An image of the sea around Koh Tao Island.

6 Things To Know Before Arriving In Koh Tao, Thailand

Are you planning an upcoming trip to Koh Tao, Thailand? Then, prepare for a fun and unique travel experience with beautiful beaches and vibrant island culture. But before you pack up your bags and head out, familiarize yourself with these six key things essential to having an amazing experience. 

From where to stay and how to get around to tips on activities and cultural details—by understanding what makes this beautiful island special, you can ensure a magical time when you arrive. So, get ready for a breathtaking adventure full of natural wonders and south-east Asian vibes. 

Getting to Koh Tao

A few ferries near Koh Tao.

Getting to Koh Tao is relatively easy, with several transportation options available for visitors. The simplest way to get to Koh Tao is by taking a ferry from the mainland or neighboring islands.

Several ferry companies operate daily services to and from Koh Tao, including Lomprayah High-Speed Catamarans, Songserm, and Seatran Discovery. These ferries depart from various locations:

From The Mainland


Travel Time

Price Range ($)


2-5 Hours


Surat Thani

4-7 Hours


Neighbouring Islands


Travel Time

Price Range ($)

Koh Samui

2-3 Hours


Koh Phangan

1-2 Hours


It’s important to note that your travel times will mainly depend on your boat type and vendor. So, be wise with your choice. You can use sites like to see availability and book your tickets. 

Once you arrive on Koh Tao, you can choose from several transportation options to get around the island. The most popular and convenient way to explore Koh Tao is by renting a scooter or motorbike.

One of the roads in Koh Tao.

Several rental shops are available on the island, and rates are relatively cheap, from around 150 to 300 baht per day. However, it’s important to note that driving in Koh Tao can be challenging, especially for those who are not used to driving on the left side of the road. The streets can be steep, narrow, and winding, so it’s important to wear a helmet and be weary while you drive.

If you are uncomfortable driving a scooter or motorbike, use the island’s taxi services. There are several services to choose from, including the local tuk-tuks or the Grab or Bolt app.

There are also many stands located around the island or you can flag down a taxi on the street. Taxis in Koh Tao operate on a fixed rate basis, so it’s a good idea to agree on a price before starting your journey.

Another option is to rent a bicycle or walk, especially if you plan to explore the island’s smaller and quieter areas.

Best Areas to Stay in Koh Tao

One of the Koh Tao Beaches.

Koh Tao is a popular tourist destination in Thailand, known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. The island is relatively small, with a land area of only around 21 square kilometers, but it offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences.

One of the most popular areas to stay on Koh Tao is Sairee Beach, located on the island’s west coast. This long, sandy beach is known for its lively atmosphere, with a wide range of restaurants, bars, and shops along the beachfront. Accommodation options in Sairee Beach range from budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels to luxury resorts with private beach access.

Another popular area to stay on Koh Tao is Chalok Baan Kao Bay, located on the island’s southern end. This area is known for its peaceful and laid-back vibe, with several restaurants and bars along the beach. The accommodation here includes mid-range hotels and resorts with stunning views of the bay.

For those looking for a more secluded and private getaway, Tanote Bay is a great option. This small and quiet bay is located on the island’s eastern side and is known for its pristine beach and excellent snorkeling opportunities. If you want to stay in Tanote Bay, you can expect rustic bungalows and eco-resorts.

Finally, Thiang Og “Shark” Bay is another area to consider on Koh Tao. You’ll also find this area on the southern end of the island near Chalok Baan Kao Bay. It’s ideal for those wanting to explore the marine life that Koh Tao has to offer.

A Few of the Best Places to Stay in Koh Tao

A few of the bungalows in Koh Tao.

Now that you know a bit more about the different areas where you can enjoy your stay, here are some of the most popular places:

The Plantation Koh Tao

If you’re traveling as a small group, then The Plantation is ideal. It’s situated in a former coconut plantation, hence the name. 

