Koh Tao Thailand – I’ve traveled to South East Asia a few times and have often asked this question to people around me: what is your favorite island in Thailand? They kept mentioning Koh Tao so during my trip to Koh Samui, I decided to give it a try.
It took me only a few minutes to understand the excitement everyone had about Koh Tao. The landscapes there are magnificent with heavenly beaches and lush greenery. And the atmosphere in Koh Tao is really special. It’s a peaceful island where time passes by slowly. It’s basically your go-to place for a relaxing and rejuvenating stay.
Not to mention that the seabed that surrounds the island is one of the most beautiful diving spots in all of Thailand! Even though I just snorkeled around, I met a huge sea turtle that was apparently snacking around Shark Bay.
Are you ready to go to Koh Tao? Here are some tips on how to plan your trip. Let’s look at how you can travel to Koh Tao, Thailand, first.
How To Get To Koh Tao, Thailand?
Koh Tao is an island that is part of the Gulf of Thailand and the easiest way to get there is to take a boat from the nearby islands of Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. You can buy your tickets a few days before departure at a travel agency in Samui or Phangan.
I went to Koh Tao from Koh Samui and paid 600 bahts for a one-way ticket (~ $19). The price includes the minivan trip from your hotel to the port of Nathon which will be your departure point. I was picked up at 10 AM from my hotel and the boat left the port around 11:30 AM. It first stopped in Koh Phangan to finally arrive in Koh Tao (Songserm port) at around 3 PM.
As far as on-site transportation is concerned, although many places can be visited on foot, it’s always nice to have a scooter to explore the island. I rented mine from this shop and it cost me 200 bahts a day or $6.5.
Where To Stay In Koh Tao, Thailand?
As far as accommodation is concerned, I recommend booking a hotel north of the port of Koh Tao. There’s the Koh Tao Regal Resort which is only a few minutes away from the port and offers beautiful rooms as well as a splendid swimming pool and access to the beach.
If you can afford better accommodation and want to enjoy breathtaking views of the sea, make sure to rent a villa at Koh Tao Heights Pool Villas. It is located on the heights of the island so you won’t have access to the beach but if you are looking for a quiet and rather isolated spot, go for it!
The villas are located between the island’s port and Sairee Beach, which is the liveliest beach in Koh Tao as far as nightlife goes.
The Best Restaurants In Koh Tao, Thailand
If you’re wondering where to eat in Koh Tao, I’ve got two good restaurants to recommend. First, for a nice breakfast by the sea, I highly recommend the Breeze which serves a delicious shakshouka.
If you like duck, go to 995 Roasted Duck Koh Tao which is one of the most popular restaurants on the island. It doesn’t look like much, but once you’ve tasted one of their dishes, I’m sure you’ll understand what the craze is all about.
The Best Things To Do In Koh Tao, Thailand
Now let’s get back to the point! Here’s a list of things to do in Koh Tao. I would say you need to stay at least 2 days in Koh Tao to enjoy its atmosphere and visit its most popular attractions.
- Boat Trip around the Island
- Swim in Freedom Beach
- Admire the View at the John Suwan Viewpoint
- Enjoy the Sunset at High Bar
- Party in Sairee’s Beach Bars
- The Experience Festival
Boat Trip Around The Island
As I said earlier, one of the main reasons you should visit Koh Tao is to admire its beautiful seabed. To do so, there is a very nice boat tour that will take you to several snorkeling spots around the island. Make sure you devote a full day to this tour.
The staff will pick you up at your hotel around 9:30 AM and you will start the boat tour from the port of Mae Haad around 10 AM. The first stop is the magnificent Nang Yuan Marine Park which is made up of two islands: Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Hang Tao.
You will start by climbing up the lofty heights of Koh Nang Yuan to enjoy the breathtaking view of the island’s beach and Koh Hang Tao.
Then you will get to swim and relax on the beach you see above and will also be given masks for snorkeling. I remember vividly finding a beautiful seahorse hanging on a seaweed there. Such a memorable experience! *__*
You will then get back to the boat for lunch and tour the island of Koh Tao, stopping at the following different bays for snorkeling:
- Mango Bay
- Hin Wong Bay
- Ao Leuk Sandy Bay
- Shark Bay
Please note that the program may change slightly depending on weather conditions. This trip was amazing and we even saw a huge sea turtle at Shark Bay. It’s called Shark Bay because sharks can apparently be found there. When we asked the tour staff if it was true, they smiled and said yes. The mystery remains unsolved so if you have any information about this, make sure to let us in the comments below.
It’s also important not to forget to watch out for the coral. Many tourists come to Koh Tao and this has taken its toll on the coral, so avoid kicking the coral with your feet as you swim or snorkel around. Be gentle and do your best not to alter the environment around you. 🙂
We enjoyed a wonderful sunset as the tour came to an end and reached the port at around 6:30 PM. It was a terrific day!
You can book this tour online (that’s what I did anyway) or you can make a reservation at a travel agency in Koh Tao. Sometimes you have to book a few days in advance during the high season, so make sure to book online if you can. It can even cost you less money if you do so.
Swim In Freedom Beach
- Exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/v6X6KPGk33G9xMuR6
- Entrance : 100 bahts (~ $3)
There are several beautiful beaches in Koh Tao but the one I liked most is Freedom Beach (not to be confused with Freedom Beach in Phuket). It is not crowded but it is nevertheless splendid. You will have to pay an entrance fee of 100 bahts and you will be given two water bottles in exchange. Then you will have to go down some steps to get to this miniature paradise!
Admire The View At The John Suwan Viewpoint
- Exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/U7sEtQ4Pw8y3cPNP9
- Entrance: free
Right next to Freedom Beach, you can visit one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Koh Tao: the John Suwan Viewpoint. The trail uphill is a bit tough to climb at times but certainly not dangerous. Follow the trail leading to the top and everything should be fine. Don’t forget to enjoy the view as you climb up the mountain.
It should take you 20 to 30 minutes to reach the top and be blown away by the breathtaking panoramic views. Both sides of the island can be seen from up there.
Sunset At High Bar
Exact location: https://g.page/high-bar-koh-tao?share
Let me put it this way: all the sunsets I spent in Koh Tao I enjoyed at High Bar (except the day I went on the boat trip). I think the picture speaks for itself. For your information, the climb is pretty rigorous so if you don’t feel like doing it on a scooter, park it downhill and follow the trail on foot. 🙂
Party in Sairee’s Beach Bars
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure about Koh Tao’s nightlife and I thought I’d get bored but it turns out the island has many busy places you can visit. Most of the trendy beach bars are in Sairee Beach and one of my favorites is the AC Bar where I actually spent New Year’s Eve. To see videos of that, feel free to check out my Instagram stories (in the Koh Samui highlights).
There are many other bars if partying is what you’re looking for so I recommend you walk along the beach and stop where the atmosphere seems nice to you.
The Experience Festival
I was in Koh Tao at the end of December / beginning of January and the Experience festival was going on there at that time. It’s a 4-day festival of psychedelic trance music. It’s quite something if you’re not familiar with it but it was a lot of fun. I especially liked the Chill Out corner where quieter music was played, something that sounded like this:
The festival was also set in the forest so that it should make you feel even more relaxed. If you’re interested, you can find more info about the festival here.
I hope that this brief travel guide about Koh Tao was useful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to send them in the comment section below. Have a nice trip to Thailand, people!