Koh Nang Yuan: The Most Beautiful Island in Thailand?

by Christy on

Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

While it’s impossible to identify the most beautiful island in Thailand (there are just so many!), if we sat down and made a list I’m sure Koh Nang Yuan would rank near the top.

Koh Nang Yuan is actually three small islands connected by a sandbar. It boasts stunningly clear turqouise waters, plenty of colorful sealife to entertain snorkelers, and a vantage point that (literally) takes your breath away.

View of Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

The vista itself is quite extraordinary, but getting up to the viewpoint is half the fun. Once you disembark at the pier and cross the sandbar, a precarious path built from weathered wooden planks will carry you over the rocky shoreline and around the island.

Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

As you pick your way across, do your best to avoid the sections of trail that have fallen into the sea — clearly Thailand’s building codes are a little more lax than those in the States.

Broken Path on Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

The next leg of your journey involves approximately three million steps up the side of the mountain, and once you’ve climbed them you can still look forward to scaling a series of colossal boulders to get to the peak.

Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

But once you’re at the peak? Totally worth it.

Things to Know

  • Koh Nang Yuan is a private island with only one small resort, so most visitors are day trippers from nearby Koh Tao (which happens to be one of the best places in the world to learn how to scuba dive!). A water taxi from Koh Tao to Koh Nang Yuan should cost around 150 baht ($5).
  • Koh Nang Yuan charges a 100 baht ($3) entrance fee for any visitors not staying overnight on the island.
  • There is only one (over-priced) restaurant on Koh Nang Yuan, so bring snacks over from Koh Tao to save money.
  • The island has banned plastic bottles, so buy glass bottles from a 7-11 on Koh Tao or be very discreet with your plastic water bottles and make sure to carry them off the island when you leave.
  • If you don’t want your delicate bits getting scraped up in the climb to the viewpoint, wear something over your swimsuit. Sturdy shoes are also recommended, or you can just remove your flip-flops and climb like a monkey over the boulders.
  • If you plan to snorkel on Koh Nang Yuan, rent your mask on Koh Tao for around 60 baht ($2) and bring it with you. Fins are banned on Koh Nang Yuan, so don’t bother with those.
  • The island is an amazing place to view sealife while snorkeling, but be careful in some areas — there’s a lot of coral and sea urchins fairly close to the shore, in water shallow enough to step on.

Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

So what’s your take? Does it qualify as The Most Beautiful Island in Thailand?

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Caanan @ No Vacation Requiredtwitter: NVRguys March 27, 2012 at

Gorgeous. I am slightly disappointed that you did not scale the boulders in just a small speedo like your fellow explorers. You guys are such prudes. :)

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Christy March 28, 2012 at

Dang it, we left our speedos at home! I was impressed with how intrepid that guy was, with hardly a slip of clothing to offer protection.

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Stevetwitter: vangrizz March 27, 2012 at

It sure looks like it should qualify as the most beautiful island in Thailand, but it definitely wins for worst walkway. They do sell smoothies on the island though right?
Steve recently posted: Hilton Garden Inn Spokane Airport

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Christy March 28, 2012 at

Good question… I hope the restaurant serves some, but we didn’t check. The island is so small that there’s just the one resort and some huts – no clandestine smoothie stalls in sight!

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Danitwitter: travelworklive March 27, 2012 at

Can’t believe we still haven’t made it to Koh Tao – this little island looks like paradise!
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Christy March 28, 2012 at

Are you two still in SE Asia? There’s always time to go back!

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Ruth (Tanama Tales) March 28, 2012 at

Hi guys,
I have seen similar photos of Koh Nang Yuan but didn’t know the name of the place or where it was located. Surprising to know it is actually in the Gulf Of Thailand. The place is absolutly gorgeous. Well, except for that broken path. Makes me think about some bridges I have seen in some countries.
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Christy March 28, 2012 at

The broken path was a bit of a surprise, but thankfully someone created a work-around over the rocks. We didn’t have to jump in and swim or anything. :)

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Christy March 28, 2012 at

I love finding places like this. Did you stop over in Koh Phangan?
Christy recently posted: Kuang Si Waterfall Tips and Photos – Laos

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Christy March 30, 2012 at

Unfortunately we didn’t; we felt a little short on time after Kali did his dive class, so we just hung out on Koh Tao and then spent a day on Koh Samui before flying out. Next time, though!

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Sophietwitter: SophieR March 29, 2012 at

Really beautiful and different, especially with the sandbar and the gorgeous water of that lagoon.
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Christy March 30, 2012 at

The sandbar in particular is really unique, especially to have three prongs like that.

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Chris March 29, 2012 at

Certainly looks beautiful. That mountain looks like a great climb as well. It sounds like a nice place to get away from the bigger, more touristy islands–at least for the day.
Chris recently posted: Top Tourist Attractions in Jersey, Channel Islands

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Christy March 30, 2012 at

Definitely, Chris – some of the islands are quite crowded, so Koh Nang Yuan was very relaxed and chill in comparison.

