Ko Tao, Thailand: where is it, where to go and what to see

Coco Tao in Thailand.

Ko Tao – a beautiful and scenic island in the Gulf of Siam. Its name from the Thai language means “Turtle Island”. It used to be inhabited by a large number of turtles, but after Koh Tao became a popular tourist resort, turtles have become quite scarce. Apparently, they found a quieter place. But there were sculptures of turtles on the island. On Ko Tao, a lot of beautiful sandy beaches, coral reefs and greenery. Let’s get to know this island in more detail.

Description and photos

Tao Island is quite small in size, with an area of approximately 21 km². It is located 67 kilometers from the nearest mainland point (Surat Thani Province). Samui is 64 kilometers away, and 35 kilometers to Phangan. Ko Tao is an inhabited island with well-developed infrastructure, if you want you can stay overnight. The island is quite a lot of stores, including “7-eleven”, clothing stores, cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, ATMs, exchange offices, hotels, and even houses for rent. That is, you can live here quite comfortably. But prices are higher than on the mainland.

On the island, very few attractions, mostly tourists come here for the beautiful beaches, tropical views, diving and snorkeling. The most popular attraction of Ko Tao is the observation deck Two View, it offers stunning views of the entire island. It is well equipped and almost every tourist wants to get here.

Island Ko Tao

Another tourist spot is the square where there is a monument to King Rama V. The king came to the island and left his signature on the rock, and later his monument was erected here. This landmark is located at the southern end of Sairee Beach.

There is also a fisheries museum and a conservation center on the island. And, of course, the diamond caves. A favorite destination for many tourists.


The dry season on Ko Tao lasts from late December to April. This period is the best time to rest on the island. Since May, the amount of rainfall increases, but it is not critical. Therefore, it is also quite good to rest on Ko Tao from May to September. The worst months to travel to the island are October, November and the first half of December. During this time there is a lot of precipitation, the sea rises in large waves.


Koh Tao has a wide variety of beaches. Everyone will find a suitable place. There are crowded beaches and quiet secluded bays.

Island Ko Tao

Sairee Beach is the most bustling and crowded on the island. There are many bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and stores, and in the evening there is a fire show on this beach. However, for swimming it is not the best place. The sea is shallow and at low tide the water goes quite far. Sairee Beach is suitable for those who prefer fun and nightlife.

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Mae Haad beach is next to the pier. It is quite noisy and crowded because of the constant arrival of boats. This beach also has many cafes, restaurants, and stores. However, the prices are lower than on the beach described above. Here you can find a budget hotel or hostel. The beach is suitable for those who want to find cheap accommodation and do not want to long walk to their hotel from the pier.

Mango Bay is located in the north of Koh Tao. It is a picturesque and secluded bay. The beach is excellent for snorkeling. But to get to it is not easy, because the road along the coast to the beach does not, we have to drive through the center of the island, and the way goes through the mountains.

Mango Bay Beach

The beach Chalok Ban Kao is located in the south of Koh Tao. He ranks second in popularity among holidaymakers from Europe. Therefore, there are always a large number of tourists. On the beach Chalok Ban Kao excellent infrastructure: stores, bars, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, and more. The sea is shallow, it is not very comfortable to swim in it, but for children it is just what you need. The beach is notable because there are large and unusual boulders, which create a special charm of this place.

Chalok Ban Kao

The beach Jansom Bay is a small secluded cove. It is located on the private territory of the hotel, but it can be visited by all comers. The beach is clean and well maintained, with much greenery and flowers. Swimming in the sea, you can see the flocks of colorful fish. This beach is very popular with fans of snorkeling.

Jansom Bay

Leuk Bay beach is a great place for swimming and snorkeling. Here the water is crystal clear, smooth sandy descent into the sea. The beach is quite quiet, there are no noisy establishments. On the shore there are several cafes where you can eat. The beach Leuk Bay will appeal to those who love quiet and secluded vacation. Located on the east coast of the island.

Leuk Bay

Diving and snorkeling

Most tourists come to Koh Tao to enjoy the beauty of its underwater world. And there really is something to see. In the coastal waters of the island of Tao, you can see the turtle, rays, reef and whale sharks, barracuda. The island has several dozen diving schools, where you will learn everything you need.

