Looking for that perfect paradise island in Thailand? I’ve found just the place for you! Koh Ngai is my top find of 2019, and the perfect place for a few days of low-key relaxation while you’re in Krabi. This tiny, picturesque island has just 11 accommodation options set along one stunning beach, and is just an hour from the mainland. If you want somewhere to completely chill out for a few days, pop Koh Ngai into your itinerary.
My Koh Ngai travel guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan your trip to this magical island.
The best time to go to Koh Ngai
The best months to travel to Koh Ngai are between November and May, when weather will be sunny and you can expect blue skies and sunshine.
December – February are peak months to travel in Thailand, when most travellers visit the country – especially around Christmas and New Years. If you come to a small island like this during these months, you can expect it to be busy and for prices to be higher. Crowds start to ease off slightly through March and April, with a bump in visitor numbers during the Easter Holidays.
November & May are shoulder seasons here, when sunny days are broken up with brief showers and storms. Prices will be lower at this time of year, so it’s a great time to go if you are a budget backpacker.
How to get to Koh Ngai
Koh Ngai is in the Krabi region in Thailand, on the southwest coast in the Andaman sea. There is no airport on the island, so you will have to fly to a nearby airport and get a boat to the island. You can also get a boat here from the other islands in the Krabi region.
Getting to Koh Ngai by Plane
While Koh Ngai doesn’t have an airport, the quickest way to get there from another part of the country is to a nearby airport. The closest airports to Koh Ngai are: Trang, Krabi, and Phuket. I’ll run you through your options below, with links to book your boats and transfers. You can use SkyScanner to find the cheapest flights to each of the airports below.
– Trang Airport
This airport is the closest to Koh Ngai, with only a 90 minute journey from arrivals to the island. If you are coming from Bangkok, get a flight to Trang to get to Koh Ngai quickest.
Once you land in Trang, take a taxi or minibus to Hat Yao Pier and get your boat to Koh Ngai. The entire journey takes around 90 minutes. Check here for boat schedules and booking information. There will be many travel agency desks in arrivals at Trang airport where you can book a bus & boat ticket the entire way to Koh Ngai.
– Krabi Airport
Krabi is an international airport, so you can fly directly here from many countries around the world and bypass a stop in Bangkok. I recently found fares from London to Krabi for around £160 – click here to check these out.
There are two options for getting to Koh Ngai from Krabi airport
- Take a taxi to Krabi Khlong Jilad Pier and take a ferry to Saladan pier in Koh Lanta. Transfer here and take a second boat to Koh Ngai. The entire journey takes around 4.5 hours from arrivals.
- Take a taxi to Ao Nang town and get traditional wooden longtail boat to Koh Ngai. This takes around 5 hours.
- There is also a ferry option from Ao Nang to Koh Ngai, but this takes almost 6 hours so I don’t recommend it.
There will be many travel agency desks in arrivals at Krabi airport where you can book a bus & boat ticket the entire way to Koh Ngai.
– Phuket airport
Another international hub airport in Thailand, you can fly directly into Phuket airport and take a speedboat to Koh Ngai. Boats leave from Rassada Pier, which is around 35 minutes from the airport. Boats from here to Koh Ngai take between 2.5 – 3 hours depending on which one you get. Some ferries stop at Koh Lanta first and take longer, others go direct.
There will be many travel agency desks in arrivals at Phuket airport where you can book a bus & boat ticket the entire way to Koh Ngai.
Getting to Koh Ngai By Boat
If you are coming from an island in the Krabi region (Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Railay etc) go to your local travel agency or pier to book your boat to Koh Ngai from here. The length of the journey will depend on how far away you are, and the type of boat you get. You can usually opt for a speedboat, longtail or ferry.
To give you an idea of price, we paid 400 baht for a longtail boat from Koh Lanta to Koh Ngai which took almost an hour.
Where to stay on Koh Ngai
Koh Ngai isn’t a huge island, and most of the accommodation is set along one long stretch of beach on the east of the island. In low / shoulder season, it is possible to turn up without accommodation. However I do not recommend this in high season, as it might be harder to find a room.
Budget Accommodation (200 – 900 baht per night)
Light My Fire Society
The cheapest spot on Koh Ngai, Light My Fire is extremely popular with budget backpackers, especially those who are travelling solo. Accommodation here is basic, small two-man tents or simple bamboo bungalows with just a mattress and mosquito net inside. Bathrooms are shared, and there is a bar and restaurant on site for guests to use with regular live music.
The bungalows and tents are just steps from the water, at the furthest end of the beach so it’s quiet and peaceful here. Just be aware that this is a very budget option, so don’t expect much!
Prices for tents start at 200 baht in low season and increase to 300 baht in high season. Bungalows are 400 baht in low season and 500 baht in high season.
Koh Ngai Camping
A step up from Light My Fire, Koh Ngai Camping offers large tents with a shared bathroom for 900 baht per night. A breakfast of toast, eggs, fruit, coffee, juice and sausages is also included in the price.
Tents come with towels, light blankets, and a fan. They’re big enough to stand up in comfortably, unlike Light My Fire which are the kind of small tents you use for a festival.