It’s a short walking distance from some of the best restaurants in the area, but it’s far enough to allow a peaceful stay. Whether you get a 2 or 3-bedroom villa, you’re guaranteed a spectacular ocean view to help you take in every second you spend on this island. Not to mention that the villas are only 300 meters from Sairee beach.

Blue Tao Beach Hotel

Located on the most popular walking street and beach in Koh Tao, the Blue Tao Beach Hotel is perfect if you want to be in on all the action. You’ll find yourself surrounded by many outstanding restaurants, cafes, dive centers, and bars. 

Jamahkiri Resort & Spa

This gorgeous resort is for those who don’t mind paying extra for comfort. It has a few fantastic features, such as the possibility of a private infinity pool. 

The rooms are spacious, neat, and furnished with some stunning pieces. It also has a beach view of Shark Bay and is within walking distance of various popular beaches.

View Point Resort

If the aim of your visit is to get some peace, then View Point Resort is the place to be. It’s near the beach and a few minutes drive from the town. You’ll also find many beach bars nearby, allowing you to let loose if you feel like it.

Budchui Village 2

If you’re looking for a place that fits your budget, this is it. It’s within walking distance from the beach and even closer to some fantastic restaurants.

The rooms are big and face the mountains. There’s also a pool to help you cool down after a long day of activities. Many happy clients agree that the staff is extremely friendly. 

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel

If you don’t mind Hostel living conditions, this is one of the best places to stay in Koh Tao. It’s situated a bit more inland but only a few minutes drive from various beaches and activities. 

You’ll have the option of dorms or private rooms for this location. In addition, there’s a common area to mingle with other visitors and a pool for those warm days (which you can expect many of).

Furthermore, you can view these lists of top picks from, Agoda, and Airbnb.

Overall, Koh Tao offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. So, whether you’re looking for a lively atmosphere or a peaceful getaway, you’re bound to find the perfect spot.

Things to Do in Koh Tao

The Koh Tao beach view at dusk.

Koh Tao is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with various activities to enjoy on land and in the water. 

Scuba Diving

A person scuba diving with a whale shark.

One of the most popular activities on the island is scuba diving, with Koh Tao well known as one of the world’s top destinations for learning to dive. The island is home to over 70 dive sites, each with its own unique marine life and underwater scenery. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there’s a dive site on Koh Tao that will suit your skill level. But more on that later. 


A person snorkeling with a turtle nearby.

In addition to scuba diving, snorkeling is another popular activity in Koh Tao. The island’s crystal-clear waters and colorful coral reefs make for excellent snorkeling opportunities, and you can easily rent snorkeling equipment from many of the island’s beachfront shops.


A person sitting on a rock after a hike, watching over the ocean and Koh Tao Islands.

For those who prefer to stay on land, hiking is a great way to explore the island’s natural beauty. There are several hiking trails on Koh Tao, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks.

One of the most popular trails is the John-Suwan Viewpoint trail, which leads to a stunning panoramic view of the island.


Shark Bay in Koh Tao, Thailand.

Beach hopping is another popular activity—with the island boasting several beautiful beaches. Some famous beaches include Sairee Beach, Tanote Bay, and Shark Bay. Each offering its own unique atmosphere and activities, from lively beach parties to secluded sunbathing spots.


Koh Nang Yuan islands near Koh Tao.

For those looking for off-the-beaten-path activities, Koh Tao offers several options. One such activity is visiting the island’s abandoned waterpark, which was never completed and now lies in ruins in the jungle. 

Another option is visiting one of the Koh Tao Conservation Centers, such as Global Reef, which aims to protect and rehabilitate marine life. They offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the fantastic creatures and corals. 

If you want to extend your stay in Koh Tao, you can do so through the marine conservation internship programs. These programs usually last for 1 or 2 months. 

Overall, Koh Tao offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy, from diving and snorkeling to hiking and beach hopping. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s something for everyone on this beautiful island.

Koh Tao Scuba Diving & Underwater Photography

A person from Global Reef busy diving with a school of fish.

