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Where to stay in Koh Tao

Where to stay in Koh Tao, the diving destination for adventurous souls

Also known as Turtle Island, Koh Tao is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s deemed an adventurer’s paradise due to the warm and clear waters which enable people to dive and snorkel. Sparsely populated, this small island relies mostly on tourism. Despite its size, there are plenty of scuba diving and snorkeling schools. In addition, the lifestyle on Koh Tao is very laid back and relaxed, which is perfect for those who want to escape from the noise and traffic.

Five best areas in Koh Tao

This small island offers a number of beautiful places to visit and stay. These are some of our suggestions:

  1. Mae Haad
  2. Tanote Bay 
  3. Sairee Beach
  4. Thian Og
  5. Chalok Bay

Areas in Koh Tao

Mae Haad The main port city, easy access to transportation, banks, travel agencies, shops, restaurants, etc. Our pick for a place to move to if you want to stay for a longer period of time.
Tanote Bay This area provides a very laid back and mellow atmosphere; it isn’t as busy or hectic as some other areas, but it has more than enough to show to travelers, particularly those on a budget.
Sairee Beach The busiest and most exciting area on Koh Tao. The epicenter of nightlife on this small island.
Thian Og A great area to visit for travelers who are coming to Koh Tao for the first time. Thian Og is known also as Shark Bay, due to it being a shark nursery. You can also witness some green turtles.
Chalok Bay One of the quietest areas on the island. Ideal for bohemian souls, looking for peace and tranquility. Another great thing about Chalok Bay is that despite its quietness it is still close to local conveniences.

Getting to and around Koh Tao

If you are traveling from Bangkok, your best option is to catch a plane to Koh Samui and then take a boat to Koh Tao. Make sure to check the schedules for arrival and departure in order to reduce the waiting time.

There are also buses that depart from Bangkok and then arrive at Chumphon. Afterward, you hop on to a boat and head out to Koh Tao. This is the most common and one of the most affordable ways of commuting to Koh Tao. The journey by boat can take up to a few hours.

Another option is to travel by boat from one of the two neighboring islands – Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

When it comes to getting around Koh Tao the most common, and really the only way, is by motorcycle which you can rent. Make sure the bike isn’t damaged, and if it is, notify the people at the rental shop in order to avoid paying for any damages that were not caused by you. You might be asked to leave your passport or deposit money. 

Where to stay in Koh Tao long term – Mae Haad

As the main port town on Koh Tao, Mae Haad is the most developed area, with easy access to boats that can lead you to other places. This is where you will find banks, a post office, ATMs, as well as medical assistance if you need it. There are also plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants.

Things to see and do in Mae Haad

Here are some suggestions for things to do while staying in Mae Haad:

  • Mae Haad Seafood
  • Bro & Sis Bar
  • Mae Haad Beach

Mae Haad Seafood

Dine at this charming restaurant which serves delicious Thai seafood with a view of the beach and the sea.

Image source: ochixxx

Bro & Sis Bar

A local bar that plays live music. A great opportunity for meeting the locals and making new friends.

Image source: fern.weh6

Mae Haad Beach

Swim in the warm waters or sunbathe on the beautiful beach.

Image source: tia_davis_

Where to stay in Koh Tao on a budget – Tanote Bay

An ideal spot for vacationing thanks to its soothing and relaxing atmosphere, as well as beautiful scenery and nature. Here you won’t find many restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. This area is also great for those who enjoy swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Because it is not as touristy as some other areas, it is slightly challenging to find accommodation in Tanote Bay. Instead, you are more likely to find affordable accommodation just a bit outside of this area.

Things to see and do in Tanote Bay

These are some suggestions for fun activities:

  • Jump off a cliff
  • Ao Tanote Beach
  • Go diving or snorkeling

Jump off a cliff

This sounds a little bit scary and intimidating, however, the reason for this suggestion is because there is a huge cliff in the middle of the bay which people use for jumping off into the clear waters. Wonderful for thrill-seekers.

Image source: tatishots

Ao Tanote Beach

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bask in the sunlight on the beach. You can go swimming, or if you are traveling with a group of friends you can play beach sports – beach volleyball, for example.

Image source: elisaolivero

Go diving or snorkeling

Explore the calm waters and all the sea life in it whilst diving or snorkeling.

Image source: gianfranco_laquintana

Where to stay in Koh Tao for nightlife – Sairee Beach

Energy-wise this is an extremely vibrant and lively area in Koh Tao. Here you can find a lot of bars, pubs, and restaurants. A great spot for hanging out during the evening or night.

Things to see and do in Sairee Beach

Here are some of our suggestions for bars and restaurants to visit:

  • Fishbowl Beach Bar
  • Lotus Beach Bar
  • Leo Beach Bar

Fishbowl Beach Bar

As the name implies, this bar is located on the beach. They frequently have groups that play live music or they have DJs playing some funky music.

Image source: jjohnson4249

Lotus Beach Bar

After the beautiful sunset, the neon lights turn on and the fire dancers come out to put on a performance.

Image source: rowanwilliams32

Leo Beach Bar

Another bar that features fire performers, as well as DJs that fire up the energy.

Image source: leobeachbarkohtao