Koh Tao is a pretty little island located in the Gulf of Thailand, and a great reprieve from the craziness of Bangkok. It’s one of those places people come to for a couple of days and end up extending their stay so that they can keep on enjoying it’s beautiful beaches and laid back vibes. Unlike it’s neighboring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao is quieter and less developed, making a great place to relax. It’s also known for its scuba diving, given that the water is warm and clear, and the sea life is abundant.
Koh Tao’s two main towns are Mae Haad, which is where the pier is, and Sairee, which is up the coast a little ways. These two towns are walking distance apart and each have their own charm. My recommendations are all located in these two towns.
Nadapa Resort: This kitschy hotel is in Mae Haad, right up the street from the pier making it easy to get to when you get off the ferry in Koh Tao, no taxi required. The rooms are spacious and have a nice little balcony or patio area. It’s a little pricier than most places at 1500 Baht, or about $42 a night, but it’s clean, quiet, and the staff is friendly. The most noticeable thing about the place is the rainbow paint job and all the figurines adorning the front entry.
Good Dream Hostel/ Khun Ying House: For a more budget friendly option right in the heart of it, Good Dream Hostel is where it’s at. Located in Sairee, the “cultural center” of Koh Tao with tons of restaurants, bars, and dive shops you’ll be right next everything. Don’t expect anything fancy, but with the dorms starting at $10, the prices can’t be beat.
EAT & DRINK
The Living Room: (Mae Haad) Whether you want to have a coffee and some lunch or drink beer and chat all night, the Living Room is the right spot for both. During the day it’s a chill coffee shop offering coffee drinks, smoothies, and sandwiches, plus free wifi. At night it turns into a happening bar with drinks all around, and if things get crazy, even a game of twister in the middle of the bar.
Yangs: (Mae Haad) If you want cheap greasy Thai food this is the place. While probably not the healthiest, it’s definitely delicious. Try the fried yellow noodles, they are the best!
Rock Bar: (Sairee) If you are looking for a crazy night out, you’ll probably end up at Rock Bar. They’ve got loud music, dancing, fire shows on the beach, and even black light face paint if you are feeling artsy after a few drinks.
Living Juices: (Sairee) Feeling like you need something healthy after a night out? Living Juices has an awesome assortment of smoothies and smoothie bowls to get all those vitamins back in your system. It’s shady outdoor tables make for a peaceful spot to recover while you drink your smoothie too.
Blue Water: (Sairee) This place is the perfect mix of restaurant, coffee shop, and beach bar. It’s super hipster looking and has a variety of beers on tap and bottle. The coffee and breakfast are great and it’s an awesome spot to catch the sunset with a drink or a fresh coconut.
Learn to scuba dive: Koh Tao is known as one of the best places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. There are somewhere around 50 dive shops on the island, and the water is generally calm and clear, making learning both easy and awesome. Check out this post about why you’ll love diving here!
Hike: Koh Tao is actually pretty mountainous making for some cool views to hike up to. A lot of the hikes have been partially paved now, so you could potentially ride a scooter most of the way up to these views, but it’s sometimes nice to get a good sweat in and walk it. Check out some of my favorite hikes in this post!
Hang out on the beach: I mean, you came to an island, so you’ve got to go spend some time on the beach right? There are beaches along both Mae Haad and Sairee, making it easy to get in some beach time. But if you are feeling adventurous, go explore the other sides to the island, there are plenty of beaches over there too.
Get a Thai Massage: Get all your kinks worked out with a Thai Massage, a little different and more intense that your standard Swedish massage but totally worth a try. There are massage places all over and at around 300 Baht (or about $9) you can’t beat the price!
Transportation: Depending on where you are staying you might not need any kind of transportation. Both Sairee and Mae Haad are walking distance apart and have plenty to do and see. There are taxi trucks and boats that can take you around the island if you want to get out and see some more. And if you are feeling adventurous and confident, rent a scooter and cruise around and explore.
Money: Thailand’s currency is the Thai Baht, it’s about 35 Baht to the dollar. I found it easy to remember by thinking, 100 Baht is about $3.
Weather: Hot and humid most of the year, with temperature ranging from the high 70’s to the 90’s, with rainy season in late October through November.