Koh Tao holiday guide (2020)

Koh Tao


Thailand Koh Tao Guide

The tiny Koh Tao – which translates literally to Turtle Island – is the epitome of a Thai island tropical paradise. Living up to its name of being the turtle island, Koh Tao is fAmed for being the choice diving location in all of the Gulf of Thailand. To that end, the island provides multiple locations so that divers never get crowded in one place. Besides diving, Koh Tao does pack quite the punch too with an assortment of small, cute beaches. A short hop from the diving nirvana of Koh Tao lies Koh Nang Yuan, another fAmed highlight of this destination. It is the only landmass in the world that presents three distinct islands connected by spits of white sand. Did you know that Red Hot Chilli Peppers once rented the whole island chain to start writing hit album Californication? With such an outstanding panoramic vista, it’s no wonder.

Koh Tao is located directly in the Gulf of Thailand, 70 kilometers from the coastline of Chumphon town in Surat Thani province. It is about 45 kilometers north of popular Koh Phangan, and 65 kilometers north from the largest island in the area, Koh Samui. With a total area of 21 sq. km., Koh Tao is one of the smallest islands in Thailand. Yet it remains one of the most central tourist destinations, which you can visit for the ultimate compact island experience.

Koh Tao offers a unique holiday experience to tourists and travelers, even if they have been to other islands before. Despite maintaining its reputation as the Dive Mecca of Thailand, Koh Tao experience is accentuated in the wide array and options of dwelling choices all around the island. That is only bettered by the selection of cafes and restaurants which the island has attracted over time, only to be complemented by palm tree-lined beaches for a jungle-esque feeling. Finishing with fantastic hilltop views, the package might look small, but it is definitely not incomplete.

Koh Tao is a place where diving and snorkeling prevail, and it is recommended to visit the island during calm waters and excellent underwater visibility. Arguably, the best time to visit the island is during the dry season that falls from March to September. The hot and dry seasons in Koh Tao occur between March to May. That might not give you much of a window to visit, but they provide the overall best times for a trip to this location. The good season continues up until October, with the sea being calmest and the water visibility at its clearest. Avoid the period from November to January as it is known as a rainy period in this part of Thailand. The sea is usually somewhat rough, and it is the least recommended season to enjoy the area. During the rainy season, it is better to visit islands such as Phuket, Phi Phi, or the Similan islands, as the seasonality there is completely opposite.

Koh Tao is one of the most touristic islands in the whole of Thailand, so you won’t have any problems finding the appropriate accommodation. First-time travelers will enjoy staying in any of the accommodation options offered at Chalok Baan Kao Bay. However, you might not get to enjoy the relaxed nightlife of this region as much as you would if you were at Sairee Beach. Families will appreciate the friendliness and the perfect blend of activities at Thian Og better. Still, they can get much more done at Tanote bay. Speaking of Tanote bay, it might just be the most relaxed location to stay in Koh Tao, so do be on the lookout for accommodation openings here.

When you do find yourself on Koh Tao, it is just logical that you explore the other amazing islands around this prime location. Depending on where you have been wanting to cross off your bucket list, all of Koh Nang Yuan, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan are places you should see. The Ang Thong National Marine Park also holds a lot of aesthetic appeal and surprises for you, should you choose to accept that location.

Koh Samui is better developed than Koh Tao, making the former location a prime destination for a lot more activities. For one, renting a bike in Koh Tao is very dangerous, seeing as the roads can be very steep and windy, talkless of not being paved at all. On the other hand, Koh Tao is about ten times smaller than Koh Samui, but that can be a massive advantage for those looking for a serene holiday destination, and especially snorkeling or diving.

Since Koh Tao is considered a part of Koh Phangan, this is a little stretched. The bigger area (Koh Phangan) will enjoy better amenities and tourist attractions. Still, it can’t compete with the natural vibe which Koh Tao brings to your holiday mood. A better comparison will be in how serene these two locations are. While Koh Phangan can be calm and highly festive at different times, Koh Tao is pretty laid back instead and will provide one of the most relaxing vacation and romantic getaways

A point of commonness for the two islands is how small they are, but that seems to end the train of similarities. Where Koh Tao is still developing and gives you a shot for your jungle fever, Koh Lipe has been developed as much as can be. Although Koh Lipe also shares the serenity of Koh Tao on some days, you cannot miss the laid-back party vibe which it carries with it too. We don’t need to spell out what your decision on either location should be anymore.

Best islands to see from Koh Tao

Koh Phangan


Koh Samui


Ang Thong Park


Chumphon Park