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Koh Ngai is a small tourist island in Krabi Province in Thailand, near Trang in the Southern Andaman Sea. It has no villages or concrete roads, but long sandy beaches, nice coral reefs, and rainforests. Koh Ngai (or Koh Hai) is a perfect holiday destination for those love active holidays including snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. Should you decide to visit this lovely island, read our travel guide for up-to-date information on how to get there, what hotel to choose, where to snorkel and what to do!
How to get to Koh Ngai?
This small island is easily reachable from Krabi, Phuket and also from Trang. From these locations, several companies operate daily speedboat service in the main season (usually from October to April depending on the weather conditions). For the nearby small islands such as Mook or Kradan, you can take a longtail boat too.
The island has no airport. If your main flight arrives in Bangkok, first you need to fly to one of the nearby airports such as Phuket, Krabi or Trang and continue your journey by boat (see details below).
Note: Speedboat can stop only at the main pier. From here, you need to take a longtail boat to your resort (50-100 THB extra cost) except if you are staying in the Koh Ngai Resort which is directly near the pier.
Speed boats departing from the Klong Jilad Pier. The journey takes about 2 hours (with short stops at other islands) and you might need to change boat in Koh Lanta.
Should you arrive straight from Krabi Airport as we did, the best is choosing a combined van + boat ticket so a minivan will pick you up from the airport and take you to the pier where you can catch the speed boat.
Boats from Trang are departing from Hat Yao Pier. Getting to the island takes about 90 minutes.
The journey from Phuket is a little longer than from Krabi or Trang, the total travel time is between 2 hours 15 mins and 3 hours. The speedboats depart from the Rassada Pier in Phuket and stop at Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Jum and Koh Lanta depending on the company and route. The best operators are: Satun Pakbara, Bundhaya and Tigerline.
Tip: check out or where to snorkel in Phuket guide too!
Koh Ngai hotels
The choice of accommodation is small compared to bigger islands like Lanta or Mook. Therefore, the hotel prices are higher, but one can find nice places in the budget and superior category too.
Nowadays there are 14 resorts and hotels on the island. Travelers who like backpacker feeling find camping places (Sea Camp Hostel), while superior resorts offer full facilities with air-con rooms and swimming pool (Thanya Beach Resort). If your main priority is snorkeling in Koh Ngai, we recommend choosing a resort somewhere in the middle of the main beach because this is where the reef is the best!
Best 5 hotels on Koh Ngai:
- Coco Cottage
- Thapwarin Resort
- Thanya Resort
- Kaimuk Thong Resort
- Cliff Beach Resort
The island’s top resort is definitely the Coco Cottage! This eco-chic resort is an ideal place to stay for those wish to experience the perfect sense of Thailand, enjoy warm hospitality and look after the environment at the same time.
Coco Cottage combines design with functionality. The bungalows feature natural-style decor including wooden furniture and bamboo ceiling. The bathroom is rustic yet artistic with an outside bamboo shower. If you are looking to relax, swim and snorkel, this is your place!
Coco cottage photo
Nice bungalows with beach view in a well-maintained tropical garden. The Thanya Beach Resort features traditional Thai-style rooms with a seating area and private open-air bathroom. The on-site restaurant serves delicious food.
This resort is a good deal if you want to spend more than a day on this beautiful island close to the best Koh Ngai snorkeling area. Adults can enjoy chilling out in a laid-back place, while kids playing in the swimming pool.
The Thapwarin Resort is a nice place to stay for couples and families too! This popular resort offers garden and beach bungalows as well as family villas too. All feature air-conditioning and hot water, however especially the back ones need some renovation. The beach is a little bit rocky, but it is not to difficult to get into the water for some snorkeling even if it is low tide.
There is a wonderful buffet breakfast with freshly cooked eggs, toast, sweet pastries, a variety of local fruits and good coffee. The resort’s main attraction is the beautiful jungle-like garden with a little lake in the middle. Make sure to take some photos of the in-house monitor lizards who regularly go for a swim in the lake!
Cliff Beach Resort
This is the furthest resort from the pier that is built on the top of the hillside. Therefore, it is a secluded, quiet place, a perfect location for privacy seekers and honeymooners. The airy rooms feature modern furnishing, A/C and colorful artwork on the walls.
The beach in front is rocky, but at high tide it shouldn’t be a problem to swim out to the coral reef. Enjoy great Thai food in the stylish open-air restaurant, or the superb view to the nearby little islands from the private cliff-top pool!
Interested in booking this hotel? Check availability and price HERE!
Kaimuk Thong Resort
The Kaimuk Thong has one of the best locations on the island with palm trees, hammocks and swings on the beach and an incredible view to the small islands out on the sea. The rooms are not too modern, but clear and the staff is very friendly. The bungalows are approx. 30 m from the shore. Guests can relax on the terrace or get some refreshments at the bar. Should you do some snorkeling, the reef is available with a short swim!
