Thailand

11 EPIC things to do on Koh Tao in 2024

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Despite being a small island, Koh Tao in Thailand has a lot to offer to its visitors. It’s a place where you can’t get bored easily. Its compact size makes it perfect for exploring the area on a scooter. There are so many things to do on Koh Tao, that you can easily spend a week on the island.

Some of our favorites are exploring the different beaches on a motorbike, snorkeling among vibrant marine life and colorful corals, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets.

We were not so lucky with our stay on Koh Tao, since we got dengue fever on Koh Phangan island a few days before our trip. Therefore, we had little energy and not enough time to check every item off of our list.

But we believe that with the help of this guide, you’ll have the most incredible experience on Koh Tao!

Where is Koh Tao ?

Koh Tao lies in the Gulf of Thailand approximately 70 kilometers from the coast. Its neighbours are Koh Samui and Koh Phagan. Since the island has no airport, you can only get here by boat. The nearest airports are in Surat Thani and Chumphon on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

You can also save the location of Koh Tao to your Google Maps app.

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How to get to Koh Tao

Bangkok to Koh Tao

When traveling from Bangkok to Koh Tao you have a few different options. Firstly, you can take a night train and book a bus + ferry ticket from Chumphon Railway Station all the way to Koh Tao. Or you can also do the same route by buying a combined bus + ferry transfer by Lomprayah.

It’s also possible to fly either to Koh Samui, Surat Thani, or Chumphon. From the airports, you’ll have to get to a port and travel by boat.

Surat Thani to Koh Tao

The only reasonable way how to get to Koh Tao from Surat Thani is to take a ferry. You can choose from a few different departure spots and travel either by day ferry or a night ferry. Additionally, you can travel by a speedboat, ferry, or catamaran.

Bangrak Pier Koh Samui
Koh Samui – Bangrak Pier
Phuket to Koh Tao

You can travel to Koh Tao from Phuket by bus or a van and then travel to Koh Tao by ferry. This trip takes between 8 to 10 hours and costs around 2000 THB. You can choose from a few different pick-up points around Phuket.

Additionally, you can fly from Phuket to Surat Thani or Koh Samui, and take a ferry from there.

Krabi to Koh Tao

This trip is possible by taking a bus or a van from Krabi and then taking a boat. It’s not such a long journey, and it only takes around 5 hours. The prices start from 1300 THB.

Another option is to fly to either Surat Thani or Koh Samui. However, since this would take more time than the bus and cost more, we don’t think it’s a convenient choice.

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We also wrote a guide on getting to Koh Tao from different destinations around Thailand.

Surat Thani to Koh Tao night ferry
Night Ferry
Koh Samui to Koh Tao

The only way to travel from Koh Samui to Koh Tao is by boat. With multiple connections scheduled daily, it’s easy to organize this trip. You can also choose one of four different departure piers on Koh Samui.

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

All the ferries from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao depart from Thong Sala. With a few daily connections, there’s nothing to worry about. However, when traveling after or before the Full Moon Party, make sure to book your tickets at least a week in advance!

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When traveling around Asia, we personally use 12Go to book our tickets 90% of time. They’re reliable and have good customer support. Also, it’s the easiest way to book tickets online.

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Where to stay on Koh Tao

The most popular area to stay is around Sairee Beach. You’ll find most restaurants around. However, this area is also a bit too loud, both during the day and night. If you’re coming to Koh Tao to relax, stay near one of many beaches.

We wrote a complete guide describing where to stay on Koh Tao, including the best areas as well as hotels and hostels for every budget.

Best hotels on Koh Tao

pepa guesthouse

Pepa guesthouse

Low Budget

ananda villa

Ananda Villa

Mid Budget

Cape Shark Villa - best hotels Koh Tao Sai Daeng Beach mid range

Cape Shark villas

Luxury Stay

Check availability

11 Best things to do on Koh Tao

1. Explore the beaches

Since we’re on a tropical island, exploring the beaches is an absolute MUST! Luckily, Koh Tao is home to many different beaches, some of which also offer unforgettable snorkeling experiences.

