Technically part of Laem Son National Park, Ko Phayam is fringed with beautiful soft-white beaches and is becoming increasingly popular as a family destination. If you're coming from Phuket or Ko Phi-Phi, it'll feel refreshingly wild and dozy. The spectacular northwest and southwest coasts are dotted with rustic bungalows, small-scale resorts, breezy sand-side restaurants and barefoot beach bars. Fauna includes wild pigs, monkeys and tremendous bird life (sea eagles, herons, hornbills).
The island's one ‘village’ (on the east coast, beside the main pier) caters mostly to tourists. But hit it during a festival (say the February Cashew Festival) and you’ll see that the locals still have a firm grip on their island.
Narrow motorcycle pathways, concrete roadways and dirt trails run across the island's wooded interior; some are rutted to the point of hazardous – drive slowly.