Koh Tao is a small island in Southern Thailand. It’s mostly known for scuba diving, island hopping and partying, but there is also plenty of peace and nature to be found. I’m not a party person and stayed for 2 weeks in Koh Tao, so I had enough time to explore the island. In this article, I’ve collected all the exciting things to do in Koh Tao, Thailand! Enjoy!
Tip: click on the links to open the GPS locations in Google Maps.
Hike to the most beautiful viewpoints in Koh Tao
Enjoy the endlessly breathtaking views in Koh Tao from one of these spots:
Fraggle Rock Viewpoint (50 THB)
Fraggle rock costs 50 THB to visit and provides a nice view over Sai Ree beach. You can walk here in about 50 minutes from Sai Ree, but you can also drive part of the way. It’s a great place to see the sunset! Not so many people up here.
Summit Viewpoint (100 THB)
Without a doubt one of my favorite places on Koh Tao! The Summit viewpoint is difficult to reach by scooter (only something for people with off-road skills). I recommend parking your scooter at the road and walk the last few hundred meters. The admission is 100 THB per person, for which you get one cold canned drink or a cup of tea or coffee. Sturdy shoes are recommended, but not mandatory.
John Suwan Viewpoint (50 THB)
Take a drive out to Freedom Beach Resort on the south coast and you will see the sign for the viewpoint. From there it’s a sweaty 15 minute scramble over rocks (with help of ropes) to the top. It is just a 50 THB entrance fee that also gives you access to Freedom Beach.
From the John Susan viewpoint you can see both Chalok Baan Bay and Shark Bay at the same time. This is also the best place to hang out and watch the sunset in my opinion. There are trees for shade and you are allowed to bring food and drinks up there.
Mango Bay View Point (100 THB)
Mango Bay View Point is a beautiful place in Koh Tao, but also very hard to reach. The road up here is very sketchy, unless you are an absolute pro on a scooter. I recommend taking a taxi. This view point is a private property. The family that lives there manages it and you have to pay 100 THB entrance fee which gets you one water or coffee. They have variety of food, fresh fruits and drinks that you can order. You are not allowed to bring your own food or drinks. There is nice terrace- sitting area.
Nang Yuan Terrace (100 THB)
To reach the Nang Yuan Terrace, you just have to follow the main road from Sai Ree to the North. It’s in great condition and at a walking distance from the town if you don’t have a scooter. This viewpoint costs 100 THB to visit (not to be confused with the viewpoint that is actually on Koh Nang Yuan). The platform area is accessed through a resort, but you can easily get away with bringing your own food and drinks if you’re not too obvious about it.
Tip: this place is usually overcrowded from 11 o’clock
Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint (250 THB)
Koh Nang Yuan is a pair of small islands at the western coast of Koh Tao and can easily be reached from Sairee Beach. Don’t pay more than 250 THB per person for a return boat trip. On Koh Nang Yuan it’s a quick, but steep hike of about 15 minutes to the top of the island; the Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint. The view is absolutely amazing. You can walk around the viewpoint and see 360° overall.
Tip: the island closes at 5pm and that there is an entrance fee of 100 THB per person. The Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint is often overcrowded. Take into account a waiting line.
I love Koh Tao sign (free)
The road leading here is in great condition. The sign overlooks the east coast of the island. To enjoy the view you have to buy a drink or pay 20 THB. Making a photo with the sign, costs you 100 THB. From here, you can go further up to the Two Views.
Two Views Viewpoint (100 THB)
The road after I love Koh Tao is a little sketchy, but you can always drive until you don’t feel comfortable, then park and walk the rest of the way. It’s only a 10 minutes walk up from the road. The Two Views viewpoint is named because it offers views of both Sai Ree beach and Nang Yuan. It’s a fantastic place to get a coffee, relax and enjoy the view. The entrance fee is 100 THB per person and includes a softdrink.
On The Rock Beach (5 minutes walk from main road, free of charge, small crowded beach)
Haad Tien Beach (easily accessed through Haadtien Beach Resort, 100 THB entry, long strip of white sand lined with palm trees)
Ao Tanote Beach (free)
The roads are steep, but they are well paved on the way to this beach. The draw card of this beach is definitely the large central rock that, for the courageous, has become a cliff-jumping destination. There is a rope attached to a drilled in hook to help you scale the rock, and its height varies between 8-10 meters depending on the tide. It’s a great beach for snorkeling and goggles can be rented from restaurants nearby the beach. Ao Tanote Beach is free to enter. If you arrive with scooter, you have to pay 20 THB parking costs.
Hin Wong Bay (free)
Hin Wong Bay is easily accessible as the roads are well paved, but they are very steep. There is no beach here to lounge on, only large boulders, but this is what makes the underwater world so enjoyable. I left my things on the rocks to the right and then climbed into the water with the ladder off the jetty.
Sai Nuan Beach (free)
This is one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Tao, and that’s a big call. Take your snorkel and swim out to the left and around the big boulders. That’s where you’ll find the best sea life. Just walk through the deserted resort and you are at the Sai Nuan Beach.
