Koh Tao: Getting there & Things to do
About Koh Tao
Koh Tao is - after Koh Samui and Koh Phangan - the third largest island of the Samui Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. The name means "turtle island" and it comes from the sea turtles that inhabited the ocean around Koh Tao. Even today you can see one of the turtles in the water with a little bit luck.
Compared to its 2 big neighboring islands, Koh Tao is the least developed island. But there are still many hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars. The pier of Koh Tao is located in the main town of Mae Haad and together with Sairee Beach they are the two main tourists spots.
How to get to Koh Tao
From Bangkok, there are several ways to get to Koh Tao. The most convenient and fastest way would be by flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui, from where you can continue with a boat drive to Koh Tao. Another possibility would be flying to Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south mainland. From there you will have to take a bus to the Don Sak pier from where you can choose between different boat and ferry companies. You can book the bus + boat tickets directly at the airport or easily online here. The fastest company is Lomprayah and the boat drive from the mainland to Mae Haad, Koh Tao takes approximately 2,5 hours.
A cheaper way is going by bus or train from Bangkok to Surat Thani town or Chumphon. At the train station of Surat Thani you can also book tickets to Koh Tao, however it's more convenient to book it online here. In many tourist offices in Bangkok you can book combined bus + boat tickets, too. The journey by bus takes between 12 and 15 hours.
If you're already on the neighboring islands Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, you can simply book a boat ticket and leave from one of the piers. There is only one pier in Koh Tao where you can arrive, more exactly in Mae Haad. Once on Koh Tao, you can take a taxi (Songthaew) or motorbike taxi to any place on the island or rent a scooter straightaway.
Things to do on Koh Tao
1. Discover the paradise beaches of Koh Tao
Koh Tao has probably the most beautiful beaches of the 3 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Compared to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, Koh Tao is even very small, but it still has many tropical beaches that you can visit. How about a visit to Freedom Beach or Mango Bay? Get impressed by the amazing turquoise waters of the "Turtle Island"!
2. Explore the underwater world of Koh Tao
There's so many beautiful snorkeling spots on this island that you could even spend a couple of days only with snorkeling. Koh Tao is often called when it comes to the most beautiful snorkeling spots in Thailand. And the best thing is, you can go snorkeling directly from many beaches. Shark Bay and Mango Bay for example are excellent places to spend the whole day snorkelling.
3. Enjoy a wonderful sunset
What would a visit to one of Thailand's most beautiful islands be without enjoying a wonderful sunset? Also on Koh Tao there are some spots where you can sit directly at the beach and watch the sun going down.
While you can swim or do some water sports at Sairee Beach during the day, you should spend the evenings in one of its many beach bars. There are plenty of restaurants and bars where you can have a refreshing drink. Don't be late as there might be no more seats in some bars, especially during high season.
4. Visit Koh Nang Yuan and the viewpoint
When you visit the Gulf of Thailand, especially Koh Tao, this is definitely a must and probably one of the most famous picture motifs of Thailand. The view from the viewpoint of Koh Tao's tiny neighboring island is so beautiful that you will never forget it. But make sure to visit this place in the early morning, if possible. The later you come, there more people will be queing up for visiting the viewpoint.
Besides climbing up the viewpoint there's also some other things to do: beach bums can relax in the beautiful sand and snorkeling fans can explore the colorful fish in the clear waters.
5. Explore the island by scooter
Rent a scooter and explore Koh Tao on your own. It's so much fun and there is hardly any traffic on the whole island. But safety first: Always wear a helmet and drive slowly and mindfully. Except the main road from north to south, many roads on Koh Tao are not in the best condition.
You can rent scooters from 200 baht per day. Along the main road from the north to the south you will also find larger gas stations. If not, there are still some shops all over the island that offer gasoline in bottles.
6. Learn diving
Along with snorkeling, Koh Tao is probably one of the most famous spots in Southeast Asia when it comes to diving. It's the perfect place for both beginners and more experienced divers. Some people even stay on the island for a longer time in order to complete their Dive Master. There's schools in the main parts of the island, for example in Mae Haad or at Sairee Beach. Come and explore the impressing underwater world of Koh Tao!
7. Visit the little night market
If you don't know what to do in the evening, you can visit Koh Tao's only night market. It's located at the 7-Eleven between Mae Haad and Sairee Beach on the main road. Try some delicious snacks or even Thai food in one of the plenty restaurants and shops around the market.
8. Climb one of Koh Tao's viewpoints
Not only Koh Nang Yuan has an amazing viewpoint. Also on Koh Tao itself there are a couple of them. The best viewpoint of Koh Tao is doubtlessly the John Suwan Viewpoint. The entrance fee of overall 100 baht and the small hike are totally worth it.
More viewpoints on Koh Tao that you can visit are for example Mango Viewpoint in the northeast or the Love Koh Tao Viewpoint in the east. Don't miss at least one of them!
Book tickets to Koh Tao
You can easily book boat tickets to Koh Tao online but also buy them directly at the airport of Surat Thani or in one of the numerous travel agencies in the tourist areas in Bangkok and the south. Book cheap tickets to Koh Tao here. If you want to know about departure and arrival times, kindly check our time table. The major boat companies which head for Koh Tao are Lomprayah, Seatran and Songserm.
Popular routes from Koh Tao:
- to Koh Phangan
- to Koh Samui
- to Surat Thani Airport (URT)
- Koh Phi Phi
- Khao Sok National Park
Photos: Home is where your Bag is