KO NGAI IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Ko Ngai is just like the paradise island you have probably been dreaming of: small and peaceful, surrounded by turquoise water. There are no roads and no worries, just lush jungle and white powdery beaches.
WHY NOT: For some Ko Ngai feel be too small and peaceful. There is really not much to do on Ko Ngai except chilling out by the beach and snorkeling on the island’s house reef.
ROMANTIC COUPLES: You’ll have hard time finding an island more beautiful than Ko Ngai in Thailand or anywhere else in the matter. The best part is that Koh Ngai’s resorts are small and stylish yet affordable enough to most budgets. Ko Ngai is a perfect place to take your loved one for a romantic getaway.
Ko Ngai (also spelled Koh Hai) is just what you would expect a paradise island to look like: Ko Ngai rises from the sea as a jungle-clad steep hill, lined with palm trees, and a white sandy beach. The sea is so turquoise it could have been painted with candy colors. The blue horizon is dotted with small, bizarre looking limestone islets.
There are no cars, not even a motorcycle on Ko Ngai. A single, rugged jungle path crosses the island, taking you to even more secluded beaches.
Besides its natural beauty Ko Ngai is also exceptionally stylish. Most of the island’s few bungalow resorts are of boutique-style, and they blend well within the natural environment. From the sea you can hardly notice their leaf roofed cottages.
Ko Ngai is a really small island. There are just two beaches with accommodation and one small deserted cove. A small jungle path connects the beaches. The beaches don’t even have names, so let’s just call them the Main Beach and the Paradise Beach.
Ko Ngai’s Main Beach
At high tide Ko Ngai’s Main beach is one of Thailand’s most beautiful: the sand is white and soft, and the sea is as turquoise as you can imagine. The horizon is decorated with small limestone islets.
Comes the low tied, and it’s a little bit different story. The low tide reveals pebbles on the edges of the beach, and the Main Beach is not anymore picture perfect. Yet the beach is still attractive; a little further out on the sea the low tide reveals a sand bar, which makes a lovely place to lie down.
All except one of Ko Ngai’s resorts are on this beach.
Ko Ngai’s Paradise Beach
A small path behind Thanya Resort on the main beach takes you to the other side of the island, over a deep, jungle covered hill. When the path finally forks, the left branch takes to a small deserted cove, and the right one to the Paradise Beach.
We’ve given Paradise Beach its name since the beach has only one resort called the Koh Hai Paradise Resort (tel. 089 646 5731 and 086 941 0702), and the name is well deserved; this really feels like secret paradise beach far from the worries of the world.
Koh Hai Paradise resort is a great place for those who are looking for a rustic bungalow right by the sea.
Ko Ngai – Things to Do
You can snorkel from all of Ko Ngai’s beaches. The Main Beach’s reef is very shallow, and as such good for novice snorkelers.
Experienced snorkelers will enjoy more snorkeling from the Paradise Beach, which has a beautiful coral reef drop, and a resident blacktip reef shark. You have to swim quite far from the shore, though, as the corals on the shallow closer to the shore are quite damaged.
You can also arrange a snorkeling trip to Ko Kradan Island, which has even better snorkeling.
Another great day trip is to go to Ko Mook Island, famous for its Emerald cave, a beautiful hidden lagoon. To reach the lagoon you have to swim through a dark cave passage. It’s fun exciting and surely memorable!
Ko Ngai’s Mayalay Beach Resort has a nice, inexpensive spa.
Ko Ngai’s Hotels
Our recommendations for Ko Ngai resorts are all stylish, small-scale bungalow villages. They are beautifully built, and very comfortable inside, but not actual luxury resorts, so do not expect faultless five-star service. Nevertheless you will have great, romantic experience in all of the resorts below.
Mayalay Beach Resort
Why: Romantic Mayalay resort looks just like a movie set of a native village on a faraway island. The bungalows have leaf roofs and bamboo-walls, but inside the rooms are spacious and comfortable luxury versions of old-time bamboo huts. Excellent bathrooms have “rain showers”. And best of all, there is a lot of space between the bungalows, so they feel very private. Mayalay also operates a cozy little spa.
Where: Great location in the middle of Ko Ngai’s Main Beach. Get a discount for Mayalay Resort!
Thanya Beach Resort
Why: Ko Ngai’s most luxurious resort has even a small swimming pool. The villas are elegant and beautiful, and the resort’s restaurant is probably the best on the island.
Where: On the southern end of the Main Beach. Get a discount for Thanya Beach Resort!
Why: Beautiful bungalows made of bamboo and decorated with batik works.
Where: On the Main Beach’s northern end, which gets very rocky at low tide. Get a discount for Thapwarin!
Ko Ngai’s Restaurants
Choices for food are pretty limited on Ko Ngai. You’ll have to do with the resorts’ restaurants. Thanya Resort has probably the best kitchen. Ko Hai Seafood has good and inexpensive food (and a few bungalows for rent).
How to Get to Ko Ngai?
Ko Ngai belongs officially to the Krabi province but it is so close to the Trang islands that it is usually considered part of them.
The easiest way to get to Ko Ngai from Bangkok is to fly to Trang, get a taxi to the pier and charter a longtail-boat to the island. You can reach Ko Ngai from Bangkok in as little as three hours. The taxis and boats can be arranged through guesthouses or on the go.
There are also shared boats to the island, but they run irregular times and from different piers. Usually the boat leaves from Pak Meng pier at 10 am (about 400 baht), although some boats leave from Kuan Tungku pier. It is best to check boat routes and schedules from guesthouses in advance. Both of the piers are about one-hour’s drive from Trang town. Minivans run to the piers from the Trang train station. Adjacent to the station are travel agencies, where you can ask for more information on transportation.
Trang can be reached from Bangkok by night bus, night train or plane. Low-cost carrier Nok Air has usually good prices on Trang flights.
During the high season, from November to April, Ko Ngai has a daily ferry connection to Ko Lanta (400 baht).
From Ko Ngai one can take boats to neighboring Trang Islands such as Ko Mook and Ko Kradan. You can either catch a regular boat or charter a longtail-boat. With speedboats you can go even further south to Ko Bulon Lee and Ko Lipe. The scheduled boats operate only in high season.
Good to Know
Ko Ngai used to be inhabited, and even now it only has a handful of bungalow resorts. There are no ATMs or a health center. Check your guesthouse in advance, if they accept credit card, or take enough cash with you.