One of the most famous beaches is Sairee Beach since it’s also the most popular area to stay. However, with many beach bungalows, restaurants, and bars, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Sairee Beach is perfect for leisurely evenings, but due to being so busy, it’s not the most enchanting place.

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Did you know all the islands in the Gulf of Thailand experience only two tides a day? That’s why some months are known as the high tide season when high tide is stronger and usually takes time during the day. In the low-tide season, it’s the other way around.

Sairee Beach Koh Tao, Best Beaches in Koh Tao

If you’re looking for a secluded beach like from a postcard, rent a motorbike or get a taxi. Sai Nuan Beach is a hidden gem that almost no one knows about. Jansom Bay is another beautiful spot.

We also recommend visiting Haad June Juea, Tanote Bay, and Hin Wong Bay.

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You can rent a motorbike on Koh Tao from 200 THB per day. Snorkeling gear is also available on many beaches and near Sairee Beach.

Shark Bay Koh Tao, Best Beaches in Koh Tao

2. Visit different snorkeling spots

Koh Tao is called the snorkellers’ paradise for a reason. The amount of all the different underwater species and colorful corals you can see here is just mind-blowing. You can meet angelfish, parrotfish, black-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, yellow-tail barracuda, and much more.

To explore all the best snorkeling spots on Koh Tao on your own, rent a scooter. You’ll find many easily available beaches with only a 5 – 10 minute drive from Sairee Beach. We also recommend Tanote Bay, Aow Leuk, Shark Bay, and Sai Daeng Beach.

However, many bays can only be visited by boat. If you prefer a private experience, rent a longtail boat for a day. This will cost you around 2000 THB for the whole boat. But since it fits around 10 passengers, you can simply find a group of people who’d like to join you.

Tanote Bay Koh Tao, Snorkeling koh tao best things to do on Koh Tao, BEst places Koh Tao, attractions, snorkeling Koh Tao, Koh Tao Best Beaches, Koh Tao Itinerary

But the best option to visit unreachable spots without any hassle is joining a snorkeling tour. The most reputable company on the island is Oxygen. We highly recommend this experience during your Koh Tao trip.

You’ll visit Koh Nang Yuan, Japanese Gardens, Mango Bay, and a few other spots. Thai lunch is also included in the price. You can also choose a morning or an afternoon departure, which makes it perfect even for those who aren’t early birds.

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Join Oxygen Tour and explore all the best snorkeling spots around Koh Tao by boat.

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3. Hike John Suwan Viewpoint and relax on Freedom Beach

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Entrance fee: 50 THB

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Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm

Hiking John Suwan Viewpoint was, without a doubt, one of the best things we did on Koh Tao. We recommend coming early in the morning before the sun’s too strong and crowds arrive.

While it only takes around 15 minutes it’s not the easiest path. Some sections are secured with a rope and it’s better not doing it in flip flops, but at least sandals.

As soon as you reach the top, you’ll be able to see Shark Bay on the left and Chalok Ban Kao on the right. John Suwan viewpoint also provides incredible views over the rest of Koh Tao Island in the back.

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After enjoying the lovely views, climb back down and go for a refreshing swim on Freedom Beach. The entrance ticket includes both the viewpoint and the beach. You can even use free sunchairs! Additionally, there’s a lot of shadow thanks to many trees.

Freedom Beach is best enjoyed during the high tide because of the rocks and corals. But you can certainly go for a dip during the low tide, too. But it’s not the best condition for snorkeling.

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4. Take a boat trip to Koh Nang Yuan Island

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Price: around 400 THB one way boat, 100 THB entrance fee

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Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm

Koh Nang Yuan is a small island only a few hundred meters from Koh Tao’s shore. It’s one of the most popular things to do when visiting Koh Tao. Since it’s an island, you can only get here by boat. Either pay for a boat taxi or join a snorkeling tour.

