Koh Wai will capture your heart.
Think about an island in Thailand and few names will come to mind: Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and even Koh Chang are usually tourists’ favorites, and have been catering to tourist for decades now. Sure, they are beautiful places to relax at the end of a trip – or where to spend an entire holiday, indeed.
Yet I beg to differ.
It was the end of my solo month of backpacking across Southeast Asia. I was exhausted from traveling around; the heat in Siem Reap had been killing me, and all I wanted was a beach to relax. The plan was to go to Bang Bao, in Koh Chang, and stay at one of the nice resorts. Little did I know that I’d end up in a place that was close, yet a million miles away from it. That would be Koh Wai.
Hearing About Koh Wai For The First Time
You see, life happens – it always does, and even more so when you travel.
I had just crossed the border between Cambodia and Thailand, and had been sitting around waiting for my shuttle to Trat for an hour or so, when I bumped in the lovely French couple I had shared the Bamboo Train in Battambang with. They were also hopping on the same shuttle van, so we’d have plenty of opportunities to chat.
That’s when I first heard of Koh Wai, a small virtually uninhabited island off Koh Chang, the second biggest island in Thailand. They really didn’t have much info to share about it – all they knew was that there was no power for most of the day, and that it was pure bliss.
We were stuck on that van for a while, with no phone service and no internet so I couldn’t really navigate the web and look for information, yet something told me that I’d love Koh Wai, and I resolved to go.
Stepping Into Paradise
Fast-forward a couple of days and there I was, hopping on a boat and into the unknown. I wasn’t even sure I’d find a place to stay on the island, but I’d take my chances and – if worse came to worst – I could still go back to Koh Chang after having enjoyed the island for a full day.
It took me about a split second to fall in love with Koh Wai. As soon as I got off the boat and caught a glimpse of the crystal clear waters; of the beautiful, fine golden sand and the thick forest of palm trees, I was hooked. I was lucky enough to find a bungalow for a couple of nights, literally on the beach. As soon as I dropped my bags and changed in my bikini I was off for a day in the sun.
Rumor had it that the island sometimes got full with day trippers, but I think no more than 10 people arrived on my first day there. After having to dodge the crowds in Bangkok and Siem Reap, this really felt like heaven.
Getting Away From It All
The next couple of days were easily the highlight of my trip around Southeast Asia. My time was spent basking in the sun, or enjoying the shade under a palm tree; playing volleyball with some other guests at the bungalows, or kayaking around the island; walking from one beach to the other – Koh Wai has no proper roads and there are no cars; there is just a trail through the forest that leads the two main beaches. That’s how I discovered the wing pictures above.
Yet I think my favorite thing to do there must have been snorkeling. The calm, transparent waters were packed with the most colorful fish and since for the most time I was the only one swimming, I could literally hear the noise fish made when eating!
I slept like a princess in my bungalow – the complete lack of cars and traffic meant the island was perfectly quiet; and as soon as the electricity was cut after 10:00 pm at the bungalows, the only thing to do was look at the stars or sleep – not a bad change for a night owl like myself.
Funny how I say I got lost in Koh Wai… such a small island, with only one trail linking the two main beaches, isn’t the place where you’d imagine yourself getting lost. I guess the whole point is that you will be completely detached from the stress and worries of daily life. Social media, whatsapp, fast Wi-Fi, TV or Netflix aren’t a thing there, and it’s just perfect this way – because we all need a break sometimes.
Needless to say, I’d go back to Koh Wai in a heartbeat!
Practical Information For Visiting Koh Wai
If what you have just read has raised your interest on Koh Wai, here is a bit of practical information that will help you plan your visit.
How to get to Koh Wai
Koh Wai can be easily reached by boat from Bang Bao, in southern Koh Chang. The ride can last 20 or 40 minutes, depending on whether you opt for the regular boat or for the fast one, and cost between 300 and 400 Thail Bahts – again depending on which option you pick.
To get to Koh Chang from Bangkok, you can either opt to fly there and then get a shuttle transfer to the harbor and from there hop on the ferry (this one may be a good option) or take a direct shuttle to Trat Harbor and then the ferry to Koh Chang – this option will cost you a total of 900 Baht ($30 USD), of which 600 Baht ($20 USD) will be for the van to the harbor + the ferry to Koh Chang, and 300 Baht ($10 USD) for the boat from Bang Bao to Koh Wai.
GOOD TO KNOW: The drive from Bangkok to Trat can last up to 6 hours, to which you have to add about one for the ferry to Koh Chang and another hour to get all the way to Bang Bao. You won’t be able to travel all the way from Bangkok to Koh Wai on the same day unless you fly to Trat.
Where to sleep and eat in Koh Wai
Accommodation options in Koh Wai are somewhat limited – and that’s what makes it special, to be honest!
You can stay in Koh Wai Pakarang Resort, whose main perk seems to be 24/7 electricity, Wi-Fi (albeit slow) and air conditioning, and the fact that it can be booked online – but whose reviews are less than stellar.
Alternatively, you can opt to stay in one of the bungalows along the beach for as much cheaper price, but keep in mind that they won’t have power at certain times (though it’s usually guaranteed between 6:00 and 10:00 pm), and obviously won’t have air conditioning or even a fan. The good news is that there often is a slight breeze so if you leave your windows open you will sleep just fine!
There is pretty much just one place to eat in Koh Wai – a small local restaurant at the beach which serves big portions of tasty local dishes for very reasonable prices.
Day trips to Koh Wai
I wholeheartedly recommend spending at least a couple of nights in Koh Wai – it’s such a beautiful, peaceful island perfect for recharging at the end of a trip around South East Asia that you’d regret not staying longer. However, you will be happy to know what you can also visit on day trips from Koh Chang, departing from Bang Bao. These cost around 500 Baht and usually include a 50 Baht voucher that you can spend at the local restaurant (which isn’t enough for a main course, though). You can book the day trip via your hotel in Koh Chang.
Further readings about Thailand
Are you planning a trip to Thailand? Make sure to check out these other posts:
- The Best Places To Visit In Thailand
- How To Get The Thailand Visa On Arrival
- 20 Fabulous And Simply Unmissable Things To Do In Bangkok
- A Short Guide To Koh Chang, Thailand
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Koh Samui
- 19 Incredible Things To Do In Chiang Mai (Plus 3 To Avoid)
Legal Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for the #ThrowbackThailand and #AmazingThailand campaign. Needless to say, all the views expressed are mine and the post is strictly based on my incredible experience in Koh Wai.