Ko Tao is another gorgeous island in the Gulf of Thailand, about 20 miles north of Ko Pha Ngan and 40 miles off the mainland coast. While it has its own version of a raucous nightlife, Ko Tao is best known for is scuba diving, and the budget dive schools that come with. Some of the leading certification schools in the world are located on Ko Tao, with thousands of backpacker’s getting certified every year. Because of this, many of the dive resorts offer specials for those enrolling in dive classes. Honestly, it’s a bit of a conveyor-belt mentality- get ‘em in, get ‘em certified, get ‘em out- but if you want to get scuba certified, and want to do it on the cheap- at world-class dive sites- there are few better options than the dive schools on Ko Tao. If you’re not a diver, no worries- IT’S AN ISLAND IN THAILAND- enough said...

Getting There

Much like Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao is serviced by almost everything. Various ferries depart daily from Chomphon and Surat Thani, and there are numerous inter-island ferries to get you to Ko Tao from Ko Pha Ngan and neighboring Ko Samui. Check out http://kohtao.sawadee.com/kohtao_transfer.html for more details.

Living the god life on Koh Tao

Things to do on Ko Tao

  • Hit the beach. Ko Tao is smaller than Ko Pha Ngan, and similarly has numerous secluded beaches hidden all around the island. Go exploring and find your own private beach for the day.
  • Take a cruise- local boats are for hire just off the beach. They can take you to any beach on the island, as well as to a handful of other destinations just off Ko Tao. They’re great for going on a pleasure cruise to see the rest of the island.
  • Take in the sunset- sundowners along Sairee Beach are a must- stunning sunsets over amazing cocktails on the beach in Thailand- a SE Asian STAPLE.

Sunset on Koh Tao

  • Check out the Fire Show- if you thought the guys on Ko Pha Ngan were good, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet... These guys are INSANE- literally. The stuff they do with fire is ridiculous. Do NOT try this at home, or anywhere else, for that matter...
  • Hit the trails- again, Ko Tao is small, and provides great opportunities for hiking and biking. Ask at your accommodation about local trails, and where you can hire a bike if you want to. Then, explore your own corner of paradise...
  • DIVE- this seems to be what EVERYBODY is doing in Ko Tao. If you’re already certified, hunt up a local dive shop and check out some of the premier dive sites in all of Thailand. If you want to get certified, find the best deal for your purposes, and get amongst it. The diving in Ko Tao is AMAZING. If scuba isn’t your thing, book a day-long snorkel trip, and you’ll still get to see some of the most incredible sea life in the country.
  • Party hearty- yes, Ko Tao is an island in Thailand, which inherently means that the nights can be as wild and crazy as one desires. Numerous bamboo bars line the beach, and the main street has more dining and drinking options than one can count. Be aware- if you show up to dive and you’re deemed to be too hung over- no dive for you, and NO REFUND either...

Insider Tips

  • Shop around- as mentioned above, almost every resort, hotel, hostel, and bungalow has some sort of special on for signing up for a dive course. Decide what you want to do, compare prices and deals at several shops, and get the best deal you can.
  • There are a few ‘Private Resorts’ just off the beach that you can pay to go to for the day. Snorkel gear is typically included in the cost of admission. Hire a local water taxi for a ride, and enjoy a day on your own ‘private’ beach.

A 'private beach' on an island next to Koh Tao

  • Try the ‘pancakes’- another STAPLE in SE Asia, these ‘pancakes’ are a Thai crepe, stuffed with whatever you want to stuff it with. ‘Pancake, Pancake! Very gooood! Very niiiiice!’- a common refrain when walking along the main path after sunset. Late at night, they’re irresistible.
  • As mentioned above, don’t go too hard if you’ve got an early dive the next day. The people that run the dive shops know exactly what to look for, and aren’t shy about refusing to let you dive if you’re not fit. You won’t get a refund, and that’s free money for them. Just take it easy...