Koh Tao, Thailand – How to Arrive ? Where to Stay ? What to Visit ? Page 1

Maps – Orientation

Map 1 : Transport to the islands (Samui, Phangan, Tao)

Map 2 : Koh Tao

Map 3 : Koh Nang Yuan

Map 4 : Koh Tao – Interactive Map

How is Koh Tao ?

Look at the Maps above.
Koh Tao is a beautiful small island. It is the smallest island between the 3 in the zone, just 6 Km long. In the opinion of many travelers, it is the most beautiful of the 3. The beaches + the mountains in Koh Tao make a very nice scenery.

There is also an adjacent tiny island called Koh Nang Yuan which is very picturesque and is very visited. Koh Nang Yuan can be considered part of Koh Tao. Koh Nang Yuan appears almost always on the publicity for Koh Tao.

Koh Tao is known for it’s clear waters and it is a big center for diving. There are a lot of diving schools here.

In the south of the island there is a bay called “shark bay” in which non dangerous sharks can be spotted (also from the land). There are also turtles in the water, on this beach, but you have to be lucky to see the turtles.

It is very common to take an half day boat trip around the island. During the trip, there are stops in order to do snorkeling (and also in order to try to see turtles in shark bay).

A lot of tourists want to visit Koh Tao and it is a small island, so the hotels tend to be more occupied and more expensive compared to Koh Samui. See later Where to Stay in Koh Tao.

Because Koh Tao is small, it is very easy to move from one place to another (if you rent a motorbike).
There is not a circular road in Koh Tao. The main road is vertical, on the left coast.

The most animated area in Koh Tao is around Sairee Beach. There are a lot of restaurants (along the road) and the beach is long and beautiful.

The second most animated area is around the main pier, Mae Haad. The distance between the 2 places is just 1 Km.

The nightlife in Koh Tao is very good. There are a lot of young people who arrive to Koh Tao and there is a lot of happy life, especially in Sairee Beach.

The food is OK. There is much less choice than in Koh Samui or Koh Phangan, but there are some good restaurants and some foreign owners of restaurants.

How to Arrive to Koh Tao ?

There is a dedicated page about how to arrive to this group of islands, with maps and location of the stations and piers + Info about the transit cities Surat-Thani and Chumphon + the boats between the islands.

You can book Flights, Trains, Buses and Taxis inside Thailand with the site 12GoAsia Choose the Origin city and Destination city and it will show you All the available Transports to destination.

Location of the Pier in Koh Tao

The pier is located in Mae Haad. See location on Google Maps or on the Maps above.
Mae Haad is on the left side of the island.

It is the only big pier on the island. There are Taxis waiting for passengers when the boats are arriving.

There may be small piers in other parts of the island, for small boats doing sea excursions.

Where to Stay in Koh Tao ? – Hotels

Note : Koh Tao is a small island and there is a big demand for the hotels. Be specially attentive in periods of feasts. I visited Koh Tao around the New Year and there was 0 offers left for the 31 of December.

Let’s look at the following Map :

Option 1 : Sairee Beach

This is a great zone to stay. It is Animated + Beautiful + Central.

Sairee is the most animated zone on the island. The road which is parallel and adjacent to the beach is full of restaurants and cafés. It is especially live in the evening.

The beach is long and beautiful. In the evening, there is music from some bars on the beach and even some dancing and fire plays.

You can catch from here a small boat to the famous tiny island Koh Nang Yuan.

See Hotels in Sairee Beach. After you Click, use the Map to find the desired location. Read opinion of travelers for each hotel.

Option 2 : Near Mae head Pier

The second most animated zone in Koh Tao. There are restaurants and diving schools along the road. There is some life here at night, but not as big and joyful as at the zone of Sairee.

There are at least 2 reasons for which you may want to stay here :

  1. You are at the pier. You don’t need to travel with a Taxi at the arrival day and the departure day.
  2. Strategic position on the island: Close to Sairee, close to the beautiful south and close to the main road. Also, on the day that you will make a boat excursion (yes, you will), you don’t need to travel, you are already near the pier.

There are some budgets hotel here, some restaurants and some motorbike rental.

See Hotels near Mae head Pier. After you Click, use the Map to find the desired location. Read opinion of travelers for each hotel.

In the Photo : As always, there is a dog that seems to be sad when I am living an hotel

Option 3 : Around Shark Bay

The south of the island is very beautiful.

