Visiting Koh Nang Yuan Island in Thailand: A complete guide

No trip to Koh Tao is complete without visiting the idyllic Koh Nang Yuan Island. Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, this picturesque island consists of three rocky islets connected by a white sandbank. This unique scenery combined with the irresistible blue waters around the island creates a paradise-like setting that you don’t want to miss!

It’s a popular day trip destination from Koh Tao and a fantastic place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Besides exploring its underwater world, you can relax on the island’s dreamy white sand beach and hike to its famous viewpoint to see one of the most photographed views in this part of Thailand.

I took a trip to Koh Nang Yuan while visiting Koh Tao and it ended up being one of the highlights of my stay. The beach here is easily one of the most beautiful in Koh Tao and the water is an unbelievable shade of turquoise.

Below, you’ll find all my tips for visiting Koh Nang Yuan Island, including information on how to get there, which activities you can do there and some practical things you should be aware of before your visit.

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Me standing on a big rock next to a white sandbank surrounded by turquoise water at Koh Nang Yuan Island.

How to get to Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan is located just a short distance off the northwest coast of Koh Tao. Most people visit it during their stay on Koh Tao but you can also visit it from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.

Koh Tao to Koh Nang Yuan

There are a few different ways to get there from Koh Tao.

Boat taxi

On Sairee Beach (the main beach on Koh Tao), you’ll find many longtail taxi boats that can take you to Koh Nang Yuan. Look for the boat guys either on the beach or on the walking street parallel to it. We paid 300 THB per person for a round trip but you might have to haggle a bit. The trip takes about 15-20 minutes. Make sure to agree on the return time with your boat guy.

Snorkeling tour

Another way to visit Koh Nang Yuan is to join a snorkeling tour, such as this 7-hour tour that includes transfers, snorkeling gear and lunch. The tour takes you to the 5 best snorkeling sites around Koh Tao and it also includes a stop at Koh Nang Yuan. You typically get 1-1.5 hours to explore Koh Nang Yuan.


Another option is to take a ferry from Mae Haad pier on the west coast of Koh Tao. The ferries are operated by a company called Lomprayah and the trip to Koh Nang Yuan takes 15 minutes.


Last but not least is the most adventurous option – kayaking to Koh Nang Yuan. You should only consider doing this when the sea is calm. On the day we visited, the waves were pretty big and kayaking wouldn’t have been safe.

You can rent a kayak either on Sairee Beach (at Ban’s Diving Resort, for example) or at Dusit Buncha Resort, which is located further north, just across the water from Koh Nang Yuan. From Sairee Beach, the kayak journey takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour whereas from Dusit Buncha Resort it’s only around 15 minutes. 

Colorful longtail boats docked next to each other with green forest-covered hills in the background.
Longtail taxi boats at Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Samui to Koh Nang Yuan

If you’re staying on Koh Samui, the easiest way to visit Koh Nang Yuan is to take an organized boat tour. The boat journey to Nang Yuan Island takes about 1.5 hours. 

This popular full-day tour from Koh Samui includes a visit to both Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Tao, hotel pick-up and drop-off, breakfast, lunch, snorkeling gear and entrance fees.

Koh Phangan to Koh Nang Yuan

Just like from Koh Samui, the best way to get to Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Phangan is with a tour where everything is organized for you. It takes about one hour on a speedboat to get there.

On this 8-hour tour from Koh Phangan, you’ll get to visit both Koh Nang Yuan and snorkel at Koh Tao. The tour includes hotel transfers, lunch and snorkeling gear.

A long narrow sandbank bordered by clear blue water on both sides and lush forest in the background.

Things to do on Koh Nang Yuan Island

1) Hike to Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint

Whichever method you use to come to the island, head to the famous Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint in the southern part of the island as soon as you arrive. It’s a highly popular spot that tends to get crowded, which is why I recommend coming here before doing anything else.

To get to the viewpoint, you have to hike uphill for about 15 minutes. There’s a shaded trail that leads you through the jungle up a set of stairs. Overall it’s an easy hike but just before the top, you’ll have to climb up a few boulders. You can do it in flip flops but trainers would be more comfortable.

Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of the island and its chalk-white sandbank. As the viewpoint consists of just a couple of boulders, the space there is very limited. This means that you might have to wait in a queue and take turns to take photos.

Me sitting on a rock at Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint overlooking the island's white sand beach and lush mountains.
A narrow white sandbank bordered by turquoise water from both sides and surrounded by rugged hills covered with jungle.

2) Relax on the beach

The beach at Koh Nang Yuan is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Koh Tao. The sand is white, the water is as clear as glass and the surrounding boulders create a beautiful scenery.

You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and there’s also a restaurant selling food and drinks. In the high season, the beach apparently gets very crowded but during our visit in September, it wasn’t bad at all.

