Koh Tao Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Best Time: December to September Read More

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"The Turtle Island"

Koh Tao Tourism

Koh Tao is an island in the Chumphon Archipelago group of islands in the southeastern part of Thailand. It is largely popular for scuba diving and snorkelling as it has some of the best and cheapest diving spots in the world. The island is also known for its pristine white sand beaches, lantern-lit restaurants, delicious food, and of course, the abundant sea turtles residing on its shores, as suggested by its name. On the one hand, it has a proud and vibrant local culture, and on the other, it has a relaxing atmosphere and an exciting nightlife.

Koh Tao, being synonymous with diving, requires four days if one wants to do a PADI or ISSI diving course. Most travellers come here for diving education. However, if you're here only to relax, a two-day trip works just fine. Snorkelling is also available for those who might not want to dive but still explore the corals and marine life, with many beautiful spots that even beginners can enjoy.

Koh Tao is known to be the laid back and less developed neighbour of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan. With small shacks, many bungalows and thatched hostels, and small cafes and eateries, the island attracts those looking for a relaxing and quiet seaside vacation. Besides scuba-diving, swimming, and snorkelling, visitors can also indulge in hiking and rock-climbing on the island's eastern side.

Must Know Before You Travel to Koh Tao

  • Ferry: Donsak Pier in Surat Thani is the main pier for ferries and boats to Koh Tao.
  • Day Trips: Koh Tao can be visited from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. While day trips from either island are possible, a multi-island tour for a holistic vacation is recommended.
  • Where to Stay: The most popular area to stay on the island is along Sairee Beach. Unfortunately, accomodation is almost quickly booked out here, so booking your stay well in advance is recommended.
  • Getting Around: Renting a motorbike is the best way to travel around Koh Tao.
  • Scuba Diving: You need a whole day to do scuba diving; ideally, you should not take a flight the next day. Plan your days accordingly.
  • Full Moon Party: The famous Full Moon Party happens in Koh Phangan, a neighboring island to Koh Tao. So, you can plan a fun trip to scuba in Koh Tao and Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.

Top Hotels In Koh Tao

More on Koh Tao Travel

Scuba Diving in Koh Tao

Scuba Diving in Koh Tao is the island's most popular activity. Wrapped in white sand and gorgeous beaches, diving in Koh Tao is an experience to await. Favourite views during the dive include tropical coral reefs and the different animals that inhabit the ocean, like stingrays and whale sharks.

The complete guide to Diving in Koh Tao.

Here are the best Dive Sites in Koh Tao.

Nightlife in Koh Tao

Koh Tao boasts a vibrant nightlife scene. With pubs offering delicious Thai grub, cabaret shows, nightclubs presenting international DJs, pool parties, bars screening movies, and ocean-view dining lounges, Koh Tao sparkles till dawn. Every place is has an exotic collection of fantastic cuisines, imported wines, beer, and cocktails. You can also enjoy shopping for handicrafts at colourful night markets.

Here are some of the best places to enjoy the nightlife in Koh Tao -

  • Reef Sports Bar and Restaurant
  • AC Bar Beach Club
  • Queen’s Cabaret
  • Leo Beach Bar
  • Maya Beach Club
  • BND Beach Bar

Learn More About The Nightlife in Koh Tao

Shopping in Koh Tao

  • Koh Tao has plenty of shops selling clothes made by local as well as international designers at all the three top beaches - Sairee, Mae Haad, and Chalok Ban Kao.
  • Swimsuits, hats, and other beach accessories are available here too.
  • Souvenirs like coconut necklaces and printed t-shirts are also easy to find.
  • The fresh markets of Koh Tao offer local foods and ingredients for foreigners interested in trying local cuisine.

Daily Budget & Money Exchange

Koh Tao is known for its cheap accommodation and water activities. If you're looking for a relaxing trip by the beach and eating local, you will be done in THB 1000. Whereas if you want to visit bars and parties, then alcohol will have to raise your budget a little, and in such cases, you would require THB 1500 - 2000 approximately.

  • One can exchange currency at Koh Tao, but a better option would be exchanging it at Bangkok at better rates.
  • While carrying credit cards, one should inform their particular bank that they're travelling to Thailand as the banks sometimes block the cards.
  • ATMs are avaialble all over Koh Tao, so withdrawing isn't a problem.
  • Koh Tao is a small island and the bars and local vendors prefer accepting cash most of the times

Do's and Don'ts in Koh Tao

  • The essential etiquettes a foreigner should know while visiting Koh Tao are never to lose your temper, never point or raise your feet at anyone as feet are considered dirty, never wear shoes indoors.
  • Tourists are expected to be polite and smile.
  • Tips aren't the norm in Koh Tao. However, tipping maids and helpers is highly appreciated.

