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Koh Tao Travel Information | Villa and Holiday Home Rental | Diving | Sightseeing Tours

► Overview

Koh Tao | Cashew shaped Ko Tao, or Turtle Island, is one of Thailand's top diving locations, with plenty of amazing dive sites within easy reach of the Gulf of Thailand destination. Whale sharks are seasonal visitors and this is probably one of the few places in the world where you can see these gentle giants while scuba diving. But Ko Tao also has plenty to offer non-divers, with an array of non-water based activities such as hiking and yoga. Those willing to escape from the congested diver hotspots are rewarded with gorgeous beaches, great viewpoints and hospitable locals. 

But it hasn't always been snorkels and sunscreen here.

In the past, Ko Tao has been a pirate's hideout, a layover for fishermen, a prison and a badly-kept hardcore backpacker secret. While some say the island took its name from its turtle shape, others say it was named for the turtles that used to breed plentifully in its waters. Today, the turtles largely go elsewhere and instead thousands of recreational divers and other tourists flock here annually. The island is ranked number two worldwide for the issuing of PADI certificates. - the top spot is held by Cairns - Australia. Western travellers first stumbled on Ko Tao in the 1980's, leading to the first rickety bamboo bungalows being thrown up. Within a decade, the island became a well-established alternative to Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui, thanks to its fine snorkelling and the cheap huts. In more recent years, development has exploded, with more than 100 resorts, around 40 diving schools and many other related businesses now operating on the island. 

The rapid development has transformed Mae Haad and Sairee from traditional wooden villages with dirt roads to bustling tourist centres.

Despite this, Ko Tao does retain a certain rustic charm versus Samui, Pha Ngan and Phuket, and visitors can still find picture book Thailand tucked away on this small island.

The busiest times of year are Christmas-New Year and July-August, when booking ahead is strongly recommended as it can be next to impossible to find a budget bed otherwise. Whale shark sightings occur outside the peak times, typically between March and May and a few in September and October too. Budget accommodation also books up quickly directly after adjacent Ko Pha Ngan's Full Moon Party, when partiers arrive here after their break there. The island is generally very safe and with its great variety of activities and places to stay, there's never been a better time to visit.

Travel to Koh Tao by Catamaran: from Koh Samui 08:00 / 09:30 and 12:30 / 14:00 Return to Samui at 10:30 / 12:00 and 15:00 / 16:30 There is also a regular ferry with multiple connections daily.

► Activities

Shopping - You can get nearly everything you need right one in Koh Tao. Around the island are plenty of supermarkets, open from early morning until 10:30pm, and though they offer less variety than the mainland, the essentials can be found and bought for bargain prices. Except in the big stores you can try to haggle the price, but always remember to be friendly and reasonable. Original ethnic souvenirs made from ceramic, coconut, shells or bamboo and unique jewelry made from silver, leather and precious stones are offered in several shops as well as from vendors at the roadside.

Kayaking - Sea kayaking is fun and easy for everyone to enjoy independently. Half day trips from Koh Tao can take you along the south west to shark island and back. The more adventurous can take a day and paddle the whole island to check out some of the island top sports. This trip is all about kayaking in paradise of many islands which can only be reached by sea, many inhabited and untouched with abundance of wildlife and clear blue seas, each with its own character, beauty and charm with lush tropical vegetation clinging to steep mountainsides. Kayaking between the islands will give us the opportunity to experience the Seychelles uniqueness.

Scuba Diving - Your scuba adventure starts here at Koh Tao. Koh Tao provides great diving in all of south east Asia and is most popular, and is one of the top 10 place for diving site. Koh Tao has loads of beach dive sites, but 2 major dive sites are shark island and southwest pinnacle. both are exceptional sites with great variety of reef fish and alluring rocky formations, maximum depth 32m.

► Destinations

Chalok Ban Khao - to the south of the island is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative for those wishing to escape the crowds. A multitude of beautiful granite boulders, which nestle both in the forests and on the beaches of Koh Tao, attract a growing number of climbers who visit each year to enjoy the adventurous aspect of their sport. Chalok Ban Khao is a beautiful stretch of nice sand and certainly less crowded than Sairee. To get here, I suggest 'travel by longtails' from the main ferry.