Koh Tao is known as a mecca for scuba diving enthusiasts, with thousands of people visiting the island each year to experience its incredible underwater world. Koh Tao is an excellent place for scuba diving because of its warm and clear waters, diverse marine life, and the island’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to learn to dive.

For first-time scuba divers, Koh Tao is an ideal destination to take your first breath underwater. The island has a variety of dive schools that offer beginner courses, with experienced instructors who can guide you through every step of the process. In addition, the island’s calm and shallow bays provide the perfect environment for beginners to practice their skills and gain confidence in the water.

For experienced divers, Koh Tao offers various dive sites catering to different skill levels and interests. From shallow coral gardens to deep wrecks, there’s a dive site on Koh Tao that will suit your preferences. One of the most popular dive sites on the island is Chumphon Pinnacle, home to various marine life, including barracudas, whale sharks, and giant groupers.

A person from Global Reef busy taking an underwater photo.

In addition to scuba diving, you can also try your hand at underwater photography. With such active and outstanding marine life, these reefs yield some of the most amazing underwater photographs. You can find more information on a 4-day underwater photography course here: 

Regarding scuba diving and underwater photography in Koh Tao, there are a few tips to remember. First and foremost, make sure to choose a reputable dive school with experienced instructors and well-maintained equipment. It’s also important to be mindful of marine life and follow responsible diving practices, such as not touching or disturbing the coral and marine creatures.

Koh Tao is a must-visit destination for scuba diving enthusiasts, with its warm and clear waters, diverse marine life, and reputation as one of the best places in the world to learn to dive. Whether you’re a first-time diver or an experienced pro, Koh Tao offers an unforgettable underwater experience.

Things to Know Before Thailand

Sairee Beach in Koh Tao.

Thailand is a popular destination for travelers worldwide, known for its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and rich cultural heritage. Here are some general tips for traveling to this haven:

  • Pack appropriately for the weather, which can vary depending on the time of year and region you visit. Lightweight and breathable clothing works best, as well as comfortable walking shoes.
  • Learn a few basic phrases in Thai, such as “hello” (sawadee kha/khap) and “thank you” (khob khun kha/khap). This can go a long way in showing respect for the local culture and building positive relationships with locals.
  • Be mindful of Thai customs and etiquette, such as removing your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple and avoiding public displays of affection.
  • Be aware of the local laws and regulations, such as Thailand’s no vaping laws and the importance of always carrying proper identification.
  • You can use the speech-to-text feature from Google to easily communicate with locals.
  • Respect the local culture and customs, such as dressing modestly when visiting temples and being mindful of cultural practices and beliefs.
  • If you enjoy Iced Coffee, your life will never be the same after visiting a 7-eleven for the first time.
  • It’s good to haggle, but keep in mind that your currency might be much stronger, so paying an extra dollar means much more to the locals.

When it comes to your health and safety in Thailand, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Drink bottled water and avoid drinking tap water. This includes ice in drinks that the vendor may have made with tap water.
  • Wear sunscreen and protective clothing to avoid sunburn and skin damage.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night or in unfamiliar areas.
  • Be cautious when using public transportation, such as tuk-tuks and taxis, and only use licensed services.
  • If you plan on renting a car or motorcycle, always take a photo or video of it in front of the vendor. Furthermore, point out any small bumps and bruises with the vendor before you leave, as you may take the blame if you don’t.
  • Getting medication in Thailand is relatively easy as you usually don’t require a prescription for medicine such as antibiotics. 

Thailand is a beautiful destination with much to offer travelers. However, by being mindful of the local culture and customs and taking steps to stay safe and healthy, you can enjoy a memorable and rewarding travel experience in Thailand.

In Summary

Whether you’re looking to escape life’s day-to-day stress or explore Koh Tao’s depths, this magical island will indeed have something for everyone. From discovering the beauty of their crystal blue waters to diving with some of the most stunning creatures, it’s sure to take your breath away (not literally). 

If seeking adventure with a purpose is more your style, don’t forget to check out our internship program and underwater photography courses. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about the marine world while enjoying your stay on the glorious island. It’ll be an experience you’re never going to forget.

Back to blog