Koh Tao is a small island in Thailand. You may well have never heard of it before, just as you will never forget it once you’ve visited. It’s only 21 square km in total and often nicknamed the ‘island of the tortoises’. It’s one of the most remote, picturesque islands in Thailand, so less talking, let’s take a look.
Get to Koh Tao by ferry
The only way to get to Koh Tao is by ferry, there isn’t enough space for an airport. The ferry leaves from 3 points: Chumphon, Suratthani and Koh Samui Island. Chumphon’s closest airport is Bangkok while Suratthani is closest to Krabi airport. The third option is from Sumui Island, for obvious reasons this can’t be accessed by road, however the island has an airport and is actually the closest place to Koh Tao.
In most travel options you can buy a flight and ferry ticket at the same time to make it cheaper.
Stay in a resort in Koh Tao, or rent an apartment?
Renting a holiday apartment or house gives you the opportunity to feel like a local and indulge into the island life. Travelling to Koh Tao has one main purpose: to escape urban life and get lost in the green vegetation and turquoise sea water.
If you choose to stay in a resort on the island it’s definitely the easiest option, but will you really get the full experience? These days its becoming more and more common to rent a private holiday apartment and enjoy living like a Thai.
Things to see in Koh Tao
On your visit to Koh Tao, your priority should be to take a short trip to Nang Yuan island which is 15 minutes away by kayak, boat or other means of water transport. The best way is probably by water taxi known as ‘long tail’, just bear in mind that on arrival you will have to pay 100 Thai Baths (their currency) on arrival to get your place.
The crystal clear water is perfect for snorkelling and discovering the underwater wildlife. In the south of the island there’s a public viewpoint where you can see the island from above and watch the spectacular scenes.
Let’s go back to Koh Tao, which is full of coves and little beaches surrounded by palm trees and nature. The main beaches are Mae Head and Sairee but they also get the most visitors.
If you want to go somewhere with less tourists there are some more secluded beaches. In the south of Koh Tao there is Chalok Baan Kao beach which has a progressive depth into the sea. You’ll have to walk for metres to be able to get a swim. Nearby you can find Freedom Beach which is also rather hidden. Also try Ao Leuk, Tanote Bay, Mongo Bay or Banana Rock.
Here you won’t only discover new beaches but also new landscapes, you can’t simple arrive here in your fancy car, it will be more of an adventure with walks, hikes and excursions.
As it’s so small, you can get around almost all of Koh Tao on foot, or by bicycle if you prefer. Just remember to wear appropriate footwear as you’ll be walking through the jungle. There are many hiking routes already laid out such as the walk along the coast from Chalok Baan Kao to Banana Rock which is really beautiful.
If you don’t like walking so much you can also rent a motorbike or a jeep if you’re in a group. This way you’ll get around Koh Tao quicker and with much less wear and tear. There is, however a small risk in renting a car as the roads are dangerous, so bare this in mind when renting.
In addition, it’s advisable to check the status of the vehicle to make sure it doesn’t already have any problems which you may later get charged for after you’ve used it.
You can also get around the island by boat. Just remember to negotiate a price with the driver before you get on board. They’re known as ‘water taxi’s and useful for getting to the secluded beaches which are more difficult to travel to by foot. Water taxi is also the best way to get to Nang Yuan, don’t miss it!
After visiting this island and squeezing every inch of fun out of it, chances are you might be feeling rather tired. Why not relax with the traditional Thai massage on the beach. It will help you to regain both your body energy but also your mind.
Before finishing your day and heading to bed, you must watch one of the best sunsets in Thailand on the beach. Koh Tao has some beautiful tropical sunsets with all sorts of tones and textures. Your trip will not be complete without a photo of the sunset at Sairee Beach, which has the best views.
Snorkelling and diving in Koh Tao
Apart from its unquestionable beauty, Koh Tao is known as the mecca for diving. Not only can you give it a try but you can get your certificate in any of the diving schools on the island. There are different levels to pass, from the most basic to the divemaster depending on the time and level you want to get.
If diving is a bit much for you, why not try snorkelling? It’s one of Koh Tao’s most popular activities and you can do it on any beach in the island.
However, there is one place on this island which is especially famous for snorkelling : Shark Bay. Yes it is what you’re thinking. In this bay it’s very common to cross with sharks and turtles, but they’re completely harmless!
Shark bay should be a must visit whether you decide to snorkel or go there by boat. It’s on the east side of the island, further away from the tourists and the best place to enjoy the underwater experience to the fullest.
To complete your Thai experience, you can take another ferry back to the mainland to discover more beautiful parts of Thailand. Some of the closest places to Koh Tao to visit are:
- Koh Samui
- Koh Phangan
Wherever you decide to go, you can always find your ideal house or apartment thanks to our holiday rental comparison site Hundredrooms. Have you used it yet?