Are you prepared for paradise?
Koh Tao is one of the most unique and magnetic destinations in Southeast Asia. There are pristine beaches to lounge on, lush jungles to hike through, and most famously, rich coral reefs to explore. It is one of the most visited islands in Thailand, and those who do it right often leave ranking it as one of their favorite destinations.
And I live on Koh Tao. I first visited the island during a summer abroad in college, and quickly returned post-graduation to work in the dive industry and make it my home. I’ve spent the majority of my twenties here — I kind of grew up on this island.
After years of randomly doling out advice, answering regular emails and social media messages, and crafting seasonal blog posts, I condensed everything I know and love about Koh Tao into this detailed and organized guide.
And as someone who sees tourists come and go everyday – and helps many plan their trips — I can’t help but notice that most guidebooks give Koh Tao only a few outdated pages, and most bloggers only stop by for a few days.
The result? The vast majority of travelers have no idea how magical this island can be! They don’t realize how much this dream island has to offer beyond diving and drinking. They feel rushed upon arrival, miss out on Koh Tao’s hidden gems, and spend too much money. They only start to discover the best parts of Koh Tao as they’re about to leave, and have to scramble to alter their itinerary.
Kah Hato Is One Best Island
But I wasn’t always so into Koh Tao. In fact, I couldn’t stand it the first time I was there and I swore never to go back. Ever (yeah, I know – what’s wrong with me?) It was back in and my friend and I spontaneously decided to go there before heading to Phuket. With no knowledge of the island whatsoever, we arrived at the dock and sought a bungalow near the harbour. Since it was just after the Full moon party, all huts were unavailable. So we were forced to suffice with a tacky bungalow built on poles that swayed back and forth every time we took a step inside.
A word of advice: Don’t ever get accommodation near a harbour – most often the beach is terrible and so are the huts.
Koh Tao, which in Thai means Turtle Island , is smaller and less developed than Koh Samui and Koh Pha ngan. It’s a haven for scuba divers or people seeking to achieve a diving certificate as the island offers relatively inexpensive classes.
The bungalow was very hot and the only ventilation was supplied by the ceiling fan above the bed. One that was barely hanging by its loose, untrustworthy wires and looked like it would collapse and land on us any time! Frustrated and hoping to catch the sunset and cheer up, we rushed to the beach without our mosquito repellent. By the time we got there, we were brutally attacked by a hungry swarm of mosquitos. Within minutes my arms and legs were so itchy that I had to rub them with sand from the beach not to go insane, which only made it worse. Way worse.