel like I’ve only seen the tiniest percent.

  • JL
    September 24 2015

    Hi Alex! I’m planning to visit Koh Tao next year in March and your blog has been a great help so far! Just a few quick question, though.

    How early does the longtails leave for Koh Nang Yuan? Would you recommend going early or returning late? Is there any longtail service at Chalok Baan Kao? Are the non-disposable Bros plastic bottles allowed on the island? What if I brought a metal bottle?

    Thanks!

    • Alex
      September 24 2015

      Hey JL, you could pretty much leave anytime… there’s always likely to be a longtail hanging around. You can definitely take longtails from Chalok though the cost will likely be higher. And yes, metal bottles are allowed. Enjoy!

  • Rim
    December 27 2015

    Hello Alex, your blog post and all your good advice are quit impressive. If my trip to Thaïland this March is confirmed, I will definitely go here for a day trip and stay till the sunset. I wonder though if the prices you mentioned het higher along the years. I hope it’s not too much expensive.
    Keep up your great stories.
    Best regards from Montreal.
    Rim from Red Lips Talk blog.

    • Alex
      January 2 2016

      I haven’t been back in a long time so unfortunately can’t confirm about the prices. Maybe come back and let us know if you go 🙂

  • Carly
    January 28 2016

    I’m also a travel blogger, currently living in Koh Samui for the month and island hopping to Koh Tao this weekend! I planned my entire Sunday using this guide 🙂 Thanks so much for all the tips! Looks amazing.
    Carly recently posted..Koh Phangan Photo Diary

    • Alex
      February 1 2016

      Hey Carly! How did it go? Hope you had a blast — it’s been ages since I’ve been to Nang Yuan, I need to return!

  • Chris
    February 23 2016

    Great post! I was there today and enjoyed a day of relaxing and snorkeling. Unfortunately the viewpoint is currently under renovation, so I was a bit disappointed, as your picture of it looks amazing. I’ve been on Koh Tao for the past week and a half and have fallen in love with the island as well as the diving! I definitely want to return someday…who knows, maybe a DMT is in my future? Your blog has been a wonderful resource for my Thailand travels as well as a great inspiration, keep it up!
    Chris recently posted..Angkor Wat’s grand circuit – Legends of the Hidden Temples Part I

    • Alex
      March 2 2016

      Hey Chris, thanks for the heads up on the viewpoint renovation — I’ll try to keep tabs on how long that takes. So glad you’ve enjoyed Koh Tao and great that you may return for your DMT! Happy travels, and diving!

  • Breanne
    April 7 2016

    Hey Alex,
    My friend and I are on a student tour through Thailand in May but Koh Tao isn’t included in our itinerary. We were thinking we could take a day trip out there while we are in Koh Phangan (since we’re there for a week) Is it possible to do a day trip from Koh Phangan to Koh Nangyuan?! Or are they too far away!

    • Alex
      April 10 2016

      Hey Breanne, it is possible for sure. However you’ll only have about five hours on Koh Tao, and then you’ll have to use some of that getting from Koh Tao to Koh Nangyuan. If I were you I’d probably do a day trip to some of the hidden, boat-only accessible beaches on Koh Phangan instead 🙂

  • Nurul
    April 13 2016

    hi alex….. i’ ve read your article about koh nanyuan … i’m going there soon. which tour pakage did u took and where’s the office in samui? and all the activities include in 1000bht including the zip lining? any suggestion and advice?

    thanks

    • Alex
      April 27 2016

      Hey Nurul, unfortunately it appears the ziplining is no longer on the island, from what I understand. I will have to update this post soon!

  • Kim Goodship
    May 6 2016

    Going in July…. hopefully weather will be good !! thanks for all your tips ! will definitely do this ! x

    • Alex
      May 7 2016

      Sending you good weather vibes 🙂

  • Kim Goodship
    May 6 2016

    We are arriving for the day, arriving at Mae Haad Pier ? Should we just get a taxi to Sairee Beach for longboat ? thank you x

    • Alex
      May 7 2016

      You’ll be able to grab one right from Mae Haad Pier. Enjoy!

  • Daniel
    September 23 2016

    Hey ! , great post ! , such good info around this area ! we are heading there in 4 months and have added a few little things thanks to this post 🙂

    #newZealand

    • Alex
      September 24 2016

      That’s awesome to hear Daniel! Rock on!

  • Matt How
    September 30 2016

    Hey Alex,

    Amazing blog!! I’ll be in Koh Phangan in December. What would you recommend between a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park and Koh Nang Yuan? (I’ll probably only have time for 1)

    Cheers,

    Matt

    • Alex
      October 14 2016

      Ang Thong! Koh Nang Yuan is so teeny tiny that it’s easy for it to feel crowded and overwhelmed. Ang Thong has a bit more breathing room. Enjoy!

  • Hanna
    July 13 2017

    Love this blog! We’ll definitely be visiting Koh Nang Yuan on our upcoming trip to Koh Tao!

    • Alex
      July 17 2017

      I haven’t been back in years — let me know what you think of it!

  • Jennifer
    December 29 2017

    Hi Alex – My husband I are staying in Koh Samui and wanted to plan a day trip to Koh Tao and hike up Koh Nang Yuan for a photo (of corse). I looked into transportation through Lumprayah and they have a boat that leave Koh Samui at 8:00 arriving on Koh Tao at 9:30. The return boat back to Koh Samui leaves at 15:00 from Koh Tao. Do you think 9:30-14:00 is enough time to get to and hike up Koh Nang Yuan? Thank you

    • Alex
      December 29 2017

      Hey Jennifer! That’s definitely enough time. The viewpoint hike is maybe only 10 or 15 minutes and it’s a super tiny island. Enjoy! 🙂

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