If you’ve been following along with my recent posts, you know how much I love this little Thai island!!! It’s one of the more untouched islands in Thailand and is known for its incredibly diverse diving sites, beautiful nature, and insane sunsets.
I only visited for roughly 48 hours, and even though I wanted to stay longer (you will too), thanks to its small size it was still enough time to tackle all the major activities, restaurants, and nightlife on my itinerary.
If you only have time for a short visit like I did or simply need some Koh Tao tips and suggestions, then follow this basic, but thorough guide. I probably researched Koh Tao and it’s attractions for more hours than I even stayed on the island itself (lol), so I guarantee you this guide is one of the best you’ll find!!
How To Get There
The only way to get to Koh Tao is by ferry, as there’s no airport on the island. You can take a ferry from Thailand’s mainland (Surat Thani), Koh Samui, or Koh Phangan. It’s about 2 hours away from Koh Samui (Bangrak pier) and 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Koh Phangan.
Where to Stay
This is the only section where my knowledge is limited (and probably biased), since I could only stay in one place during my visit. If you’re looking to splurge by Thai standards and are traveling with at least one other person, I strongly recommend staying at Naroua Villas! At only $100 dollars a night (split with 1 other person), a HUGE fully-equiped kitchen, and a private infinity pool overlooking the island, you definitely get everything you payed for and more. Read about all the other amenities and benefits of Naroua on this post.
Where to Eat
When I think back to all my meals in Koh Tao, the same memories come to mind of amazing food, all which were beachside with incredible views. Here’s a list of the best spots:
- Fizz Beach Lounge: Delicious food, amazing cocktails (buckets!) & affordable prices. This place is as much of a lounge as it is a restaurant, so if that’s not your scene, head elsewhere. Regardless though, it’s one of the best places to have a sunset meal!
- In Touch: This place has all the same qualities as Fizz, minus the lounge-y aspect. Prices are even cheaper and the views are superb (see photo above!)
- Sai Thong Restaurant (at Sai Thong Resort & Spa): Sai Thong is a little hidden gem!! I went here only because I was spending the day at Sai Nuan Beach (best beach on the island-see below!) and it was the closest restaurant in sight. The food was incredible, the prices were SO cheap, and the restaurant is located right on the beach. The ocean is literally just a few steps away!
- Ban’s Diving Resort: Perfect place for a beachside lunch! Their menu is huge with pretty much any type of cuisine you desire.
- Fitness Cafe: I really wanted to try this place, but never had the time. Supposedly it’s healthy AND delicious (hard to find here in Thailand) and super affordable. Someone try this place for me if you visit Koh Tao!!
- Street Food: If you have the drunk munchies, you can get pancakes/crepes, both sweet and savory, lined up all over the beach. I got a banana Nutella pancake and it was unreal!!
Where to Drink
Just like Koh Tao’s restaurants, the majority of their nightlife is beachside (and amazing!!!). I hopped around from bar to bar quite a bit, so here’s my ranking of each place:
- Lotus Beach Bar: I ranked this bar at #1 because of its entertainment. Their fire dancers are SO talented and interact a lot with the audience- it was so much fun to watch and be apart of!! They also have comfy little cushions right on the beach to sit on and watch the show with countless waiters bringing around cheap buckets ?
- Maya Beach Club: Best place in Koh Tao for day drinking! Here they have a live DJ performing every weekend, plush daybeds right on the sand, and phenomenal mojitos ?
- Fishbowl Beach Bar: This place seems to be the most popular because it becomes PACKED with tourists starting around 10PM. The drinks/shots menu is huge and diverse (I had a “sake bomb shot” lol) and there’s plenty of huge tables where you can sit and relax with your friends while overlooking the beach.
What to Do
What I loved most about Koh Tao: it’s naturally a place that keeps you active and surrounded by nature 24/7! I surprisingly got to check off every activity I wanted to accomplish on my list in 48 hours ? Here were my “must-do’s”:
- Visit Koh Nang Yuan (above photo) via longtail boat. 3 small islands connected by 1 tiny sandbar!! ?
This place is flooded by tourists on the daily and I’m sure you can see why. While there, make sure to hike to the viewpoint and snorkel in the bay! See my complete guide to Koh Nang Yuan here.
- Go hiking in Koh Tao’s lush jungle peaks! There’s tons of hikes and viewpoints to climb to, but I recommend the hike to Two View Rock/The West Coast Viewpoint with the help of a local taxi driver to show you the way! Once at the top, you crawl through a tiny “bridge” formed by 2 huge boulders laying up against one another, and emerge to a breathtakingly vast view of the island. Just 5 minutes further up the mountain and you find another view of the OTHER side of the island. Amazing!
- Snorkel, sunbathe and swing on Sai Nuan Beach, Koh Tao’s hidden gem of a beach! This is one of the few beaches on the island that’s rarely crowded, yet incredibly stunning. Plus, there’s also 2 wooden swings and hammocks to play on!!
- Party on Sairee Beach, where all the night bars/lounges I discussed above are located!
- Swim with whale sharks! Someone please do this and get back to me on your experience- Koh Tao is one of the only places in the world where this is possible! I would of LOVED to swim with these gentle giants, but still have another month until I can get my ear wet (due to my eardrum surgery).
- If you have the time, become a certified scuba diver! Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified!
I hope my 48-hour Koh Tao guide helps you with your future visit to this little paradise! Please let me know if there’s any restaurants, bars, activities, or tips I should add to my list ?