Koh Ngai Resort
It is one of the oldest hotels of the island right near the pier. The rooms are a little basic (there are garden and beach bungalows) and the area can be noisy due to the proximity to the jetty, but it is significantly cheaper than the popular resorts on the main beach. Snorkeling is possible in front of the hotel, while the main beach is reachable by a short cliff walk. If you are on a budget, consider staying here.
If you are interested in booking this hotel, you can check availability and price HERE!
Koh Ngai snorkeling
Koh Ngai is known as one of the best snorkeling places in Thailand where one can explore the Andaman Sea’s wonderful marine life. Although there is coral almost all around the island, off-beach snorkeling is possible on the east and south coast.
The best snorkeling spots are:
- East coast (main beach)
- Koh Ngai Resort’s beach
- Paradise Beach
- Muang Beach
On the main beach, the first 20-40 m from the shore is a sandy bottom, not much to see in the shallows. To find some decent snorkeling in Koh Ngai, swim out to the reef! The best snorkel spots are in front of the Thanya Resort, Kaimuk Thong Resort, and the Coco Cottage -Thapwarin reef is also nice.
For the easiest Koh Ngai snorkeling experience, visit the Koh Ngai’s Resort’s beach or head to the south coast (Paradise and Muang beaches). The reef is not that lively here and there are fewer fish, but can be enjoyable for kids and beginners since the corals are not too far from the beach.
What to see while snorkeling in Koh Ngai?
The reef around the island is not that colorful as at the neighboring Koh Kradan and the visibility often gets bad due to the tidal and wave conditions, but still you can see some interesting coral species and sea creatures here.
Most of the corals are hard ones, mainly hump corals, but small staghorn, fire and table coral colonies can be seen too. At some places, there are a few Gorgonians.
Regarding the marine creatures, rabbitfish, white collared butterflyfish, bannerfish, snappers, blue tangs, parrotfish and anemonefish are the most common. In the shallow water close to the shore also starfish can be seen! If you are lucky, you might spot small reef sharks, moray eels or even turtles! Moreover, you might spot some nudibranch and feather duster worms too!
Things to do
No doubt, the best things to do on the islands are definitely lying on the beach and snorkeling, but let us recommend some other activities to make the most of your vacation!
Hiking to the viewpoint
If you like hiking, don’t miss out going up to the viewpoint in the southwest end of the island. The jungle trail starts on the main beach behind Thanya Beach Resort and takes you to the east end of Paradise Beach. From there, go to the west end of the beach where the trek continues up to the viewpoint.
Since the trail goes through the jungle, don’t forget to apply effective mosquito repellent and take sports shoes with you!
Kayaking is the best way to explore the island’s beauty. If the weather is good, the sea is calm and you are good at kayaking, you can paddle all around the island, but for occasional kayakers, we recommend a half-day trip.
You can rent a kayak at many places on the main beach and at the resorts too for 100THB/hour. From here, paddle towards the pier, visit the scared pinnacle at the southern corner of the island, then relax on Paradise Beach before making it back to your resort.
Tip: it is very easy to get sunburned while kayaking. Make sure to wear UV protective clothing and protect your head too!
Hornbill bird watching
The mountainous island rainforests are inhabited with rich wildlife including sea eagles, geckos, lizards and bats, but the most specials are definitely the hornbills! These beautiful birds look like toucans, but hornbills live in Asia and Africa, while toucans in Central and South America. The most significant difference is their beaks.
In Thailand there are 13 hornbill species that can be seen usually in national parks only, so don’t miss out observing them when on the island! Search them on the trees along the main beach!
Koh Mook tour
The famous Emerald Cave in Koh Mook is a must-see if you are traveling in Krabi Province. A day trip usually includes snorkeling in the 80 m long tunnel and some island discovery: walk around in the vibrant town center an discover the small fishing village!
Koh Chueak, Koh Waen and Koh Ma snorkel trip
These small islands are about 10 to 20 minutes boat ride from Ngai and often used for snorkeling day trips. There isn’t a beach on them, but you can jump into the water from the boat and observe marine life. Ask your hotel to arrange a trip, or hire a longtail boat yourself on the beach! The closer ones, Koh Ma and Koh Chueak you can reach by kayak too if the sea conditions are ideal.
Koh Ngai weather
The area has a tropical climate. The air (23-25C/73.4-77F minimums, 30-32C/86-90F maximums) and sea temperatures (28-29C/82-84F) are fairly consistent all year-round, but the monsoon determines the travel season. The best time to visit Koh Ngai is between November and April when the weather is sunny and hot. However, cloudy days with light rain are always possible, especially in the transition time at the beginning and at the end of the dry season, so prepare yourself accordingly.
The rainy season runs from May to October. In this period, it rains a lot and heavily, so tourism activities in the area are very limited. The national parks shut down and most resorts also close. You can get to the island by private longtail boats only, since speedboat services stop too. Should you come to Thailand in this period, choose islands in the Gulf of Thailand such as Koh Tao or Koh Phangan where the seasons are the opposite!
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