Koh Wai Visitor Information
January 2022 – I haven’t done a further update and many small shops, restaurants and resorts won’t survive the financial impact of the covid pandemic. When the situation is back to normal and it is easy to travel again, I will do a full update.
Koh Wai is a small crescent-shaped island, approximately 45 minutes south of from Koh Chang by slow boat or 20 minutes by speedboat. This laid back, island paradise is a throwback to another time. There aren’t any villages, roads, shops or vehicles of any kind. No ATMs, pharmacies, tailors shops or even a police station. Not even a 7-eleven.
There’s also no electricity supply. Which is the reason for the lack of development on the island. Power is only from generators. So bring a power bank if you need to use you phone regularly. The good news is that you’ll get 4G mobile internet signals at the resorts on the north coast facing Koh Chang.
What Koh Wai does have though are a handful of small, scenic beaches with soft white sand, clear shallow water and snorkelling right off the beach. A coral reef runs along a lot of the north coast, roughly 40 metres from the shore. It’s the latter which also attracts a lot of tour boats and day-trippers to the island.
The beaches are concentrated on the north coast. The vast majority of the coastline elsewhere is rocks and cliffs. There are a couple of small sandy bays and it is possible to hike over the island. A handful of tracks crisscross the island. Perhaps the easiest to follow is the steep trail adjacent to Bungalow 20 at Koh Wai Paradise. This goes through rubber plantations, over the hill and down to Sunset Viewpoint. There’s no beach here but it is possible to scramble down to the rocky shore and swim. If you go for sunset head back immediately the sun goes down as it isn’t easy to navigate along an unmarked trail at night.
The picture-perfect island is therefore a great place to chill out and do nothing at all away from the real world. But how long you decide to stay depends partly on how many books you have to read and partly on how much suffering you can endure. There aren’t any bars or places to hang out at night. Only a couple of resorts have very slow internet. And the same two, Pakarang Resort ( also known as Coral Resort) and Koh Wai Beach Resort, are also the only ones to have electricity all day. The three smaller places – Koh Wai Paradise, Good Feeling and Grand Ma Hut just have electricity for a few hours in the evening. Good Feeling has an ensuite bathroom, the others have shred toilet and shower blocks.
Good Feeling is probably the pick of the budget huts. But at around 600 Baht / night you don’t get much for your money. A bed with mosquito net, no fan, no power sockets a single light bulb. Plus a cold-water shower and a bucket-flush toilet.
So before deciding to stay on the island, it’s better to take a day trip from Koh Chang to see if you’ll like it or not. Especially, if you aren’t used to very basic living. Outside Peak season you’ll be able to phone resorts and book a room easily. Only Pakarang Resort and Koh Wai Beach Resort can be booked online. Contact with the other resorts is via phone only.
During the low season most places close, as it isn’t easy to get to the island.
Koh Wai Map
Koh Wai Resorts and Bungalows
There are five places to stay on the island. These fall neatly into two categories – those built of concrete and with 24 hour electricity and those built of wood and without.
There are three very basic beach hut operations on the island, these are all on the north coast of the island and are connected by a footpath that runs along the shore. The north coast resorts have all be running for 20 years, yet in that time they have hardly been developed at all. The only one other resort has opened since the, which is staggering considering the pace of development on any other island in Thailand. During the Low Season, from May to October, Pakarang Resort usually remains open, mainly catering to Thai tour groups, but the other resorts all shut down.
On the map of Koh Wai, furthest to the west is Koh Wai Paradise. This is a sprawling place with huts spread out along one main beach plus two smaller bays. The main beach is often used by day-trippers and so can get busy in mid afternoon. But the two smaller beaches are only for guests use. There’s a large restaurant featuring communal long tables. No ensuite bathrooms but there are several communal toilet blocks. The bungalows are all very basic and are from around 400 Baht / night.
Adjacent lies Good Feeling. These are probably the best of the cheap huts. Some of these are ensuite and they are built just off the beach behind the resort restaurant. Other bungalows lie to the east on the hillside behind the beach.
As these huts are right by the beach the lack of a fan doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be roasting hot at night. There’s usually a pleasant sea breeze blowing any many people just leave the doors and widiows open to get as much air flowing through their hut as possible,
A 15 minute walk east brings you to Parakarang Resort, the largest on the island is a further few minutes walk east. This has the largest pier on the island and a large rotunda built over the water. This is now disused. It was built by the resort and National Park as part of a project to breed and reintroduce turtles to the area and also educate visitors. However the National Park later declared their own building had been built illegally. Pakarang boasts a motley bunch of bungalows and rooms suitable for couples and families. It’s not a well designed resort nor is it aesthetically pleasing, but is functional.
If you’re just here for snorkelling and a seafood dinner then you’ll be happy with your stay. The water here is very shallow making it ideal for kids to see fish. They can stand in the water and have a variety of colourful reef fish swim around them.
To find a quieter spot to swim and snorkel, follow the footpath around the the east coast of Koh Wai and you come to Grand Mar Hut ( or Gran Ma Hut ) depending on which mis-spelling your guidebook is using. Here you’ll find small fan huts clustered in the trees with a restaurant on the shoreline and keep nets full of fish in the shallow sea. Thai guidebooks rate the seafood here as the best on the island. There are three small beaches just past the restaurant that are usually only used by guests, some adventurous people who are avoiding the crowds at Pakarang Resort and the occasional speedboat tour. You’ll see just as many fish here and it’s a lovely spot to escape the crowds.
The other slightly more upmarket resort is Koh Wai Beach Resort. This is located on a small beach on the southeast coast of the island. It is the newest resort on the island, having opened in 2011 and is popular with weekending Thai groups. The only way in and out is by boat. So it’s not a place to stay if you want to be able to explore the island on foot at all. Overall, it’s a nicer place than Pakarang. But without the option of being able to walk to other beaches or resorts.
Koh Wai Paradise – Tel: 081 762 2548 Email: [email protected]
Good Feeling – Tel : 081 850 3410
Grand Mar Hut – Tel : 081 841 3011
Koh Wai Beach Resort Tel: 081 306 4053 or 081 888 7048 Email: [email protected]
Day Trip to Koh Wai
If you are staying on Koh Chang, Bangbao Boat offer a half day trip to Koh Wai for 500 Baht per person. This includes transport between your hotel and the pier in Bangbao; snorkelling equipment and a 50 Baht voucher for food and drink at the restaurant at Pakarang Resort.
The boat departs Bangbao around 09:30 and will drop people going to Koh Wai off at around 10:15 – 10:30. The boat then continues to Koh Mak. It will return and pick up on the way back to Bangbao at around 13:00.
So, you’ll have 2 and a half to 3 hours on the island. That doesn’t sound long but it’s enough time to take a walk to see the main beaches and do some snorkelling. As the beaches on Koh Wai face north, you get awesome views towards the inland mountains and southern coast of Koh Chang.
You can get another hour or so on the island by taking the same trip by Bangbao Boat speedboat, but for most people the 500 Baht, half day tour is all they need.
Getting to Koh Wai
From the mainland: During High Season, the 14:30 Seatales speedboat and 16:00 Panan Speedboat from Krom Luang pier, Laem Ngop both stop at Koh Wai on their way to Koh Mak. However, you need to inform them in advance.
From Koh Chang: Bangbao Boat’s wooden boat runs daily at 09:00, during High Season and always stops on Koh Wai on it’s way between Koh Chang and Koh Mak. Likewise their speedboat service at 09:00 and 12:30 also make a stop on Koh Wai. Buy tickets from any tour agent on Koh Chang.