On Koh Tao are mostly English-speaking instructors, but you can find a school where they teach in Russian. All necessary equipment is given to the school. At the end of classes you will receive a diver’s certificate.

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You can also rent a mask and tube on the island and do snorkeling. On Koh Tao, many beaches that are ideal for snorkeling. For example, the beaches of Leuk Bay, Jansom Bay, Mango Bay, Freedom Beach.

Here is a video review of Koh Tao.

In this video you can see what the island of Tao is all about.


There is a wide range of hotels, inns, and villas on Ko Tao. You can choose an accommodation according to your taste, your budget, and your favorite beach. One of the most luxurious hotels on the island is The Place Luxury Boutique Villas. Near the port there are several excellent hotels: Sensi Paradise Beach Resort and Koh Tao Royal Resort. For a budget option, I can recommend Montalay Beach Resort, Nadapa Resort and JP Resort Koh Tao.

The hotel is best booked in advance, as Koh Tao is very popular with tourists and free space may not be available. This is especially important before the New Year. During peak season the best options go like hotcakes.

I recommend booking a hotel on the site Hotelluk, because it can help you find the best price. I also leave you a map of the island with hotels, it will help you choose the hotel on the beach that you like best.


You can travel around the island of Tao by cab. You can also use the boat-taxi, it is convenient to sail from one beach to another. But it is much more convenient to rent a vehicle on Ko Tao. The most popular modes of transport are motorcycles and quads. If you plan to explore the whole island, it is better to take a quad bike, since most roads in Koh Tao have steep descents and ascents, and standard bikes do not always have enough power to drive up the hill.

Koh Tao in Thailand

The cost of renting a motorcycle 150-200 baht, quad bike – 800 baht.

However, rent a vehicle should be if you are fully confident in their driving skills. And be sure to check that the brakes work well, in the mountains it is especially important.

How to get there?

To get to Ko Tao is not easy. The island has no airport and you can get there only by ferry or boat.

If you’re flying from Russia or any other country, you have to change planes in Bangkok or Phuket. Then you can fly to Surat Thani Province or Samui Island, and then take a ferry to Koh Tao. There are also buses from Bangkok and Phuket to Surat Thani Province, from where the ferry to Ko Tao leaves. On the website 12go.asia you can buy a comprehensive ticket to Ko Tao.

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The easiest way to get to Koh Tao is from Samui and Phangan. There are daily ferries from these islands to Ko Tao. You can also book an excursion from Samui to Ko Tao. In this case, you will be picked up from the hotel and take back, providing equipment for snorkeling, and the tour package includes lunch, travel insurance and services of a guide. You can book a tour on this site. Additionally you will visit the beautiful island of Nang Yuan.

Ko Tao

Turtle Island (or Ko Tao) is located in the Gulf of Siam, close to the northern part of Samui. The island got this name because of its shape, which resembles a swimming turtle. The name also refers to the large number of turtles that used to come here to breed.

This is one of the most beautiful places, both for recreation and diving. In addition, this is one of the untouched by man places on earth, the infrastructure is just beginning to develop. Most of the attractions of the island are natural sites.

Landscape design of the island can affect even the most demanding and biased tourist. After all, it is a mountainous area. Only 30 percent of the land has a pronounced flat terrain, covered with shrubby plants.

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Climate of Ko Tao

Koh Tao Island

The climate of the island is exactly the same as in Samui. The best time to rest is considered August – September, and the second half of December – March. During these periods, the weather is very good, dry and warm. The rainiest are considered October-November, and in the first half of December, there are often showers. In addition, from October to January there are storms, which occur through a strong southeasterly wind. Koh Tao island is characterized by very variable weather.

Beaches of the island

On the beach quite a large number of beaches. For example, the beach Jansom Bay is located in Jansom Bay. In order to get to this beach you need to walk along the path through the villa Charm Churi. This beach is private property, so you have to pay for it. Near this beach is a favorite diving spot of the Three Rocks.

Jansom Bay

Another no less picturesque beach is Freedom Beach. This beach is also small, so there are not many tourists. Not far from the beach there is a restaurant that serves local food (Thai cuisine).

