Go to Thailand and the one island you’ll keep hearing people raving about is Koh Tao. This little slice of paradise is in the Gulf of Thailand, closest to the more famous island Koh Phangan for its full moon parties.
Koh Tao is perfect for everything, literally. Just want to relax? You’ve got beaches. Party? Bars are plenty. Adventure? Grab a scooter or a pair of shoes so you can hike around the island. It is a small island but is worth all of the hype.
The ferry to Koh Tao isn’t long and it’s the quickest island to get to from the mainland on the eastern coast, perfect for adding to your Thailand itinerary.
So what to do in Koh Tao? You don’t need much to do on this little island because you’re going to love the vibe here and trust me that you’ll want to do most things more than once!
Things to do in Koh Tao
Koh Tao has unreal beaches with perfect white sand and some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Many of the beaches have great swimming and you can easily find some that are in secluded bays that will make you feel like you have a private beach. Sairee Beach is the most popular with a strip of restaurants and bars along it. Ask locals the best ways to get to their favourite beaches by scooter or walking.
Koh Tao Diving
Koh Tao diving is some of the best in the world and is easily the cheapest. I won’t vouch for how great it is because I’m terrified of fish and opted to skip on diving, but it is what made the island so popular in the first place. Koh Tao is also known as Turtle Island because of the number of turtles in the surrounding waters. If there’s one place you’re going to get certified on a budget Koh Tao is the best place.
For those who want a cheaper option than diving or who are just terrified like me then give snorkeling a go. Tours from the island are abundant and will take you around to the best spots like Shark Bay known for its reef sharks. Koh Tao is also amazing for its colourful coral.
Koh Tao has a number of viewpoints that are all epic. My personal favourite was Freedom Beach viewpoint because it’s not far, this view duh, and because you’re more likely to have the spot completely to yourself. Getting to this viewpoint is a short scooter ride away from the main town.
You’ll be asked to pay a 50 baht fee to enter Freedom Beach where you’ll park and then you’ll be asked to pay another 50 baht before you start hiking. The price is worth it though. The hike is about 10 minutes and can be done in flip flops. At the top you’ll come to some boulders, climb on top and voila.
Other viewpoints worth checking out are Love @ Koh Tao, Mango Bay, Chalok and Koh Nang Yuan.
Koh Nang Yuan
This trio of islands is located just off the coast of Koh Tao, a short taxi boat away. They are the only three islands in the world to be connected by sand. That’s right, you can walk to each by strolling down the beach and gazing at the blue water. This is also where the Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint is and it’s a 10 minute walk up.
Koh Tao Pub Crawl
One of the top things to do in Koh Tao and one of the most popular pub crawls in Thailand is on Koh Tao. Sign up in advance (400 baht) and you’ll be given your shirt so you can match everyone else of course, a bucket to start at the first bar and shots at pretty much every bar after. It goes to bars along Sairee Beach that have pools, great views and some even have the ocean on their doorstep.
Koh Tao has beautiful sunsets and it’s easy to find one. Watching the sunset is easily one of the best things to do in Koh Tao. Many of the beaches, including Sairee beach that is lined with amazingly delicious restaurants, offers perfect views of the sunset every day. And what’s better than sunset on the beach? One with a drink.
There’s something about Koh Tao that really makes you feel at home. It’s laid back, everyone is friendly, and there’s something for everyone. You won’t find bad food on the island and everything is close by because the island is so small, so small that you could even walk to the other side in 45 minutes. Whether you want to chill all day or be adventurous, party all night, or just watch sunsets, the island will be perfect for you.
Koh Tao Accommodation
Check out my detailed guide on where to stay in Koh Tao on a budget, in hostels!