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Koh Yao Yai & Koh Yao Noi
Amphoe Ko Yao, Phang Nga - Phuket ( Yao Islands )
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Koh Yao Yai & Koh Yao Noi

Yao Islands are located in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, 42 km south of the coast of Phang Nga province and equidistant to Phuket Island and the Krabi mainland. With an area of 141 square kilometres, the Yao archipelago comprises a total of 44 islands, some of which, the northernmost, are part of Ao Phang Nga National Park. Among these islands the most important are Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. The two islands are quite large. Koh Yao Yai is the largest, 92 sq km, but the least developed, nevertheless it has a resident population of 1,000 inhabitants. Koh Yao Noi is the smaller, 45 sq km, but more developed. With a population of 4,000 inhabitants, it is the centre of Koh Yao district and all government offices are located there. The total population of whole archipelago is about 12,000, with a majority of the Muslim religion, introduced by Arab traders in the course of the thirteenth century. The first inhabitants of Yao Islands were the Chao Lay, the Sea Gypsies, from the Malay Peninsula. The Sea Gypsies, Moken people, inhabited the Phang Nga Bay before anybody else; they were later followed by fishermen from the provinces of Trang and Satun. The resident people make their living from fishing, rice farming, rubber tree, fruit, palm and coconut plantations. The tourism has not been developed on a large scale on the islands. The local tourism industry is aimed at the sustainable eco tourism lovers and those who want to get away from everything. There are a few resorts and bungalow, mostly family-owned, and some locals have set up home-stays in their own homes. Some of the locals offer courses in local handicraft skills such as the art of creating Batik. In 2002, Koh Yao Noi has received the World Legacy Award for Destination Stewardship by Conservation International and the National Geographic Traveler magazine for the eco-friendly home-stay programs offered by its local residents. There are no banks or ATMs on the islands, remember to carry cash, but there is mobile phone coverage and internet. There are some shops on Koh Yao Noi, including a 7-Eleven, restaurants, a hospital, several schools and a post office. Koh Yao Noi has approximately 18 km of concrete and dirt road around it. The main concrete road performs a ring around the entire perimeter of the island, excluding the most northern parts where are only dirt roads. The main road of Koh Yao Yai runs the entire length of the Island across small village, farms, fishing villages and many quiet beaches. In both islands, to get around are available tuk-tuks and motor-tricycle taxis. They are always awaiting your arrival at the main piers, Manoh Pier in Koh Yao Noi and Chong Lad Pier in Koh Yao Yai. Alternately an efficient way to get around the islands is to hire a scooter or a bike. Most resorts offer bikes or scooters for rent, at cost of 200-300 THB per day for scooter and 100 THB for bike. The beaches on Yao Islands do not compare with the golden, powdery sands on the west coast of Phuket but they are pleasant enough. Most of the beaches of Koh Yao Noi are situated in the western part. The main ones are: Hadd Pa Sai, Haad Klong Chak, Haad Tha Khao, Haad Lom Lae Beach and Ao Kian. The most beautiful beaches on Koh Yao Yai are Haad Loh Jaak, Haad Loh Pa Raed, Haad Klong Son, Ao Thi Kud and Ao Lan.
Get to Yao Islands - The islands are connected to the mainland and Phuket by ferry services. The ferries arrive firstly at Klong Lad Pier on Koh Yao Yai, and then continue onto Manoh Pier on Koh Yao Noi, only 8 minutes away. From Phuket the best way to get to Yao Islands is from Bang Rong Pier in Tambon Pa Klok, the northeast tip of Phuket. Boats leave Bang Rong Pier at 8:30, 9:30 11:00, 12:30, 14:30, 16:00 and 17:00. The boats leave from Koh Yao Yai for the return trip at 07:00, 07:30, 10:00, 13:30, 16:00 and 17:00. The fare is 120 THB per person, for an hour of trip. If you choose to go by speed boat it will only take around 30 minute, the cost is around 200 THB. Ferries to the Yao Islands leave also from: Chianwanich Pier in Phuket Town, 2 daily departures, Ao Thalane Pier in Krabi, 6 daily departures, Nopparat Thara Pier in Ao Nang with a daily departure, and from Tha Dan Pier in Phang Nga, a daily departure. The ticket prices range from 150 THB to 250 THB depending on the departure point and the type of boat.
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