This is a good budget option, but again you will have to get used to shared facilities and cold water showers. Again, tents are just steps from the ocean so you couldn’t be in a better location. This is where we stayed on Koh Ngai.
Flashpacker Accommodation (1200 – 1500 baht per night)
Koh Ngai Resort
This is the cheapest resort-style hotel on Koh Ngai, because it is not located on the popular Paradise Beach with the rest of the accommodation listed here. This resort is located on a small bay, 10 minutes walk from paradises beach, right beside the pier. At low tide, you can walk across to Paradise bay and visit the beach and restaurants here.
Fan-cooled double rooms start at 1200 baht per night, with a buffet breakfast included. Air conditioned rooms are 2,900 baht per night, and a beachfront bungalow is 3,900 baht per night.
If I was given the option, I wouldn’t opt to stay here unless there was nothing else available on Koh Ngai within my budget. I would rather stay on Paradise beach instead so that I would have a choice of places to eat. There aren’t many options for mid-range accommodation here, so I thought it was best to include Koh Ngai resort here.
Koh Ngai Seafood
We almost stayed here when we were on Koh Ngai, but opted for the slightly cheaper Koh Ngai Camping instead. This mid-range beachside accommodation offers simple fan-cooled bungalows right on the beach that start at 1500 baht per night.
Basic bungalows are the cheapest option, and have private en-suite bathrooms for 1500 baht per night. We turned up on Koh Ngai without accommodation booked and were offered these huts for 1200 baht per night, so you could save a few quid by doing this. However I don’t recommend doing this in peak season, as there are only a handful of bungalows available. You can also book larger bungalows that sleep 4 people, which are 2800 baht per night.
One thing to note is that the location is incorrect for Koh Ngai Seafood on booking.com. I can confirm that it is definitely on the beach, as we ate here twice during our time on the island.
Mid Range Accommodation (2000 – 3000 baht per night)
Koh Hai Fantasy Resort & Spa
You’re making your way firmly out of the budget backpacker / flashpacker style accommodation now, with this stunning beachside resort. Koh Hai Fantasy Resort & Spa offers a range of rooms starting at 2,300 baht per night for a standard twin room, to 13,000 baht per night for an ocean front villa with a private pool.
This is a good option for families, as they offer deluxe family villas with two single beds and one double. These start at 7,000 baht per night and have a patio, family room, tumble dryer, and a garden view.
There is a spa on site where you can choose from a range of treatments, and there’s also a restaurant and the Blue Lagoon bar for an afternoon or after dinner drink.
Coco Cottage resort
We passed this resort many times during our time on Koh Ngai, and I’m surprised to see how reasonably priced the rooms are here. These air-conditioned garden-view bungalows cost 2,700 baht per night with a continental breakfast included. Deluxe seafront bungalows are more expensive at 3,400 baht per night.
All bungalows have air conditioning, a private bathroom, safety deposit box and mosquito net. There is also a private terrace on each bungalow where you can relax in the morning or evening, and also a restaurant on site.
Other mid-range options:
- Koh Ngai Kaimuk Thong Resort: Rooms start at 2,400 baht per night for a basic bungalow with A/C right by the beach.
- Koh Ngai Cliff Beach Resort: Rooms start at 2,700 baht per night in this cliffside resort with a stunning view and swimming pool.
Luxury Accommodation (3000 baht + per night)
This stunning 3* beachfront resort offers stunning luxury accommodation on Koh Ngai. For 3,400 baht per night you can stay within a minutes walk to the beach in a private cottage, beside a lotus pond and surrounded by green tropical garden. The rooms are more modern and less traditional than Coco Cottage, and would appeal to someone who is looking primarily for peace and comfort.
Family rooms have a set of bunk beds and one double bed, and cost 4,125 baht per night, and beachfront cottages are available for 4,650 baht. You can indulge in relaxing massages or enjoy fishing, snorkelling or canoeing at the resort. Alternatively, the resort’s tour desk can help you organise day excursions to nearby attractions.
Talay Lounge Restaurant on-site serves Thai specialties as well as Western favourites. Fresh seafood dishes and barbecued meats are also provided daily.
Thanya Beach Resort
The top reviewed accommodation on Koh Ngai, Thanya Beach Resort is also one of the most expensive, with rooms starting at 3,700 baht per night. While the bungalows here don’t seem as impressive as Thapwarin, there’s no arguing that Thanya seems to get better reviews from travellers.
These wooden bungalows are air conditioned and have a private en suite. Breakfast is included in the price, and there is a beachfront option available for 5,250 per night.
4-person family rooms are available for 6,000 baht per night, with two double beds in one room. This resort has an outdoor pool, which most resorts on the island do not have. There is also a bar, restaurant, and massage hut on the ground too. This is the kind of place you check into and don’t have to leave!
Koh Ngai Paradise beach
This resort offers modern and stylish bungalows in a very private setting on the secluded Paradise Beach. This resort is set on another part of the island to the rest of the accommodation, so if you are looking for a quiet and relaxed time then this is the perfect place to go. However, if you would like to be able to walk to bars and restaurants then it might not be right for you .
