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A Handy Guide to Khai Islands Phuket’s Secret Paradise

A Handy Guide to Khai Islands: Phuket’s Secret Paradise

Yup, you haven’t seen anything quite like it: Khai Island is a fantasy island straight out of a storybook. Drone pictures reveal a secluded three-island group resembling three fried eggs, but that’s a simplistic view of a perfect spot for paradise seekers. 

Step into the heart of this chicken nest, and you’ll understand why it’s a tourist magnet on steroids — drawing crowd after crowd for years now and competing with the best beaches of Phuket.  

So, let us do the honor of showing you the ins and outs of Khai Island, the hidden gem of Phuket. From the serene waters of Koh Khai Nui to the jaw-dropping beaches of Koh Khai Nai and Koh Khai Nok, behold nature’s paradise in its splendor. 

Things to Know

Currency: Thai Baht
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Thai (Central Thai)

Currency: Thai Baht

Calling Code: +66

Location: Andaman Sea, Phru Nai, Yao Yai District, Phang Nga

Distance From Nearest Major Islands: 8 km to 12 km (Phuket), 3 km to 8 km (Koh Yao Yai, Phang Nga)

Nearest Airport: Phuket International Airport (50 km)

Admission Fee: Free

Electricity: Phuket electrical sockets are Type A or Type B. You may have to bring adapters if your electronic device is incompatible. 

Best Time to Visit Khai Island

Khai Island, or Chicken Island, is best to visit between October and May when the monsoon season ends. 

Experience the calm, warm, crystal-clear waters around the island group, which only materializes during these months, during these times. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy the excellent weather and humidity, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

How to Get to Khai Island

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Ferry: You can find the nearest ferry terminal to Khai Island at Rassada Pier, which is 3 kilometers away from Phuket Town. Traveling to these tiny islands by ferry can take 15 to 30 minutes, but plan carefully to avoid long waits before departure.

Speedboat: If you want a smoother and faster journey to Khai Island, a 15-minute speedboat ride is your best option. Although expensive, a speed boat lets you reach the islands faster and gives you more time to enjoy your visit.

Private Longtail Boat: Hiring a private longtail boat and driver is expensive but ideal for those who enjoy sightseeing and moving around during their visit. This gives you more control of your schedule since you can choose when and where to go first.

Longtail boats are available on piers and ports around Phuket and Phang Nga. For instance, you can find these boat services in Laguna, Patong, Chalong, Ko Sirae, Cape Panwa, Lo Chak, and more. 

Plane: Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the nearest airport to Khai Island, approximately 50 kilometers away. You can board a bus or taxi to Phuket Town from the airport and find a nearby port or pier to hire a speedboat, longtail boat, or ferry.

Alternatively, you can take a plane to Krabi International Airport. Of course, you must also board a taxi or bus to the nearest port and find a boat ride to Khai Island.

Taxi: If you’re anywhere in Phuket or Phang Nga, taxi services are the best mode of transportation because they can take you around these provinces. You can book from any location and ask the driver to take you to a port leading to Khai Island.

Bus: Bus terminals have routes leading to major ferry terminals around Phuket and Phang Nga. Buses are ideal for getting around the island provinces and reaching the nearest ferry terminal to Khai Island if you prefer cheaper public transport.

Pro tip:

Getting to Khai Island is easy from any Phuket or Phang Nga hotel – just inquire at the reception. Alternatively, many travel agents are in the area, just practice due diligence when transacting with them. 

Koh Khai Nai, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nok: Which one should you visit?

Of the three tiny islands in the Khai Island group, Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nai are the most popular among tourists due to their beautiful sandy beaches. Of course, the downside is that you’ll likely find these paradise beaches full of people visiting.

Meanwhile, Koh Khai Nui is a tiny islet that doesn’t have facilities or a spacious beach where you can stay. But it’s the best location for swimming or snorkeling because it’s more peaceful.

Choosing the perfect island to visit will depend on your preferences—whether you want a busy location with various activities or a more relaxing experience. 

Pro tip:

Booking a tour package is an easy way to experience all three islands. Most offer half-day or full-day itineraries filled with fun water activities. Note, however, that you can still enjoy all the good things Khai Island offers without a tour package. 

What to Do on Khai Island

Explore the islands

Koh Khai Nai is just about a football field in size with Khai Nai slightly bigger and Koh Khai Nok, the biggest.  As each of these islands are rather small, you can easily explore each on foot within 30 minutes to an hour.

During your sojourn, you can enjoy the atmosphere, witness the beautiful rock formations, and take scenic photographs of these islands. 

If you’re a cat person, you can also admire the feline residents in Koh Khai Nai. This population of approximately 80 cats everywhere, and you can see them relaxing near the island’s shops and the beach. 

Surprisingly, many people visit the island just to see these cats, which explains why others refer to Koh Khai Nai as Koh Khai Meow or Cat Island.

Relax at the white sandy beaches

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The white sandy beach and laid-back atmosphere in Koh Khai Nai and Koh Khai Nok make them the perfect spot for relaxation, even though they attract crowds. 

You can rent a beach chair and umbrella for 100 baht (or two for 150 baht) and find your ideal spot to set them up. This way, you can enjoy a cocktail from the small island shops selling fresh and refreshing fruits like watermelons and pineapples.

Otherwise, you can stay at the beach bar, engaging in fun conversations and listening to live music. 

Swim in the island’s warm and clear waters

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A day on a beautiful Khai Island isn’t complete without enjoying its warm and clear water. Thankfully, the waters around the island beach are shallow, making it safe for non-swimmers and small children who want to play in the white sands.

Since the water around the islands is calm, you can enjoy a carefree swimming experience. However, swimming far from the beach can still be dangerous, and you must watch out for people riding jetskis and banana boats.

