Ko Tao, often referred to as Turtle Island, may be the smallest among the Gulf of Thailand’s popular islands, but it boasts tranquillity and numerous attractions. From the moment we set foot on this island, we felt its positive vibes and knew we would have an enjoyable stay. Unless you are staying outside Sairee Beach, everything is much closer and you don’t need a scooter to get around the island. If you love diving and snorkelling, prepare to be amazed by the wonders of Ko Tao. Here is our Ko Tao travel guide and top 5 places to visit.
How to get to Ko Tao
Just like the other islands in the Gulf, Ko Tao is very easy to reach by ferry. They are quick, cheap and equipped with AC. It is also possible to reach the island from Donsak Pier. You can book tour tickets on 12go.asia for a hassle-free trip.
Ko Tao travel guide and top 5 places to visit
Unlike Koh Samui and Ko Phan Gan, you don’t need a scooter to visit Ko Tao. The majority of tourists stay by Sairee Beach. You can either walk everywhere on the beach or on the path built next to it. You will have to share it with cars and scooters but the traffic is very light. Ko Tao is known for its diving and snorkelling, but there is so much more to do around the island. Here are our top 5 places to visit.
Snorkelling adventure around Ko Tao
Neither of us is a diver, but we enjoy a good snorkelling trip. The one we joined in Ko Tao is probably one of the best we have been on in Asia. The snorkelling wasn’t as good as in Malaysia (Perhentian Islands) or Indonesia but we still had a great time. It was low season so the prices were reduced. We paid less than 700THB for a full day, lunch, snacks and 5 snorkelling stops. Here is a quick recap.
Nang Yuan Island
We got on the boat around 9am after being picked up at the hotel with 20 other tourists and started our journey towards Nang Yuan Island. You will have to pay 200THB extra to enter the protected area. If you don’t want to, you will have to stay on the boat. Once on the island, you can either relax on the beach, snorkel with your guide (you have a high chance of seeing baby sharks and some corals) or hike to the overcrowded viewpoint. After the island, it’s lunchtime.
Snorkeling with colorful fish and corals.
Snorkeling with a chance to see some turtles.
Great spot to see fish and corals.
By Shark Bay, we were all very tired. We spent at least 4 hours in the water and our bodies we tired from this workout. Unlike the name suggests, we didn’t see any sharks here. This was the last stop and it was time to head back to the pier. We arrived around 430pm. Before entering the boat in the morning, the staff took pictures of us. At the end of the day, they printed those pictures on a plate and sold them to us for 50THB (optional). The staff then drove us back to our accommodation.
Enjoy the beaches
There are plenty of splendid beaches around Ko Tao. The most popular is by far Sairee Beach. It is almost 2km long with plenty of bars, shops and restaurants around. Before sunset, there is always a beach volleyball or a soccer game organized by the locals. Don’t be scared to join them!
Finally, one of the best beaches is on Nang Yuan Island. You must hire a boat and pay a 200THB entrance fee. If you want to spend the day there, prices are higher but the stay is worth it.
Nightlife in Ko Tao
Ko Tao is home to the best pub crawl in all of Asia. We were just as surprised as you might be by this sentence. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, you can join dozens of other tourists and party in the best bars on the island. Tickets are 580THB and include free buckets, shots, a shirt, various drink and activities discounts, prizes, games, live music, a fire show and entrance to a cabaret. The action begins at Choppers Bar around 8pm. It’s also the best sports bar in the area.
Ko Tao Cinema
Outside of the downtown area, you will find Ko Tao’s Cinema. Entrance is free but you have to spend 100THB on food or drinks inside. We saw John Wick 4 before it was on streaming platforms Instead of seats, there are about 20 sets of sofas with a table where you can enjoy your meal. The quality of the streaming (yes we are pretty sure it was an illegal stream) was pretty good from the projector. Every week, the movie changes. For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Ko Tao’s vibe is perfect for a sunrise or sunset yoga class. For around 100THB, you can attend a class. We suggest going to Shambhala Yoga for the best experience. They have different classes each day so you can pick the one that suits you best.
Where to stay in Ko Tao
For the best travel experience in Ko Tao, we suggest staying anywhere along Sairee Beach. You will be within walking distance of many cute shops, delicious restaurants and right next to the beach. During our week-long stay, we opted for O’Chai Bungalows, a budget-friendly choice at 3100THB. While providing comfort, the bungalow did require some maintenance. There was also a restaurant on the property and they offered snorkeling, diving and taxi services.