Deluxe villas start at 4,000 baht per night, with air con, a private en-suite bathroom and a continental breakfast included. There is an outdoor swimming pool available for guests, and many hikes you can do nearby.
What to do on Koh Ngai
While the primary thing to do on Koh Ngai is chill out on the beach, there are still some great things to do if you feel like being a bit more active.
- Snorkel right off the beach: Rent a snorkel from your accommodation or the booths along the beach and see the incredible marine life.
- Scuba Dive: Take a scuba diving trip with Koh Hai Divers, who are located in Fantasy Resort.
- Do Yoga on the beach: Koh Hai Divers also run daily morning and sunset yoga classes on the beach.
- Day Trips: There are so many gorgeous islands near Koh Ngai, that are really easy to explore on a day trip. I highly recommend booking a tour of these islands – you can do this from your accommodation reception, or from booths which you will find along the beach. Check out the emerald cave on Koh Mook – it’s incredible!
- Watch the sunrise: Koh Ngai is an incredible place to watch the sun come up, so set your alarm and head out on the beach to watch it!
- Rent a Kayak: Many resorts on the island rent kayaks by the hour or day – including Koh Ngai Campsite where we stayed. You can rent these by the hour (100 baht) or day (600 baht) to explore some hidden beaches on the island.
- Jungle Trek to Paradise Beach: If you’re tired of lying by the beach and feel like working up a sweat, do a jungle trek to the quiet Paradise Beach. To find the start of the trail, go to the northern end of Thanya resort and you should see a rough path by the dive shop.The trek is about 30 minutes and is signposted so you know you’re going to the right place.
- Hike to the Koh Ngai Viewpoint: From Paradise beach you can hike to the main viewpoint on the island. This part of the trail is a little steep in parts, with a rope to help you climb. It’s totally fine for any fitness levels, but not great if you’re carrying small kids! This takes around 30 minutes.
Where to eat & drink on Kog Ngai
There are just 11 accommodation options on Koh Ngai, each with it’s own restaurant and bar that is usually set on the beach and open to anyone who would like to dine there. Thapwarin and Thanya resorts offer the fanciest restaurants, if you would like a romantic date night. As the island is so small, t’s easy to find somewhere to eat and drink, but here are some spots we really loved:
- BMH Bar: This beach bar has a happy ‘hour’ from 3-6pm each day, and the barman makes the best margarita I’ve had in Thailand. Cocktails and long drinks are reduced, but beers aren’t. It’s a really nice spot to chill out – and they have two very cute dogs!
- Chomview Place (budget friendly): Food on Koh Ngai costs more than on larger islands like Koh Lanta, and much more than places on the mainland. For a great budget lunch, head to Chomview Place where you can eat for 80 baht per person.
- Ohana Beach Bar: This beach bar is lively in the evenings and offers a regular fire show which is fun to watch. It’s around halfway along the beach, so it’s easy to get to no matter where you’re staying. They also have a really lovely dog.
Koh Ngai for Solo Travellers
Koh Ngai is a quiet island, without much of a party or hostel scene, so it can be a little harder to meet people than in busier places. For solo travellers coming here, here are some recommendations:
- Join boat tours: Group boat tours leave every day to different islands, and can be a fun way to sightsee with other people.
- Go to Ohana Bar: Most of the places we ate or drank at were couples / families, but there were lots of young backpacker types at Ohana Bar the night we went. This would be a good spot to go to socialise.
- Stay at Light My Fire Campsite, or just visit: As this is the cheapest option on the island, it attracts backpackers and solo travellers. There is a great community vibe here, and nightly music from guests as well as local musicians. This would be a good spot to connect with other travellers.
- Chill out: Take this as an opportunity to read books, listen to podcasts, catch up on messages, or just lie and tan. You won’t find many affordable islands that are as quiet as Koh Ngai, so make the most of it.
Koh Ngai for families
There were many families on Koh Ngai when we were there, and it seems to be a really popular place to go with small kids. Here are a few things that might be helpful for parents:
- The sea is incredibly shallow and calm: There are no waves, and the water is very shallow until quite far out, so you don’t have to worry too much about young kids getting in trouble here.
- You have to get a boat here, which will take at least an hour. The crossing is pretty smooth, but if you sit at the front (where most children wanted to sit) you will get wet.
- There are no concrete paths, apart from at the pier, so a stroller / pram might be tricky.
- There isn’t much to do in the way of activities on the island – but you can do a whole range of boat trips which I’m sure would be fun for kids.
- You can rent snorkels and fins for 300 baht a day from most resorts, and kids can just snorkel off the beach.
- There are no loud beach bars at night (apart from Ohana) which will keep them awake. Everything closes pretty early.
Tim and I don’t have kids, so I’m not sure how helpful that is, but those were just a few thoughts I had while on the island!
Steph’s tips for Thailand
Here are some posts you should read if you’re coming to Thailand for the first time!
- Common Scams in Thailand and How to Avoid Them
- 5 Best Budget Resorts For A Cheap Trip To Thailand
- The Best Time To Visit Thailand in 2019
- How To Book A Night Train In Thailand
- The Best Travel Credit and Debit Cards for Backpackers
- Best Travel Apps For 2019