- Location: Eastern Shore of Gulf of Thailand, within Koh Pha Ngan district of Surat Thani Province in Thailand.
- Significance: Pristine Beaches, Snorkeling, Coral Reefs
- Attraction Type: Tropical Island
- Best Time to Visit: Between December and April
- How to Reach: Ferry services from Surat Thani, Chumphon, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngon. You can fly to Koh Samui or Surat Thani from BangKohk and then take a ferry, or fly to Koh Samui.
- Nearest International Airport: Koh Samui International Airport
Koh Tao, till very recently, was known more as a getaway for tourists to Koh Samui. However, with Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan becoming increasingly crowded with the passage of time, many now consider Koh Tao as a better destination for rest, repose as well as adventure activities. With rapid infrastructural development, this erstwhile prison island is steadily making its present felt among the top tourist spots in Thailand. Koh Tao is now famous as a great tropical island of exquisite beauty and great snorkeling opportunities.
Although the island did not have a steady inhabiting population till very recently, it was known to mariners and navigators from much earlier days. By the 17th century, Frederick Arthur Neal notes the presence of a local population in this island, which was then known as It appears as Paulo Bardia. He also noted the presence of his colorful ecology. A boulder, still revered by locals and tourists by the Sairee Beach, attests the fact that King ChlalongKohrn visited the island in 1899. In the early 20th century, the island became a political prison, although it was dissolved in 1947 on the initiatives of Khuang Abhaiwongse. As the inmates were deported to Surat Thani, the island became uninhabited again. Travelers discovered the island in 1980s, and its reputation as a smashing snorkeling destination has increased ever since.
Koh Tao Beaches
Koh Tao is known because of its wide and sandy beaches. Some of the most popular beaches of Koh Tao Island are:
Sairee Beach: This is the most popular beach of the island. The beach is mostly wide and sandy, although a few boulders are present. Being the most popular beach of the island, it has a steady presence of visitors all throughout the day. It is also the spot where you can find the famous royal inscription of Rama V or ChlalongKohrn. Mae Had, the fishing village of great quaint charm has to be accessed from this beach.
Chalok Baan Kao: Smaller than the Sairee Beach, this is the nightlife capital of the island. It also has a wide range of accommodation for tourists. A helicopter ride can be accessed from this beach, which provides a wonderful all-round view of the island.
Koh Nung Yuan Island: This fascinating island cannot be missed because it is a meeting point of three different coral reefs.
Activities at Koh Tao
Koh Tao is known primarily for snorkeling. There are few places in Thailand that offer a better snorkeling experience. The aquatic life inhabiting the subterranean coral reefs is simply fascinating. If you have no prior experience of diving, you can always learn it in one of the diving schools in the island. If, however, you prefer a more relaxed and tranquil holiday, stay back on the beach. The views are wonderful.
Hiring a longboat and exploring the many hidden bays of the island is one of the most popular activities that the visitors indulge in during their stay at Koh Tao. You can also hire a bicycle and explore the island on your own. Do not forget to visit the famous John-Suwan Viewpoint. It has a great view of the island, where the two beaches curve and meet each other, reminiscent of the famous Phi Phi Island view.
Living up to its image as one of the most popular upcoming island destination of the South East, there is an amazing nightlife at Koh Tao. It can get really wild at Baracuda, Costes Lounge and the Ivy Beach Bar once the sun goes down. Great food, exciting live music and psychedelic dance floors make them definitive places to visit while you are on the island.
Accommodation and Dining at Koh Tao Island
Accommodation is never a problem at Koh Tao. A number of hotels, lodges and inns have come up in the recent years, particularly around the regions of Sairee, Chalok Baan Kao and Mae Haad. Make sure to keep your booking done well in advance if you plan to visit it during the peak season that lasts from December to April.
The dining scenario at Koh Tao Island now is not what it was even a few years back. A large number of restaurants serving different kinds of food and wide ranging delicacies have come up in the recent years. Some of the popular restaurants are Farango Pizzeria, Cafíé Del Sol, El Grango, Little Mermaid and Mango Bay.