Once on the island, head to Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint to enjoy the incredible views of the area from the top. After a short hike, grab your snorkeling gear and explore the underwater life. Koh Nang Yuan is home to Japanese Gardens, one of the best snorkeling spots on Koh Tao.

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Join a tour in order to explore Koh Nang Yuan as well as all the other amazing snorkeling spots around the island.

Koh Nang Yuan Beach Koh Tao, Best Beaches Koh Tao, Koh Tao travel guide

5. Visit different viewpoints

We’ve already mentioned two of our favorite viewpoints, Koh Nang Yuan and John Suwan viewpoint. However, as a mountainous island, Koh Tao offers so many more incredible spots.

Some of the best viewpoints you shouldn’t skip include Love Koh Tao, which is perfect for a sunrise. The entrance fee is around 50 THB unless you buy drinks or food. The next one is Mango View, which charges 100 THB. While you can get here by motorbike, it’s a bit challenging.

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Then there’s Grape Viewpoint, where you can also get by a motorbike. The road is steep and challenging, though. The entrance fee is 100 THB. You’ll find food and drinks at the top.

Additionally, there are also viewpoints that require you to hike. Firstly, there’s Tanote Peak which charges 100 THB and the hike takes 30 minutes. The next one is a more challenging 30 – 40 minute hike to West Coast Viewpoint.

And lastly, there’s Deisha Viewpoint which is also a bar and a restaurant with lovely food. Walk 50 meters further and you’ll get to a rock offering nice views of Chalok Ban Kao Bay.

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If you don’t want to drive a motorbike you can have a private land tour, which takes you to 8 famous places.

John Suwan Viewpoint 23

6. Enjoy sunsets on a beach and watch fire show

When we traveled around Asia, we made it a habit to head out to a beach and watch sunset almost every day. And I have to say, nothing compares to sunsets by the sea. The colors of the sky are just so wonderful!

So after a day full of exploring all the different places and things to do on Koh Tao, enjoy a wonderful sunset on a beach with a bottle of Chang. There’s no better way to end a day. Sairee Beach is a very popular sunset spot, with many people enjoying the last rays of the sun.

Haad Yao Koh Phangan Thailand, Best Beaches Koh Phangan

Thailand’s fire shows will never cease to fascinate me. They’re often packed with actions and mind-blowing acrobatic creations. Even on Koh Tao you can head to Sairee Beach and watch a fire show almost every night.

I’m not sure if there are any other places where you can watch fire show on Koh Tao apart from Lotus Bar. The show usually starts at 7 pm. It’s also a great bar to get a drink, chat with other tourists and spend a night out.

Fire show on a beach Thailand

7. Join pub crawl and meet new people

A super popular activity especially among backpackers. There’s one huge pub crawl which happens 4 days a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. It starts at 6 pm at Choppers Sports Bar.

The entrance fee includes a t-shirt, one bucket, and possibly some shots. If you want to learn more about this event, check their Facebook page.

Pub crawl and bars Thailand

8. Party till the morning

Apart from joining the pub crawl, you’ll have plenty of other party opportunities on Koh Tao. From party hostels to beach and jungle parties. You can choose one of many bars to go crazy – above mentioned Lotus Bar, FishBowl, The Local, and Leo Evolution are the most popular ones.

Additionally, there are a few party events, such as Koh Tao Pub Crawl, Secret Party, Escobar and Real Moon Party. If you want to learn more about nightlife on Koh Tao, read this post by Island Travel Koh Tao.

9. Get PADI certified

Did you know that Koh Tao is considered one of the best places on Earth to get PADI certified? It’s for a few reasons. The most important one is the low prices. You can get the PADI Open Water Course for as low as 280€. That’s a price you won’t easily find elsewhere.

Another reason is that it’s available all year around, with pleasant temperatures and calm waters. Also, you’ll find more than 25 dive sites around the island.

The best season for diving lasts from March to September when there’s less rain. This results in crystal clear waters and great visibility.

Between Novemebr and January, bigger waves and strong winds are common. But thanks to the location of Koh Tao, there are still many dive sites which offer calm waters even during this time. You jsut can’t travel too far to more distant locations.