Be aware that when the tide comes in, the beach shrinks to just a tiny ribbon of sand or disappears entirely. Check the tide schedule to plan your visit accordingly.

Me standing waist-deep in clear blue water with large grey boulders in the background at Koh Nang Yuan Beach.
Tourists swimming and snorkeling at a white sand beach with vibrant turquoise water.

3) Snorkel

Another one of the top things to do on Koh Nang Yuan is snorkeling in its crystal clear waters. The island is surrounded by shallow reefs home to lots of tropical fish and beautiful coral.

The best area to snorkel here is to the northeast of the sandbank, in a spot known as the Japanese Gardens. You can just swim there from the beach as it’s not too far from the shore.

Out of all the places I snorkeled at on Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan was my favorite. I spotted several titan triggerfish, groups of parrotfish, red-breasted wrasse and other species. If you enjoy seeing marine life, snorkeling here is an experience that should definitely be on your itinerary for Koh Tao.

You can rent snorkeling gear at the kiosk near the beach or bring your own. Fins and water shoes are not allowed here in order to protect the coral. Remember not to touch or stand on the corals at any time.

An underwater photo of me floating in the water, wearing my snorkeling mask.

4) Scuba dive

Thanks to its amazing marine life and water clarity, Koh Nang Yuan is also a popular place for scuba diving. The island is surrounded by several awesome dive sites such as Twins, Japanese Gardens, Green Rock and Red Rock.

We visited the Twins dive site on one of the diving trips we did on Koh Tao and it was wonderful. It felt like we were inside a giant aquarium. The site has several pinnacles covered with various types of coral and there’s an abundance of fish to see, such as parrotfish, bannerfish, puffer fish and even moray eels if you’re lucky!

You can book your diving tour at one of the many dive schools on Koh Tao or at the Nangyuan Island Dive Resort (the only resort and dive shop on Koh Nang Yuan). We did our dives with Ban’s Diving Resort.

Where to stay

There is only one hotel on Koh Nang Yuan – Nangyuan Island Dive Resort. If you want to enjoy calm mornings and evenings on the island, without the groups of tourists that come here for a day trip, staying at this resort is the way to go.

They offer bungalows for different budget levels and they also have a souvenir shop and a restaurant. Be aware that you won’t have any other restaurants to choose from if you stay here since this is the only one on the island and it’s a bit pricey.

In my opinion, a better option is to stay on Koh Tao and take a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan. On Koh Tao, you’ll find a wide variety of places to stay and eat and the prices are better. 

Here’s where I recommend staying on Koh Tao:

BUDGET: Savage Hostel
This is a stylish hostel located on Sairee Beach, in the heart of all the action. It’s a great place to socialize and meet other backpackers. The coolest part about this hostel is its fabulous rooftop pool that looks like something you’d find in a fancy hotel!

MID-RANGE: Ban’s Diving Resort
This is the hotel where we stayed. Despite its central location on Sairee Beach, the resort is very quiet and peaceful. Their rooms are modern and spacious and the hotel grounds have several beautiful swimming pools and lovely gardens. We really enjoyed our stay here!

MID-RANGE/LUXURY: View Point Resort
This gorgeous seafront resort is located in a quiet area near Chalok Bay and is surrounded by lush forest. They offer various types of accommodations for different price levels – from small bungalows to large villas with sea views and private pools.

Me and my fiancé relaxing in a blue swimming pool surrounded by green palm trees at our resort.
Ban’s Diving Resort

Things to know before visiting Koh Nang Yuan

Here are a few things you need to be aware of when planning your visit: 

  • All visitors have to pay an entrance fee upon arrival to the island unless they’re going there with a tour where the fee is already included in the price. As of 2024, the Koh Nang Yuan entrance fee is 250 THB for adults and 100 THB for children and you’ll need cash to pay it.
  • The island is open for visitors only from 9am to 4pm. Outside of these hours, only the guests of the resort can stay on the island.
  • You are not allowed to bring disposable plastic bottles and metal cans to the island. If you do bring any, you’re asked to leave them at the ticket desk when you arrive.
  • Drones are not allowed on the island. However, when you’re on Koh Tao, you can fly your drone from Sairee Beach over to Koh Nang Yuan to get some nice shots from a distance.
  • Remember to bring your snorkeling gear. If you don’t have your own, you can rent it on the island. To avoid damaging the coral, it is prohibited to wear fins or water shoes on Koh Nang Yuan.
  • It is prohibited to take any corals, shells or sand with you from the island. These are all important parts of the local ecosystem and shouldn’t be removed. (This applies to all beaches, not just Koh Nang Yuan.)
  • There is just one restaurant on the island and it’s overpriced. If you’re traveling on a budget, you might want to bring your own food/snacks.
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat because there’s not much shade from the sun unless you rent an umbrella. You might also want to bring bug repellent for the hike to the viewpoint.

For more Koh Tao travel tips, check out my other blog posts:

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