In a nutshell
A white sandy beach, spectacular clear sea waters with good snorkelling opportunities, a very tranquil vibe, a bunch of beautiful resorts to choose from, no cars and not much more to do – is that what you are looking for?
Why go to Koh Ngai
If this is your ideal holiday, Koh Ngai has you covered. A tiny little island just 45 minutes off Trang coastline (even if it’s technically a part of Krabi province), Koh Ngai is the ultimate place for a relaxing holiday. You’ll spend almost all your days just lying in the beach in front of your bungalow and doing absolutely nothing – just enjoying the slow pace of a tropical island life.
4 km long and 2 km wide the island has a single trail connecting the two main beaches. It will take you less than one afternoon to see everything the island can offer and you’ll be free to spend the rest of your deserved holiday taking in the Vitamin Sea in large doses.
For snorkelling and diving lovers a couple of shops organize trips to spectacular nearby spots.
Koh Ngai is definitely not a party island, and couples will love its romantic and tranquil atmosphere, while a solo traveller will hardly find any company to share a beer or two in the evening. It is not the best destination for those on a shoestring budget since almost all the resorts aim at mid-range and high-end customers and the same is true for the attached restaurants.
When to go to Koh Ngai
The high season runs from November till April and this is when the weather will be dry all the time and with night temperature slightly cooler than by day.
The weeks around Christmas and New Year are considered peak season and reservation is absolutely necessary.
Some of the resorts stay open even during the rainy season, but the island has not a lot to offer beside beautiful beaches and wonderful colour of the sea water and we don’t really see the point of travelling there when you can’t really appreciate them. But if you’re looking for even more peace and quiet and great discounts on the room’s rate, May and June might still be good months while we wouldn’t challenge our luck in the remaining part of the rainy season.
Where to stay on Koh Ngai
Almost all the resorts are located on the eastern beach, more precisely towards the southern end of it which is by far the best part. The northern part is in fact highly affected by the tide, and the beach loses most of its beauty during the low tide. Not surprising that the only affordable place to stay is located here. Light My Fire Society with its cheap bungalows with shared bathrooms (THB300) and tents (THB200) offers the only solution to people on a budget who still want to visit Koh Ngai.
The vast majority of the resorts fall in the mid-range category. Expect to pay THB2000/THB4000 for a private bungalow with air-con, Wi-Fi and a porch with sunbeds and a deck. The location and the size will justify the difference in price with the most expensive options enjoying the beachfront spots. Check Tanya Resort if you’re looking for something special – they also have a swimming pool.
Paradise Beach Resort is the only accommodation option on the southern Paradise beach. The name of the property may show a certain degree of lack of imagination but today it is arguably one of the best places to stay on the island, and if you’re looking for the most secluded spot on Koh Ngai it is definitely for you. A brand new concrete bungalow will come for THB4000.
Where to eat in Koh Ngai
All the resorts have their own attached restaurants serving Thai and Western food at extremely inflated prices, with nothing coming for less than THB100. The offer of seafood is quite limited and even if the quality of food is generally good, you’ll probably leave the island without any memorable dining experience.
On a positive side, the scenery at sunset is quite impressive and romantic, and there are a lot of places for an ideal to stop for a few good cocktails before dinner. There are only a couple of restaurants not related to any resort; Sea Taste with its simple tables and chairs right on the sand was our favourite, and it gives you a chance to eat at more reasonable prices than anywhere else (THB100 for a fried rice with shrimps, still double than on the mainland though).
How to get around Koh Ngai
Since there are no roads on the island your feet will be everything you will need to move around. The main beach is quite long and it’s ideal for a morning walk that will take you 30 minutes from one end to the other.
A well signed jungle trail from the southern end of the beach leads to Paradise beach from where another short trail climbs up the hill to a beautiful viewpoint.
Kayaks can be rented from any resort – you can reach the Paradise beach by kayak as well. For snorkelling trips long tail boats can be hired for a few hours or for the day.
How to get to and from Koh Ngai
A ferry for Koh Ngai departs every day (only in high season) at 12.00 from Pak Meng pier in Trang province. Tickets cost THB350 and it takes 45 minutes to get to the island.
Minivans from Trang (departing from near the train station) will charge you THB100 to bring you to the pier.
During the low season or if you prefer a more private transfer, long tail boats can be hired directly at the pier for THB1500 and they can accommodate up to 10 passengers.
Also only in high season private high speed ferries connect Koh Ngai to many of the other southern islands. Koh Lanta, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Koh Kradan, Koh Muk and Langkawi all have daily departures. Ask at your resort for prices and schedules or check out Tigerline Ferry website.
If you’re coming straight from Bangkok the fastest way to reach Koh Ngai is a combined fly-and-ferry ticket with Nok Air. If booked in advance expect to spend as little as THB1500 including the flight to Trang, the minibus transfer to the pier and the ferry to the island. For information about any other way to reach Trang please refer to our dedicated article.
Is Koh Ngai a safe place to visit?
It’s really hard to get into any trouble when visiting Koh Ngai. With no cars on the island, and very limited boat traffic in the water, the risk of accidents is extremely low. The trail that connects the two beaches is moderately steep in a few points, and extra caution must be taken after rain. There’s not a real reason to walk there at night, but if it happens bring a flash torch with you. The island has neither clinic nor pharmacy, and for any medical issue you’ll need to get back to Trang.
There’s no ATM on Koh Ngai, but if you run out of cash some of the resorts accept credit cards and can exchange all the major foreign currencies.