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About Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi (long, little island) is located in the Bay of Phang Nga, between Phuket and Krabi in the South of Thailand. Most of the island's 4000 inhabitants make their living harvesting latex from the rubber trees and from the fishing industry.

A small percentage of the locals sustain themselves by planting rice and from the growing tourist industry. The majority here are Muslim and speak the Southern dialect of the Thai language. There are four primary schools and one secondary school with a total of about 1,200 students.

Koh Yao Noi is one of the larger islands in Phang Nga Bay, an archipelago of 44 islands. It is easily accessible from both Phuket and Krabi Provinces and sports some of the most beautiful sea scenery in South East Asia.
Sea Gypsies (Moken people) where inhabiting the Bay before anybody else, except maybe other nomadic people like forest hunters and collectors (Sakai, Negritos).
The 3,500 or so inhabitants of Koh Yao Noi are thought to be recent migrants from the Malay Peninsula (Satun, Trang).


The Mon population, linguistically and culturally belonging to the Khmer ethnolinguistic group, did settled in peninsular Thailand since ever, ruling maritime states like the one of Ligor (Nakhon Sri Thamarat). They melt continuously with Southern migrants from Malaysia and with Northen rulers (Thai), over centuries of commercial exchanges and political conflicts.

Most probably the Mon stock remains prevalent for most of the people living nowadays in Southern Thailand, includoing people of Koh Yao.
Numerous cave paintings hidden in the many islands of the bay, extending from 2000 years ago to last century, attest the influence of distinct communities in the emergence of a mixed origin population, living now in the provinces of Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi and Satun.

The most recent migrations (17th-18th century) from Satun and Trang to Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi is attested by the fact that the particular dialect spoken on the island still bear obvious Malaysian lexical traces, particularely regarding toponyms and vernacular names of the flora species.

The main industries on the island are fishing and rubber planting. A little rice farming and some fruit, palm and coconut plantations are evident. Boat building and farming techniques here have been passed from father to son and, while some of the youngsters leave Koh Yao to seek the bright lights of Phuket, most return to their tight knit community.

The island covers about 50 square kilometers and has approximately 18 kilometers of concrete and dirt road around it. Great for bicycling and walking. It is mountainous in the centre and has beaches to either side. The East side has beaches suitable for swimming and snorkeling and the West is a picturesque blend of rice flats and mangrove trees.
Being one of the biggest islands in the Phang Nga Bay archipelago, Koh Yao Noi is home to a hospital, several schools and a post office. 24 hour electricity supply, Internet access, mobile telephone connection and Automatic Teller Machine are available.


During the end of the Ayutthaya era, Koh Yao, Koh Lang and Laem Pak Pra were under Thalang , which shows that Koh Yao used to be under the government of Thalang or Phuket of now. In 1903 Koh Yao changed its status to a sub-district and later in 1988 was changed to a district. It is believed that the early population of Koh Yao sought refuge from war in Trang and Satun provinces.

Those who came from Trang settled on Koh Yao Noi while those from Satun settled on Koh Yao Yai. Now (in 2002) Koh Yao has a population of 12,490, most of which are of Muslim faith. The main income of the population of Koh Yao are from rubber, coconut, and cashew nut plantations, fishery, and herding.


  • Fish Scale Flowers: are made by the Housewives of Koh Yao Club by creating flowers, such as roses, geraniums, and bougainvillea from fish scales.
  • Dried Anchovies (Pla Ching Chang): are made from small anchovies that have been boiled and then sun-dried. These dried anchovies are rather salty but very nutritious and can be used in many local dishes such as dips, soups, or curries, or simply deep-fried and eaten as a snack.


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