You can stay in one of the wonderful resorts in one of the beaches adjacent to Shark Bay.

Koh Tao is small, so it is not a problem to travel to Sairee for the nightlife, when you want.

See Hotels around Shark Bay. After you Click, use the Map to find the desired location. Read opinion of travelers for each hotel.

Option 4 : Anywhere on the island

There are wonderful beaches around Koh Tao. Because Koh Tao is small it is not a huge problem when you live far from the center.

See Hotels in Koh Tao. After you Click, use the Map to find the desired location. Read opinion of travelers for each hotel.

Note the Hotel, Dusit Buncha Resort :

It is located in front of the famous tiny island Koh Nang Yuan, so there is a nice view

Also : There is an Hotel right in Koh Nang Yuan, the tiny island. The hotel is called Nangyuan Island Dive Resort
It is very beautiful to stay here but it is also a special situation with some disadvantages : You need to take a boat each time that you want to be in Koh Tao (for having a variety of restaurants for example). You can see the hotel on the following photo.

How to Move in Koh-Tao ?

Note : There are no buses in Koh Tao.

Option 1 : By Foot

The island is small but not that small in a way that you can see everything by foot. Still, you can decide that you don’t want to rent a motorbike. In that case, stay in the most animated place, Sairee beach and take an organized boat trip around the island.

Option 2 : By Motorbike (or maybe a rented car)

The best option to explore an island in Thailand. Koh Tao is small so you really don’t need an engine above 125 cc.
With a motorbike, you arrive very fast to all the corners of the island.

Option 3 : By Taxi

There are Taxis in Koh Tao (Tuk Tuk, shared pick-up). You need to catch them on the roads or use your hotel, to call one.
Sometimes, the service of the hotel will transport you (if it is a good hotel, in a remote corner).

Option 4 : By Grab Taxi

Doesn’t seem to work in Koh Tao (at the time that I am writing).

Option 5 : By Organized Tour

They will transport you to the destination. There are of course the organized boat tours.

How is the Nightlife in Koh-Tao ?

The nightlife is good. A lot of young people are arriving to Koh Tao to make a diving course or just for a short visit. The energy is high.

Sairee beach

The main spot for nightlife is Sairee beach. There are bars-restaurants on the beach, also some dancing.

Apparently, some dancing places have to wait for the right hour.

There are more bars and dancing between the beach and the road (called “the walking street”).

Mae head Pier

Cannot be compared to Sairee, but the street that goes from the pier and inland, is illuminated at night.

The main road of Koh Tao

They are not concentrated like in Sairee beach, but there are bars along the main road of the island. See the main road on Map 2 above.

How is the Climate in Koh-Tao ?

Note : The climate in Koh-Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao is quite similar.


It is hot in this zone, all year round. At day time around 30 degrees Celsius. At night around 25 degrees celsius. You better have air-conditioning in your room.


Like in all Thailand, there is also in this zone a rainy season. The rainy season here is from May to January.

  • The month of November is very rainy, around 400 mm rain.
  • October and  December around 200 mm rain.
  • The rest of the rainy season is moderate : May to October around 120 mm rain.
  • In the dry season, it can also rain. February, March, April : Around 60 mm rain.

What to Eat in Koh-Tao ?

The quality of food is good. There is less choice than in Koh Samui but still good.

Sairee beach

It is like for the nightlife, there are a lot of restaurants in Sairee beach. There is also a lot of “street food”.

Among the Italian restaurants in Sairee : Portobello Restaurant, Koh Tao.

I took a Pizza, of course. A vegetarian Pizza.

Also : La Pizzeria da Claudio is good. Located on the main road.

A good Mexican restaurant in Sairee beach, on the road : Centrico Cafe and Mexican Restaurant. My Veg Burrito was good.

French Bakeries

This is an important issue for me. I usually like to eat a croissant in the morning and not eggs. So, there are in Koh Tao, at least 2 bakeries with croissants and other bakeries. I am not sure that they can compete with the French bakeries in Koh Samui.

The French Market –  Less then 1 Km from Mae Haad Pier.

And also : Croissant & Ko – Close to the south coast.
Strangely, these places sell also Pizza, but who am I to judge.
A good Vegetarian restaurant in Mae Haad Pier : La Carotte Qui Rit

The owner is French and he is preparing Vegetarian Thai dishes. Cool.

Continue to Page 2 – What to Visit and do in Koh Tao

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