Koh Tao is a small island positioned on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand and wow, is it beautiful! Its neighbouring islands are Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, also two very popular island for holiday goers and backpackers.
Getting to Koh Tao
There are various different ways to get to Koh Tao, which can sometimes be confusing. The easiest way to get there was to buy a combo ticket, which includes an overnight train from Bangkok (Lamphong trainstaion) to Chumphon port. From here you can catch a connecting fast boat direct to Koh Tao; this takes a total of about 13 hours. This costs around 1,200 baht. It is hassle free and a cheap option for those of you wanting to stick to a budget.
If your budget stretches a little further you can catch a flight to Koh Samui airport and then jump on a ferry/fast boat to Koh Tao.
Where to stay in Koh Tao
Accommodation is easy to come by. You can chose to book online prior to your visit or rock up and find one on the day. I know by doing this you can barter a much better price than booking online! Koh Tao caters for everyone and that is why I absolutely adore this island. You can stay anywhere from luxury hotels and apartments, cosy guesthouses to cool hostels where you meet the nicest of people! Like myself, most backpackers tend to stay in the Sairee Beach region where there are endless beach bars, night life, beautiful restaurants and dive schools.
When is the best time to go
Koh Tao offers a 10 month high season for travellers to visit, which is great! The best times of the year to go are February to April and July to September as these months the weather is mostly hot with little rain. With so much to do and see for such a small island, you could easily spend five days here, maybe longer if you decide to get your open water certificate.
What should you do here
This island is renowned for its sensational scuba diving and is the CHEAPEST place to do it and become a certified diver! Gaining your PADI certificate takes three days, so can take up a bit of your time, but is 100% worth it! If that is not for you then you can opt for an ‘adventure dive’ or ‘discover scuba dive’. The scuba company we used was ‘Davey Jones’ Locker’ and they were brilliant. I would recommend you shop around the dive shops and ask for prices as they do vary very slightly and get a feel for which dive school you would like to dive with.
Koh Tao has some of the most amazing coral I have ever seen so you are spoilt for choice as of where to go. You can get lost for hours watching the beautiful schools of fish and turtles swim around the crystal clear waters. Get a map from your hotel or tourist information hub and it will point out the best snorkel spots. We particularly enjoyed Shark Bay and Freedom Beach – keep an eye out for black tip reef sharks, you may be lucky enough to see one! You must pay a small fee of 50 baht per person to enter both of these beaches.
Parts of the island are hard to get to via bike or car, so you can chose to rent a private long-tail boat to get to those hard-to- reach beaches and coves. This is slightly more expensive but I think it is worth paying a little more if you want to discover beaches that are quieter and untouched. Private long-tail boats are usually charged by the hour and based on the number of passengers.
Hire a scooter for the day and venture around the island to different viewpoints and beaches. To hire a bike for the day costs around 200baht and makes getting around the island so much easier. Make sure you head to John- Suwan Viewpoint, which is literally next to Freedom beach. This is said to be the best viewpoint on the island and who ever said this was not wrong; we were blown away, it was magnificent. You are able to see the whole island, both the East and West side of Koh Tao. It looks so green and pretty.
Visiting Nang Yuan Island is an absolute must! The island can be accessed by long tail boat (or taxi boat as the locals call them) for 100-150 baht + 50 baht entrance fee to get onto the island. Nang Yuan is made up of two adjacent islands which are connected by stunning white sand and crystal blue ocean. Do not forget to visit the viewpoint here too, it is beautiful!
Why should Koh Tao be on my bucket list?
Koh Tao has something for everyone who visits. Families, couples, backpackers, the elderly and the young; it really is such a diverse island. This island must be on your bucket list when visiting Thailand. It will give you amazing memories and endless amounts of fun. From relaxed days on the stunning beaches, sipping cocktails in one of the many beach bars, enjoying the delicious thai foods, partying through the night, discovering the underwater world and exploring the island, you are in for a treat!