In a nutshell
Have you ever dreamed of escaping from the rest of the world for a few days? Does a tropical paradise island with no cars, no motorbikes, no electricity and no Wi-Fi (apart from few hours in the evening), no bars, and no parties sound good to you? Look no further, then!
Why go to Koh Wai
Imagine wonderful soft sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and just few tourists in simple huts right on the beach. We all dream about it at some point in our life, and we always thought that a place like this cannot be found in Thailand anymore. But we were wrong, and Koh Wai, a tiny island just south of Koh Chang in Trat province, is one of the last places where this is all possible.
Well... With just a single concession to mass tourism.
Every day in the late morning and early afternoon several guided tours bring way too many day trippers to enjoy sea-sand-sun and snorkelling off the main beach of Koh Wai, but as soon as they leave in the evening taking away all the noise, hustle and bustle, your little paradise is back. And even during the busiest hours of the day there are at least three other wonderful beaches where the boats do not stop so you can easily escape the hordes of tourists complaining because there’s no Wi-Fi on the island.
When to go to Koh Wai
Koh Wai can be visited only from November till April as during the rainy season all operations shut down and there’s no ferry service to get to the island. The peak season is considered to be December and January, and due to the limited number of accommodation options, it is better to book in advance when visiting during these months.
Where to stay in Koh Wai
There are only four resorts on the northern side of the island, which is where the speedboat will drop you off.
Paradise Resort and Grandma Huts both have very basic wooden beach bungalows starting from THB200 with shared bathroom (squat toilette). Good Feeling is in our opinion the best compromise with some of the bungalows sitting right on the water; you can literally dive into the sea from your porch. With private western-style toilettes they come at THB500. In all these three properties electricity runs only from 6.00pm till 10.00pm, and so does the Wi-Fi at the restaurant and the fan in your room. Green Resort (previously named Pakarang) has more modern concrete bungalows with better facilities and they have electricity running all day long. Prices start from THB800 for a fan-cooled bungalow and go up to THB1500 for an air-con one.
When making your choice you might want to consider that Paradise Resort has the biggest beach where all the day trippers stop, while Grandma has a more secluded location at the eastern end and you’ll have to walk a bit more to reach everything else.
The recently opened Beach Resort lies on the other side of the island and we were unable to visit it. It is the most ‘’luxurious’’ solution you can find on Koh Wai and can reached only by sea – all the arrangements on transportation must be made in advance at the time of booking.
Where to eat on Koh Wai
There are four restaurants on Koh Wai, one in each resorts, and you’ll probably end up trying all of them just to find out that the food is not the main reason to come to the island. Food is extremely overpriced – expect to pay THB80 for a fried rice and close to THB200 for any seafood dish.
All the restaurants are open from breakfast till dinner, and it looks like the most popular place for lunch is Green Resort, but it’s just because they have Wi-Fi working all day long.
We found the quality of food at Good Feeling better than in the other places, and the friendly owner and the great view will make you quickly forget your bill. Wherever you go, the kitchen usually closes around 9.00pm.
If you need snacks for the day both Good Feeling and Green Resort sell chips, peanuts, chocolate, biscuits, sodas and water (and cigarettes).
How to get around in Koh Wai
The island is small and it will take you no more than half an hour at a slow pace to walk from one end to the other.
Speedboats disembark passengers at the central beach which is very convenient for Green Resort or Grandma Huts, or at the western beach where Paradise is. If heading to Good Feeling both are fine, since it’s located between the two.
Hiking trails will lead you to the other side of the island which is also reachable by kayak; allow less than 3 hours to circumnavigate the whole island. Kayaks and snorkel gear can be rented at all the resorts.
How to get to and from Koh Wai
Three different speedboats depart from Laem Ngop Pier, 20 km away from Trat, in the morning and early afternoon (the last departure is at 2.30pm). Ticket price is THB450 one way and the trip takes half an hour.
A slower boat departing from the same pier three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2.00pm) will take more than two hours to reach Koh Wai and costs THB300.
From Trat a public songthaew to the pier will charge you THB50, but make sure you tell them you’re going to Koh Wai, since it is not the same pier used by huge car ferries heading to Koh Chang.
Koh Wai can be reached from Koh Chang and the nearby islands of Koh Mak and Koh Kood by speedboat without going back to Trat. Check schedules and prices with a travel agency in Trat or with your resort.
For detailed information on how to reach Trat please refer to the dedicated article.
Is Koh Wai a safe place to visit?
Koh Wai is a safe place to travel, with no motorbikes and cars which are the main danger for a tourist in Thailand. That said, there’s neither a hospital nor a pharmacy on the island so for any accident you’ll need to be transported to Trat.
Be careful hiking to the southern side of the island since the trails are not well signed and not always well maintained, especially at the beginning of the season.
If you want to go for a walk in the dark bring a flash torch with you, since there’s no light on the path connecting the beaches.
Keep in mind that there’s no ATM on the island and credit cards are not accepted so make sure to bring enough cash to support your stay.