Koh Yao Noi – Desert Island Paradise

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Visiting Thailand for the first time, we decided to stick pretty close to the tourist guidebook, but we wanted at least a couple days off the beaten path. Searching for some more remote destinations in addition to Phuket and Bangkok, we discovered the island of Koh Yao Noi, just east of Phuket, which remains mostly untouched by tourist operations. We came across TreeHouse Villas, a luxury, eco-friendly resort built into the natural jungle of the island.

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After an hour-long speedboat ride from Phuket through Phang Nga Bay, our jaws were on the floor, pulling up to an outcropping of treehouses on what seemed to be a deserted island. The resort itself is pretty incredible. As its name implies, your hotel room is in fact a private treehouse, like something out of Swiss Family Robinson. Each villa has its own private pool and balcony looking out at the stunning bay. 

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Since it was our honeymoon, we were once again welcomed with complimentary champagne and a rose petal design on our bed, something that even though a tiny bit cheesy, still brought big smiles to our faces.

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Although our treehouse was large enough to hang out in all day, we also availed ourselves of the larger pool, where you could order yummy snacks and fancy cocktails. Pictured below are the curiously named “pineapple negronis.” While looking quite fancy, we were perplexed, as none of the ingredients seemed to appear in a traditional negroni. Still tasty though!

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One of the perks of staying on a less touristy island is that if you want to go out exploring, you feel like you’re on your own private adventure. On our second day, after enjoying a delicious breakfast, we rented a kayak and headed out on our own into Phang Nga Bay. After doing a little Googling beforehand, we found a map for a hidden lagoon on a completely uninhabited island, Kudu Yai, about thirty minutes north of Koh Yao Noi — thirty minutes by kayak, that is.

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Had we not mapped it in advance, we would have blown right past, as the lagoon and beach were hidden by three large rock pillars, jutting out from the bay. As we paddled in we were surprised to find a small beach and turquoise waters at the base of a huge cliff’s edge. It was our own Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach moment.

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We loved our stay at TreeHouse Villas, particularly the whimsy of its design. There’s no getting around the fact that a two-night stay is rather expensive, and the speedboat that you need to take there adds on what amounted to be another $70, but at the end of the day, it was well worth it. In a country that caters to hoards of tourists every year, it was nice to feel like you were somewhere, only barely discovered.