Freedom beach (50 THB)
As mentioned above, Freedom Beach is part of the Freedom Beach Resort. For a 50 THB entrance fee you get access to Freedom Beach and the viewpoint. It’s a great place for snorkeling and kayaking. I can recommend having lunch or dinner at the Freedom Beach Bar. While you enjoy your food, you can see the beautiful sea life in front of you.
Tip: go as early as possible. The beach gets very busy around noon. See photo below.
Taa Toh Bay (50 THB)
Taa Toh Bay is one of the less known spots on the south end of Koh Tao. It’s a great place to unwind and to go snorkeling. The marine life is incredible here just be careful where you step, lots of sea cucumbers and other creatures. The entrance fee is 50 THB per person.
Haar Sai Daeng (free)
The road to Haad Sai Daeng is well paved, but very steep. Please be careful! Sai Daeng is free to visit and in my opinion one of the best places in Koh Tao. The beach is great for snorkeling and if you’re lucky, you can see turtles and sharks. You can also rent a kayak and paddle out to Shark Island (the distance is less than a kilometer).
Go volunteering in Koh Tao
There are different volunteering options in Koh Tao:
Save the environment
Have a look out on dive notice boards for more information or just start ask the locals about opportunities. Most dive companies arrange some kind of island clean up, either weekly or monthly. These can include beach clean ups where you may be able to score a free ride to a new bay or ocean clean ups where you can score a free dive or two in exchange for removing waste from the water.
Save the animals
If you happen to be more of an animal lover than an eco warrior, why not pay a visit to the Koh Tao Animal Clinic? They are always in need of helping hands, whether it be for a simple task of cuddling an animal in recovery, washing or walking a dog, or taking Happy to the beach for a swim. Every minute helps and it really is inspiring to see their great work first hand.
Volunteer in hostels, yoga studions, resorts, restaurants or diving shops
Workaway.info is a great platform to find a voluntary job in Koh Tao. Different companies like hostels, resorts, restaurants, diving shops or yoga studios provide amazing opportunities to help out in return for free accommodation and/or meals.
Go hiking in Koh Tao
There are a number of hikes that lead to beaches or temples in Koh Tao:
This is a super easy hike to find and the pathway is paved the entire way so you can’t possibly get lost on the way. Start at grounded yoga and then head away from Sai Ree beach to Hin Wong bay. Take the first right and the studio is a little way down the road. From there take the stairways up the hill to the Burmese Temple and you’ll be there in a couple of minutes! The climb will take you about 20 minutes. It’s quite steep but the reward is well worth it.
Sai Nuan Beach and Benjamin Baer Beach
As I mentioned earlier, Sai Nuan Beach happens to be one of my favorite beaches on the island. This bay is home to beautiful swings and a slack line attached to two trees so you can practice your balancing skills. When I researched, I found that this tiny beach could only be reached in two manners. It was either by long tail boat or by a 20 minute walk along a jungle path that winds through two resorts and over some rocks. I walked this route and found that this paradise is well worth the effort. If you continue your walk, you can also reach Benjamin Baer Beach.
Hike the coast from Mae Haad to Chalok
It seems hard to get away from the crowds on Koh Tao, but this hike will show you that it is possible. The hike from Mae Head to Chalk along the coast is via a footpath, so you wont see any traffic. It’s a peaceful and quiet walk. From the pier in Mae Haad head South and leave the sea on your right side. Walk through the Sensi Paradise Beach Resort and up to Charm Churee Resort. Then head down to the beach and reach Jansom Bay. Officially they will charge 200THB per person for using the bay, but if you just take a dip in to the sea, they probably won’t charge you.
Other sport activities in Koh Tao
Koh Tao offers more sport activities than just snorkeling or hiking:
Koh Tao is one of the cheapest and easiest places around the world to get scuba certified. There are tons of dive shops on the island and the competition helps keep prices down. You can get your open water certificate here for just around $300. I personally did my open water course with Impian Divers, a Dutch diving school. Some recommend diving schools are Roctopus, Ban’s Diving Resort, Big Blue Diving, Simple Life Divers, Assava Dive Resort, French Kiss Divers or Phoenix Divers. Some schools provide free or low cost accommodation including or excluding breakfast. Make sure to discover the possibilities and choose a school that can teach in your mother tongue language. This makes it easier to understand all the theory.
There are different types of diving courses you can choose. The beginners course is named ‘open water’. This course will take three days and you will dive at different points of the island. This course has a theoretical and a practical part. In order to receive the certificate of the ‘open water beginners course’, you just have to pass a simple theoretical test and other practical exercises that will be taught by the instructor. If you like the beginners course, you can choose to take the next course, named ‘advance diving’, The third diving course, and hardest, is called ‘rescue’.
