The best route for travel to Koh Yao Yai from Phuket will depend on a number of reasoning; where are you on the island, how fast you want to get there and how much are you prepared to pay. In Phuket you will find two main piers one in the Northeast of the island (Bang Rong Pier) and one in the Southwest in Phuket Town (Chianwanich Pier). As Phuket is a big island taxi travel can be relatively expensive so the cheapest option for travel to Koh Yao Yai will nearly always be from Phuket Town (Chianwanich Pier) in the Southwest. Below shows the timetable schedule for travel from Koh Yao Yai to Phuket and the return (photo from local map Apr 2014). There is a third option (shown below) leaving Laem Hin Pier in Phuket at 16:00pm.
Phuket Airport to Koh Yao Yai
The quickest route from Phuket Airport to Koh Yao Yai is leaving Bang Rong Pier in the Northeast. To reach the pier (we find) taxi to be the only option leaving Phuket Airport and costs 500 Baht one way. Speedboats then leave Bang Rong pier regularly to Koh Yao Yai (check timetable above) arriving to Klong Hia Pier in the Northeast of the island. Speedboats cost 200 Baht one way and the journeys take roughly 25 minutes. The same boat then forwards to Koh Yao Noi (the smaller island) a further 10 minutes ahead. Arriving to Koh Yao Yai you will find Songtaew (tuk-tuk vans) waiting for arrivals and they will help forward to your given destination on the island. Note travel is expensive on the island and to reach our hotel it costs 300 Baht for taxi. The pier itself has little more than nothing, the area is empty and forwarding can be tricky without the Songtaew taxis. For the cheaper travel option leaving Phuket Airport it may be best to travel first to Phuket Town using a shared minibus (150 Baht). From Phuket bus station a Songtaew finds the nearby pier (Chianwanich Pier) for roughly 40 Baht and car ferries leave regularly(ish) costing 140 Baht to travel to Koh Yao Yai . While the cheapest option it does take an hour or two longer.
Phuket Town to Koh Yao Yai
Four car ferries leave Chianwanich Pier daily (timetable above) along with one speedboat later in the evening (17.30). The pier is easy to reach from Phuket town centre using cheap local Songtaews (40 Baht) or for convenience pay that bit extra for a quick taxi ride depending where you are. The car ferry to Koh Yao Yai costs around 140 Baht or for the later speedboat 200 Baht. All boats arrive to Koh Yao Yai (Loh Jark Pier) and from here you will find no problem taxiing onwards using local Songtaew taxis and cars. This pier is by far the nicer of the local piers with soft sand beaches, turquoise seas, local beachside restaurants and picturesque views. It is the kind of Pier you don’t mind having to wait at.
Overview of Koh Yao Yai
To be honest Koh Yao Yai is not the most exciting or picturesque island in the region but it is in no doubt beautiful and offers a unique culture found nowhere else in the region. It also escapes the mass tourism which litters nearby regions and has a feeling of authenticity and tradition. Koh Yao Yai is 90% Muslim (10% Buddhist) with many locals of Malay or Indonesian heritage and this is reflected locally in dress, architecture and (unfortunately) in lack of pork and alcohol. Fortunately booze can be found at hotels, resorts and the occasional tourist restaurant. Local trades are fishing and farming and among unique island sights are the drying of anchovies fish (pla ching chang) and cashew nut trees. Koh Yao Yai offers a handy vantage point for travel in the Phang Nga region and nearby island hopping is worth taking advantage of.