Freedom Beach

From the beach “Freedom” leaves a small concrete road that leads to the Taa Toh Lagoon. It is a very beautiful place. There are coral reefs, making it a great place for snorkeling. Some tourists swim closer to the rocks in order to consider the rays, which are very much in the coral reefs. In addition, you can meet coral fish, octopus, snappers, porcupines. To get to this beach is to walk about 15 minutes from the center of the island.

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Taa Toh Lagoon

The beach Tanote Bay (Tanote Bay) studded with snow-white sand, the sea is an amazing turquoise color, and the water is visible from a large number of rocks and snow-white coral reefs. In rainy weather to get to the beach is difficult enough, because one of the roads that leads to it – is sandy, but there is another road, which has a partial hard surface. For the convenience of tourists there is also a restaurant with both Thai and European cuisine. There are also hotels. Moreover, there are two diving – center, where you can rent equipment. The sand on the beach is coarse, so it is convenient to walk in shoes. The beach can be reached by bike or just by walking along the road that runs from the center of the island.

Tanot Bay

Tanote Bay

Another beach – Laem Thian Beach is located on the opposite side of the island of Ko Tao (parallel to the village of Sayri) on the beach there are bungalows, which are beautifully integrated into the local landscape. “Lam Tian is not only a beach, but also a bay. The bottom here is strewn with fine pebbles. When the wind is strong, there are big waves. The beach can be accessed on foot from Sairi.

Laem Tian Beach

Laem Thian Beach

Mae Haad Beach is located to the right of the pier, where boats arrive. This beach is not very popular, because a lot of noise comes from the boat people, as well as from arriving and departing tourists. But still the sand here is snow-white, soft and the water is clean.

Mae Haad Beach

Mae Haad Beach

Sai Daeng Beach is covered with snow-white sand and the water next to it is crystal clear. The beach is located near Shark Island. This place is particularly attractive to divers. Reach it by boat or car. Sai Dang is the best place for those who like silence, or want solitude.

Sai Daeng Beach

Sai Daeng Beach

Sairee Beach – Located on the west coast of the island, this beach is divided into two parts by boulders. Near the beach are the best bars, restaurants, stores. Here is a very beautiful sunset and many tourists go to this beach to see this spectacle. Here are a lot of viewing platforms.

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Sairi Beach

Sairee Beach

Another great beach is Chalok Baan Kao Beach. It is the third largest beach. It is located in the southeast of the island. It can be reached on foot or by bike. Here is also very well-developed infrastructure. In addition, there are many good places to see the local nature.

Chalok Baan Khao Beach

Chalok Baan Kao Beach

What to see in Koh Tao

As for the sights of the island, there is a museum of fishing, where you can see a variety of tools for fishing, as well as an exhibition of rare creatures of the sea.

There is a rock on Sairi Beach on which King Rama V signed his name. He visited the island at the end of the 19th century, after which the autograph became one of the attractions of the island.

The island is also home to the Fishery Conservation Unit. Here you can see rare sea creatures and learn what measures are taken to preserve these inhabitants, as well as other animals and fish.

Near Sayri Beach (on the north shore), there are the remains of a large whale. How it got there is a mystery.

You can also visit the diamond caves. Some tourists go there on a treasure hunt. This is one of the most beautiful places on the island.

The whole island is dotted with wonderful viewing platforms, from them you can look at the nature, the sunset, sunrise. For example, Two View is remarkable in that it allows you to see the entire island, because it is located on the highest cliff of the island. This is a favorite spot for tourists, especially couples in love.

Two View

View from Two View

Diving on Ko Tao

Diving on Ko Tao

Are you an expressive and thrill-seeking traveler? Then you should definitely dive into a world of mystery and magic – the underwater world of Koh Tao. Yes, indeed, because the multifaceted flora and fauna – direct proof of that. See big turtles, barracudas, reef sharks, and six-gill sharks, but also stingrays, dogfish, and many other colorful fish, who are also happy to get to know you better. For those who have a great desire to dive, but do not belong to the category of “novice” divers, can get some instructional lessons. However, it is worth noting that the training is done in special preparatory professional centers, so you will have to pay a small amount (about $ 25/lesson).

How to get to the island?

To get to the island, you can only by ferries, which operate from Samui or from Chumpon. Ferries are fast, so the journey time takes – from Chumpon – up to 2 hours, and from Samui – 1, 5 hours.

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