Surat Thani, Thailand · 179 hotels available
19/4 Moo 1 Koh Tao, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
31/3 Moo 1 Laem Yainee, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
16/7 Moo 1 Haad Sai Ree, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84280
46/9 Moo.3 Haad Sai Daeng, Koh Tao, Sai Daeng Beach, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
15/19 Moo 1, Sairee Beach, Ko Tao, Sairee beach, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
35/8 Moo 1, Tumbon Koh Tao, Aumphor Koh Phangan, Sairee, Koh Tao, Sairee, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
28/5 Moo 1, Tambon Koh Tao, Mango Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
14/45 Moo.1, Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Sairee beach, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
5/13 Moo 2, Tumbon Koh Tao, Aumphor Koh Phangan, Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
14/11 Moo 1, Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Sairee beach, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
16/4 Moo 1 Sairee Beach, Taa Then Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
13/80 Moo 1 Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Sairee, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
3/4, Moo 2, Laem Jo Po Ro, Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
19/9 Moo 3, Haad Tien, Thian Og Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84360
26/20 Moo 3 June Juea Beach, Koh Tao, June Juea Bay, Koh Tao, Surat Thani, Thailand, 84280
Koh Tao is one of the most popular islands in the south of Thailand. It’s often synonymous with scuba diving, as it’s one of the locations in the world that churns out the most certifications for Open Water divers. It is the smallest of the three sister islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
The main industry on Koh Tao is diving, however there is also a variety of other activities such as rock climbing, hiking and holistic activities such as yoga and general wellness on the island. In recent years, Koh Tao has received worldwide attention for the murder of a British couple on the island in 2014 which had a huge negative impact on tourism. Since then, the image of Koh Tao is slowly recovering.
Thais like to name their land masses after what the land mass looks like, and this is no exception. Koh Tao translates literally to “Turtle Island” because it looks like the shape of a turtle. Coincidentally, the beaches of Koh Tao are also a common breeding ground for green turtles. The increase in recent tourism has seen decline in the number of turtles, but education and efforts to preserve these breeding grounds has been seeing success since the efforts began.
Koh Tao’s two sister islands are the nearest land masses.
The biggest of the sister islands, Koh Samui is by far the most developed island in this archipelago, possibly nearing the status of Phuket. It is one of the biggest islands in Thailand, and has a lot to offer tourists. However, what Koh Samui has in development, decent roads, and even a mall, it compensates for less of an island vibe, and much higher prices than on other nearby islands.
Perhaps infamous for its monthly Full Moon parties, Koh Phangan is slowly trying to change its image to be a haven for families and digital nomads by opening more businesses that cater to each of these categories. There’s plenty to do on Koh Phangan, including diving, although many of the companies end up going to Koh Tao and its surrounding areas for the truly amazing dive sites, such as Sail Rock. Koh Phangan is also a haven for the yoga and wellness community, with healthy food options, over 20 yoga schools, and a thriving expat community.
The transit hub near Surat Thani that caters to travelers connecting from the 3 sister islands to Phuket or Bangkok. There’s not much to the town except for a few hotels and a street market.
Surat Thani is the coastal town that connects to these islands. There’s a train station there that some travelers will use to connect from Bangkok, Chiangmai, or other towns in Thailand that have access to the train.
There are a hotels for every kind of traveler in Ko Tao. Many of the options are concentrated near Sairee beach, where most of the dive shops are.
Located in one of the most beautiful locations on Koh Tao, Cape Shark Villas offers breathtaking views over Shark Bay. You can enjoy this view from the private infinity pool that’s a part of each of the villa units. Each unit is also equipped with a private terrace, dining area, and air-conditioned bedrooms, a sofa, flat-screen TV, kitchen facilities and living area. The villas also include free WiFi as well as complimentary shuttle services into town.
Only 5 minutes away from Sairee Beach, the most popular area on the island, the Tarna Align Resort offers two restaurants, a diving center on premise, and a chilled out atmosphere. Some rooms even have private access to the swimming pool. The roof of the resort offers breathtaking views of sunset.
Koh Tao Heights Pool Villas are designed in a mixture of traditional Thai designs and modern elegance. Fully furnished with a stunning 6m x 3m infinity pool, you’ll want for nothing during your stay here. The front desk managers A and Dan are committed to your comfort and convenience and are always happy to give advice on anything about the island, from where to eat, how to choose the best dive schools and how to get around the island.