Tanote Bay - is located between the north of Ao Leuk and the south of Haad Thien. It is accessible by a partly paved road that goes over hills of Koh Tao. Getting here by a long-tailed boat or a 4 wheel drive car. Tanote Bay has a beautiful white sand beach with good snorkelling and diving opportunities. At the end of the beach is a small outcrop and on the other side is a smaller beach. On a clear sky day, you may see Koh Phangan from here. There are a number of colorful corals near the shore as well as rocks to snorkel. Luckily, you can see fusiliers, rabbit fish and triple tail wrasse. Tanote Bay is a shallow dive and you can see coral trout, snapper and the six banded angel fish. There are a number of bungalow operations and restaurants on the beach. Tanote Bay is a great option for people who want to just settle on one beach for their holiday. It's a beautiful spot that is worth the bumpy taxi journey.

Haad Thien ("Rocky Bay") - Haad Thien is known among foreign tourists as Rocky Bay. The sea water is absolutely clear and the beach is lined with coconut palms. It is really difficut to get here. Two choices are by a long tail boat or 4-wheel car. It is surprisingly uncrowded, probably due primarily to the rocky road. Geting here, if you don't mind of a long travel.

Ao Leuk - is on the eastern side of Koh Tao. It is peaceful and a superb spot to relax indeed. The beach is beautiful but rocky in some area.  The beach is fine enough for sunbath.

Mae Haad Beach - The most crowded beach of Koh Tao, Mae Haad is highest developed area with lots of resorts, shops, bars, restaurants, banks, internet cafe' and diving shops. I'd rather say Mae Haad is a town, than a beach.  It is the most convenient place if you want to travel around by a car or a boat too.  The main ferry pier is also here.  Everything you can fine at Mae Haad.

Sairee Beach - has a longest and widest beach of the island. It is a popular places for tourists to stay as a long relaxation. There are several beach bars, nightspots and restaurants. It seems to be the second busiest area, to Mae Haad.  Definitely, it is very romantic if you have a chance to watch the sunset while sitting in a balcony of a resort.

► The Nightlife

Koh Tao at night can be surprisingly exciting and if you like to party all night long you’ve come to the right place. Well designed flyers all around keep you up to date. The happy crowd never gets tired & basically there is a cool party somewhere every night; no matter what moon is up. Koh Tao has a remarkably Fuzzy nightlife. As the sun dips after a hard day it's time for sundowner on the beach. Most of the major dance places on the island are right on the beach. There is something going on every night. The Full, Half and Black Moon parties also take place in Koh Tao. To find out what’s up look out for advertising at shops and taxis. But basically there is a rave going on somewhere every night. The established and famous Full, Half and Black Moon parties are in particular recommended and are as god, if not better, than in Samui or Phangan. There are also a few pub-like venues that show movies and sports, as well as have pool tables. The very few beer bars have their usual temptations, but like everywhere else may involve financial & health risks.

Babaloo Bar | Chalok Baan - Kao-Saan Jao Beach - One of the most secluded party spots, open air dancing on a private beach, chill out area, psychedelic decor, fire jugglers, cool people, int.l DJ’s, Mondays special party.

Barracuda | Cafe’ & Bar - Mae Haad - The most diverse venue on the rock. Fantastic Indian, Thai & Western menu. BBQ’s, MTV, films & sports, wicked tunes & wild parties. End of the pier road, towards Chalok.

Dry Bar | North Sairee Beach - Drink naturally at the Dry Bar.  It is the islands only tree bar. Serving the coolest drinks and to notch tunes. Open daily 4pm-11pm.

Safety Stop Pub | Mae Haad - Where friends & locals meet. Beautiful sunsets at Happy Hour. Live Premier League football & Formula 1. Sat nights at 22:00 “Groove Yard”, funk, disco & house you’ll dance to.

Venus | Beach Bar-Sairee Beach - Love & beauty through nature, art and music. Tao’s most atmospheric venue with the best vibe, international DJ’s every night. Wednesdays Beach Funk, Party on Saturdays.

The Whitening | Bar and Restaurant – Mae Haad - It’s stylish restaurant has a diverse selection of fine Thai & Western cuisine. Cool sounds from the bar lead to a relaxed atmosphere for drinking & dining. Friday night is party night.

Additional Information

Hotel Information

Tuesday, October 15, 2019