An Island guide to Koh Tao

Koh Tao cover

One of Thailand’s most popular southern islands is Koh Tao. The island is known for its Sabai-Sabai (laid back/no worries) atmosphere and stunning coral gardens.

The crystal clear waters offer excellent views of the sea life and coral reefs making it a divers paradise. The interior of the island is filled with hills, lush green jungles and plenty of wildlife, it is surely one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands.

The name Koh Tao translates to Turtle Island and rightfully so as you are almost guaranteed to see an abundance of turtles swimming in the surrounding waters.

How to get there?

The paradise Island of Koh Tao is located in the Gulf of Thailand. One of the easiest way to reach this paradise Island is to take the night bus leaving at 21:00 from Bangkok to Koh Tao. The advantage of taking the bus is that you travel by night and it also includes a ferry ticket.

If you have more money to spend, you can also take a flight to Koh Samui and continue with a 1-2 hour ferry to neighbor island Koh Tao.

The Top Things to do in Koh Tao

Diving is, without a doubt, the most popular activity on Koh Tao. The colorful underwater gardens are simply magnificent and are easy to explore by renting the diving gear, or doing a course, at one of the many diving schools.

Besides diving, there is so much more that Koh Tao has to offer. It’s laid back vibes makes it a reason why travellers keep extending their stay at this paradise Island.

#1 Exploring Koh Tao’s colorful underwater life

Ready to check out those crystal-clear waters? Diving is, without a doubt, the most popular activity to do on Koh Tao.

You will find plenty of dive schools on the island where you can take your PADI Open Water Diving course. By booking with a smaller, well-known company it will ensure you get the proper training and some one-on-one time with your instructor.

The crystal clear waters, coral reef, and sea life make for excellent sights and perfect photo opportunities. Prepare for the dive of a lifetime as you can see everything from turtles to barracudas and maybe even a few whale sharks.

Koh Tao Coral

#2 Rent a SUP board at one of Koh Tao’s beaches

With the surrounding waters being so clear, this is the perfect place to try Stand Up Paddleboarding.

The waters are usually quite calm offering you the ultimate SUP experience. Enjoy the sights, sea life and you can even jump in the sea for a quick dip when it gets too warm.

Head to Maya Beach Club to rent your board and get the best tips for exploring the area.

SUP thailand

#3 Rock climbing & hiking

Rock climbing and hiking are also very popular activities on Koh Tao. The island’s interior is filled with more than 70 climbing and hiking opportunities. From mountaintop walls and trails with panoramic views, eroded seaside cliffs, and impressive bouldering areas.

There are a few climbing schools/camps offering lessons and training on the island so if you are not experienced but want to give it a shot, this a great place to try it out.

Climbing Koh Tao

#4 Practice Thailand’s ancient art form of fighting: Muay Thai

Brave enough put on the gloves? Muay Thai is very popular on the island and you’ll find a few great spots to watch fights or even participate.

A couple of the island’s schools offer a full Muay Thai training program where you will learn everything about this ancient art form of fighting. You can also find a few places where you can just take a drop-in class to learn a little about it and see if its actually for you or not.

Whether you choose to be a spectator or a participant, you are guaranteed to have a ton of fun and learn about this exciting Thai tradition.

Muay Thai Koh Tao

#5 Koh Tao’s nightlife scene

Koh Tao has a busy and exciting nightlife scene that is great for travelers of all types. You’ll find fire shows and live music are perfect for the tamer crowds and nightclubs and beach parties that go on until dawn for the younger crowds.

Sairee Beach is where you will find the parties that go all night, while the remainder of the island is much quieter.

If you’re looking for a fun night out with excellent DJs, excitement and flashing lights then definitely head to this area, you won’t be disappointed.

Koh Tao nightlife

Fresh fish, seafood and local Thai dishes

For the foodies and seafood lovers, this island is a dream come true! While you can find upscale dining on the island, you really don’t need to as many of the small, local restaurants will provide you an amazing meal at very affordable costs.

Fresh fish, seafood and shellfish, along with local Thai dishes are among the favorites. You’ll find plenty of wonderful spots to enjoy a meal on a patio and soak in the surrounding sights.

If Thai food is not your top choice, don’t worry, you will also find plenty of Western and Indian restaurants on the island and even a few pizza joints.

One of the top restaurants to check out NA Koh Tao for the best seafood or The Noodle Bar for one of the best Noodle restaurants you’ll find in Thailand! More in the mood for a pizza? As the name already reveals, La Pizzeria got you covered!

Noodles thailand

Getting around in Koh Tao

Koh Tao is quite small and the roads have not been kept up very well so getting around can be a little dangerous at times.

You can easily rent a motorbike or ATV but be sure you are a skilled driver and are aware of the local laws before venturing out on your explorations. You will find taxis on the island but they can be extremely overpriced so always agree on a price before getting in.

A great way to travel from beach to beach or across the island is by longtail boat, these can be found on almost all the beaches and are extremely affordable, they will also offer you the best views and unique travel experience.

Getting around in Koh Tao

Author BIO: With a special place in his heart for Southeast Asia, Maarten’s biggest passion is to explore every corner of the world while meeting fellow travellers, which fuels his adventures. With Bali being his new home, he is now fully immersing in the Indonesian culture and enjoying the Island as a base to explore nearby destinations.


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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