About Koh Tao
Just over 21 square kilometres in size, Koh Tao may be one of the smallest islands in the Gulf of Thailand. However, it packs a lot of punch with a mixture of partying and peaceful resorts. Like the nearby Koh Samui, backpackers have taken to this island for the vibrant party scene that erupts after dark and lingers until sun up.
This island of fewer than 1,500 locals has more to offer than just drinks, music, and dancing, however. The natural wonders of Koh Tao pamper divers and seekers a slice of natural paradise.
Although access to the island is limited to ferries from various Thai ports such as Bangkok and Koh Samui, its beauty is starting to draw more and more mid and high-end wanderers. Looking for things to do in Koh Tao? Follow this guide to make the most out of your Koh Tao adventure.
Party it Up
Eric molina / CC BY 2.0
The surrounding islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan have built up reputations for hard-partying, especially around full moon. Koh Tao is not much different.
The young travellers that come here tend to take to Sairee Beach. As the primary beach of the island, there is a multitude of beach bars here provisioning music, potent cocktails, and decent food. Sairee Beach is lovely for a relaxing sunset cocktail, but when the sun sets the party really starts to rev up.
Lotus Beach Bar offers cocktails served in buckets as well as events and promotions like two-for-one drink deals and themed nights. If you’re in the mood to party, The Koh Tao Pub Crawl is a must. On four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) and starting at 6 pm at Choppers Bar, this event is an excellent way to meet fellow world travellers and discover the island’s most happening bars.
CC 2.0 / Christian Haugen
Savour the Cuisine in Koh Tao
Thai food is all about fresh, local produce and since Koh Tao is located in the middle of the sea, the best fare often means seafood. Seafood by Pawn offers locally-caught seafood cooked home-style meaning you’ll get warm service and the freshest fish of the day.
CC 2.0 / Johannes Zielcke
995 Roast Duck, on the other hand, provides succulent Thai-style roasted duck over rice as well as an array of local specialities.
If you’re craving something beyond the local Koh Tao food, order up authentic Italian pizza at Farango Pizzeria. Don’t miss the seafood pizza, Caprese salad, or the tiramisu.
Another favourite spot that cooks up international dishes is Cafe del Sol. It’s here where you can get your hands on European dishes like duck confit, ravioli, and beef tartare.
Take to the Sea
Ocean lovers have long visited Koh Tao for fantastic dives. The waters off the island boast over a dozen hard coral, 200 reef fish and exciting sightings like whale sharks, bull sharks, green turtles, and rays. Pair the biodiversity with relatively cheap dive trips through companies like Roctopus Dive and Big Blue Diving, and you’ve got yourself a diver’s haven.
Test your boundaries further by freediving in the deep blue sea through expeditions and lessons by Crystal Freediving and Apnea Total. However, climate change and the surge of tourism has had an impact on the natural balance in Koh Tao, so if you decide to visit to enjoy the wonders of the sea, remember to tread lightly.
Diving with whale sharks in Koh Tao / CC 2.0 / Jean-Guillaume Robin
Explore on Foot
Juufry Gooddream / CC BY 2.0
The crystal clear waters and soft, white sand of Koh Tao are so beautiful that you might spend your entire vacation lounging on the beach. It’s easy to forget that the forests further inland have much to offer as well.
Tour the island by mountain bike and discover places such as the Koh Tao temple and the Koh Nang Yuan lookout point. Or perhaps explore by the island foot and find fantastic spots in West Coast Viewpoint and Tanote Peak.
Much of the land is still covered in virgin rainforests, so keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as egrets, water monitors, pythons, and flying foxes.
RnR in Koh Tao Luxury Beach Resorts
The makings of an excellent holiday can all be found in the comfort of one of the many beautiful Koh Tao hotels. The island has an increasing number of well-appointed Koh Tao resorts where you can find pleasure in kicking back by the pool with a cocktail in hand.
Charm Churee Village is a dive resort located on a secluded crystal clear bay punctuated by smooth grey boulders and swaying palm trees. The villas are modest but comprehensive, coming with three fantastic restaurants, including the Starlight Restaurant that will charm you with the romantic sunset views.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly place to bunk for the night, consider UI Place, a dormitory-style hostel that has clean beds, locker space, and shared community space.
How to Get to Koh Tao from Singapore
There aren’t any direct flights from Singapore to Koh Tao, making it a little tricky to get to. The fastest way to get there is by plane and ferry. Take a flight to Koh Samui and then take a ferry from Koh Samui’s Nathon, Maenam, or Bangrak pier to Koh Tao. Depending on what kind of ferry your take, ferry rides will take anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours.
With gorgeous natural beauty, a variety of accommodation, sumptuous feasts, and electrifying nightlife, there’s something for all kinds of travellers in Koh Tao. Although the island can be a little challenging to get to, the gems found here make it well worth the journey.