Located in Mae Haad away from the craziness of Sairee Beach is Blue Diamond Resort. Equipped with a fantastic restaurant, friendly staff, and a relaxing atmosphere, this is the perfect resort to lay back, chill out, and enjoy being on an island. The staff here are mostly divers, so they have plenty of helpful advice
Located right in the heart of Sairee, this is the most convenient location on the island. Pranee also serves a fantastic buffet breakfast, well suited for Thai as well as Western tastes. There are a few different kinds of rooms to suite all types of travelers.
The nearest airports are the Chumphon Airport and Samui Airport; you can often book flight tickets that include the ferry ride to Koh Tao. If not, there are a lot of different options once you arrive on the island.
Chumphon Airport is considered the quickest and cheapest option of the two. Nok Air has a couple of daily flights from the capital airport of Don Mueang in Bangkok. Once you have arrived in the airport there is a 55 minute shuttle bus which will take you to the ferry. Nok Air makes the journey simple by combining the ticket, ferry and plane, into one on their website.
Samui Airport is well connected, particularly internationally; offering flights to and fro Penang, Singapore and of course Bangkok. However, there is a 300 Baht tax on all flights.
There’s a main ferry terminal off of Chumphon. There are a few different companies with different options for the ferry ride. High speed catamarans take about 90 minutes, whereas the slower, but significantly cheaper ferries take between 3-5 hours. Koh Tao is usually the last stop on the ferry. From Chumphon, it goes to Samui, Koh Phangan, then Koh Tao as its final destination.
Once on the island, your choices of transport are severely limited; taxis are unmetered and can be difficult to find in the later evening.
Motorbikes are usually driven by most tourists, but this can be incredibly dangerous, especially on Koh Tao. Koh Tao has some of the worst roads in Thailand, full of 45 degree turns, potholes and irresponsible drivers. Only experienced motorbike drivers should drive here, and even the experienced ones should be using helmets and riding with extreme caution.
However, for most, this isn’t much of an issue as they stay on Sairee Beach, which has all of the amenities that most tourists will ever need.
Located at the southernmost tip of Koh Tao, Shark Bay is aptly named for frequent shark sightings and is another fantastic place to snorkel. There are also schools of barracuda batfish, rays, and sea snakes.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, everyday
Entrance fee: free
Fantastic for snorkeling and a more relaxed beach experience, Ao Tanot Bay is a must visit when you have a day off from diving on Koh Tao. You’ll have to hire a taxi or rent a motorbike to get here. The marine life is truly unforgettable from this bay.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, everyday
Entrance fee: free
This is the perfect place to try diving, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are plenty of Discover Scuba packages that go for a few thousand baht, and includes all of the safety lectures, equipment, and a certified instructor to help guide you. In addition, this is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified, either in Open Water or any other specialities. There are PADI and SSI courses available. There are over 40 dive schools here, each with their own personality and small but significant differences, so choose wisely. The things to look out for are how big the class sizes are, how big the boat is, and what the spirit of the dive school is.
Opening hours: most schools open at 10am, but dives start as early as 6am to beat the crowds
Entrance fee: Discover Scuba packages start at 2,000 THB
This is about a 1 hour walk/climb from Sairee Beach, but the view is absolutely worth it. There are parts where you’ll have to walk along the road. Shoes are recommended, as parts of the climb are quite steep and if you’re in flip flops, you’ll probably slide down most of the way. There’s a man in a hammock that charges 50 THB for part of the hike, and if you want to get to the viewpoint, it’s an additional 50 THB.
Opening hours: sunrise to sunset, everyday
Entrance fee: 50-100 THB depending on if you want to access the final viewpoint at Freedom Beach
There are a few companies that offer climbing courses on the island. It’s always fun to do something a little different and conquer your fears!
Opening hours: 10am to sundown
Entrance fee: package rates vary from 1,000 THB and up.
Sunscreen - much of the sunscreen purchased in Thailand has whitening cream in it, so if you want to return home with a tan, read the labels! That said, especially if you’re diving and on a boat for a few days in a row, make sure to reapply plenty of times. The sun, salt and wind combined can result in a hefty sunburn.
Safety - despite the news, Koh Tao isn’t particularly dangerous. That said, crime rates do tend to be higher on the islands than in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. There have been occasional instances of hotels stealing guests’ items.