Language of Koh Tao

Thai is the spoken language in Koh Tao. As with any foreign country, learning a few basic communication terms in the local language would be an advantage. The resort and restaurant staff will know English, but the local market vendors might not, so carrying an English to Thai dictionary could come handy at times.

Religion of Koh Tao

95% of the population follows Buddhism, and a majority of the remaining follow Islam.

History of Koh Tao

Before 1943, Koh Tao was uninhabited. The island was just a jungle with an abundance of turtles. Only fishing boats visited the local waters in search of fish. Between 1943 and 1944, it was also used as a prison for prisoners transferred from Koh Tarutao. However, these prisoners were then released, leaving the island deserted once again. Later in 1977, the first travellers came to Koh Tao to explore its pristine underwaters. Soon after that, the first resort, Niyom Bungalows, was built here, and since then Koh Tao is gaining popularity as a tourist destination.

Best Time to Visit Koh Tao

How to Reach Koh Tao

How to Reach Overview

Koh Tao is a small island so one can reach by taking a flight to Koh Samui or Chumphon and then a ferry.

How to reach Koh Tao by flight

Tourists have the option of flying to either Koh Samaui international airport which is the simplest but very expensive and not usually a choice for budget travellers, or Chumphon international airport which is much cheaper than Samui. Both these airports have high speed ferry connections to Koh Tao.

How to reach Koh Tao by bus

If you're coming from Bangkok to Koh Tao, you can take a bus from Bangkok to Chumphon and then a ferry to Koh Tao. This is a very long journey and hence not usually prefered. But it might appeal to people travelling on a budget.

How to reach Koh Tao by waterways

Boats are the only way to reach Koh Tao. Services run from the mainlands of Chumphon and Surat Thani, and from islands of Koh Samui and Ko Pha Ngnan.

Local transport in Koh Tao

Walking around on foot in Koh Tao is the best way to explore the island. Taxis are available too, but they are a rather expensive option. Another alternative is motorbike and cycle rentals. The mountainous geography of the island makes travelling across it rather time-consuming and arduous, so make sure you account for that in your plans.

Koh Tao Photos

Koh Tao, Thailand
Diving in Koh Tao
Koh Tao

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FAQs on Koh Tao

What are the places near Koh tao?

The top places near to Koh tao are Koh samui which is 67 km from Koh tao, Surat thani which is located 120 km from Koh tao, Phuket which is located 289 km from Koh tao, Krabi which is located 245 km from Koh tao, Pattaya which is located 334 km from Koh tao

What are the things to do in Koh tao?

The top things to do in Koh tao are Hin Wong Bay, Koh Nang Yuang Island Viewpoint, Yaai Mae and Taa Tao Spirit rocks, Wat Koh Tao , King Rama V Rock and Statue, Scuba Diving . You can see all the places to visit in Koh tao here

What is the best way to reach Koh tao?

Koh Tao is a small island so one can reach by taking a flight to Koh Samui or Chumphon and then a ferry.
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What is the local food in Koh tao?

Koh Tao offers a huge selection of Thai food, including large varieties of seafood. Barbequed fish, mango and sticky rice, grilled chicken skewers, spicy papaya salad are few of the most famous food among the locals and tourists. Most of the dishes in Koh Tao are served with sticky rice. However, Koh Tao offers a lot of other international cuisines too, ranging from Italian and French to Indian, Tex-Mex and Chinese.
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What is the best time to visit Koh tao?

December to February is the best time to visit Koh Tao as the weather is warm and sunny and it's the busiest time for the bars and clubs. July to September is the best time to visit for great visibility during diving. March to May is comparatively hot, and visibility isn't great, but whale sharks are common in this period. The months of October and November are the worst time to visit Koh Samui as the rains start hitting the island.
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Who should visit Koh tao?

Diving enthusiasts

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Popular Questions And Answers on Koh Tao

Q. How is Koh Tao different from Koh Phangan and Koh Samui? Which of these is best for a budget travel?


6 years ago
Koh Tao is the Smallest when compared to Koh Pha Ngan And Koh Samui. It does not have as many parties as Koh Pha Ngan has or neither does it have the luxuries of Koh Samui. Koh Tao is for a relaxed e (Read More)xperience and vivid underwater scenes that mesmerise in every moment. Koh Tao would be the most Budget friendly place to travel.
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