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Laureltwitter: ExpatGermany March 29, 2012 at

I lived in Thailand for 2 years but didn’t go here – a good reason to go back. I got scuba certified on nearby Koh Samui and agree it’s a great place to learn. Beautiful photos.
Laurel recently posted: Trier, Germany – the Second Rome

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Christy March 30, 2012 at

We spent a day on Koh Samui and really enjoyed it – it’s a much larger island than Koh Tao, but having the airport right there is handy.

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Ayelet - All Colorestwitter: allcolores March 29, 2012 at

The island looks gorgeous! I’ve always avoided adding Thailand to my bucket list, since I live close to the beach and rather experience winter wonderlands when I travel, yet if I keep seeing photos like these…. I mean, the beach near my home looks nothing like this!
Ayelet – All Colores recently posted: Bucket List: The Middle East, Or: Israel Loves Iran Loves Israel

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

That’s so funny that you avoid tropical destinations when you vacation and instead opt for wintery locales – that’s quite the opposite of most travelers! :) Thailand is beachy, but I think the diving and snorkeling potential is the best part. And the food doesn’t hurt, of course. ;)

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Martin March 29, 2012 at

Ko Tao and especially koh-nang-yuan has been so far one of our favourite world beach destinations on our rtw trip! Great pics. I went diving just a few hundred meteres away from this beach. Just amazing! Here are some of our experiences and pictures…http://aroundtheworldwithkid.com/trip-pulse-kotao-paradise-round-the-world-itinera/

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

Awesome post, Martin – and beautiful photos! Kali didn’t get the chance to dive on Koh Nang Yuan, but we saw some other divers who seemed to be enjoying themselves. If we had more time I think Kali would have liked to.

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Kurttwitter: wanderlustng March 29, 2012 at

Sounds like a beautiful and impressive place to visit. Not that expensive either!
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Christy March 31, 2012 at

It is quite cheap! Well, it takes a bit to get all the way out there, but just spending a day on Koh Nang Yuan isn’t bad. Thailand in general is great for budget travelers. :)

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Natasha von Geldern March 30, 2012 at

I agree this looks pretty darn amazing – that sandbar is very unique and pretty. I’m still going with Ko Mae Ko in the An Thong marine park: http://www.worldwanderingkiwi.com/2012/02/thailand-ang-thong-marine-park/
Tough call though! I love reading about new places I’ve not been in Thailand!

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

WOW. Those dramatic cliffs are just beautiful; unfortunately we didn’t see any of those when we were in Thailand.

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Bret @ Green Global Travel March 30, 2012 at

That water looks absolutely amazing! Love that they’ve banned plastic bottles to help ensure it stays that way. What sort of stuff did you see while snorkeling there?
Bret @ Green Global Travel recently posted: Learning The Perils of a “Work Hard, Play Harder” Life

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

I don’t know the names of anything, but the fish were amazing – entire schools of colorful would come up and swim around us. It was unreal!

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Laurence March 30, 2012 at

I’ve never been to Thailand, but this certainly looks like it should be a contender for most beautiful island! Looks stunning, great photos :D
Laurence recently posted: In photos: Australian beaches

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

Thanks, Laurence! You should visit Thailand if you ever get the chance; it’s a stunning country.

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Andrea March 30, 2012 at

Sandbars are one of my favourite beach features! This looks like an awesome paradise to explore.
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Christy March 31, 2012 at

We had never really encountered a sandbar before, at least not like this one! I’m definitely a fan.

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Laura March 30, 2012 at

The island looks out of this world. Reality or your just CG creation?

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Christy March 31, 2012 at

Reality, but we definitely edit all of our photos using post-processing software. So I guess it’s partly computer generated. :)

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AlexBerger March 31, 2012 at

Absolutely beautiful beach shots!
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Christy March 31, 2012 at

Thanks Alex – Thailand is full of them. :)

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Ayngelina March 31, 2012 at

Wow this is gorgeous. I have only been to Thailand once but I didn’t go South. I think I need to get back there.
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Christy March 31, 2012 at

We spent most of our time in Chiang Mai, but I’m so glad we spent two weeks on the islands. Well worth it!

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dtravelsroundtwitter: dtravelsround April 2, 2012 at

I can’t wait to do this!!!
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Christy April 3, 2012 at

It’s so worth it, Diana – probably one of our favorite spots in Thailand.

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Camtwitter: travelcanucks April 6, 2012 at

I never tire of photos from this beach. It’s definitely one of the world’s most attractive. It’s the personification of “paradise”, isn’t it?!
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Christy April 7, 2012 at

It’s like 98% of my vision for paradise… with a hammock it would have been 100% complete. ;)

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Jade - OurOyster.com April 12, 2012 at

I never went south of Bangkok when I was in Thailand… I was more interested in seeing temples, etc…. but this post has gave me the travel itch for some Thai beaches :P
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Christy April 12, 2012 at

We spent most of our time in Chiang Mai and didn’t even associate Thailand with beaches until right before we left the country. I can’t believe we waited so long to check them out!

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cheryl May 5, 2012 at

Looks beautiful! The hike looks tough but I’d totally do for those views. :)
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Christy May 11, 2012 at

Totally worth the views, Cheryl. :)

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