Lastly, the availability of dive centers is just incredible! Everywhere you go on Koh Tao, you’ll find some dive schools.

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Book your PADI course today with some of the best-reviewed dive schools on the island – La Bombona, Koh Tao Scuba Club, or Scuba Birds.

PADI course 2

10. Get a Thai massage

You just can’t leave Thailand without experiencing a proper Thai massage! It’s what we loved about this country the most. The massage centers are basically everywhere and the cost is literally nothing compared to European prices.

Koh Tao is no exception. You can choose from many different massage centers. The prices are usually around 10 – 15€. You’ll find cheaper as well as more expensive options, too. We highly recommend checking Google Reviews before choosing a massage.

Some of the massages we recommend are Massage Station and Kinnaree Massage near Mae Haad pier. If you want something closer to Sairee Beach, visit Watergate Spa & Massage, which is right on the beach.

Massage

11. Try Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Lastly, one of the activities we also recommend trying is Stand Up Paddleboarding. When exploring all the different beaches, you’ll notice there are often SUP and kayak rentals. It’s a perfect way to discover hidden spots near the beach.

Don’t forget to take a waterproof bag with you. Make sure to have some water and of course snorkeling gear! We recommend renting a board from SUP TAO. They’re actually the first shop on the island to start offering this service, and to this day they rent some of the best quality boards.

Best time to visit Koh Tao

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Dry season: December – April

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Rainy season: October – December

Koh Tao has its dry season between December and April, together with the rest of Thailand. The weather is mostly sunny with almost no rain. However, since December is on the border between monsoon and dry season, you might still experience rainy evenings.

The period between February and May is known as a hot and dry season. April is usually the hottest month. Koh Tao is a relatively humid island, with around 80% humidity. Keep this in mind and stay hydrated throughout the day. The water visibility is the best in this season.

Best time to visit Thailand

While the west coast of Thailand is hit by southwest monsoon between May and October, Koh Tao is not very affected by this. The weather is mostly dry and windy. Therefore, the sea is not as calm anymore. But you can already expect some rainfall, mostly during late afternoons and nights.

The rainy season in Koh Tao usually starts late in October and lasts until December. November is experiencing the heaviest rains. If the monsoons arrive later, the rainy season may last longer.

Best Restaurants around Koh Tao

  • Mama Piyawan’s – If you’re looking for authentic Thai food, this is your go-to place. We recommend Pad Thai and Massaman.
  • Thaita Italian Restaurant – The best Italian restaurant on the island, which indredible pizza and pasta.
  • 995 Roasted Duck – While they serve other meals, too, you MUST try their duck at least once.
  • Factory Cafe – Excellent place to get western style breakfast or an afternoon cup of coffee.
Local Thai Food - Pad Thai

Best guided tours on Koh Tao

  • Snorkel tour by Oxygen – Visit Nangyuan Island, Japanese Gardens, Mango Bay, Ao Leuk, and Hin Wong Bay. You can enjoy snorkeling at every stop. The underwater life is just incredible and this tour will be one of the highlights of your whole Thailand trip!
  • Scuba diving experience – Ever tried scuba diving? How about taking your first lesson in one of the best places to get PADI in the whole world? Koh Tao is known for its lively underwater life and the best way to explore it is scuba diving!
  • Daytrip by speedboat – This tour has the same itinerary as the first one by Oxygen. The only difference is, that here you can also go kayaking.

Snorkel tour

Klook.com

Scuba diving

Klook.com

Daytrip by speedboat

Klook.com

Final thoughts on Best things to do on Koh Tao

Despite Koh Tao being such a small island, it offers plenty of different activities to do and places to visit. While it’s enough to spend 3 days on the island to visit the highlights, you won’t regret staying here for a week!

From riding around on a scooter, enjoying breathtaking viewpoints, relaxing on paradise beaches to enjoying some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving! Koh Tao is an absolute paradise for beach lovers and adventurers alike.

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