Snorkel and immerse in the marine life

Media from soycarletto

The calm and clear waters around Khai Island are a top-tier spot for snorkeling because you can observe the beauty of underwater life in earnest. It also helps that the water is rich and teeming with marine life and stunning coral reefs.

Meanwhile, Koh Khai Nui islet offers the best spot for snorkeling since it’s more peaceful than its popular sister islands. The only issue there is the lack of shops renting or selling snorkeling and swimming gear, so you must bring your own.

Fortunately, some Khai Island tour packages include free snorkeling gear or offer them as an add-on, so don’t forget to check with your travel agency.

Kayak or jet ski around Khai Island

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Although exploring these islands on foot is nice, circumnavigating Khai Island on your rental kayak or jet ski is an exciting and fun experience you mustn’t miss.

Kayaks and jet skis are part of Khai Island tour packages, so you can inquire about them with your selected travel agency. The limited facilities in these three tiny islands mean you can’t rent these rides here unless you meet a travel agent along the way.

The earlier you can ride around Khai Island, the better. Due to the island group’s popularity, many tourists will arrive later in the day, and you might not enjoy circling the island as much in this state.

Where to Eat on Khai Island

Small food stalls and bars

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The small beach areas on Khai Island are full of small food stalls and bars selling snacks, fruits, drinks, skewers, and grilled seafood. 

These islands don’t have much food diversity, so you must visit Phuket or Phang Nga to find restaurants for a wider variety of choices.

After all, Khai Island is only ideal for a one-day visit or quick stopover. Thankfully, most ferries and boats that go to Khai Island docks at piers and ports on famous beaches around Phuket. 

Pro tip:

Be sure to check with your tour provider if your package includes food and drinks. Many tours even arrange beach parties for hotel guests! 

Where to Shop on Khai Island

Sadly, Khai Island doesn’t have shopping facilities and establishments – you can only find one small souvenir shop in Koh Khai Nok.

This small shop sells souvenir items ranging from seashell accessories, beads, printed t-shirts, sarongs, and various handcrafted display items. 

Where to Stay on Khai Island

The small and uninhabited island group doesn’t provide visitors with accommodation options since it’s for one-day visits and quick stopovers. Thus, you must book a hotel room or inn in Phuket or Koh Yao Yai.

Here are some accommodations near Khai Island:

Elixir Resort Koh Yao Yai

Address: 99 Moo 3, Yao Yai, Phang Nga

Contact Number: +66 (0) 87 808 3838

Operating Hours: 2:00 p.m. (Check-in) to 12:00 p.m. (Check-out)


Distance from Koh Khai Nai: 3.6 km

Costs: $$

Elixir Resort Koh Yao Yai offers the nearest accommodations to Khai Island. This seaside resort beside the Andaman Sea is 1 kilometer from Lo Chak pier, where you can find long tail boats and speedboats going to Khai Island.

This resort has 40 villas, a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool, a massage parlor, a fitness center, a dining deck, and an entertainment hut.

Island Escape by Burasari

Address: 94/4 Moo 6, Coconut Island, Muang, Phuket

Contact Number: +66 (0) 76643643

Operating Hours: 3:00 p.m. (Check-in) to 12:00 p.m. (Check-out)


Distance from Koh Khai Nui: 9.7 km

Costs: $$$

Island Escape by Burasari is a resort on Coconut Island, often along the package tour routes that private speedboats and longtail boats take to Khai Island. As such, it’s the perfect place to book if you want to avail yourself of a Khai Island tour.

More importantly, Coconut Island is 15 minutes from Phuket Town, so you can quickly shop for snorkeling and swimming gear before heading to Khai Island.

Royal Yao Yai Island Beach Resort

Address: 128 Moo 7, Loh Pa-Red Beach, Yao Yai, Phang Nga

Contact Number: +66 (0) 76 428 666

Operating Hours: 2:00 p.m. (Check-in) to 12:00 p.m. (Check-out)


Distance from Koh Khai Nai: 8.3 km

Costs: $$

Approximately 6 kilometers north of Elixir Resort, Royal Yao Yai Island Beach Resort is the best-rated hotel in Loh Pa-Red Beach. It’s a 5-star hotel featuring various facilities, like a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, spa, and luxury rooms.

You can pay 200 Baht to ride the Royal Yao Yai Resort shuttle service to Laem Yai Pier. This pier has longtail boats, ferries, and speed boats going to Phuket and Khai Island daily.

What to Expect: Weather in Khai Island

There are only two seasons in Khai Island: the dry and wet seasons.

Wet season (green or low season): Happens around May until October. Expect more rains and unpredictable weather conditions during these months as the West wind takes center stage.

Dry season (high season) from late October to May brings more peaceful weather conditions. As the wind blows from the East, visiting Khai Island can mean a more manageable day, not dealing with turbulent weather conditions. 

But there are two sides of the same coin. As more tourists flock during the dry season, you’re bound to find yourselves competing for space on Khai Island, which, given the diminutive size of the place, can become crowded pretty fast. 

Apps to Download When Visiting Khai Island

  • Grab App – The most commonly used ridesharing app in Thailand
  • Line and Whatsapp – These are very useful free apps to download when in Thailand. In particular, Line has become the go-to messaging app for most accommodations, attractions, and restaurants.
  • Google Translate –  If you want to close in on the language barrier, Google Translate is a must in Thailand. Just install the app on your smartphone and start conversing as if you’ve taken lessons in the Thai language. 
  • Google Maps – Another must-have app, Google Maps will give you directions and traffic situations in one click, allowing you greater elbow room to satisfy your wanderlust in the Land of Smiles.



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