Best dive sites in Koh Tao, Thailand:
Try rock climbing in Koh Tao
Rock climbing is another exciting activity that you can do in Koh Tao. There are indoor and outdoor possibilities available on the island. Goodtime Adventures is one of the companies that provide rock climbing on Koh Tao. They provide courses from beginner experienced right up to traditional multi-pitch climbing.
Do some yoga
Koh Tao is not all about being in the water or getting drunk. There are quite a few yoga studios in Koh Tao these days, offering classes of various types and levels.
One of the most fun things to do in Koh Tao is playing a round of mini-golf at the Koh Tao Leisure Park. They have a 18-hole course, cinema and little cafe. You can play as many rounds as you like for about $5.
Cultural activities in Koh Tao
I love getting to know cultures and food habits. You can try several cultural activities in Koh Tao:
Visit Wat Koh Tao Temple
This is a beautiful Buddhist temple in Koh Tao and is definitely worth some photos.
Get a Thai Massage
Of course a Thai massage has to be on the list of things to do in Koh Tao (when it rains). Just like in the rest of Thailand you can find cheap massages in Koh Tao (200-300 THB for 1 hour).
Learn how to cook during a Thai Cooking Class
There are many Thai Cooking Classes available in Koh Tao. Have a look at the different cooking classes on Tripadvisor and choose the one that you like the most. Unfortunately, I have not booked a Thai Cooking Class in Koh Tao, so I have no recommendations for this one.
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Best places to party in Koh Tao
I can recommend the FishBowl Beach Bar and Lotus Bar to have some fun parties in Koh Tao. Both places organize fire shows, live music with Dj’s and have stunning sunset views. The Local is a fun bar that organizes music bingo’s, quizes and karaokes. I loved the rock bingo! Queens Cabaret organizes fun cabaret (drag) shows to watch. Oh and you can can also find half-moon or full-moon parties on Koh Tao. Escobar is a nice place for jungle parties.
Tips for visiting Koh Tao, Thailand
Last, but no least, I would like to share some general tips about Koh Tao with you.
I flew from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then traveled to Koh Tao. This was very convenient. When I arrived at Surat Thani Airport, a bus from Phantom Travel brought me to the city centre of Surat Thani. I stayed the night in the Rajthani Hotel, next to the Phantip Travel office that arranged our minivan to the Tapee Pier and ferry to Mae Head Pier in Koh Tao. This was brilliant and very well organized.
I always use 12GoAsia when traveling in other countries. With just a few taps, you can easily book a ride ensuring a seamless and budget-friendly travel experience. Most of the time, you will receive a digital transportation ticket, so you don’t have to worry about printing.
How to get around Koh Tao?
Koh Tao is very small, so you can drive across the island easily. I recommend to go around by taxi or to rent a scooter. If you decide to rent a scooter, please be careful. If you’re planning on renting a scooter and drive around these viewpoints, be extra careful and make sure you have the right tires and efficient breaks. The roads can be very steep in Koh Tao.
You need a driving license when you would like to rent and/or drive a scooter in Thailand. Usually your national driving license is not valid, so make sure you buy an international driving license before you go to Thailand. Usually these international licenses are valid for one year.
Any scooter with more than 50cc is considered a motorcycle in Thailand. As a Dutch person with a car license, you are not insured when renting a 50+cc scooter. Your car driving license and/or international driving license doesn’t do the trick. You need to have a Dutch motor driving license. At most places you can rent a scooter though. But keep in mind, if you damage the scooter or anything happens to yourself, you are not insured by the Dutch law. That being said, make sure you have travel insurance that can cover you if you’re driving a scooter in Thailand.
Tip: before you sign the renting contract, check the entire scooter. Check the scooter’s paintwork, brakes, lights, horn, alarm, lock and gas tank. Make sure everything works properly and make some pictures of the scooter’s condition, so you always have proof about the scooter’s condition when you rented it. Also check if it has a number plate, with a valid date on it. This date shows till when the scooter is officially registered. When you rent a scooter, also make sure you rent a helmet that fits your head and has a visor and always keep the name and mobile number of the rental company with you.Always keep the name and mobile number of the rental company with you.
What is the best time to visit Koh Tao?
The best time to visit Koh Tao is from January to March when it’s dry and not that hot on the island. April to October are also nice months to visit Koh Toa, although it can be very hot. The rainy season is from October to December.
What is the best place to stay in Koh Tao?
Koh Tao has numerous options where to stay and new places are popping up constantly. I stayed at a hotel called Aukotan Place. This was one of the cheaper options available in Koh Tao and it was perfect for me. I got a big double room with A/C, hot shower, good WiFi, free breakfast and a daily free transfer to and from the pier and Sairee Beach. They also have scooter rental for a good price. The location of the hotel was perfect. It was a 15 minute walk to Freedom Beach, Shark Bay, and the John Suwan Viewpoint.
When planning your trip to Koh Tao, make sure to add these best things to do in Koh Tao to your travel itinerary! There’s a lot to discover on this beautiful Thai island. If you have any questions about the above mentioned activities, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. Safe travels!
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