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    Thailand Island Hopping on a Budget – Koh Phayam

    Islands in Thailand can be relatively affordable, if you know where to go…

    I travelled to three: Koh Phayam, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. Some were the perfect hidden Paradise – affordable and all. Others were more luxurious and yet, if you know where to look, it is possible to even live cheaply on those.

    I compiled a series of Thailand Island Hopping, where I share my expenses and opinions about each Island I travelled to.

    Let’s start with…

    Koh Phayam


    Koh Phayam is an island near the Myanmar border and was the first ever Thai island I have visited. I had read accounts of the place being too quiet – a bit like Thailand twenty years ago. I wasn’t sure when I read the review, why that would be a bad thing and I still don’t know. Because, for me it was Paradise!


    Koh Phayam - the perfect Thai Island Paradise


    I loved everything about Koh Phayam: empty beaches (even on busier beaches, it never feels busy), good cheap food (streetfood available), there are no cars and no boats (except for the ferries and a few speed boats but the Pier is so far removed, that wherever you are on the Island, you cannot hear them).


    Ben chilling in the hammock in Koh Phayam


    We loved our secluded Bungalow with outdoor shower and I have never slept so well in my life. Honestly. I’ve been struggling with Insomnia since my early twenties and this place made me sleep like a baby. It was peaceful. If you do crave some company, head down to the few restaurants and bars who offer delicious food and a chilled atmosphere. Sometimes there are live bands playing.


    Paradise secluded beaches Koh Phayam Thailand


    But what you won’t find on Koh Phayam are hundreds of 20-somethings getting drunk and loud establishment after loud establishment. This is precisely why I loved the place. The vibe on the island is so relaxed – it is not a good place to party. But a wonderful off-the-beaten-path Oasis if you seek an off-the-beaten-track relaxing island with stunning beaches and a ‘middle of nowhere’ feel.


    Serendipity Tess working hard in Koh Phayam




    How to get there?

    From Bangkok: Bus to Ranong (overnight = saves you 1 night’s accommodation) & Ferry from Ranonong to Koh Phayam


    Ferry Rangon to Koh Phayam


    How much did we spend for 3 nights (2 people)?


    Total Cost

     6210 Baht





     3000 Baht




    1560 Baht

     Bus from Bangkok to Rangon,

    Taxi to ferry,

    ferry to Koh Phayam.


    1650 Baht

    (550 Baht per night at Lucky Resort)



    • Julie Ponce

      09.05.2016 at 11:41 Reply

      Greetings from Sunny California!
      Hi Tess, I really appreciate your blog! My friend and I are using it as a major source for our island hopping planning. We leave in June 2016. I’m not familiar with the south of Thailand and we were wondering how long are the bus trips from Koh Phayam to Koh Tao for example. Also, we are taking a bus from Bangkok, in which order do you recommend we do these islands? Koh Samui being so popular, is there a reason you didn’t make a stop there?
      Your advice will be greatly appreciated! PS, how long ago were you in Thailand?

      • Serendipity Tess

        11.05.2016 at 08:58 Reply

        Awww thank you Julie for your kind words 🙂 I was in Thailand beginning of 2015 – don’t think much would have changed since then to be honest – i’m planning to head back in 2017 to travel to more of the islands 🙂 You can’t take a bus directly from Koh Phayam to Koh Tao as they are in completely different locations. Koh Phayam is near the Myanmar border (Andaman sea) – Koh Tao on the other side of Thailand (Gulf of Thailand). If I did it again, I would probably travel down to Krabi and explore Koh Lanta (which is one of the most beautiful islands) — then head over to to Koh Yao Noi & Koh Yao Yai. From there travel up to Ranong and take the ferry to Koh Phayam. Then go back to mainland and travel to Chumphon to take ferry to Koh Tao (I’m not sure if you can catch a ferry to Koh Tao from Surat Thani which is closer). I would skip Koh Phi Phi as it was too expensive, too loud and not ‘Thai’ in my eyes.

    • A

      05.08.2016 at 16:59 Reply

      Hi, i spent a month in Thailand at the end of 2014 and I went to quite a few islands – Koh Phangan, Kho Tao, Kho Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Phuket, Krabi and Kho Phyam. I loved the latter the most. Such a lovely Thai people comparing to Koh Phi Phi or more commercial islands. You get real family feel there and feel so safe day or night. I’m going back in October this year but this time I plan to visit Koh Lipe and Koh Jum. Koh Lanta is very different to Koh Phayam. It’s much bigger and I didn’t find a single beach that I would like. It’s interesting though.
      Have a safe travels,

      • Serendipity Tess

        10.08.2016 at 19:25 Reply

        Hi Annette, thank you for sharing your experience, of the beautiful Thai islands you visited, with me. I really liked Koh Tao and Koh Phayam but disliked Koh Phi Phi. Next time I fly out there, I would love to visit Koh Lanta and many other islands. It’s just such a spectacular part of the world!! Thank you for your recommendations 🙂

    • stephanie

      18.11.2016 at 11:23 Reply

      I have been to Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao and liked both very much.
      Koh Phayam looks wonderful too! Great to hear it is not a party island.

      But is it small (walkable like Phi Phi)? Is there a backpacker social scene? And what kind of activities are there that you can do?
      stephanie recently posted…Travel guide: Koh Rong, CambodiaMy Profile

      • Serendipity Tess

        05.12.2016 at 11:09 Reply

        Hi Stephanie, Koh Phayam is more of a relaxed chilled vibe island. Not so much a party island. People get together with friends to drink beers and play music on their guitars — there may be the occasional party but generally the island is pretty chill. Koh Phayam is very small and yes, it’s walkable but you can also rent bicycles or mopeds to get around. The beauty about the island, is that you find beautiful secluded spots where you are all by yourself…hard to find on Koh Phi Phi…

    • Clare Cousins

      13.06.2017 at 05:11 Reply

      Hi Tess. Thank you for this interesting information. It sounds amazing. I am planning on visiting early December with my partner and wondered if it is best to book accommodation beforehand or if it’s safe to just turn up and find somewhere? Thanks

      • Serendipity Tess

        13.06.2017 at 08:24 Reply

        Hi Clare, thank you for your comment! To be honest, I would just rock up and find something on the island – loads of options available. But, for Koh Phi Phi, it would probably be best to book something in advance as it is always very busy…Have a look on for hostels and guesthouses on Koh Phayam…there are some lovely options also!! 🙂

    • Tonkin - Travel Vietnam

      13.11.2017 at 22:37 Reply

      Thanks for your sharing! This island sounds strange for me, but it is really suitable for me. I always fall in love with the isolated islands like Nam Du or Ly Son in Vietnam or Koh Rong Saloem in Cambodia.

      • Serendipity Tess

        27.06.2018 at 15:11 Reply

        I absolutely loved it. Felt like Thailand what it must have been 20 years ago!

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